Another piece of conventional wisdom that’s hard to reconcile with the US election results is the idea that money matters a great deal in American politics. Democrats dramatically outraised
Republicans, particularly in key Senate races, but failed to make a dent. In fact, the one place Democrats were outspent
was Georgia, where they made some of their most impressive gains. This is less surprising viewed through the lens of political science rather than political commentary. Academics have long been unimpressed
by the ability of raw cash to swing election results.
Partly this is because demography is destiny: there are tight limits to the persuadability of the electorate. Even much of the money that Silicon Valley has poured into politics
has focused on traditional levers, like ads, data and organising. But could money, with a little imagination, also shape demographics? We talked back in TiB 23
about the idea of “conspiracies” in the Peter Thiel sense of secret, audacious attempts to achieve change through focused, determined action. It’s fun to speculate about what this might look like.
Given that small states are disproportionately powerful and small margins common in American politics, one idea is simply to pay activists to relocate from big, safe states. Some commentators have already pointed this out
. It’s been tried before - see the libertarian Free State Project
, focused on New Hampshire - and with bigger budgets could have meaningful impact. It might sound crazy - but as more people on all sides perceive the political stakes to be getting higher, we should expect increasingly radical attempts to work around the system.