When politicians want more money, their favorite words are, “It’s for the children.” Even those magic words didn’t work in Colorado Tuesday, as voters rejected a $3 billion “temporary” tax hike for government-run schools. Penn Pfiffner, chairman of the underfunded group opposing the tax, showed his joy last night at a celebration in the Denver suburb of Littleton.
Is this a preview of the 2012 election? Republicans hope so. Democrats hope not. I don’t think you can draw a conclusion other than saying that many voters are angry and don’t intend to vote for anything they see as a sacrifice for them. Conservative voters are going to reject even the most well-intentioned tax hike. (Check out this story if you want to know what the Colorado tax would have done.) Liberal voters are going to reject anything they see as being favorable to people who they believe already have money or privilege.
In other words, it’s going to be an especially polarizing election in 2012 in many places. In their anger, people aren’t going to be voting for someone as much as they’re going to voting against someone who represents something they hate.
Republicans will end up nominating one of the usual suspects (such as Mitt Romney), and Democrats will presumably stick with Barack Obama. Republican voters won’t love their nominee, but they will hate Obama and work passionately to defeat him. Democrats won’t love Obama, for the most part, but they will hate the Republican nominee, who they will see as a representative for “the rich.”
If the economy stays the way it is now, I suspect the Republican will win, simply because Obama has been the president while the downturn has gotten worse. But if McCain had been elected three years ago, Democrats would be licking their chops about their chances — because McCain and his people would have taken pretty much the same statist economic actions that Obama’s people have taken, with the same (predictable) results.
People are mostly too ignorant to realize that the problem isn’t Democrat vs. Republican. News outlets mostly assume that’s the only story, so that’s they way they frame it. The truth is that the real issue is the coercive state vs. the free market. Democrats and Republicans are pretty much united in standing with the coercive state, despite their differences in rhetoric. They’re Tweedledum and Tweedledee. As long as either side of the red vs. blue battle is in charge, the coercive state still wins — and we still lose.
The 2012 election is a year from this Sunday. As Republicans go into the year, they honestly believe they’re going to elect someone to bring about change. Democrats who were supporting Obama or Hillary Clinton at this time four years ago believed the same thing. Democrats were wrong in their naive beliefs then. Republicans are wrong in their naive beliefs now.
You’re not going to get positive change from majoritarian politics. You’re only going to get it by returning power to individuals. Opt out of the system. The only way to win is not to play the game.