Gerrymandering and the failure of the US political market.

27 Jan

Acemoglu and Robinson in their book “Why Nations Fail” argue that Venice — the global superpower of its day — became a museum because inclusive institutions like the “commenda” were slowly replaced by extractive institutions which led to the “La Serrata.” Venice effectively became a hereditary aristocracy because the election system was rigged to favor incumbents and their families.  Congressional districts in the United States are often redrawn in a way that favors incumbents. Only people belonging to a certain “family”  — political party — can get elected from these districts. This restriction of political competition has echoes of Venice! So will the United States become a pretty museum? Probably not. But it may lose its economic superiority by ignoring inclusive founding principles.

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2 Responses to “Gerrymandering and the failure of the US political market.”

  1. Chris Gavaler January 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Has over a hundred years of two-party supremacy already weakened us? If you have to be a member of one of only two possible political families, then we are and have been a closed system for a long time. So have we been declining this whole time? Or are two parties enough to retain a necessary level of inclusion?

  2. ecatin January 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    As long as the two political parties allowed new entrants it was ok. Sort of like the poor commoners using commenda system to join Venetian families. But in the US it’s become harder to join the political families, particularly the Republicans, because of ideological purity tests. That second effect may be new. If not the you may be right!

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