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Eyes on the Prize

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Explaining the political necessity that many Democrats feel to publicly denounce House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – and conceding that these denunciations will cause problems for Democrats in the next Congress – Democratic political strategist Mark Mellman says “But more people are concerned about winning than about whatever post-election problems we might have” (“Pelosi Renounced by Candidates in Her Own Party,” Oct. 16).

I admire Mr. Mellman’s honesty.  Public-choice scholars, such as my (now-retired) George Mason University colleagues James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, have long argued that politicians’ vision never extends beyond the next election.  The consequence of this political myopia is that, contrary to popular myth, government is not uniquely concerned with the future; instead, politicians too frequently sacrifice the public’s long-run welfare in exchange for the cheap and irresponsible thrill of immediate victory at the polls.

Donald J. Boudreaux