Tuesday, December 11, 2007In response to criticism of dynastic politics, it was suggested by some commenters that the real problem isn't dynasty politics per se, but the money that adheres to high name recognition. I argued, on the other hand, that voters have a tendency to ascribe the characteristics of one family member to another, meaning that there is an inherent, rather than merely instrumental, advantage to being related to a public official. Without statistical support, it's hard to settle the matter, but the recent NYT poll certainly provides a powerful endorsement of my position:
In fact, about as many of Mrs. Clinton’s backers say they are supporting her because of her husband as say they are supporting her because of her own experience.
If this is accurate, then voters are indeed psychologically vulnerable to dynastic politics. As such, we need a sustained effort that a) weans voters off this dangerous habit, and b) provides institutional safeguards against the creation of political dynasties.