News Release

Protests vs. Pay to Play and Petrified Politics


THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson at
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He said today: “A desperate population is plainly losing patience with the leaders of both major parties. At least a quarter of all the signs at Occupy Wall Street meetings highlight the nexus between money and politics. The centralized national political leadership that big money has created is choking the U.S. political process.”

Ferguson just wrote the piece “Posted Prices and the Capitol Hill Stalemate Machine” for Washington Spectator, which states: “The Congressional party leadership controls the swelling coffers of the national campaign committees, and the huge fixed investments in polling, research, and media capabilities that these committees maintain — resources the leaders use to bribe, cajole, or threaten candidates to toe the party line. This is especially true of ‘open-seat’ races, where no incumbent is running; or in contests where an obscure challenger vies to upset an incumbent of the other party. Candidates rely on the national campaign committees not only for money, but for message, consultants, and polling they need to be competitive but can rarely afford on their own. As though by an invisible hand, Congressional campaigns thus insensibly acquire a more national flavor. They endlessly repeat a handful of slogans that have been battle tested for their appeal to the national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources. And crossing party lines becomes dangerous indeed, as the recent vote to raise the debt ceiling vividly illustrated. More than half the Tea Party Caucus voted with Speaker Boehner, despite heavy pressure from well-financed ultra-right groups…”

Ferguson’s books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.