Mon, 26 Nov 2012

How Political Campaign Spending Brought Down the Roman Republic

Well, whaddya know? Somebody else noticed the parallels...

Ancient politicians were just as skilled as modern ones at identifying and exploiting loopholes in election law. In Rome, the key loophole lay in the fuzzy distinction between ambitus (electoral bribery) and mere benignitas (generosity). Roman elections were often won on the strength of free food, drinks, entertainment, and sometimes hard cash offered directly to voters and financed by private fortunes. In fact, Roman campaign slogans were sometimes inscribed on the bottom of commemorative wine cups—you could drain the cup and find out whom to vote for. Most of the Roman elite relied on the gentleman’s agreement that the line between bribery and generosity would not be strictly patrolled. At worst, rank vote-buying was something your opponents engaged in; you, on the other hand, were simply being a good neighbor.

(link) [Slate]

/Politics | 0 writebacks | permanent link


Notes: If you put a <mailto:> link in the URL field your address will not be mangled: this could be a bad idea as your email address could be easily harvested by bots designed for SPAM. The comments field should now format correctly for line feeds and carriage returns: when you hit the 'Enter' or 'Return' keys in your comment it should break to a new line. The text should wrap cleanly. Please let me know if it doesn't. No HTML tags will pass through - entering links seems to be the main cause of comment SPAM. Also, please be sure that Javascript is enabled in your browser before attempting to post a writeback. Sorry for any inconvenience, but this really helps cut down on the amount of comment SPAM I have to deal with.
 Title: (optional)
Save my Name and URL/Email for next time