Palisades Hudson Financial Group: Politics At the Water’s Edge (In the News)

Palisades Hudson Financial Group: Politics At the Water’s Edge

By Larry M. Elkin

[T]he goal of “one administration at a time” was also easier to achieve in the era when we had political campaigns that ended on election night, followed by a period in which the winner of the election performed the job, eventually followed by another campaign. Now the campaigning never ends. A 2015 report from the Center for Competitive Politics (since renamed the Institute for Free Speech) found that the average presidential campaign from the 1970s onward lasted 484 days, compared to 286 days in the 1950s and ’60s. Congressional campaigns are as bad, if not worse. Literally the morning the election results are announced, jockeying for position begins for the next cycle.

With many members of Congress and nearly every first-term president in constant campaign mode, we should be unsurprised at the results. This is the practice of modern political science in the real world, where in order to have an “us,” it is necessary to have a “them” made up of your electoral opponents. It is how you enlarge and fire up the base: Draw the sharpest possible contrast between your side and the opposition. Your opponents can’t just be misguided or wrong. They have to be witless, evil or some combination of the two. You cannot expect, let alone urge, foreign leaders to respect them when you refuse to respect them yourself. In fact, you have every incentive to undermine foreign respect for the opposing party, even if doing so injures your own.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.