Diminished Expectations for Politics


Tyler Cowen in today’s New York Times, “Itâ??s an Election, Not a Revolution

Rather than being cynics, we should be realists. Democracy is reasonably good at some things: pushing scoundrels out of office, checking their worst excesses by requiring openness, and simply giving large numbers of people the feeling of having a voice. Democracy is not nearly as good at others: holding politicians accountable for their economic promises or translating the preferences of intellectuals into public policy.

THAT might sound pessimistic, but itâ??s not. Many Americans will be living longer, finding new sources of learning and recreation, creating more rewarding jobs, striking up new loves and friendships, and, yes, earning more money. Just donâ??t expect most of these gains to come out of the voting booth or, for that matter, Washington.

And if youâ??re still worrying about how to vote, I have two pieces of advice. First, spend your time studying foreign policy, where the president has more direct power, and the choice of a candidate makes a much bigger difference. Second, stop worrying and get back to work.

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