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.
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