To many voters, the seeming lack of ideological consistency in our elected officials smacks of corruption.
But hypocrisy, suggests recently retired Representative Barney Frank, is less evidence of corruption than evidence of its absence. It is what makes Congress function. It is the only tool legislators have after they’ve rooted out real corruption.
“Legislators do not pay each other for votes, and every member of a parliament in a democratic society is legally equal to every member,” Frank writes in his new memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics From the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. For legislators, cooperation is a form of political currency.
As Frank has it, legislators have to act in ideologically inconsistent ways in the short run if they want to advance their larger objectives in the long run, as those larger objectives can only be achieved with teamwork.