rAlex Harrowell’s answer to why politicians got so awful: "For many years ... conservative parties' material basis rested on their ability to get enough company directors and top managers to contribute their time and money to the cause. Conservative politicians therefore faced a mechanism of responsibility with multiple triggers. … Extreme right-tail inequality has essentially destroyed this mechanism of responsibility. There are now quite a lot of private fortunes around whose discretionary spending power is large compared with the cost of political campaigning. … Rather than needing to make credible commitments to a significant fraction of the directorate, political entrepreneurs can now concentrate on finding themselves a couple of big individual donors who share their special interests or particular obsessions." The real threat from inequality is not coercion, it's that it lets the financial elite set the agenda.
Good sentences in the Monkey Cage, by Babak Bahador at George Washington U: “While foreign propaganda efforts to influence U.S. politics and society are a disturbing trend, it is important to realize that such messaging is, likewise, not manufactured out of whole cloth and is created and situated within an era’s existing political conversations. Social media messaging can only exploit and amplify polarization if a democracy is already polarized and politically torn. Online social networks are not the source of the problem; they are just a medium, albeit one with a new set of tools whose vulnerabilities we are just discovering."
Will Wilkinson at Niskanen: "If you know that you can’t know in advance what the freest social system looks will look like, you’re unlikely to see evidence that suggests that policy A (social insurance, e.g.) is freedom-enhancing, or that policy B (heroin legalization, e.g.) isn’t, as threats to your identity as a freedom lover. Uncertainty about the details of the freest feasible social scheme opens you up to looking at evidence in a genuinely curious, non-biased way.” This is a deep point, I’ve come to appreciate it more over the last years.