It is escapism and wishful thinking that gives us self-destructive policies like Obamacare. Jonathan Gruber never really fooled anyone.
One of the great mysteries and evils of the human condition is the reality of self-deception. People of perfectly adequate (or better) intelligence will commit themselves to delusions that they find comforting. People are constantly tempted to believe that their lives can become magically better if only the right magician will use the right spell.
Jonathan Gruber posed as one of those magicians, though he seems to be ignorant of where his power came from.
Gruber famously claimed that Obamacare relied on “the stupidity of the American voter.” If “stupidity” means a real lack of intelligence or a real ignorance, then he is wrong. While favoring Obamacare for the sake of better medical treatment is indeed stupid, the root problem in the American population was never their lack of intelligence or their lack of knowledge.
The problem was escapism and wishful thinking. People want to believe in magic and so they often do whenever a politician or a academic presents them with the opportunity to do so. They know the reasoning makes no sense, but they willfully tell themselves that the smart man from M.I.T. must know what he is doing. There must be some hidden way to spend less money and give more people medical treatment that only a brilliant economist can figure out.
Notice how this kind of toxic escapism promotes convoluted legislation. Gruber admitted that the Affordable Care Act was deliberately convoluted in order to “fool” the CBO and the voters. That complicated mess is then used as the excuse by voters to decide that they are not intelligent enough to understand how Obamacare will work, and that somehow the “experts” in government really can allow them to keep their plans or their doctors if they like their plans or doctors.
(By the way, if you think anyone at the CBO did not understand what was going on, then you are still engaging in escapism. Gruber is not really telling the whole truth in his confessions. The complexity of the Affordable Care Act gave the CBO confidence that they could get away with scoring it as a non-tax. They didn’t want to declare that the Emperor had no clothes.)
Every human has a room in his mind that resembles Fox Mulder’s basement office in the X-Files TV show. And every one of them has a poster stating, “I want to believe.” And every politician has a poster of Uncle Sam pointing at you ordering: “I WANT YOU TO BELIEVE IN ME.”
That is the essence of the Messianic State. It says that it can provide us with eternal life if only we will believe in it.
So the problem with the American voter, though it might accurately be described as “stupidity,” does not lie in a lack of brain power. It lies in his or her psychology. The American voter needs to be saved from real life.
The politicians come to the door like vampires, making all sorts of unbelievable promises. They only have power when you voluntarily let them in.