The curse of success in politics

Michael J. Greenberg founder Jeff Bezos attributes his success to a harsh reality of business: Success brings more success. That was easy for him to say, as his company was the first large-scale online book retailer during the early years of the Dot Com Mania, and the media arguably granted him an upwards of a few billion dollars? worth of free coverage (though years would pass before his company actually turned any profit.)

However, in bidding wars, there is a well-known winner?s curse: Due to fierce competition, whoever wins the bidding has probably paid too much for it. Look at Pepsi?s purchase of Quaker ? a classic case of winner?s curse.

Sadly, but nevertheless interestingly, in politics, the winner?s curse is well and alive. Once a party wins, whether it?s a landslide or a laser-thin victory, the winning party will feel so happy after months of hard work, that they ? especially their base supporters ? become cocky and quickly forget that it all came down to only a few percentage points, and that it could have tipped the other way given slight changes in certain factors on Election Day. This cockiness and reality-denial usually will bring an end ? sometimes abrupt end (as in one-term presidencies) ? to the party?s hold on power.

That is where I think the GOP current stands. Most of my conservative friends are telling me how the 2004 election was the turning point of American politics, and from now on, conservatives are going to ?rule? (some even liberally say ?rock?). They show me ?signs? to prove their case. Just about the only huge, dark cloud hanging over their head is Hillary (who, by the way, they think is going to win the White House in 2008 simply because she?s a woman. Notice the contradictions and inconsistencies in what they believe and what they say!)

I don?t think my conservative friends see the real picture at all. They tend to see, for example, the 100,000-strong largely rural, evangelical voters in Ohio that sealed the election in ?04 as a homogeneous group, whom King Karl can once again conveniently call up in ?08 for national duty. I don?t think it?s that simple. We should count ourselves lucky because last fall, it seemed like the truly most important issue (morals and character) became the number one issue in the minds of enough voters that we managed to carry the day. Who is to say it will be the same in 2008?

My conservative friends won?t be surprised though, since they?ve been telling me all along that Hillary will win (though not without a sad, long face).

Michael J. Greenberg is a graduate student and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Editor?s note: Michael J. Greenberg is a pseudonym. He can be contacted through the editor at