Is My Cynicism Showing?

Before you can do anything, you first must get elected.  So goes the conventional political wisdom in a representative republic.

Our politicians are much better at getting elected than they are at governing.  The formula is simple really.  You propose something you know will appeal to your base of voters.  You must take care however to ensure that what you propose has absolutely no hope of passing.  To ensure it won’t pass, your proposal must not be moderate, it must be extreme.  There is a political danger for you if it passes.  If it passes, you might be held to account for the consequences in the next election cycle.

AOC proposes the Green New Deal, knowing it won’t pass and if it did pass it would be disastrous, to appeal to voters – not to solve problems.  Joe “I am the Democratic Party now” Biden shut down the Keystone pipeline and chopped off oil and gas leases domestically to appeal to voter climate concerns, and then asks OPEC to increase production to alleviate the entirely predictable spike in fuel prices, effectively admitting that AOC’s proposal is fantasy.  But of course, the Green New Deal was merely “aspirational”.

If you propose an infrastructure bill, make sure you add a bunch of unrelated nonsense to it and inflate the price tag by a factor of four (or more).  That way you are assured it won’t get 60 votes in the Senate.  You get to go back to your voters and say “I tried”.  And you can blame the opposing party for the failure.  It’s a win-win for you, not so much for the folks driving over those roads and bridges though.

Make sure your stance on abortion is extreme – either a total ban or no restrictions at all up to the moment of birth.  You can sleep well knowing there is virtually zero popular support for either extreme.  The news media loves it – you get free advertising.

Be sure to loudly condemn the violence the news media lavishes so much attention on.  But don’t support any efforts to enforce existing laws – there might be too many people that support that.  Instead, propose banning and confiscating firearms.  With 20 million new firearms owners and NRA membership at an all-time high, you’ll be safe.

The consequences of moderate, common-sense proposals are severe.  They may pass.  If they do and they don’t work, you may be held to account.  If they do work, the “issue” goes away and you have nothing to talk about or campaign on.  This is a lose-lose for you as a politician.

The now-famous “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is only for talking points.  Talk, don’t do.  The strategic position must always be that you can continuously talk about some failure, and blame the opposing party or another branch of government for inaction.  You must never let your principles compromise that strategic position. 

I’m sure many of our politicians work hard and study intensely.  But what they are working on and studying is not government or governing.  To the degree any of them do, they work hard at getting elected and re-elected.  What they do once in office is, first and foremost, avoid accountability.



DAVID HARSANYI, 8/11/2021, “Biden Admits the Green New Deal Would Devastate the Economy”, National Review,

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