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As a commentator ARGeezer said at the EuroTrib:
No one saw it coming? More like no Serious PeopleTM listened to those who did see it coming. Our society currently is not organized in such a way as to allow any significant prior constraint on the machinations of the big money boys, and they own enough of the system to veto any attempt to change this fact. Hell, we can't even get enforcement of existing laws that should constrain them.
In terms of the "football team" filter of American governance, the "Democratic Team" has a majority and the "Republican Team" a minority ... but in terms of power politics, its a Corporate Majority, who have had to swing their focus in terms of what lies to tell to which party base in order to get what they want.
It is, IOW, like a swing in the balance of power between the Whig Lords and the Tory Lords in pre-Reform England. There are, indeed, policy differences between the Oil Patch Republicans and the Hedge Fund Democrats, but they have far more in common in terms of their basic support for the status quo.
UPDATE: Senator Dorgan 1999: