A modest proposal for buying votes

I’ve been really busy what with tomorrow presenting morning lecture to Chinese civil servants on the basics of US Government and an evening lecture to French business students on the contemporary American two party system (plus my regular classes in the middle), so I’m not up to my usual standards, so just take my advice and read this awesome Jonathan Swiftian column by Stephen Pearlstein:

Now, with Citizens United, the Supreme Court has finally declared that “enough is enough.” The court didn’t just remove the limits to what wealthy individuals or corporations could contribute to independent (wink-wink) front groups. The five-member majority also invited constitutional challenges to limits on direct contributions to campaigns or political parties and to those silly requirements that the source of every contribution be disclosed in a timely manner.

This is a great victory for those of us who believe in free markets and support the sacred constitutional principle that corporations are people and that money is speech. With the legal and political momentum now working in our favor, we must take this campaign to the next level.

After all, no matter how many billions of dollars we might invest in campaigns or independent (wink-wink) front groups, all we can really do is influence the outcome of campaigns. Given the risks associated with the performance of the candidates, however, we can never truly be certain of the electoral outcomes. And as you all know, what the markets and businesses hate most is uncertainty.

So, I propose that we finally give up the charade that we are not “buying” elections and, in fact, do exactly that — mount an all-out political and legal challenge to laws preventing us from buying votes directly.

Photo of the day

Alan Taylor has a really nice set of photos from Afghanistan.  These guys look more like they should be piloting an Imperial Walker to me, but they are helicopter gunners:

Two US gunners sit aboard a US helicopter Chinook at the Bagram Airport, on January 21, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Chart of the day

Okay, so I know I shouldn’t put much stock in a poll released 9 month before a general election and before any general election campaigning has actually happened.  But, this makes me happy to see:

And, for the record, I do expect these results to narrow over time.  As to whether Obama remains on top, it’s mostly (though, not quite all), the economy, stupid.

Mitt Romney: the Tea Party’s Man

Political Scientist Theda Skocpol took to the Op-Ed pages of the Post this weekend to write an interesting piece about Mitt Romney and the Tea Party.  It’s actually pretty similar to what Kevin Drum has been saying for a while, but with a nice, thorough political-science-y veneer.  Here’s the key conclusion:

In Romney, the tea party has found the ultimate prize: a candidate loyal to the movement’s agenda, but able to fool enough pundits and moderate voters to win the White House at a time when the tea party has lost broad appeal. Pushing the Republican Party to the hard right and denying Obama a second term have always been top tea party goals. In Romney, the movement has just the man it needs.

I think that’s about right.  In fairness, though, I think the mistake that people make, though is that Romney is not actually trying to fool pundits and voters that he’s a moderate.  They are doing that on their own based on his record (a not unreasonable supposition).  I think the best evidence far and away suggests that deep down, whatever Romney actually believes, he is probably fairly moderate.  I think that’s real.  The mistake is in thinking that he would govern as a moderate after being elected with the support of a Tea Party-driven GOP.

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