In a mid-term election year like this one – when we have many candidates for many offices to focus on rather than a presidential race to consume our attention – it’s difficult to keep straight who is running and what they stand for. Even more so, it’s not always easy to know from a candidate’s statements whether he or she will really do the things that help improve the condition of the nation.
Overwhelmed voters understandably tend to look for certain things – party labels, stated positions on a one or two key issues – to choose their candidates. This guy sounds like a real conservative? I’ll vote for him. This woman agrees with my positions on the one or two issues I care about the most? I’ll vote for her.
It makes sense to let certain principles guide you rather than just voting for a recognizable name or flipping a coin, but voters still end up disappointed fairly often when the candidates they support don’t end up doing what voters hoped they would do.
I would suggest that’s because it’s one thing to stake out an ideological position. It’s another thing to do what truly strong leaders do, which is to identify the right problems and work effectively to solve them.
There are obviously a lot of things wrong with the way our nation is being governed – more problems than any one person, even a president, can plausibly hope to solve in a short amount of time. Effective leaders understand that the best approach is to identify the most important problems – the ones that you can make the most impact by solving.
What are the right problems? Many Democrats think the top problems to solve are “income inequality” and insufficient federal revenue. They want to solve these problems by raising taxes, raising the minimum wage and giving more power to labor unions.
I believe the right problems to solve are: ObamaCare, the tax code and out-of-control federal spending. The first two are killing wealth and job creation, costing people money and throwing their access to health care into uncertainty. The third is robbing needed capital from the private sector while placing a long-term debt burden on the nation that is already sapping our ability to growth the economy and will do so even more severely in the future.
If we throw out the tax code and create a new one that is simpler and less burdensome, we will unleash economic growth and wealth creation. If we replace ObamaCare with new measures that empower individuals in their economic relationships with their doctors, we will bring down costs and make it easier for people to get the care they need, while removing a barrier to business growth and job creation. And if we rein in federal spending, we will reduce debt and bring back limited government that decentralizes power that is today far too concentrated in Washington.
These are high-leverage solutions. They are certainly not the only problems we face, but by solving these, we force a reconstituting of government that leads to other solutions that will also be beneficial. A smaller government has less power to grab your guns or send the IRS after you. A simpler tax code saves you time and money. A market-oriented health care system takes away the power of government bureaucrats to decide whether you get the care you believe you need.
And if you want to look at it politically, a smaller government creates fewer clients for the welfare state that votes Democratic to maintain the benefits on which they have become dependent. Democrats know that if the majority of Americans depend on government for something crucial to their lives – and we are almost there now – they can build a permanent electoral majority. That is one of the reasons they are always trying to expand government.
People who emphasize the right problems – and just as importantly, can demonstrate something in their personal backgrounds to demonstrate the ability to help solve these problems – are the ones who deserve your vote. Anyone can talk about being a conservative or whatever, but it’s the people who identify the right problems and show they can help solve them who should stand out for you in a mid-term election year that offers many choices, but few real problem-solving leaders.