Welcome to The Constituent.
The goal of this newsletter is to provide you with informative insight and factual analysis about policy and economic happenings. I use my years of experience in the political and academia worlds to translate the elite DC chatter into simple, understandable, and informative letters aimed toward everyday American—not the political class.
To accomplish this, The Constituent operates on these ten simple principles.
Factuality is more important than fairness
There are not always two sides to the story. Sometimes there is only one, often there are a dozen. I will never regurgitate the view of a party or elected official just to be ‘fair’ to them. If their perspective is not based in demonstrable facts, I will call them out—no matter their party or position. Elected officials have the incentive to earn your vote. While this is not a problem in and of itself, it can become a problem if it leads to them feeding voters the misinformation they think is pleasing to hear. Provable facts should be the baseline of government. I’ll leave the conspiracy theories to your tinfoil hatted Facebook friends.
Political parties are terrible
In the United States we place the entire weight of our democracy on two private organizations whose sole goal is to amass power. Their incentive structure is not designed to help people, but to help themselves. When a political party is working for their own interests, rather than yours, I will let you know. This newsletter has no commitment to either party, but providing the best information does not mean we will be nonpolitical. Because solutions to problems by nature come from a political party, I won’t hesitate to address policy proposals, and assess them on their merit, no matter what side that lands on. I’ll be nonpartisan, but not nonpolitical
Ideologies are not terrible
Intelligent and reasonable people can be ideological. There is nothing wrong with wanting a conservative, market based approach that prefers a small government hand, just as there is nothing wrong with wanting a progressive, programmatic based approach that prefers public solutions to systemic problems. Both ideologies have their merits and their shortcomings, and the best solutions arise when these ideologies come together to create comprehensive fixes to problems.
The problem with ideology comes when political parties mislead ideological voters by using bad information, and push voters to believe a false narrative. It is this false narrative that needs to be addressed, not an ideology itself. If the underpinnings of an ideological stance are not factual, these false premises need to be addressed, but this does not mean a person’s preferences themselves are necessarily bad.
Disagreement should not create bad will
I will freely admit this is a really optimistic and idealistic statement. But it shouldn’t be. You and I, and everyone else—including politicians—should be able to disagree about the best approach to a problem without coming to the conclusion that those with whom we disagree are bad people. I have known and worked with politicians in both parties, and I can earnestly say that 99.9 percent of politicians have honestly wanted to help people. I have often disagreed with the approach some have taken to help others, but even the politicians with whom I disagreed most seriously I knew were making a good faith effort to help. Policies should always be debated, but motives should rarely be questioned.
Thought bubbles are dangerous
Yes, I said dangerous. Isolating yourself to only listen to ‘news’ you will agree with apriori shrinks the horizons of your intellect. The worst ideas in human history have often come from a group of people who refused to think critically about their own ideas, and refused to question the conclusions of those whose thoughts were similar to their own. This is the literal Bay of Pigs problem. No person, party, or ideology has a monopoly on good ideas. People who disagree with you are not your enemy. As the great General George S. Patton Jr. once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.”
Anger and fear are dangerous
Please notice I did not say, ‘there is no reason for anger or fear’. Often, there is good reason. However, psychologists have demonstrated that acting through anger and fear often lead to suboptimal outcomes. When we operate on anger and fear we risk losing the ability to operate rationally. Thoughtful, rational approaches to threats are always better than fearful and angry approaches. McCarthyism did not defeat Communism, and it never could have. The Constituent will never attempt to make you angry or afraid, and I am skeptical of those who do make these attempts. The best approach is a calm, careful, and thoughtful one—when these steps are jumped over to reach a conclusion, the conclusion is usually not great.
Democracy is the point
You may have heard statements similar to Senator Mike Lee, when he said “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are.”
While this sentiment is well intended, I will always take the approach that Democracy is the point. Liberty, peace, and prosperity mean different things to different people. Without Democracy, it becomes the case that one person’s definition of these can be imposed on everyone. I’ll give you one quick example: is liberty achieved when one person has a right to refuse to wear a face covering in a pandemic, or is liberty achieved when everyone else has a right not to be infected from a person who refuses to wear a face covering? These definitions cannot be achieved simultaneously, which is why Democracy must be the point. The voice of the majority should be the goal. I understand this may make some feel like a ‘tyranny of the majority’ exists, and sometimes it may. But a tyranny of the minority is far worse. Without Democracy being the point, that minority tyrant can be just a single person—and we already fought a revolution to get away from a king.
Competitive markets provide the most efficient solutions
It is logically inconsistent to believe that democracy will most often provide the most efficient solutions and not also believe that markets will do the same. Each relies on the collective wisdom and preferences of the people. There is no better way to solve a problem than with a competitive market.
Emphasis on competitive. People cannot rise or fall on their own merits if everyone has a different starting line. If a market is to be competitive each child needs to be born into a situation where they can swing the best bat they can build in the same ballgame played by every other child. Too often, this is not the case. When a market cannot be competitive, and when economically defined market failures exist, it should be the role of the government to fill in the gap to influence a market to be more competitive.
All people are created equal
This point cannot and will not be debated. It was the foremost self-evident truth on which this great nation was founded. Because all people are equal, they should all be treated equally under the law, and in the market. When they are not, both the law and the market cannot provide the optimal outcomes for the nation.
Problems are never solved through blame
Everyone makes mistakes; to err is to be human, and all that. Mistakes should always be addressed and corrected, and I make it a point to admit when I am wrong. However, not a single problem in human history has been solved by dolling out blame to those who were wrong. Blaming Paul Von Hindenburg and Philippe Pétain does not resurrect victims of the Holocaust. The only use for blaming them is to highlight bad deeds so that others do not repeat them in the future. But blame should not be the focus, solutions should be. I will always be mild with blame, and save the hot sauce for solutions.
I hope this newsletter makes you pause. I hope this newsletter makes you think. It will be the goal of every word I write. I hope you enjoy being a part of it.