Michael Barone has an interesting column today, the net of which is that today’s populism is fueled by a growing distrust of experts. I am not at all sure I agree with this thesis.
Rather than putting a low value in expertise, which assumes incorrectly that those in office now are expert – and they demonstrably are not (they are just the most-expert in a self-validating cohort of inexpert ideologues) – I think America finds itself at the point in which the best and the brightest – who most certainly are NOT in office of any kind – have decided that they need to use their time and expertise to improve the living standards and opportunities of their families, and that they are just too smart to involve themselves in what have become exceedingly destructive politics.
The reach of our (no longer self-) government has become such that it takes so much energy to work against the State to improve your life and that of your family, that you just can’t spend time worrying about fighting an intractable, ridiculous system; you just need – rightly – to put your own family first.
When no good people run, you get adolescent policies, huge debts, no consequences for bad behavior, adolescence on the world stage, ridiculous wars against non-threatening states, the fantasy that countries with literacy rates below 60% can become liberal democracies, and all kinds of other nonsense. And candidates like Obama, Biden, Clinton (both), McCain, Romney, Huntsman, Bachmann, Dole, Bush (both), etc.
I don’t think anyone would categorize any of those people among the brightest of their generations. The brightest are out there inventing the future and improving productivity and staying away from a hugely destructive Baby Boomer politics and media.
But if we don’t fix the problem, if we don’t start getting real adults into office, we will continue this adolescent government until we are over and done. I had hoped that we would outlast the Boomers, but their get in OWS are not giving me alot of confidence in a post-Boomer future.