Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fall of an Apparatchik

Paul Krugman, NYT
June 11, 2014 1:57 am

Wow — Eric Cantor lost his primary, by a large margin. Amazing.

Obviously I know nothing about his district, or what exactly happened. Fivethirtyeight does have something interesting, pointing out that Tea Party upsets seem correlated with the second dimension of DW-nominate, the Poole-Rosenthal system that maps roll call votes into an implied position space. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I might come back to this, but basically I’m telling you that I remain a serious nerd.

What I think I might add to this discussion is a note on incentives: Cantor’s loss is part of a process that could well unravel movement conservatism as we know it.

Movement conservatism — as distinct from just plain conservatism, which has always been a part of the landscape and always will be — is a distinct feature of modern American politics. It dates, more or less, back to the 1970s, when conservatives, with lots of money from the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, set about building an institutional infrastructure of think tanks, pressure groups, captive media, etc.. At first this infrastructure mainly provided backing to right-thinking (in both senses) politicians. But eventually it provided a career path for up and coming conservatives.

(More here.)

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