Relatives running for office a consequence of campaign finance laws?

The United States, however, considers itself to be a more mature democracy. Grover Norquist, one of America’s most influential Republican activists, aims to turn the question of dynasty into a campaign issue.

“It will be ridiculous to have Mr President and Madam President in the White House,” he said. “We’re the United States of America. How can we say to President Mubarak [of Egypt], ‘You can’t hand off the presidency to your son, it’s got to be your wife’ or, ‘Hey Syria and North Korea, you’ve got to knock this stuff off and be like us’.”

Norquist has commissioned lawyers to draw up a constitutional amendment that would ban family members from succeeding one another to elected and appointed office. If passed, it would not apply to the Clintons as a Bush was elected in between them. But Norquist believes that it will alert voters to the perils of dynasty. “Americans don’t like to go back,” he said. . . . .

The notion of relatives holding the same office doesn't bother me by itself, but I think that the problem is related to campaign finance regulations. Just as campaign finance regulations benefit incumbents, they also benefit someone such as Hillary Clinton or George W. Bush because of the publicity that they get from their spouse or father are in office (though this particularly applies to Hillary) as well as the benefits that they have from having the well known name. In my book, Freedomnomics, I discuss how it is that the children of politicians are so likely to follow their parents into politics compared to children in other professions. Here is just a brief part of that discussion:

Because a politician’s reputation can’t be transferred outside his family, a politician’s child who doesn’t go into politics simply loses the benefits of this reputation. It’s not like inheriting a family business, where a son or daughter could sell it off and use the proceeds toward some other line of business. Since going into politics is the only way a politician’s child can exploit his parent’s political reputation, it should come as no surprise that politicians’ children follow their parent’s careers at higher rates than most other professions: about 30 percent of politician’s children follow their parent’s profession, second only to the children of farmers. By contrast, about 15 percent of sons of fathers from all self-employed licensed occupations follow that path themselves.

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Anonymous Steve B said...

I agree with your point. It's an extension of the massive incumbent advantage. That makes the defeat of Ed Pastor's daughter to a nobody in the recent town council election in Phoenix Arizona even more startling.

Laura was thought to be a shoe-in. I wonder what happened?

11/12/2007 9:03 PM  

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