Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where's FJM in politics?

Britney Spears is to Joel McHale what the Kennedy clan is to political observers - why they get paychecks. I think any pop culture fan or political junkie understands we are going to get a lot of stories about Britney and the Kennedy's because both sell, although thankfully the Kennedy's get naked less often.

Still that doesn't explain Ed Morrissey's post over on Hot Air this morning on the Kennedy's and political dynasties. He notes that the reason the Dems want Caroline to get the Senate seat is not her thoughtful ruminations on trade-policy or education reform:

"The better question is why so many dynastic and quasi-dynastic candidates have begun appearing in Congressional races of late. Caroline Kennedy’s pursuit of an appointment explains the issue, I believe. Democrats nationwide aren’t haranguing David Paterson to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the seat because of extensive qualifications — indeed, she has a remarkable lack of qualifications. It isn’t her name so much as it is her money. She’s loaded. Democrats want to appoint someone who can fund a campaign rather than govern rationally."

Ok, fine - word that. And he argues that wealth is increasingly important in today's elections. Welcome to Poli Sci 101, but whatever, it's solid.

But his next assertion loses me, and involves hand-waving and laziness:

"The wealthiest people come from hereditary wealth. Those candidates will begin holding family seats once ensconced, as political parties will want to ensure that the seats remain secure. That will transform the Senate into an American House of Lords, as Mahtesian puts it, probably within a couple more generations."

The wealthiest people come from hereditary wealth - yeah, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Family seats get "ensconced?" So why is it that the vast majority of seats DON'T get ensconced? Well because self-made rich people who want to compete in an open political system can thrown lots of money around and beat old tired family wealth. The Senate into a House of Lords? I didn't realize that the Senate's political power had somehow vanished last night while I was changing diapers at 3 am. Last time I checked the Senate is a full partner in legislating, not at all like the House of Lords which is such a mess the Brits can't decide what it should do or who should be members.

Don't get me wrong - rich people are always going to throw money at politics and run for office. Voters in places like New York and Chicago, which are basically one party states like North Korea where elections don't matter because there isn't any competition, will cast ballots for any Kennedy, Jackson, Ford, or Molinari that appears on the ballot. But it must be a damn slow news day if this merits a crosspost and a couple of Google hits - without any NSFW pics to boot.

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