Thursday, March 18, 2010


One more item on Marjorie Margolies.  Ezra Klein wants Members to make a "courageous vote" (which he assumes would be in favor of health care reform; I think one could argue with that assumption, but regardless).  And he notes that politicians shouldn't be afraid of losing.  After all:
Meanwhile, Margolies-Mezvinsky is doing all right. Her bio line says she's "a senior fellow at the Fels Institute of Government and is president of Women's Campaign International." That sounds pretty good. And her son, as it turns out, is engaged to marry Chelsea Clinton. 
I have no idea how well she's actually doing, but on the general point, Klein is definitely correct:  Most Members of Congress will be just fine if they lose.

Hey, Ezra Klein: Don't tell them!  As I've been arguing this week, the electoral incentive is a good thing.  A very good thing.  Without it, democracy barely functions; if politicians start caring more about doing what they think is right instead of trying to keep their promises to voters, who's to say that what they think is right will be the same as what Ezra Klein, or me, or anyone else things is right?  Even more to the point -- the alternative to trying to get elected isn't necessarily to try to do what's right; it could just as easily be to set themselves up in a great post-electoral career.

In my view, a somewhat scary amount of large-scale representative democracy depends on the paranoia of politicians -- not only that they are obsessed about being re-elected, but that they mistakenly believe that voters are hanging on their every word, vote, and action.  Because of that, they try hard to be good representatives.  If it suddenly occurred to them that they're better off if they lose, well, that's when I'd really start to worry that the system wouldn't work.

(Update: Link fixed)


  1. ". . . who's to say that what they think is right will be the same as what Ezra Klein, or me, or anyone else things is right?"

    Jonathan, wouldn't we simply vote them out of office if we disagreed with them often enough about "what is right"?

  2. "We" as in outsiders. Of course, I'll vote against my own representatives if I disagree with them.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?