Hillary Clinton and the first postmodern political machine

hether the Clintons understood this from the beginning, or whether they just pursued opportunities without understanding how it would all add up, they’ve discovered a new way to yoke money and power onto a self-sustaining machine. There seem to be four pillars for this new kind of edifice.

First, there are the unintended consequences of the dysfunctional campaign finance “reforms” over the past thirty years that gutted traditional party organizations while empowering billionaires. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are, institutionally speaking, mere shadows of their former selves. Today, every politician is a freelance operator, accumulating bundlers and backers. Those contacts are power, and power is at least partly heritable. Being part of a political dynasty matters more when parties matter less. Look at Jeb Bush, who, according to the AP, has received about half of his financial backing from people who supported his father and brother.

Expect to see more family firms like the Bushes and the Clintons going into politics. Daddy’s rolodex is a useful thing to have.

Second, there is the synergy created by the intersection of the Power Couple and the Twenty-second Amendment, which limited Presidents to two terms. Term-limited Presidents have a hard time convincing donors that further gifts will result in future benefits. This is a problem the Clintons do not have.

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