Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 :::

Glenn Reynolds writes about federalism as a better solution than secession. Which is true, and I doubt most of the handful of people calling for secession for their states would disagree - the fact that too much power is being exercised by the feds is exactly what they object to. This point may not apply to those who were calling for secession in 2004, as many of them were objecting to America's foreign policy, which can't reasonably be distributed among the states. He comments that after a policy has been tried in a number of states and found to succeed, the federal government could then adopt it, but unless there is some efficiency consideration, there's no reason not to just let other states adopt it. And, of course, the political system is not so responsive that federal legislation would necessarily follow successful state policies - his comment reminds me of this old Peter Suderman op-ed pointing out that most elements of Obamacare actually had been tried at the state level and failed. The federal bill was unpopular, and still mostly is, but it didn't cost Obama his reelection bid and probably didn't cost any party control of a chamber of Congress, though I've seen evidence that it may have cost about half a dozen Congressmen their seats. The main lesson I think conservatives should learn from the election is not to worry about overreaching if they do have power again, as the benefits of enacting a law that you really want are probably greater than the actual likely political costs. The second lesson is to do a better job at targeting advertising at low-information voters - the anecdotal evidence I've heard is that a lot of Obama's success came from deliberately targeting advertising demonizing Romney at those people who were persuadable. If you look at the demographic breakdown of who voted for whom, you see the same thing -- even more than usual, uneducated voters went for Obama. As Obama told Jay Leno shortly before the election that he can no longer help his older daughter with her math homework, my preferred formulation is that a President who can't handle ninth-grade math was reelected by people who can't handle ninth-grade math. This is probably overstated, but a weaker version of it is basically true.

::: posted by Steven at 5:16 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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