Freeman

ARTICLE

A New Kind of Politician

SEPTEMBER 01, 1975 by DAVID WILLIAMS

Mr. Williams is Research and Public Relations Assistant to the Chairman of the Board of Texas Steel Company. This article is from his April 29, 1975 weekly commentary on Newsroom, station KERA TV, Dallas.

Fifteen years ago, a well known Senator in a famous book recommended that future politicians proclaim this thought in their campaign speech. "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is `needed’ before I have first determined it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." Those thoughts, of course, were by Senator Barry Goldwater from his long-time bestseller, The Conscience of a Conservative.

Last year an Independent Libertarian candidate for Assemblyman in New York when asked what would he do for the people as their Assemblyman, answered with "Absolutely nothing." In the 1880′s Bucky O’Neill decided to run for probate judge in Arizona’s Yavapai County. His statement read, "To be frank, it is not a case where the office is wearing itself out hunting for a man—not much! Here it is the man wearing himself out hunting the office — for the simple reason that it is a soft berth with a salary of $2000 per annum attached. While in the way of special qualifications I have no advantage over 75 per cent of my fellow citizens in the county, yet I believe I am fully competent to discharge all the duties incident to the office in an efficient manner, if elected. If you coincide in this opinion, support me, if you see fit. If you do not, you will by no means jeopardize the safety of the universe by defeating me." Bucky was elected by eight votes.

What do these three political candidates have in common? It is a recognition that politicians hurt the voter whenever they make campaign promises. It was Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee who said that whenever he heard a politician making campaign promises, he immediately reached for his wallet. The truth is that whenever promises are made, they must be paid by our tax dollars. Because of this we need a new kind of politician: one who promises not to do anything for us. This politician would recognize that he was being elected to protect the people from the government, not sell away our pocketbooks. In fact he would be hailed as a statesman when reelection time rolled around by using as his slogan "I did nothing for you last year, and if re-elected I will continue to do the same." Opposing candidates would fight over who could do nothing better and more efficiently, and the taxpayer would be better off because of it. It was Edmund Burke who said that the lives and property of all freeborn Englishmen were in jeopardy when Parliament was in session. The same could apply to America. The best thing to happen to an American taxpayer would be to have a do nothing Congress. The less mischief the politicians are in, the better. "And if reelected I promise to continue my tradition of doing nothing to the American taxpayer." Amen, Brother, Amen.

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September 1975

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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