Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cantor's Loss: A Reminder That Money Matters, But Not Entirely

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News points out that in spite of the bellyaching from the left about the Citizens United decision, money isn't always the decider of elections.  Cantor, the incumbent (which is already a big advantage) outspent his challenger better than 40:1 -- and still was decisively clobbered.

She also points out that for all the whining the left does about too much money in politics, removing it would change our governmental system in a way that the left doesn't like:
Brat’s politics are actually emblematic of what I imagine even more outsider-amenable, money-prone politics would look like. There has been a lot of ink spilled lamenting research by Martin Gilens showing that politicians seem to be more responsive to the concerns of the elite than to the concerns of middle- and low-income voters. When this is soberly discussed at think-tank panels, you tend to hear a lot about the minimum wage and unemployment benefits. You tend to hear less about gay rights, abortion and free speech, issues where our politics is also much more responsive to elites than the poor. Liberal positions on immigration, foreign aid and free trade also find more support among the rich than the poor.
If it is true that money can at least help buy elections, and if this is a factor in the fact that American politics leans toward the concerns of the wealthy, then getting the money out of politics would produce a Congress more inclined to raise the minimum wage, as well as create more generous unemployment benefits and richer national health-care benefits -- but also one that is more nativist and socially conservative. If Brat did indeed win because he went after Cantor on immigration, this exemplifies what those candidates would look like.
No great surprise.  Leftist politics are really the politics of rich people -- those who can easily afford income tax increases (because they usually include special tax breaks that few people who work for a living can afford), most Americans working at minimum wage, or close to it, and gay marriage.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think Brat won from cross over votes -- democrats voting in the republican primary to get the weaker candidate to run?