Lee Drutman's basic understanding of the process:

[W]e are left with yet another paradox of American democracy: opportunistic politicians railing against a process they willingly participate in and benefit from, knowing very well that there is actually very little they could do to change it even if they wanted to, and voters rewarding behavior at the individual level that they supposedly dislike at the national level. Pork-barrel politics are as old as the system of geographic representation enshrined in the Constitution, and it doesn’t appear things are going to change anytime soon.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.