Concerning these elections that are coming up in the USA in a week or two’s time, there seems to be a big argument going on about how smart the Democrats are compared to the Republicans. How smart or dumb are Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and the rest of them? Who, for instance, is being smarter or dumber about the year 1773? But those who worry about how smart or how dumb the various candidates for election are, or how smart or how dumb are the particular voters they are each trying to pander to, are, I think, missing a bigger point.
If you think that you and people like you should control large swathes of society and large swathes of the economy, then you really had better be very – make that impossibly – smart, and you are not smart, if only because you believe in this seriously dumb idea. But if the notion that you keep repeating during your campaign is that neither you nor people like you, nor your political opponents nor people like them, should have this kind of centralised power over everything, then provided you are sufficiently smart to make that one smart idea stick and have political consequences, it really doesn’t matter how dumb you may be about anything or even everything else.
Obama has many smart opinions and many dumb ones, I think. But if he and his ilk are to have the kind of power they seek over the world, then them being quite smart and quite dumb guarantees not smartness but dumbness, in all the areas of life where regular people have found that they want to do things in their own various ways, while Obama and his friends think that something that they consider smart is preferable. And the smarter Obama and his friends think they are the dumber they end up being. (Alternatively, as Paul Marks likes to say, Obama is smart and is being dumb on purpose. Either way, it is not smart to vote for him.)
It is said that Sarah Palin and her ilk have many dumb opinions. Clearly Palin couldn’t have got where she is, any more than Obama has got where he is, without being smart about some things. But yes, I’m sure Palin’s fairly dumb about some things. But the difference is not merely that Palin is smart and dumb this much, while Obama is dumb and smart that much; it is that their dumbness or smartness have profoundly different consequences if Obama and friends think that President Obama and friends should boss lots and lots of things, while Palin and friends think that President Anyone and friends bossing lots and lots of things is dumb and are able to act on that notion.
So, for instance, if you have (what I would consider to be) dumb opinions about God, evolution, and so on, it doesn’t matter, if, when you win your election, your most important political idea about God, evolution etc., is that both you and I should be allowed to worship God or not, think seriously (as I would see it) about science or not, as you imagine that your God is telling you to, or as I think makes sense. If that’s what you’ll do when you win your election, that’ll do for me. And our agreement actually goes deeper than this. If the major political consequence of you believing in your God is you also believing that nobody on earth should try to play God, then I agree wholeheartedly. Politically, we are more than mere allies; we are kindred spirits.
My worry, and the worry of lots of others who believe in the government bossing as little as possible, is that the team which now says it is against politicians bossing everything, even against themselves doing it, may do very well in their mere elections, but then, when the power to boss everything actually is right there in their hands, they will forget the one truly smart thing they were saying during their campaign, and start being truly dumb. The bad news is that quite a few of the people on my preferred team probably already think like this. The good news is that others in the team I support are already looking beyond the elections, and saying that if that is how things then go, they won’t go along with it.