Eric Hoffer observed in “The True Believer” that for mass movements to succeed, it is more important to have a devil than a God. Democratic campaigns have taken that advice to heart.
So, what is the message Democrats take to prospective voters? The message is this. The game is stacked against you. The society is hopelessly corrupt and you are powerless to achieve and provide for your own safety and security. Your only chance is to have the government intercede on your behalf.
You need the government to protect you from employers, mortgage lenders, health care providers, law enforcement and gun owners as well as prejudice, discrimination, pollution, inflation, prices, market fluctuations and offensive speech. The Democrats alert voters to a composite devil. That devil looks suspiciously old, white, wealthy, Christian, armed and republican.
Their low opinion of the American people is a campaign strategy. They sell grievance and they market themselves as the cure.
What is the Republican message? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.
If Republicans were to consider a message for future campaigns,it might be this; confidence in the American people. We should trust in the intellect, virtue, generosity, fairness and capability of the American people. We should openly confess that we do not regard private wealth as threat to American security. Republicans should be less cynical. In other words, more like Republicans and less like Democrats. When governing, Republicans should promise to meet our constitutional responsibilities and not overstep our constitutional limitations.
So, who is the all important devil? The devil is not the people, but rather the power concentrated in the hands of an arrogant elite, who believe themselves to possess expertise and virtue superior to the collective will of the American people. Narrow concentrations of power suppress the benefits derived from the input and efforts of all Americans.
Republicans should dispute the silly notion that government spending is more beneficial than market spending. They should point out that there is precious little evidence that the governing elites are as expert as they purport to be, nor as financially responsible. Current and past administrations have bankrupted Social Security and Medicare (the trust funds are composed entirely of a promise to tax, borrow or print money at a later date.) The reserves for mortgage guarantees and federal pensions are insufficient. Obamacare is woefully underfinanced.
We have taken politicians at their word and they failed us. The evidence supports that conclusion. The case for limited government; It has worked before.
I find it encouraging the there is more discussion about broadening the appeal to voters. But if the appeal does not carry over to governing, it will be just election strategy, not “morning in America.”