Thursday, August 5, 2010

Structuralism and the senate

Jonathan Chait joins the "structuralists" against the "institutionalists" in blaming the current dysfunction of the Senate on the incentives that Senators face. It's a fair point — it would be ridiculous to say that incentives and motives play no part in the situation we face today— but to attribute all of our problems to a list of rules eliminates Senators as moral actors. Ben Nelson, Scott Brown, and the rest of the folks clustered around vote 60 are not mindless automatons in a political science simulation. As human beings they are physically capable of returning to a fifty vote Senate. That doesn't mean doing so would be easy, but it is possible.

1 comment:

Frank Wilhoit said...

Senators are not moral actors. No individual public figure is a moral actor. Factions are moral actors, which in turn creates the appearance that the parties that represent them are also moral actors; but that is a false appearance, and there is no longer even an appearance that any individual politician can be a moral actor.