On August 30, 2005, the world lost a great mind, that of Jude Wanniski.
As one of the earliest and most passionate promoters of what would be called “supply-side economics”, Jude would speak to anyone who would listen. Indeed, in the lead up to the Iraq war, where he was beating the drums about former weapons inspector Scott Ritter’s reports that we would not find any weapons of mass destruction, his unorthodox views cost him friendships. Jude was ignored, and the Bush presidency became tarred with the events of the Iraq War. This served to greatly knock Bush’s focus off of what should have been the nail in the coffin for big government. It set the stage for a wordsmith like Obama to sweep into power, promising utopia on earth, created by government. It seemed like the limited-government movement would be back by a generation or more. Or so we thought…
The first chapter of Wanniski’s 1978 masterwork, “The Way The World Works”, describes Wanniski’s “Political Model” and opens with this summary:
“The political model holds that the electorate is wiser than any of its component parts.
Civilization progresses in a political dimension through the ability of politicians to read the desires of the electorate. Neither the press corps nor other “opinion leaders” influence the electorate, except in the sense of broadcasting the political menu. Their influence instead bears on the politicians, who look to opinion leaders for help in ascertaining the wishes of the electorate. The decline of a nation state or political unit is a sign of repeated failure of the political class to read the wishes of the electorate. Emigration is a sure sign of relative political failure. At the extreme, the electorate resorts to revolution, thereby adjusting the political framework and raising to power a new political class better able to read the desires of the electorate. Modern nation states have built into their political frameworks various safety values that can bring about urgent corrections in the avoidance of violent revolution or war.”
Barack Obama, as he continues to provoke and escalate what could virtually be called a cold Civil War, ignores Wanniski’s sage observations to his steady demise. Rather than stepping back and acknowledging that Scott Brown’s recent win in Massachusetts’ special election for the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat is but the latest attempt of the voters to say “No!” to his overreaching agenda, he instead doubles down and promises an even stronger fight.
When Wanniski talks of emigration, it is easy to think of places like Mexico, from which thousands of citizens try to flee each month. But it should be just as easy to think of California, or New York, or Michigan, all laboratories of big government and all reaping the failures of the policies they have sown. To now have the voters of Massachusetts emigrate en masse from their tradition of sending a Democrat to the Senate, a seat held by over fifty years by a Kennedy, is nothing short of cataclysmic from a Democratic pollster’s vantage point. The volume of this message to Obama should cause more hearing damage than Spinal Tap’s amps cranked up to eleven.
As for Wanniski’s talk of revolution, one only needs to look to the followers of Ron Paul and the morphing of that into the Tea Party movement. Now referred to as “astro-turf” at the peril of the accuser’s reputation, after shocking swings of the voting pendulum in Virginia, New Jersey, Westchester County New York and now Massachusetts, it should be clear that this is one Party that is going to give a wicked hangover to resolute defenders of Big Government.
Come November, we’ll learn whether or not Congress has swung far enough to override a Presidential veto on a Wanniski-style supply-side tax cut. Simply allowing the Bush supply-side tax cuts to become permanent, rather than expire at year’s end, would substitute nicely. In the meantime, Obama would do well to head Wanniski’s even larger message: that no matter how smart of an administrative team he tries to assemble and maintain, it is no match for the collective wisdom of the electorate. If he realized the latter, he would drop his populist class-warfare and instead pursue an agenda of individual empowerment, rooted in personal liberty. Doing so might be his only hope for winning a second term, possibly against Scott Brown.