Why Don’t We Have Better Candidates?

People of all political persuasions – or no political persuasion – keep asking, “Why don’t we have better candidates for President?”

The question is an expression of helplessness and hopelessness. People do not usually expect an answer.

But there is an answer. In order to get to the answer, you have to ask the following:

What do we expect a president to do?

What do we expect the government to do?

Given what we expect government to do, what kind of people does that attract to run for high office?

Most of us assume it’s the government’s job to manage the economy.

Donald Trump, for example, says he will create jobs. Sometimes he implies he’ll create jobs through the free market, and at other times he says through government works projects. He’s right about the free market, but he’s wrong to suggest government creates jobs through infrastructure projects. Whatever the value of those projects, they take money from the private sector and redistribute it to the public sector. This is wealth redistribution, not wealth creation or economic growth, any more than government money for police or the military means economic growth.

Hillary Clinton has stated repeatedly that the government creates wealth and prosperity, not profit-makers in the free market. In a twisted way, she’s right. Because government now has its finger in every economic pot, nothing can survive or fail without government authorization anymore. But that doesn’t change the fact that all wealth, in order to be enjoyed, redistributed or managed, must first be created. The Federal Reserve manipulates, inflates and deflates currency for the short-term benefit of politicians and connected “capitalists” who profit from government’s policy, but it still does not mean it creates wealth. Only self-responsible actors in a marketplace will ever be able to do that. Without the remnants of supply-side productivity, Hillary and her favor-peddling Clinton Foundation would not exist, because there would be no money with which to bribe.

In a rational society, where people understood the basics, candidates saying these things would not get anywhere. People would instantly know, “That’s a bunch of BS. Politicians don’t create jobs and wealth. Only private people do. Government’s job is to stay out of the way.”

Almost nobody thinks this anymore. Consequently, nobody who says it gets anywhere when running for office. Libertarians like Gary Johnson sometimes partially say it, but even this year, with two hugely unpopular candidates in the two major parties, the Libertarian ticket can’t seem to break the 10 percent mark. That’s because very few believe it.

The amazing thing about America? Most people have the right emotional reaction: “Throw the bums out.” But they have the wrong idea. Their idea is that government will protect and take care of them. Actually, that is the proper role of government when it comes to purse snatchers, identity stealers, computer hackers, car thieves and rapists/murderers. It’s also the proper role of the national government when it comes to criminal spies, international secret-stealers, terrorists and invading armies. But it’s NOT the role of government to feed, clothe, hospitalize, educate and provide all the creature comforts of life for us. Government cannot do these things, and should not try.

The fact that this no longer occurs to most Americans is why the two major candidates – whomever they are – disappoint us every single time. Americans sense that neither Trump nor Clinton have the answer. But they don’t have the willingness or ability to define the right answer. And most are unwilling to let go of their fantasy that government somehow can and should feed, clothe, educate, provide creature comforts and otherwise take care of them.

If Hillary Clinton wins, it will only be by default. She’s the status quo. Although unusual exceptions (like Brexit) do sometimes happen, people generally stick with what they know, as much as they claim to dislike it. At least until it’s no longer possible to do so.

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