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Today's Big Idea: Raging Cronyism

The Big Idea for Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge
    Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd Big Think TV
  2. 2 Edward Crane on Who Has the Real Power in Washington
    Ed Crane
  3. 3 How Republicans Lost the Vote and Won the House
    Robert de Neufville Politeia
  4. 4 Power Corrupts, Corruption Empowers
    Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
 

Today's Big Idea: Raging Cr...

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