The Political Law of Large Numbers

More

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. 
Jump to comments
Presented by

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.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In