The Political Law of Large Numbers

I once subscribed to the theory that when a party has ruled too long, the rot sets in--members grow corrupt, and over time, grow into self-serving special-interest grubbing machines.


I don't think this is all wrong.  But I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't something else at work: simple arithmetic.  The more members you have, the more members you have who can do something disastrous to your party's public image.  Couple that with the rise of electronic media, which gives whistleblowers more avenues to express themselves, and can magnify a peccadillo into a scandal almost overnight, and you have . . . the Republican Party of 2006.  Or the Democratic Party of 2010, as our sister publication reports.
Embattled incumbents with ethics problems. Allegations of sexual harassment leading to a competitive open seat. Dems have seen this movie before -- only last time, it happened to the other guys.

Now, a beleaguered Dem majority has to hope their party can withstand a building wave that favors the GOP, and that effort isn't made any easier by countless, and mounting, self-inflicted errors.
Any party is going to have a given percentage of people in it doing fairly appalling things.  If you up the numbers, and the transparency, you get about what we're seeing now.  And no doubt will see again, once the Republicans are back in power. 
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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