Most Expensive Midterm Election Ever—But Such Small Portions of Democracy


The Center for Responsive Politics says $2.6 billion will be spent by congressional (both House and Senate) candidates in this year's midterm election–a record (for midterm elections).

Of course, all third party candidates together (minus Joe Leiberman) have spent only $3.1 million of that.

If this year's record spending can prevent even one "we say we take democracy seriously, but we spend more on peanut butter/oil changes/shoe repair/tap dance lessons/Bazooka Joe collectibles than we do on elections" story, than it's money well spent.

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  1. Someone help!!

    What is the quote about “when people relize that they can vote themselves money from the public trough, democracy is lost” (or something like that)?

    I ask because I wonder what the threshold is wherein people spend more to get a candidate elected then they can vote themselves in benefits.

  2. Full quote found on wikipedia, but there is apparently some doubt as to the authenticity of the quotation….

    A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

    The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

    From Bondage to spiritual faith;
    From spiritual faith to great courage;
    From courage to liberty;
    From liberty to abundance;
    From abundance to complacency;
    From complacency to apathy;
    From apathy to dependence;
    From dependence back into bondage.

    -Alexander Fraser Tytler (attrib.)

  3. wsdave,

    Unlike self-interested, Randian capitalists, not everyone bases their vote on economic self-interest.

    I am a married, white, uppero-middle income homeowner with a child. George Bush and the Repbulicans have devoted their professional lives to looking out for the economic interests of people like me, nearly as much as for the actual rich.

    Like Ted Kennedy and Herb Kohl, I vote in evey election for people who are far less devoted to enriching me than the Republicans.

    I think the “voting themselves benefits from the public treasury” argument is beloved by a certain breed of solipsicist, who really does make his own economic standing the center of his politics, and who assumes that everyone else does, too.

  4. I think the “voting themselves benefits from the public treasury” argument is beloved by a certain breed of solipsicist, who really does make his own economic standing the center of his politics, and who assumes that everyone else does, too.

    As opposed to your breed of solipsist (actual spelling), who makes everyone’s economing standing the center of his politics.

  5. Wow, joe, that may be the most smug, self-satisfied post in the history of H ‘n’ R.

  6. Odd, then, isn’t it, that so many politicans run their political lives very successfully on the assumption that their constituents are interested in “voting themselves benefits from the public treasury.”

    Lets not kid ourselves about what AARP and most major interest groups are all about, and that is promoting wealth transfers to their members.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck,. . . .

    Lets keep in mind also that not all benefits are cash. Joe, for example, can put up quite the defense of non-monetary “benefits” flowing from land use regulation and takings that come at the cost of property owners.

  7. I’ve always wanted to find that rarest of species: the Massachusetts taxpayer that chooses to pay the voluntary 5.85% tax rate as opposed to the mandatory 5.3% tax rate. I think we’ve managed to get one in captivity here at Hit and Run. Pshaw!

    joe, who are you kidding? Your next vote for a politician whose policies would hurt the lot of Merrimack Valley urban planners will be your first.

  8. Wow joe, sounds like someone hasn’t heard of the paradox of altruism. Of course, we’re all voting for the public good, bless our little hearts.

  9. Scratch a Saint, you’ll find self interest.

  10. The irony being that joe is (last I heard) a central planner. Unless he’s a real estate developer – of the sort who built Reston VA, Columbia MD, etc. . . he’s exactly the one who benefits from the public trough.

  11. joe, I think you could have made that point without filling up the thread with Smug ™.

  12. joe, thanks again for the reminder that the true believer left is absolutely as obnoxious, self-righteous and sanctimonious as the religious right.

    I wouldn’t feel as bad about laughing at all of you if history didn’t remind me what true believers do with heretics and blasphemers.

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