by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
You remember Pearce’s Law, don’t you? Longtime North Carolina Democratic political operative Gary Pearce reminded us during the course of the 2008 election campaign that liberal candidates face a unique electoral challenge: “liberals (or progressives or whatever you prefer) have to understand that your candidates don’t have the luxury of the right-wingers: They can’t always say exactly what they believe — and still get elected.”
The latest National Review features as its cover story William Voegeli‘s dissection of President Obama’s misinformation campaign related to the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. In one paragraph, Voegeli fleshes out Pearce’s ideas.
Liberals rely on bait-and-switch tactics because they fear the results of describing their agenda clearly and candidly to voters, who can’t handle the truth. Even an elementary truth, such as the proposition that improving health care will cost money rather than save money, must be denied over and over, lest don’t-tread-on-me rubes start asking awkward questions about how much improving health care is going to cost and where the money will come from. Once a policy such as Obamacare is enacted and implemented, making the switch means admitting the obvious, and then claiming it’s so obvious — “everyone always knew” it would cost money and disrupt existing health-care arrangements — that it doesn’t really qualify as a switch. The villains in this story are not the liberals who spoke incontestable untruths when political circumstances called for telling people what they wanted to hear. The villains are conservatives who complain about the deception.
By the way, now that Pearce is working with 2nd District congressional challenger Clay Aiken, we’ll have to guess which of Aiken’s beliefs will remain hidden during the course of the campaign.