Please! Let's Lose This 'Independent for President' Rubbish

James Glassman's a good guy, but he's ankle-biting when he complains that an independent candidate has a snowball's chance in hell of getting into the presidential debates in 2016. His inspiration is a poll-gazing piece by the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib.

In his piece, Seib tells us that Americans would love someone to take down Wall Street. “Big banks and Wall Street have too much power in Washington,” we say. And we think that “The economic system is stacked against the middle class, and government policies are making that worse.” Then he quotes from a WSJ/NBC poll to tell us that Americans would love an independent to run for president.

No kidding! And a Rick Santorum or a Bernie Sanders running as an independent candidate is going to make a blind bit of difference?

Gerald Seib has a bunch of other faux populist issues to tempt us with, but my horse refuses at the first fence. Anyone that says that big banks and Wall Street are a problem is still living in the feudal age. Banks and nation states go together like ham and eggs. You can't have a nation state and its standing army without credit markets, and that, up to now, means banks. And it means Wall Street in the U.S. or “the City” in Britain to flog the government's debt to the middle class. Of course, banks and Wall Streeters get too chummy with the politicians; they are both in the government debt business.

So why do so we ordinary people rail on about banks and Wall Street? I'll tell you. We are peasants or clients of some great corporate lord and don't have a clue how the economy or the nation state works, and we like it that way.

So what about the idea that “the economy is stacked against the middle class?” Sorry, but I don't have any patience for that notion either. The system is stacked against the middle class because the middle class votes for government entitlements. These entitlements cost a ton of money, roughly speaking one trillion dollars a year each for government pensions, government health-care, and government education (see for details). Where do you think all those trillions come from? They come from taxes on labor, mostly. For the average middle class person, that means a pile of payroll taxes and federal income taxes stacked up against them. Don't like it? Then vote to privatize pensions, health care, and education.

In fact, of course, the average middle class person is terrified by the idea of living without all those entitlements, and so the band plays on, and the taxes, and the banks, and the Wall Street, and the two political parties.

And as for an independent presidential candidate, what difference, at this point, would it make?

When the day dawns that the middle class says: you can take your taxes and your entitlements and shove 'em where the sun don't shine, on that day it won't matter whether there are two parties or independent candidates or presidential debate commissions. Because if the American people really wanted limited government, it wouldn't matter how many political parties and banks and Wall Streets and presidential debate commissions were stacked up against them.

To show how phoney-baloney Gerald Seib is, you only have to look at his table of WSJ/NBC poll results. Table says that 67 percent of Americans are positive about the idea of a presidential candidate who is “an independent candidate not affiliated with either party.” Isn't that special? But at the bottom of his table is a rather less popular idea for a presidential candidate: “a tea-party movement leader.” Only 33 percent of Americans are comfortable with a tea-party presidential candidate.

The tea party result shows that the whole “independent candidate” idea is fake. People love the idea of an independent candidate in the abstract, but when you put a label on it -- particularly a label like “tea party” that Democrats and liberals have worked hard to marginalize with political “hate” speech -- you find that an independent candidate is not exactly what the American people had in mind. If such a candidate should appear, then liberals and their political operatives with bylines would convince the American people that the guy was a whacko bird and an extremist.

Last time we had a significant independent candidate it was Ross Perot in 1992. He appealed to disaffected Republicans that didn't like the increased taxes they'd got from President “Read my Lips” Bush. Perot helped elect Bill Clinton by siphoning off votes from the Republican ticket. Of course Gerald Seib knows this. For a liberal newsman from the Journal's news division, what's not to like?

Jim Glassman? He should know better.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.