Americans have been assured for ages that the government in Washington could competently manage the economy, their retirement benefits, medical care, the culture (through immigration control), and foreign affairs. But with each passing year the government's foolishness across the board has become blindingly clear. The national debt soars; the annual budget deficit is enormous; Social Security and Medicare have huge unfunded liabilities; recessions strike periodically; taxes are onerous; economic growth is anemic; and wars go on forever. But privileges for the well-connected keep flowing. The politicians' response consists of little more than bailouts for the rich and symbolic gestures for the rest.Sometimes that strong man is a woman. But whether it's Mr Trump peddling the unicorn, or Mrs Clinton peddling the unicorn, either unicorn is as real as any other unicorn.
Trump capitalizes on all this and blames the ruling elite for its impotence. He often alludes to what has been called democratic sclerosis, complaining that politicians are "all talk, no action." (We should be so lucky). In contrast, he would act decisively. When he describes his prowess as a deal-maker, he seems to be promising that he will fix things single-handedly. Lately he talks about cutting deals with Democrats in Congress, but that has not been the theme of his campaign. America's problem, he says, is stupid leaders who don't know how to negotiate. He will be a smart leader—and America will be great again.
But Trump is wrong about the cause of democratic sclerosis and therefore about the solution. Sclerosis results not from weak leadership but from a government with the power to engineer society. The more government tries to do, the more it bogs down in legislative sludge and gridlock. After years of frustration, people unschooled in political economy become vulnerable to a strong man who promises to "get things done."
WE SHOULD ASPIRE TO BE FREE.
Reason's Sheldon Richman details why the Cult of the Presidency is a snare.