American political campaigns increasingly approach the naked avowal of their function as a potlatch. In the potlatch, Pacific-Northwest Indians would set fire to all they own, in an attempt to gain status over a rival - daring their opponent to match their power to destroy. The pols, likewise, involve their rooters in a potlatch of waste: Party A must be more powerful than Party B (and, so, more worthy of fealty) as their ability to waste is greater. How odd, when, one would think, the politicians' primary responsibility would be to act responsibly in management of the assets of their constituents.
- excerpt from "Pleasure Pilgrims" by David Mamet