November 13

Power and Influence

Tuesday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Raging Cronyism

Why is that a member of the U.S. Congress today has almost as good a chance at getting reelected as a member of Parliament in the old Soviet Union?

According to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, professor of politics at New York University, the system is rigged. Members of Congress get to draw their own districts, meaning they choose who their voters will be, rather than the other way around. So while the public may distrust Congress as a whole, they send incumbents back to Washington to represent them with incredible frequency.

This rigged system, de Mesquita argues, has made Congress incredibly unaccountable, enabling the body to pass the buck on some of the most important issues of our time. If we made more congressional races competitive, however, you would see a whole different story. Imagine, for instances, if 200 Congressmen and Congresswomen had to fight to hold their seats, rather than the 30 or 40 that it is today. According to de Mesquita and others, we would then start to see more accountability. 

  1. 1 Gerrymandering and the Politics o...
  2. 2 Edward Crane on Who Has the Real ...
  3. 3 How Republicans Lost the Vote and...
  4. 4 Power Corrupts, Corruption Empowers
   
  1. Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge

    Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge

    Congress gets to pick its own voters, and not the other way around. But what if we got rid of gerrymandering and made 200 races in the House competitive every two years instead of just 30 or 40?

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  2. Edward Crane on Who Has the Real Power in Washington

    Edward Crane on Who Has the Real Power in Washington

    The Cato Institute CEO says the problem in Washington is we have "an adverse selection process for who runs for Congress."

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  3. How Republicans Lost the Vote and Won the House

    How Republicans Lost the Vote and Won the House

    President Obama got 51.4% of the popular vote and won essentially every swing state. Democrats ...

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  4. Power Corrupts, Corruption Empowers

    Power Corrupts, Corruption Empowers

    In The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita nakedly examines the (often ugly) means by which people are able to gain and keep power.

    Read More…