Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Goin' to a Party

Don't mind the stale chips

In Ken Burns's PBS documentary The Civil War, the late Shelby Foote said that Pickett's Charge – the ill-fated attack at the Battle of Gettysburg – "was the price the South paid for Robert E. Lee". General Lee offered aristocracy, arrogance, daring, and occasional recklessness. In return the South gave adulation, idolatry, and the lives of husbands, fathers, and sons.

Political parties demand a similar buy in: we'll run the show, control the product, and you buy what we're selling for now and posterity. That's fine: companies selling goods and services can't be everything to everyone. The problem occurs when there is a duopoly of two parties that control the entrance of new parties or individuals into the political arena.

I won't go into detail now; I've posted about the constraints herehere, and here. But as Gregory E. Lucyk of OneVirginia2021 pointed out, all 128 incumbents in Virginia's General Assembly won their 2015 reelection bids.

In its most recent edition, The Economist argued that the United States is suffering a "corrosive lack of competition". The remedy?
A blast of competition [that] would mean more disruption for some: firms in the S&P 500 employ about one in ten Americans. But it would create new jobs, encourage more investment and help lower prices. Above all, it would bring about a fairer kind of capitalism. That would lift Americans’ spirits as well as their economy.
Free and competitive political processes might do the same for our democracy.