I have no sympathy for Trump’s repulsive disregard for facts, truth, and legitimate expertise. Yet he was canny in identifying how both parties’ technocratic mindset — their approaching every problem with a five-point plan designed to produce evidence-based deliverables — had left democracy vulnerable. Trump knew that if he waged a war on democratic values, the technocrats who now monopolize the country’s political elite would be incapable of fighting back.
Technocrats have always shown little interest in fights over fundamental values. Their work proceeds from the assumption that everyone — or at least all the people who truly matter — already share the same enlightened commitment to democratic values. The only debate they are concerned about is over evidence on “what works” among policy inputs to produce the desired measurable outputs, like higher wages and GDP, less poverty, less crime and terrorism, or less war.
The problem occurs when some people turn out not to share those enlightened values and insist on challenging them. Technocrats, in these situations, don’t know what to say because they can’t rely on evidence to make their case. So when technocrats are all we have to defend democracy, fights over fundamental values become embarrassingly one-sided....In the first place, the author conflates a liberal democracy as rule of, by and for the people with a modern republic, which is rule by a technocratic elite that is more an oligarchic plutonomy than a liberal democracy.
Secondly, the author ignores the role of power and accentuates knowledge and skill as determinants in governance based on numbers rather than tangible results, when the fundamental political question at election time is, "Are you better or worse off than four years ago?" What's good for America in terms of numbers is not necessarily good for most Americans in their wallets.
Thirdly, the author fails to understand that the two party system in the United States gives many if not most not one to vote for, but rather leaves them with the Hobson's choice of voting for the least bad candidate — or not voting at all to "send a message" that no one ever seems to hear.
Fourthly, the paradoxes of liberalism are ignored in the assumption that "Enlightenment values" spontaneously led to optimal governance and optimal social, political and economic outcomes. Owing to the many paradoxes of liberalism, this is not the case automatically.
Democracy Is Dying as Technocrats Watch
William Easterly | Professor of Economics at New York University and author of The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.
ht Mark Thoma at Economist's View