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)

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?

A panel of storytellers share their favorite tales, from the Bible to Charlotte's Web.


Elsewhere on the web

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

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In