How Could the Republicans Sell Their Souls So Cheaply? I’ve figured it out:
3 min readApr 4, 2024

It’s a question all liberals are trying to genuinely figure out, most recently asked and un-answered by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. He started off with “I don’t know,” or words to that effect, then continued with the usual suspects: fear of physical harm to one’s self or family; fear of losing one’s job… and that was really his whole list. Clair McCaskill begged to differ, opting instead for “loss of power” as the key.

All are certainly right. And I’ve argued at length that being in US Congress — by many measures — is the best job in the world, by a wide margin… so fear of losing that job is commensurately strong, and in fact explains the cheap price on their souls. Now, when I say ‘best job,’ keep in mind that it’s hardly the best salary. A US congressperson makes $174k per year. If that’s the only breadwinner in a family, that’s a very nice living in many cities, but not wealthy. And in our major cities, it’s not enough for prime real estate. Yet congresspeople live like millionaires in other respects: healthcare and a staff/travel budget up to $3.3M per year start the list. You can read the rest online.

But here’s the key: whereas a genuine millionaire from their own business success accumulates a fallback cushion of money or other holdings, and certainly business confidence, congresspeople accumulate nothing… no more than others who make upper-middle-class salaries. And if you follow the news much, you know that most of the middle class has modest life-time savings that are constantly teetering on the precipice that is the US stock market… some in good or great positions, but most just waiting for the market to do it’s next ‘2008’ roller-coaster dip.

Some congresspeople had great careers to which they can revert; we hear that most can become consultants or lobbyists, and convert their service into grifting the system they molded; and a precious few, like Adam Kinzinger, can fall back on a moral backbone… apparently built of something called inherent character. But, as my theory goes… unless we’re talking about the previously wealthy Romneys or Cheneys, too many congresspeople are only ‘vapor millionaires,’ supported by the hot air balloon of their office, and when that ride ends, the balloon drops like a rock… no fallback, no stock options, no pile of cash. They are momentary millionaires and the moment they lose a vote, they are poor, more or less.

So the price of buying their souls can run especially low. It’s not just that they have jobs with no annual review, no boss, unquestioned expense accounts, offices in two cities, and are treated like gods wherever they go… too many of them have no cushion commensurate with the height they’ve achieved. Such a precarious position is one that lends itself to corruption, even of the soul.

This then brings up the question, “Why wasn’t this always a problem?” I suspect that’s because we didn’t always have a world of income (wealth) insecurity. Now, even in upper middle class, it’s easier to lose it all… harder to be sure you can live your retirement comfortably… all the societal factors that our last 50 years of Congress has brought us.