Something else about Lieberman-Lamont: Their race brings together two of the less popular archetypes in American public life: the incumbent creature of Washington and the guy with more money than God.
That’s not a coincidence.
Under the “one dollar, one vote” system undergirded by the “money is speech” regime set forth in Buckley, the ability to raise and spend money ranks high on the already frightful list of institutional advantages held by incumbents. The ability to raise money is the first mark of legitimacy in the eyes of the media and political establishments who too often serve as gatekeepers between would-be challengers and the attention of the electorate. Ostensibly liberal people pledge fealty to the doctrine that serious candidates should be able to raise serious money.
Some millionaire candidates, of course, fail spectacularly. Some spend enough of their dough to leave the incumbent at a significant spending disadvantage. Some do both.
But wherever one comes down on what we should or shouldn’t assume about millionaires’ character and suitability to represent us, the difficulty of unseating an incumbent without being one should concern us.