How Social Media and Small Donors Fuel Extremism and the Decline of Effective Governance

From Jason Zingerle’s NYT Magazine essay on The Vanishing Moderate Democrat:

Murphy told me that the negative advertising against her and other moderates, including New York’s Kathleen Rice, who is retiring, and Maine’s Jared Golden, who is a Frontliner, “takes money to repair,” and she maintained that in a world where online small-dollar donations are the coin of the realm, money can be difficult for moderates to raise. “I’m a member who has been repeatedly named as one of the most effective and bipartisan members on the Hill,” Murphy, who serves on the House Jan. 6 committee, said. “Nobody knows who I am.” Colleagues she deemed far less effective legislators, meanwhile, had Twitter and Facebook followings in the millions while hers were stuck in the mid-five figures. “Social media platforms provide folks the ability to focus more on making statements than making law,” she said. “The crazier things you say, the more money you raise. The more antagonistic you are to the other party, the more money you raise.”

This has put Murphy and her fellow moderates in a bind. They tend to represent or run in competitive districts, which require a lot of campaign money but also punish extremism.

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