Thank goodness, I’ve always had high metabolism, which has helped offset my love of foods that don’t love me back. Nevertheless, my love of carbohydrates (a.k.a. “carbs”) forces me to take extra care in maintaining a healthy diet, and a healthy weight. That’s because carbohydrates, which are starchy comfort foods like mashed potatoes, French fries, breads, pastas and pizzas, taste great and are very satisfying. And it’s not just me that loves these unhealthy meals that leave me with a thicker waste line. In fact, carbohydrate-packed snacks and meals are America’s favorite foods, and for good reason. Scientific research has shown that carbs lead to feelings of happiness, satisfaction and fullness in the short term; however, the same research shows that these effects fade quickly, leaving the consumer scrambling for more. This is how the cycle of a thinner wallet and thicker waistline kicks into overdrive.
While some of you may wonder if I’ve now abandoned policy commentary in favor of dietary recommendations, allow me to explain.
We love unhealthy foods because they help us feel good in the short term, even though they carry long term consequences. The same may be said of hollow political promises in election seasons. Candidates like President Barack Obama promise more and more benefits, more and more government programs, but never talk about the costs or the consequences. Just like the crazed carb addict, there are voters who desperately want more and more feel-good phrases about America being the greatest country in the history of the world, about more and more “freebies” at the expense of others and how we don’t have to experience any pain associated with a $16 trillion national debt. Innately, folks know that these promises are too good to be true, just as surely as we know that a Big Mac won’t make us look like a model, but repress this knowledge in favor of the fantasy.
I’m not being harsh, I’m just pointing out the reality of human nature: we want to avoid pain and sacrifice if at all possible. That’s why we often favor the person that makes hollow promises, even if we deep-down know they aren’t true. For this reason, politicians like President Barack Obama have an easier time in elections (well, this, coupled with a liberal media that covers for him at every turn), and enjoy great electoral success. Many people have asked me how this President is even in contention for reelection, and my response is that he’s an excellent politician, though a terrible president. Mr. Obama understands how to exude confidence and charisma, though he has no record of accomplishments in which such confidence could reasonably be rooted. This is the essence of hubris, or the audacity of hope that the President can remain president.
The President’s kind of hollow confidence and charisma plays well to a public psyche that is desperate for good news. The President and his politicos know this, which is why they’re willing to put out 30 second sound bites that claim Governor Romney will end our lives as we know it, and that the President will preserve our standard of living. No matter that there are no details on how Mr. Obama plans to accomplish this, or that the math is clearly against his ideology, it’s what he thinks people want to hear. Our politics has become not the art of the possible, but the art of the promise. We have been led to believe that we can have a strong free-market and a massive welfare state; a strong and growing economy, while producing less and relying more on government. These are mutually exclusive goals, but politicians from both parties have promised us that this is possible.
We cannot prefer simple political carbohydrates of sound bites and sound-good promises over policy proposals that will really make us prosperous. Just as the determined dieter pulls away from the carbs that promise short-term satisfaction over a healthy lifestyle, so we must prefer a politics of personal responsibility over pandering promises. We need serious solutions to the very real crises facing America. Just like a lifetime of carbohydrate addiction can lead to serious health problems, ranging from diabetes to high cholesterol, feasting on a policy diet of political carbohydrates will, eventually, wreck the world’s strongest economy and the freest society in human history.
The President will get away with lies and misinformation if the public is unwilling to dive into the details and look at the real end-result of his proposals. While eating healthy and becoming physically fit on a personal level is never the path of least resistance, it is the way to healthy living and a rewarding lifestyle. The same is true of a country that is willing to do the hard, but necessary, work of rebuilding our economy and our culture. Deferring short term feel goods, which will poison us in the longer term, we must embrace doing the right thing, so that we, our children and our grandchildren will enjoy a free, strong and prosperous America.
A republic is only as healthy as the morality of its people. Let it be said of us that we were willing to do the difficult work of preserving freedom for future generations.