David R. Henderson  

Why Bernie Doesn't Quit: Public Choice 101

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Jesse Walker, over at Reason's Hit and Run, just posted an excellent piece making an obvious point. I'm not undercutting him here: part of why it's obvious is that he says it so well.

Here's the key part:

Sometimes they get more explicit, as when Sen. Dianne Feinstein said last week that Sanders' presence in the race has become "actually harmful," since it means Clinton "can't make that general-election pivot the way she should."

The "pivot," of course, is the moment a candidate stops pursuing her party's base and starts chasing the mushy moderates. The pivot is precisely what Sanders wants to block.


Summary of Feinstein's message to Bernie: You want outcome A. I don't. What you're doing will maximize your chance of achieving outcome A. So just stop it.

If Sanders quits, Clinton will be able to move closer to the median voter in the general election. That's Public Choice 101.

By the way, I have my own reason for wanting Bernie to quit. It's also Public Choice 101. If Sanders quits, Clinton pivots toward the median voter and then the Republican nominee, presumably Trump, doesn't have the incentive he otherwise has to go further left. Remember that in 1972, Nixon went left to compete with McGovern and Nixon proceed to "McGovern" from the left.

You might wonder why I wouldn't want Bernie in so that he can push his much-better, less-interventionist views on foreign policy. Simple. Because he doesn't. He mainly talks about the domestic economy and he's almost completely awful. The only candidate who's saying much non-interventionist in foreign policy is Trump.


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CATEGORIES: Public Choice Theory




COMMENTS (11 to date)
seanm writes:

are you implying you're actually planning on voting for trump in the general based on his foreign policy? (or for any reason at all, really)?

Khodge writes:

In terms of governing, Sanders would easily be the least competent and, as such, would be a lame duck from the get-go. This is something I would consider to be a huge bonus given the options.

This is one of the most practical topics for voters this year as trying to choose from a couple of seriously flawed candidates is already proving difficult.

Could you post some of your favorite authors on this topic?

David R. Henderson writes:

@seanm,
are you implying you're actually planning on voting for trump in the general based on his foreign policy? (or for any reason at all, really)?
No. Definitely not.

Charley Hooper writes:

Something to consider is the animosity that a Sanders or a Trump would receive from the established parties and the politicians that belong to them. Can you imagine Sanders getting very far with Republicans and perhaps even Democrats? Trump won't fare much better.

What this means is gridlock, and it's one small reason for optimism.

Charlie writes:

What's missing from your analysis is that Sanders is not indifferent to Trump vs. Clinton. Presumably (and publicly), he strongly prefers Hillary. He has to balance this goal with the competing goal of shaping the party's platform.

With this more complete perspective, the Clinton surogates are quite rationally trying to get Sanders to recalculate this gamble, and more importantly, convince the more marginal Sanders voters (that may be more risk averse than Sanders) that Sanders is endangering the party and country's future by hurting Clinton and helping Trump.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Charlie,
Good point.

Thomas Knapp writes:

"The only candidate who's saying much non-interventionist in foreign policy is Trump."

Nope. Perry, McAfee, Petersen, Feldman, Johnson ...

David R. Henderson writes:

@Thomas Knapp,
Oops. You’re right. I had in mind candidates from the 2 major parties. In your list, the one I’m not familiar with is Perry. First name?

ColoComment writes:

Rick Perry. Former Governor of Texas?

gda writes:

"No. Definitely not."

At least as far as the public need to know.

Steve Sedio writes:

First, Bernie's success shows how frustrated the Democratic voter is with the Democratic leadership.

But, the Republican Voter, choosing Trump with a Cruz back up, has expressed outrage with Republican leadership (which they can't afford to hear, if they want Republican's to keep getting money from the crony capitalist like the Democrats).

On this point, I'm glad I live in CA. I have voted Libertarian for the last 14 years in protest to the big government party Republicans have become.

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