We All Live in Red States Now

Roger Ream sounds a call to action: Both Parties Are Abandoning Free Markets. It’s Time for Voters to Push Back. This won't be news to many Pun Salad readers:

Now, Trump is apparently considering a new flat 60 percent tariff on all Chinese imports, and has also floated a 10 percent “universal baseline” tariff on trade with all countries, including trading partners and allies. These tariffs and trade restrictions simply raise costs for Americans while doing little to increase domestic production of goods and services.

Both parties also seek to use government power to regulate private industry in new ways that inject uncertainty into the market and make it harder to do business. The Biden administration recently gave in to climate activists by pausing federal approvals for new liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) export projects — hindering a growth market where the U.S. has become the world’s No. 1 supplier. The administration has also stopped private businesses from merging with one another through an unprecedented use of antitrust review of proposed corporate deals.

Meanwhile, prominent congressional Republicans are supporting a variety of proposals — including clawing back executive pay at failed banks, eliminating noncompete agreements, and subsidizing U.S. semiconductor manufacturing — that restrict private commerce, distort the market, and let the federal government pick winners and losers.

I agree with just about everything Ream is saying, but: It's all well and good to demand that voters "push back" on the decay of free markets, but when both parties are abandoning it, how are voters supposed to do that?

Our regular Sunday look at the betting odds:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 47.7% -3.9%
Joe Biden 37.1% +3.4%
Michelle Obama 4.0% +1.6%
Robert Kennedy Jr 2.7% +0.5%
Gavin Newsom 2.6% +0.5%
Kamala Harris 2.4% ---
Other 3.5% -4.5%

The oddsmakers apparently think that Team Orange had a bad week, as the gap between Trump and Biden shrank by over seven percentage points. Michelle, RFKJr, and Newsom also made slight gains. And (even) Kamala managed to break our 2% probability inclusion threshold; she hasn't managed to do that since last November.

It's enough to make me wonder, "Did I miss something in the news last week?" Always a possibility.

Also of note:

  • Possibly the last commentary on President Dotard's SOTU speech. And possibly because I just like William McGurn's headline: Joe Biden, Old Yeller.

    Joe Biden now has two faces he shows in public. He unveiled the newer one during Thursday’s prime-time State of the Union address. Call this Angry Joe.

    The other is “dithering and diminished,” the words Sen. Katie Britt used in the official Republican rebuttal to the president’s speech. This is the Joe Biden Americans have been seeing for the past few years—the 81-year-old who often seems lost at the podium, who falls off his bicycle or says he’s just spoken to some long-dead French president or German chancellor.

    We used to call our Sunday feature the "Phony Campaign". But, among other difficulties, it's difficult to say anything interesting or new about the phoniness of the candidates when that phoniness is expected, taken for granted, even praised.

  • Hey, but I can always vote Libertarian, right? That's been my fallback strategy in the past. G. Patrick Lynch takes a look at the LP's issues, and wonders: are they Too Principled to Win?

    Throughout US history, none of the dominant parties have held consistent beliefs about much of anything, let alone individual liberty. Rather, the major parties have shamelessly chased voters in ragtag coalitions with little concern for a philosophically grounded vision of the good society. Today’s Democratic party of racial diversity and wokeness was once the party of racial segregation and Roman Catholicism in the mid 20th century and prior to that the Confederacy. Today’s Republican Party, which is now largely white, and more committed to government intervention in the economy, was once the party of Lincoln and later the party of Reagan and free markets. The two party duopoly is blissfully free of ideological consistency over time.

    And yet while one set of consistent principles animates the LP, that hasn’t had much resonance with the voting public. Perhaps that’s understandable since voters themselves typically don’t have strong or consistent philosophical views. And of course the single member, winner take all districts in the American political system discourage third party success. But more recently the party with one set of principles is in the midst of a sectarian conflict over the essence of those principles and how they should be achieved. Unsurprisingly libertarianism attracts strong individualists who believe that cooperative solutions to social problems are possible except apparently for themselves.

    Lynch looks at the rift between the currently ascendant "Mises Caucus" and the "Old Guard". Both have their problems. The Caucus seems more intent on purging heretics from the LP than presenting a broadly appealing pro-liberty vision. And the Guard nominates people like William Weld.

  • I was unaware of this proposal. But Andy Craig spotted it: The Proposed Toxic Marriage Between RFK Jr. and the Libertarian Party Could Hurt Trump.

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. initially tried to run for president as a Democrat. When that went nowhere, he announced he would instead run as an independent. Now, the environmental-lawyer-turned-anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist is flirting with a possible third change in partisan affiliation. The nephew of the former president is now hinting that he may seek the Libertarian Party nomination.

    The potential combination offers a compelling demonstration of the horseshoe theory, namely, that despite coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, far-left and far-right movements can often converge into illiberalism.

    Craig documents just how awful, crazy, and irrelevant the LP has become. Grabbing onto RFKJr? Hey, why not?