When It’s Crazy to Run for Office, Only Crazies Will Run


Dan McLaughlin gets this right, and at least in my neck of the woods, it applies at the state and local levels, as well as the federal levels:

… tabloid news coverage, yellow journalism and unscrupulous personal attacks were a standard feature of national politics in the early decades of the American Republic. But instant-publishing technology removes even minimal restraints on pernicious gossip or baseless attacks. Anyone with a social media following can start a raging online mob without the slightest bit of reflection.

That’s why people with dignity and a decent respect for their families steer clear of elective office, leaving only people like Trump and the Clintons — people incapable of shame and hermetically removed from the life of ordinary human beings. Trump and Clinton have proved that the best defense against a career-ending scandal, failure or offense is to have too many of them for anyone to count.

Another difference, beyond “instant-publishing technology,” is the huge scope of government roles.  Even at the local level, running for government gives one authority over a wide range of people’s issues, and with government labor unions, anybody who might not negotiate with kid gloves is instantly a target of organized and very hostile groups.

I imagine this dynamic on the small level grows to the big one.  Even if national politics has always been a viper pit, local politics may have been more tolerable.  So, people might have gotten a taste for true public service at the local level, thus fortifying them for moves up the ladder.  Nowadays, that pipeline is drying up.

  • Northern Exposure

    Yeah, unless you live in a town that has TWO local radio stations with talk shows! That is what defines unwarranted abuse of local political efforts.