It probably couldn’t be any worse. The current presidential candidates are about as bad as bad can be.
Just look at them.
- Ted Cruz, who called a press conference to say that he would not “copulate” with a rat like Donald Trump.
- Donald Trump, who had every opportunity to gather all anti-establishment voters into his fold but insisted, instead, on alienating as many as possible — e.g., stipulating that in some hypothetical world in which abortion was outlawed, women who had abortions should be “punished,” then putting out a press release saying that he didn’t really mean that, and then saying what he didn’t mean again.
- Bernie Sanders, spouting non-facts 24/7.
- Hillary Clinton — say no more.
The temptation is to attribute the horror of 2016 to the candidates’ abominable personalities, or at most to the failures of the electoral system, which is warmly responsive to televisable personalities (Trump), and to the indefatigable pressure groups that gave us Clinton and Sanders (and Jeb Bush and a few other sparklers).
I think that those factors are important, but they are as nothing when compared with the ideas that are insisted upon by the pressure groups and are projected so abominably by the personalities.
All the problems that are used to justify the literally insane campaigns now being waged were the direct results of unlimited government.
The ideas aren’t many. We’re not dealing with the intellectual intricacy of the questions that Lincoln and Douglas debated. Most of what passes for ideas in today’s campaigning results from a handful of crude, outdated assumptions, as follows:
1. The idea that work produces wealth, and therefore ought to be rewarded — an idea that had the stuffing knocked out of it by the discovery of the principle of marginal utility, a mere 14 decades ago.
2. The age-old idea that wealth should be apportioned by political means; i.e., by force.
These two ideas provide most of Bernie Sanders’ intellectual equipment, if you want to call it that.
3. The pre-1830s idea that free trade is bad for the economy.
Here you will recognize Donald Trump’s motivating idea, and one of Sanders’.
4. The 1970s idea that racial — and “racial” — sensitivities have rights that government must enforce.
This belief, which is merely the flipside of the much older belief that white racial sensitivities must be enforced by government, is the basis of the grievance industry which fuels both Sanders and Clinton, and without which their candidacies might not be able to exist.
5. The idea that, as H.L. Mencken said, “the people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.”
This is populism, which fuels the preposterous windbaggery of Trump and Sanders, and to a degree that of Cruz. It was adequately discredited by the idiotic behavior of the ancient, direct democracies, if not of modern Detroit, Chicago, and New York City.
Now, you may say, and you would be right to say to it, these fallacious notions get a lot of their steam from the true, or sort of true, ideas that are associated with them. Sanders’ people and Trump’s people are right in believing that the financial system is rigged against the majority of Americans. Trump’s people and Cruz’s people are right in thinking that the country is being run into the ground by small groups of wealthy, or otherwise privileged, self-serving apostles of political correctness, seemingly bent on outraging all feelings but their own. Trump’s people are right in thinking that a welfare state cannot admit hordes of immigrants without grossly disadvantaging its own citizens. Clinton’s people are right in their visceral aversion to populism.
It’s remarkable that Clinton’s supporters, though undoubtedly the best “educated” of any of these groups, has the fewest ideas, right or wrong. It’s certainly a commentary on elite education.
But the most remarkable fact is that all the problems that are used to justify the literally insane campaigns now being waged were the direct results of unlimited government. If the American people had voted to increase income inequality, strangle the middle class, create racial tensions, ship jobs overseas, enlarge the permanent underclass, and grant a permanent veto power to an unelected class of well-paid parasites, they couldn’t have gotten better results from their decades of votes for people who wished to expand the government.
Now people of common sense and what used to be common knowledge are seeing (the cliché is unavoidable) the chickens coming home to roost. Are you happy? I’m not.