Table of Contents
What is Logrolling?
Logrolling refers to when two (or more) legislative coalitions agree to trade or exchange votes in order to get their respective ‘pet’ bill passed.
A long-standing and common practice in the U.S. Congress, logrolling comes into play between legislators who have little vested interest in each other’s bill. Each will vote how the other wants them to in order to get both (or multiple) bills passed or potentially blocked.
For example, let’s say one legislator (X) strongly backs a bill that increases the budget for developing renewable energy while a different legislator (Y) wants to cut tax rates for the food industry. X approaches Y, offering to support Y’s bill if Y votes for their renewable energy bill. Y agrees. Both parties have gained support (imagine the amount of support if a policymaker successfully logrolls multiple constituents) and increased their chances of getting their legislation eventually passed in Congress.
It’s as the expression goes: you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or as they supposedly said on the American frontier, you roll my log and I’ll roll yours. Logrolling comes down to quid pro quo, or according to some, compromises that allow democracies to run.
For the most part though, people reserve the term ‘logrolling’ for the creation of a majority-sized ‘coalition of minorities.’ ‘Vote trading,’ on the other hand, refers to the two-person trading portrayed in the example of X and Y.
DID YOU KNOW?
‘Logrolling’ apparently emerged from the logging regions in Maine. Settlers cut trees to expand farming land and used the logs to construct houses. Moving these heavy logs from clearings to building sites, however, proved impossible for families. That’s why neighbors helped one another roll logs, eventually leading to the creation of the term ‘logrolling.
Types of Logrolling in Politics
“My people don’t like me to log-roll in their business, and vote away pre-emption rights to fellows in other states that never kindle a fire on their own land,” said Congressman Davy Crockett in 1835. Crockett was the first representative to mention logrolling in politics. Straying from the term’s roots in reciprocity and community, Crockett gave logrolling its negative connotation that remains to this day.
Three types of logrolling in politics exist:
- Logrolling in direct democracies: a handful of voters participate openly, making their votes easy to trade, rearrange, and trace
- Implicit logrolling: large voting bodies decide complex issues without formally trading support
- Distributive logrolling is the most known type, where legislators ensure their projects receive support. Policymakers logroll to secure their district policies, pork barrel, and/or earmarks regardless of whether they are efficient or beneficial to the public at large
Beyond the other types of logrolling, distributive logrolling tends to concern the watchdogs and the general public alike. Some consider it a corrupt part of politics, where legislators will try to get some personal benefits (e.g. road renovation near their residence) that might only help a small population even though tax money from citizens around the country are funding it. Critics of logrolling classify it as inefficient or wasteful spending.
Deeper into Logrolling Legislation
But back to the example of legislators X and Y.
Essentially, X and Y are trying to achieve a simple majority for their respective legislation. In other words, they want to have more votes for rather than against enacting their Bills.
But the X and Y do not operate in a vacuum, where they serve as the only two lawmakers. At least, that wouldn’t be the case in most governments, including the U.S. For this reason, the votes of the other legislators obviously matter, diluting the power of a single vote in reality.
You can probably see how politics can easily become a complicated dance. X and Y might agree to come together on X’s renewable energy bill, but a trio of legislators could band together to vote against the legislation. This is known as ‘counter-logrolling.’ On a Congressional-wide scale, members can end up creating sizable coalitions through logrolling, racing against opposition to gain a majority following.
Also, to mention one other concern, X will have to keep in mind that they have already agreed to vote in support of passing Y’s bill. X, unless they wish to ruin their relationships, cannot logroll legislators who have a vested interest in blocking the enactment of Y’s bill.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.