Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unclear division

Andrew M., a law/business professor at UIUC (happens to be the alma mater, present or future, of all three of my brothers), writes a letter to the editor (A19) blaming, shall we say, unconventional forces for the polarity of this and past elections. Emphasis mine.

Gerald Seib [in an editorial a few days ago] writes that the U.S. has two major political parties for "a reason" and that reason is because Americans are split over the role of government...Nonsense. We have two major political parties because the Republicans and Democrats have entrenched themselves through campaign finance laws that favor incumbents, ballot-access laws that put huge hurdles in front of new parties and independents, and pork-barrel politics [aargh! Pearls before swine!] that allow incumbents to finance goodies for favored interests from the public till. Americans aren't divided on issues like subsidies for sugar, Bridges to Nowhere, or the rest of the spending that comes from treating taxpayers like an all-you-can-eat pork BBQ restaurant. We just rarely get to vote for anyone willing to cut government down to size.

That may be true. As my readers will testify, neither party is wholly perfect, even in its *idealized* state. However, ever thinking of the flip side, perhaps the "campaign finance laws" favor incumbents for the sake of stability. Think about this question: Is a long regime under a bad government worse or better than a revolution instituting a good government? (Examples: Iraq, France during the Glorious Revolution, ______.)

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