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Beware the reformers

Monday, Aug 25, 2014

* Tom Dougherty

It’s a scenario that has become all too familiar. You’re frustrated with the gridlock in DC; you’re sickened by the burgeoning national debt; you think the country has gone to “hell in a handbasket” under the current administration and party leadership; and then you get a direct mail piece, or an email, or see an ad on the web that promises change by supporting candidates who embrace your ideals.

Hopeful and excited to learn that there are organizations willing to fight for what you think will “fix this country,” you grab your credit card and fire off a donation, confident you have contributed to a worthwhile cause. […]

Here are five very recognizable organizations that spend vastly more on fundraising efforts than on support for any candidate.

* The chart…

* From the Atlantic

Journalists often lament the absence of presidential leadership. What they are really observing is the weakening of congressional followership. Members of the liberal Congress elected in 1974 overturned the old committee system in an effort to weaken the power of southern conservatives. Instead—and quite inadvertently—they weakened the power of any president to move any program through any Congress. Committees and subcommittees multiplied to the point where no single chair has the power to guarantee anything. […]

In short, in the name of “reform,” Americans over the past half century have weakened political authority. Instead of yielding more accountability, however, these reforms have yielded more lobbying, more expense, more delay, and more indecision.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Dougherty’s article, while terribly lopsided against one particular ideology, should be read by every person in America.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    I gave to some candidates, and now my email inbox is inundated on a daily basis with fundraising solicitations.

    There’s a lot of money to be made off of people’s insecurity and anger. In the 21st Century, I blame us. We don’t live in caves. We live in a wonderful world of instant data and news. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be bilked by political people stoking our emotions.

  3. - Anon - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    The “reformer’s” seem to be interested in regulating everything except the widespread problem of unregistered lobbying.

  4. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    It doesn’t help that the number of people that a House member has to represent has increased from around 500,000 people per member to 721,000. In fact, the number of representatives hasn’t changed since 1910 during which time the population has more than tripled. I think there is a case to be made that we need to increase the number of representatives (and possibly senators) to get better results out of Congress.

  5. - bottom rung. - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Cutback Amendment was in the same spirit as these misguided reforms.

  6. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    I’m not sure how that chart supports any conclusion other than the professional tea party organizations and their high profile spokesman like Sarah Palin are nothing more than modern snake oil hucksters just making a buck off of frustrated idealists on the right. Seriously, 90+% of SarahPac $$$ went to staff and principals and almost nothing towards electing candidates they support. Disgusting.

  7. - olddog - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    === Cutback Amendment was in the same spirit as these misguided reforms. ===


    So is term limits. It was in 1994, and it is today.

  8. - kiimocat - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Agree, Chicago Cynic. The so-called “grass roots” tea-party groups morphed into a bunch of grifters ripping off frustrated (mostly white) folks. And Palin is their queen.

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    @FKA & kiimocat -

    I hope no one reads it. I want the conservatives to keep feeding the consultants instead of grassroots campaigns.

    The TEA PArty movement was wholly manufactured by lobbyists…it never ‘morphed’, although it tapped into a much bigger pocket of oil than Dick Armey was expecting.


    To the Atlantic:

    The problem with Reform Movements is that they are often led by Reformers.

    To stop hackers, you hire hackers.

    To catch a thief, you hire a thief.

    And to reform Illinois’ political system, you ought to hire folks who actually understand its weaknesses and are pretty good at predicting future threats…or opportunities, depending on how you look at them.

    I know a dozen people from both sides of the aisle who could make our political system pretty secure if you put them in a room for a few weeks.

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Royko said it all those years ago….”Lord, save us from the Reformers”. Greed has always trumped honest efforts to make things better. Now, money tramples those efforts into dust.

  11. - downstate hack - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    What’s the percentage of “MoveOn.Org” that gets to candidates it proposes to support.?

  12. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    @YDD - well, there’s always that approach as well :) You are crazy like a fox.

  13. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    Those Tea Party groups have quite a scam going. Big surprise.

  14. - Timmeh - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 5:23 pm:

    How isn’t this fraud?

  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 7:12 pm:

    A whole lot of blathering!
    These are the same “experts” who have been predicting the end of the Tea Party for the past four freaking years. If these people were employed in any other business they would have been ignored since 2012.

    They don’t get it. They haven’t suddenly got it either.

  16. - kiimocat - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 7:20 pm:

    VanillaMan - I don’t think the authors were predicting “the end of the T-Party.” They were just pointing out what scammers the organizers are.

  17. - Not a Statistician - Tuesday, Aug 26, 14 @ 9:33 am:

    According to FEC year-end data,, in 2012 (the last Federal election year), raised 12,202,107.77 and spent a combined total of 3,350.840.35 on contributions to candidate committees and on independent expenditures. 27% of funds raised.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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