It was the Year of No Ideas. The Democrats had nothing to say and said it ineptly, running from the achievements of recent years — the Affordable Care Act, falling unemployment rates, a soaring stock market — and the president who presided over them like Usain Bolt from a house fire, defending themselves from Republican attack about as effectively as the Iraqi Army defends Iraq. Which is to say, not very. The party presented no compelling argument for itself. It didn't just lack the courage of its convictions; it also lacked its convictions.It's not necessary to resort to such hyperbole to point out Our President's detached governing style or misguided policies. On the other hand, we might not be seeing the typical whining Dennis Prager suggests is coming from people making arguments along the lines Mr Pitts takes.
The Republicans also had nothing to say, but they said it loudly and with great certitude: "Obama caused Ebola! Obama caused ISIS! Obama is going to give your job to an illegal! GOP: 2014!"
Since last Tuesday’s elections, commentator after commentator on the Left has declared American politics “dysfunctional.” When Democrats win by a landslide, the Left regards the vote as testimony to the great message of the Left and the good sense of the American people. Only when Republicans win by a landslide does the vote reflect dysfunction.Or, perhaps, ignorance about what systems of governance are supposed to do. Tyrannical government is effective government, all too often effective at doing the wrong things. Representative republics, no matter the system of voting or the system of representation, sometimes require the withdrawal of some consent in order for the powers the government exercises to be considered just. I have a longer post along these lines coming; for tonight, consider Ira Stoll's suggestion that sometimes the voters want their representatives to "do no harm."
Call me a contrarian, or accuse me of low expectations, but my idea of a successful Republican Congress isn’t one that passes 10 new laws. It isn’t one that passes six new laws, or five. In fact, we’d probably be lucky to get away with a Republican Congress that abstained from law-passing altogether.That column hit the internet before news of MIT's Jonathan Gruber describing bounded rationality and welfare economics badly to audiences of economists did. And thus, there is a strong possibility that legislation isn't even intended to improve matters, other than by tricking people. More anon.
We’ve got more than enough laws already. So many, in fact, that it’s basically impossible for an American individual or business who wants to abide by the law to keep track of all of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d be happy enough if a new Congress repealed some of the old bad laws. I suppose they need to pass some budget to keep the soldiers from going barefoot. In my ideal world, there’d be some legislation cutting taxes, reforming welfare, increasing legal immigration, allowing oil and liquid natural gas exports, and reducing government spending and bureaucracy.
But setting “zero” as at least the symbolic goal for new laws in the new Congress would have the virtue of being humble.
It would be a signal that Congress understands the law of unintended consequences: that actions intended to improve matters may wind up making them worse in ways initially unimagined.