Realignments and Revolts

2006-08-23

Over at TCS Daily, Arnold Kling speculates about the possibility of a populist revolt coming soon to American politics. It wouldn't surprise me one bit. I think real people -- that is, you and me -- are sick and tired of polarizing pundits and posturing politicians. I share Kling's concern about what populism might mean for economic policy (protectionism), immigration (closed borders), and a host of other issues. Which is why we need to educate real people about the benefits of free trade (America has nothing to fear from economic competition, and in fact benefits from it), open but smart immigration (we're a nation of immigrants after all, and the periods when immigration was closed off led to a lack of economic dynamism), etc.

As I see it, the major challenge for the West over the next few decades will be retaining our freedoms in the face of the 21st-century jihad. The best we can hope for is that some leader or party is going to get smart about populism by emphasizing things like eliminating our effective subsidies to the modern-day tribalists who want to destroy us. How about repealing the income tax (no more IRS!) and replacing it with a huge tax on foreign oil? That kind of proposal could go far, and tap into populism in a good way. (Yes, the libertarian in me dislikes all taxes but the realist in me knows that we're going to have taxes for the foreseeable future, so why not tax the damn Saudis instead of hardworking Americans?)


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal