Arcimboldo is a big favorite of yours truly. His astounding portraits, comprised of fish, fruit, trees, earth, paper, you name it, are artistically brilliant and endlessly fascinating but this post isn't about the genius of Arcimboldo but rather the undue and often ugly influence of lawyers in government, something his portrait, titled, The Jurist, indirectly depicts in rather accurate fashion.
In a new paper to be presented at an upcoming Scholars Strategy Network workshop and obtained exclusively by Salon, Bonica argues that this bias towards lawyers is driven in part by the overwhelming influence of money in politics results in policy biased towards the wealthy. Bonica begins with a jaw-dropping statistic. He finds that,
While comprising 0.4% of the voting age population, there are more lawyers elected to the House than there are representatives from all 24 states west of the Mississippi. Lawyers are even more prevalent in the Senate. In 44 of the past 50 Congresses, lawyer-legislators commanded seat shares large enough to constitute a filibuster proof majority.
One reason is that lawyers are far more likely to run for office. But they’re also far, far more likely to win. Bonica finds, that compared to the average American, doctors are 11 times more likely to run for office, while lawyers are 54 times more likely to run for office. But while doctors are only 12 times more likely to be elected, lawyers are a stunning 99 times more likely to be elected (see chart). Why? Bonica argues that a key to winning elections is early fundraising, and the legal profession is one of the most politically active groups in the country.