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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

You Can Fool All of the People Some of the Time




Vote for me! Presents for everyone!

Politicians are prone to solemnly intone, especially after an election loss, that “the people are always right.”

This is of course a humbug. Unfortunately, some people believe it. It is the ad populam fallacy. The people possess no special wisdom; you should not ask someone standing on a street corner how to balance the federal budget, or which doctoral program to take. Taken together, all men are, on average, only of average intelligence.

Keeping it strictly with politics: Adolf Hitler was popularly elected. So were all those Jim Crow governors of the pre-civil rights US South.

This is not why we have democracy. It is for two reasons: first, because, smart or stupid, every man has the God-given right to manage his own affairs. When this is not directly possible, when there must be a government, it is only decent to regularly seek his consent. Second, democracy is an objective check on a government deciding for itself how good it is, and how long it ought to stay in power. The government itself has an obvious conflict of interest.

But there is no magic to it. One can often see electorates making bad mistakes. Their worst tendency is to look for a man on a white horse, who will solve all their problems.

I think, for example, of Jimmy Carter. Granted that, after Watergate, it was a good idea to remove the Republicans from the presidency. Still, there were probably a half-dozen candidates on the Democratic side who had a better claim to be on the ticket: Scoop Jackson, Lloyd Bentsen, Jerry Brown, Frank Church, Birch Bayh, Terry Sanford. Jimmy Carter, a virtual unknown, won on a cloying smile and a pledge that “I will never lie to you.” There were posters saying “J.C. will save America.”

The antichrist.

Barack Obama was another “fairy tale,” in the words of Bill Clinton. We even know the name of the fairy tale: it is “the magic negro.” A lot of people got caught up in the fantasy of rainbows and unicorns, seeing Obama as a “lightworker” who would “heal the nation.” “Hope and change.” “This was the moment the oceans stopped rising.” What a waste—we could have had John McCain or Mitt Romney.

Sadly, I fear Donald Trump falls into the same category. He’s a travelling salesman. It will all be “huge” and “fantastic.” You won’t believe how good it’s going to be.

Don’t do it, America. Two in a row may be the end of you.


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