The competition remains open, and fierce, but this has to be the single worst blow to representative government since at least the Iran-Contra scandal, BCCI, the Keating Five, Long Term Capital Management ever:
This, as much as anything else, is why our Congress is both dysfunctional — legislators have no clue what they’re voting for or against most of the time — and so attentive to the priorities of the very wealthy.
Newt Gingrich completely dismantled the internal institutions that used to provide Congress with objective information and research, both because that information frequently contradicted conservative dogma and because he knew that doing so would force Congress to rely on outside (ideological) organizations for information, which would strengthen the corporate-funded policy shops and think tanks that powered the conservative movement. Now nearly everything Congress “knows” about policy comes directly from self-interested, industry-funded groups. Simultaneously, as Lorelei Kelly recently wrote, congressional staff began shrinking, which means expertise was, once again, outsourced — now, increasingly, lobbyists perform the educational function that well-versed staffers used to.
In a way, the practice of representatives unstudied on the issues but nonetheless voting to effect our future circumvents the need for corporate whoring by thoroughly corrupting the entire operation, thereby rendering the need for further duplicity redundant. Efficiency! Kind of.