Monday, December 12, 2016

Yet another reason to be worried about Trump's presidency

Of course, there are really plenty of reasons.  I don't expect that Trump's potential abandonment of the One China Policy to have more than a 1 in 10 chance of leading to war with China but, well, he isn't even in office yet and this is a thing.

Still, as potentially painful and maybe even disastrous as the next four years are going to be I'm worried that a Trump presidency will be even worse (assuming no nuclear annihilation) in the long run.

I've already plugged The Myth of the Rational Voter as my main model of thinking about elections and that makes me really worried about the lessons that people will draw from Trump's victory.  To summarize, politicians running for office have to compromise between promising things that sound nice to people who aren't really paying attention to policy and promising things that will actually make voters happy and thus vote for them again in the next election.

I think that most politician, at some level, don't really want to believe in people voting for Trump.  We all like to believe that we're normal.  That other people think like we do.  That's often a comforting illusion since people are all so very different but it's natural to believe otherwise.  So politicians, who frequently took their jobs because they care about public policy, will often want to assume that voters care just as much about policy as they do.  But of course voters have a great number of important things in their lives which they prioritize above learning about public policy and contentious political issues.  So Trump lying or making absurd promises works much better than politicians want to believe is possible.

So I'm worried that the establishments of both parties will look at Trump and internalize the message that if they want to get one of their own elected to the presidency then they can't let themselves worry about whether they'll be able to fulfill the promises they're making.  There's no way to get a second term if you can't get a first term, after all.

And I'm worried that this is coming after a previous revelation that's hit congresspeople in the gut.  That most voters know who the president is but don't really know who's calling the shots in Congress.  So if Congress causes problems then the president will get blamed for them.  Maybe I'm imagining that one since Obama has such high approval ratings?  I can only hope I'm imagining that and it's just the US primary system that's been causing problems recently in Congress.

Or maybe it's like a comment on Marginal Revolution said and the dynamic is that TV or movie stars will just win due to star power but most of them aren't interested in running.  That's not ideal but it doesn't seem so toxic in the long run so I guess I'll hope that that's what's at play.

Tax Rates and Growth

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