Imperial American Politics

People have to make judgments and they also have limited time to do so.  This probably explains why so many Americans are content and even eager to see the same rubes return to positions of authority, or their children or siblings or spouses.  The latest example is of course Vladimir – er – Michael Bloomberg.  Jeez Mike, I am sure you are right but there isn’t another suitable person in New York who could be the Mayor.  At least Giuliani had the grace to leave.

Then there is The Daley dynasty in Chicago.  And of course the Governor of Illinois is the son of a Democratic party power family, as the Secretary of State is a daughter of another such luminary.    Of course the Bush family has governors and Presidents all over the place.  We almost got the wife of Slick Willy at the head of the Democratic ticket, though Obama somehow beat her out.  I am sure voters will reward their daughter Chelsea should she choose to run in a few years.  Kennedys of course have their pick of government positions.

America would be better off if there were fewer repeats and retreads.  The Supreme Court killed the term limits movement, and will deserve much of the blame when America does finally fade as a world power a century or two from now.  Again, there is a reason that this tends to happen.  People need to make decisions on limited information and with limited time to do so.  So anything that makes them more comfortable that they know the people up for positions makes them more likely to be chosen.  It is like a structural monopoly in business.  It is the same network effect Taleb talks about in The Black Swan.  And it is for that reason that a structural solution like term limits is necessary;  to protect us from the natural tendency to settle for what is known and comfortable – to force fresh blood into the system.

A politician like Bloomberg who willfully ignores this dynamic disqualifies themselves from leadership by that decision alone.

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