Did you feel a slight tug in your pockets the other night? No, it was not a dark psychic force that infiltrated your fortress of solitude. Instead, it was the taxes that will come out of your wallet to cover the billions and trillions of dollars in promises recently made by the 20 Democrats on the debate stage. When a country is already $23 trillion in the hole and faces $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities and expenditures, what is another $92 trillion – to pretend to do something about the environment – among friends?
Kung Fu Pander
There can only be one word to describe the top-tier and semi-serious Democratic candidates running for president: pandering. Nearly every one of the 2020 candidates has put forward proposals that appease the various wings of the party, from the social justice caucus to the victimhood bloc. The ones espousing these views may not really believe them, but power is a coquettish mistress.
Former Vice President Joe Biden shifted his views on federally funded abortion to satisfy the militant feminists. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is chatting about white privilege to impress woke Buzzfeed bloggers and MSNBC pundits. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) wants to label health care a human right and offer Medicare for All, because President Donald Trump is surely sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office about to sign an executive order that shuts down hospitals, sends doctors to internment camps, and prohibits medical care. To give credit to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), he has always endorsed his brand of socialism.
Everyone might chuckle at the pandering and political expedience. But do you know who to blame for this strategy? It is the fault of the voter, an enabler of these foul creatures.
Recent polls have found that many Americans support free child care, government health care, tuition-free college, and paid maternity leave. With this polling data in their back pockets, politicians are incentivized to promise anything and everything to the public in exchange for votes. They might know that these policies are unaffordable or unattainable, but pledging them is critical to gaining power – trying to implement them is a different story.
And this is not only the Democrats. Republicans, too, are incentivized but in different ways, like subsidizing farmers, increasing military spending, or keeping drugs illegal.
Imagine if there were a presidential candidate who promised the American people nothing at all. If, during a debate, the moderators ask this person about his or her plan to create jobs, improve education, and stop steel dumping from foreign markets. The candidate shrugs and concedes that he or she will not do anything about these issues.
The odds of this presidential hopeful gaining any ground in national polls, securing the nomination (R or D), or winning the White House would be slim to none. Indeed, this is an indictment on society and not so much this fictitious figure. Most of the electorate demands that politicians do something. Now, what that something is doesn’t really matter as long as they are doing it and looking busy a la George Costanza.
When President Calvin Coolidge won the 1924 election, he ran a modest campaign. Although electoral contests were vastly different a century ago, he simply went on the radio or authored material that was simple and straight to the point. Coolidge never promised to give everyone $50 a month for life, a free Model-T, or dates with John Barrymore for the ladies and Mary Pickford for the gents. He only behaved as a “rock of ages” and urged Americans to “keep cool.”
If Coolidge ran today, he would have zero shot in either party because most voters expect something from the Leviathan.
Consider, if you will, libertarians. Some politicians have admitted that they do not advance the causes of diehard libertarians for two reasons: Such people do not vote – it may violate the non-aggression principle (NAP) – and there is not much of a public demand to abolish the Federal Reserve, end all forms of taxation, and legalize drugs. If more libertarians voted or if there were an immense demand for these policies, then more politicians would promote these causes.
In 2008 and 2012, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) ran on this platform and was only able to garner 1% of the vote in ‘08 and 10% in ‘12.
No demand, no supply.
It’s Basic Economics
In the marketplace, if there is a demand for a good or a service, a private company will attempt to satisfy that demand with an ample supply. Americans wanted food and coffee that matched their lifestyles: fast. So, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts were born, ensuring consumers had the option of getting a Big Mac on the road or a hot cup of java on the way to work.
Politics maintains a similar model. If there is a significant want for free health care, trade protectionism, or state-managed economic stimulus, then politicians will be sure to tailor their campaigns to ensure these demands are front and center of their electoral efforts. On the other hand, if there is very little appetite for reining in the central bank or legalizing heroin, then candidates will refrain from homing in on those issues. Like McDonald’s or Dunkin’, however, these politicians can be stale and their products bad for your health.
It’s basic economics, err, politics.