Maybe it takes a free-market economist like Larry Kudlow to diagnose why Democrats appear to be in such poor position that they lost a Senate seat in one of the bluest states in the nation. When businesses offer products and services that consumers dislike or won’t support, those businesses fail, and sometimes rather abruptly. Kudlow calls this the “disconnect”, but really describes the free-market reaction to bad business:
The disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country has never been greater. Why can’t the political class in D.C. produce a fiscal product that voters, taxpayers, and investors are willing to consume?
According to the Washington Post, voters want smaller government and fewer government services by a large 58 to 38 percent margin. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reveals that 61 percent of voters believe tax cuts help the economy, that 59 percent think tax cuts are a better job-creation tool than increased government spending, and that another 59 percent believe higher deficits hurt the economy. Rasmussen also reports that a full 83 percent of Americans blame the deficit on the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending. And get this: In a whopper of a poll result, the New York Times reports that 75 percent of Americans dislike Congress.
This is why there’s a political revolt out there. Washington just doesn’t get it.
Inside the Beltway, Democrats are sending a profoundly pessimistic message that only government knows best. But out there in the heartland there is an optimistic message that We the People know best. And that heartland optimism will not be stopped.
Democrats will vehemently disagree that they’re selling pessimism. Barack Obama rode to office on a wave of populist fervor, they will point out, and did so on a message of Hope and Change. They will rightly point out that the election of the first African-American President said something very optimistic about America and put us ahead of most of our Western allies in transcending centuries of racial animosity and injustice.
However, there are two problems with this argument. First, Obama ran as a moderate, but has governed as a movement liberal, championing government control of entire swaths of the economy. Second, the progressive agenda is not about optimism, but about futility. It argues that individuals cannot succeed in America without government choosing the winners and the losers. It casts the business world as monolithic villains out to exploit the masses, not as free markets that allow opportunities for success through individual initiative, innovation, and genius. The progressive memes rest on dire warnings of environmental and economic disasters that only statist bureaucracies can possibly avoid.
It’s all about devaluing the individual and hailing the collective. The marriage of the union movement to the progressives is no accident, although it’s bad for the unions in the long run. They both have the same impulse, which is to trump the individual and put a small cadre of elits in charge of all the decisions.
Reagan won the hearts of Americans — and kept them — by offering a truly optimistic “Morning in America” theme that appealed to our individual-above-the-collective impulse. Reagan understood that free markets are truly liberating, that government bureaucracies can become tyrannies over time, and that the key to massive prosperity was to allow a free people to choose how to use their own property as they saw fit. That movement touched off a generation of prosperity that only collapsed when the meddlers in both parties used government to massively intervene in the private lending markets and created a housing bubble that nearly destroyed the global economy.
That optimism that Reagan rekindled is not dead. The Tea Party is just the latest manifestation of America’s tradition of eschewing collectivism for individual liberty, and it will prevail eventually over the Chicken Little progressive agenda in the long run.