Networks, not money, make politics go around

Complaints about money buying political access are confusing cause and conjunction. The real problem in politics is limited networks, not money.

It’s not money that connects organisations and politicians, but a similarity of thinking. People prefer like-minded people. So centre-right politicians have more affinity with business-minded people. If you removed money, the similarity of philosophy would still attract them. They’d hang out, although maybe less so, because money denotes, to these people, success.

Centre-left politicians define success and their friends differently. They generally like people for whom money (and probably risk) is less important.

Check out the visitor logs for lobbying visits to see the Obama administration. Money has not traded hands. The people seeing the administration most often are those with the strongest pre-existing friendships, allegiances and alliances.

So money is not a cause for relationships, but a factor related to the types of people who are networking.

This is an important thing to understand because it is too often assumed that money transactions are driving, and corrupting, the relationship between politicians and businesses.

In fact, the relationships are no different to those enjoyed by other types of politicians whose networks are stronger among NGOs, workers and the unemployed.

It is terribly shallow, not to mention patronising, to suggest that politicians who share philosophies with non-monied people are purer than those share interests with monied-people.

The dominating factor is similarity of thinking. Money is largely not gaining a meeting nor causing a change of mind (see my post:).

The real “problem” is that politicians too readily identify with a particular group of people. This encourages them to demonise those who disagree with them, picking out points of difference – like money – and imagining the worst.

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