The campaign manager for President Donald Trump, Brad Parscale, offered a take on the Democrats’ Iowa caucus troubles that probably occurred simultaneously to just about every conservative in the country:
And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?
A point often gets lost in all the jockeying for control of the American narrative. When we object to this program or that one, conservatives aren’t typically opposing government-driven solutions regardless of whether they’ll work. On the flip side, we also aren’t typically saying that the certainty of a fix can always overcome principled objections based on a philosophy of how government should function.
Rather, the conservative position tends to be that, for any given issue, the trade offs are not sufficiently clear, the benefits are not sufficiently certain, and side effects are so excessively probable that humility should be the underlying principle.
The debacle of the 2020 Iowa caucus should be more proof than anybody needs of this principle. It’s not as if this was the first time Iowa Democrats have caucused, but now (regardless of the reason) there will be lingering doubts about the process, including discord between factions that suspect some sort of political scheme.
To be sure, government and political parties will naturally handle elections-related activities, but they don’t have to handle things like healthcare. Look at experience with the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP). When bureaucrats committed Rhode Island to the scheme during the Chafee administration, they had wide eyes about “one-stop shopping” for government services. When they rushed ahead with a system that they’d been warned was not ready, no doubt the Raimondo administration was hoping for some sort of PR win. And we got… a debacle.
This isn’t a claim that Democrats are especially incompetent, but that our political system creates incentives and risks that should advise a strong preference for handling society’s challenges through other institutions than government.
Featured image: Original illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland caucus race (1865).