by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Ben Shapiro writes at National Review Online that President Trump ought to stop promising free stuff for his supporters.
Democratic politics is riven by a central conflict: the conflict between truth and desire. People generally want things; they want government to give them those things. Conservatives aren’t wrong when they say they can’t compete with Santa Claus — it’s far harder to draw voters to your side by telling them they won’t get something than by telling them that they’ll get real estate on the moon.
But thankfully, there is another human tendency that helps counteract the desire to receive from the government: the natural outrage at being lied to. Human beings aren’t fond of being promised the moon and then delivered moldy cheese.
This means that voters will support politicians who lie credibly, then turn radically on those politicians when those lies don’t work out. The result: a wildly variant politics in which nobody ever tells the truth — because telling the truth means avoiding the promises that get you elected. …
… Sure, Trump would make big-government promises, sound like a statist on health care and trade and economics. But he’d win, don’t you see? And his dishonesty would all be worthwhile, since he’d then pursue policies conservatives would like.
Trump’s victory rewarded that theory. But the theory is untenable.
It’s untenable because conservatives don’t seek the same policy results that leftists do. That means that Trump’s promises are bound to come up empty. And that means that Trump and the Republicans have placed themselves back on the horns of an ancient dilemma: They can lie to the people by promising them free things, but those things won’t materialize.
That, after all, is exactly what happened to President Obama.