Let those Democrats unhappy with the power possessed by Trump get together with those Republicans who were unhappy with how much power was possessed by Barack Obama and propose some real limits. Since they have to be limits that will apply no matter who is in power, they have to be limits that can’t be overturned by an election: Constitutional limitations. …
And for anyone who doesn’t want to limit the power of the government over its citizens? That will make clear that their only real worry is that their own “gang of crooks” isn’t in power. Which should be instructive.
So says Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and libertarian who blogs as Instapundit (must read!) and writes a regular column for USA Today.
In his latest column he declares that elections matter too much, writing, “if Americans increasingly find it intolerable that their political opponents control the government, that’s because government controls too much.” (Emphasis mine.)
To me the truth of this is patently obvious, but for decades our smart set has been in love with “policy” that they believe will make our lives better. The smarter they get, the more ambitious, complex, and intrusive are the policy “solutions” they seek to impose on us.
Human behavior is organic. It’s our nature to act in what we perceive to be our own interest. The smart set has other ideas, and they come up with rules intended to make us act in what they believe is our best interest, or in the best interest of their favored constituencies. But no one is smart enough to get the complex details right, so things go wrong, and we end up worse off than where we started.
People use the term “unintended consequences” to describe this, even though some of the consequences are exactly what was intended. Example: high health insurance premiums for young healthy people are an intended consequence of the Affordable Care Act. By paying more than indicated by their actual risk profile, young people make it feasible for insurance companies to under-price premiums for older, sicker people. The smart set deliberately wrote the law to force this distortion.
Human beings have agency and free will. We react to rules imposed on us in ways that undermine the high hopes of the smart set who write those rules. The smart set responds by writing even more rules, mandates, and prohibitions, while heaping on increasingly harsh punishments.
Generally speaking, we have a party of government that loves this stuff and a party of free enterprise that doesn’t. But the latter party has a faction that is too fond of rules that control behavior in the personal sphere, so they’re not exactly the party of live and let live, either.
In Congress neither party wants the other to be able to enact its agenda. The trend has been for the frustrated occupant of the White House to take “executive action” to implement policy that can’t get through Congress. When those actions exceed the powers granted the President by the Constitution, we should all object, no matter which party we prefer or what we think about the policy itself. Glenn Reynolds is right.