Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist with whom I basically never agree, is back at it again with his five page Rolling Stone article “In Defense of Obama.” I’ve gotten used to the drivel he’s normally spouting about the unexpected success of Obamacare and the swelling economy and all the rest, but one particular paragraph of this article stood out to me as particularly curious and unexpected:
More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.
It seems strange to me that “the people’s party” president should have become so unpopular that Krugman has to resort to this kind of reasoning. Because if you consider what Krugman is actually saying, it is the crudest form of elitism. And, make no mistake, when Gore won the popular majority vote by a narrow margin but still lost because of the electoral college, I’m sure Krugman was at the front of the line to bemoan that the people’s will had been thwarted by elitists. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Put in other words, this is what Krugman effectively said:
The measure of a president is not how many people like him. It’s what good he has actually done for the people and whether or not his changes will last. You would think that if people were benefitted by his laws, they would like him and his laws. But that’s not true. The people don’t know what’s good for them. That’s why the president and his administration have to force changes upon the short-sighted idiotic people to help them against their will. And to make sure they don’t change things back when the president’s out of office, the president needs to make sure his laws are largely irrevocable. So the true mark of an effective president is knowing better than his people, forcing changes on them, and forcing those changes in such a way that they can never be undone.
Wow. Krugman begins with the intention of defending Obama. But what he actually accomplishes is a complete condemnation of Obama’s approach. For the Democrats to actually be true to their party name and heritage, they need to jettison this kind of elitist reasoning. This country was not meant to be an oligarchy run by a cadre of philosopher kings. This is, last time I checked, still a democratic republic. Which means that our popularly elected officials are responsible to represent their constituency in upholding the Constitution.
The president shouldn’t be fighting for empty popularity, I agree with that. But if the majority of your voters are against your political policies and theories, you can’t just force your own ideas down their throats simply because you think you know better. Your job is then to lead the people. By educating and informing your constituency, but ultimately submitting to the law of the land.
The Democrats have no desire to do that. Neither do the Republicans. The civil government functions exactly as Krugman states: forcing changes and making those changes national and irrevocable. But I fail to see why that’s a good thing worthy of praise or deserving defense.