David R. Henderson  

How Reforms Have Made Donald Trump Possible

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But just because voters are ideologically mixed does not mean they are centrists at heart. Many voters support a mix of extreme liberal policies (like taxing the rich at 90 percent) and extreme conservative policies (like deporting all undocumented immigrants). These voters only appear "centrist" on the whole by averaging their extreme views together into a single point on a liberal-conservative spectrum.

This makes those who celebrate voter centrism rather like the fabled statistician who drowned in a river that was 2 feet deep on average. Even if voters are centrist on average, they can be quite extreme on many particular issues.

The result? Reforms that empower voters may not push politicians further to the center -- instead, they may encourage politicians to pander to extreme views popular among voters. Indeed, where they have been enacted, many changes that reformers favor -- like public funding of elections and top-two primaries [DRH note: as we now have in California] -- have resulted in politicians doing just this. By seeking to further empower voters in the name of reducing polarization, well-meaning reformers may actually be encouraging dangerous extremism.


This is from David Broockman, "How well-meaning political reformers are helping to elect President Trump," Washington Post, March 7.

Broockman is an assistant professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He's sharp.

I somehow think that co-blogger Bryan Caplan would like this article a lot.

HT@ Stephen M. Jones.


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CATEGORIES: Public Choice Theory




COMMENTS (4 to date)
Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Taxing rich at 90% and deporting all foreigners is standard national socialism and not any kind of liberal-conservative mix at all.

Martin writes:

@Berdarz Ilaci,

I recommend reading the full source article to better understand the point that comes off as a contradiction.

Devil’s Advocate writes:

Put your head in the oven and your feet in the freezer; on average, you feel pretty good. I agree with the logic of the referenced article, I think. However, it maintains that the extremes of the bell-shaped curve keeping moving to the further extreme in order to maintain the “average” at the peak. Technically, I think the conversation is really about the median voter...put another way, the 51st% voter.

Aaron Lee writes:

[Comment removed. Please consult our comment policies and check your email for explanation. Note that you must respond in email if you want your future comments considered.--Econlib Ed.]

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