Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stop Pretending People Shouldn't Have Interests

. Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Andrew Gelman:

Jonathan Chait mocks former senator Evan Bayh for taking a job as a D.C. lobbyist. ...

But hink of this from Bayh's point of view. After being one of 100 U.S. senators (and near the median, at that), it's natural to want to stay near the action and have some effect on policy. Lobbying is a natural way to do this. From this perspective, it's a direct extension of what he's been doing before. And if it pays well, so be it. I'm not one to turn down free money and I don't expect that others will do so either.

Jonathan Chait isn't being especially nasty about this, as these criticisms go. But he is a paid partisan, who spends every day of his professional life advancing the policy goals of himself and his employer. Why does he think that's purer than what Bayh is doing? Because he gets paid less, or has less influence?

Note that I don't think this is a character flaw, in Chait or Bayh. Instead I view it as, erm, politics. Which is definitionally about people and groups seeking to influence policy to their advantange by whatever means are at their disposal. It ain't a morality play, folks.


Stop Pretending People Shouldn't Have Interests
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