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I Still Don't Want My Son to Enter Politics

I don’t have time to respond to all of the comments on my letter in which I insist that I would be ashamed if my son became a successful politician.  But here are a few summary points.

(1) That letter was not written tongue-in-cheek.  I’m quite serious.

(2) In a world where government’s power were much more limited, my opinion would likely be different.

(3) I have no recipe to get from our world of expanding and intrusive government to one in which government is more constrained — but I emphatically do not believe that persons elected to "lead" a powerful government will ever do much to restrain the power of that government.  In a real sense, government reflects the expressive values and ideas of the populace.  (See Brennan’s and Lomasky’s Democracy and Decision, and Bryan Caplan’s Myth of the Rational Voter.)  Change these values and ideas for the better and you might rein in government.  But electing Mr. or Mrs. Leader to high office will not do the trick.

(4) I’m certainly not opposed to people expressing ideas, but my sense is that in political campaigns the ratio of genuine ideas to posturing-and-pandering is minuscule.  I dislike watching the likes of Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for the same reason that I dislike watching professional wrestling.  (Actually, if I had to choose, I sincerely would prefer to watch professional wrestling because the "victors" in those contests never get power to take my resources or to tell me how to live my life.)

(5) I challenge anyone to argue that the behavior of any of the major candidates (with the exceptions of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) is admirable.  Everyone knows that each serious candidate trims, waffles, is duplicitous, has his or her finger in the winds blown by polls, and wants to be President not because of any burning itch to help fellow human beings but because the job comes with all the trappings, and much of the power, of royalty.  Anyone who wants power (or, if you prefer, gilded office) so badly to work as hard as candidates must work to get such office — anyone who wants power or office so desperately so that they will pander publicly as most candidates do — is most certainly not to be trusted with power.