Media Should Not Guess Voter Reactions

Ezra KleinThere’s a deep tension in the way the media judges presidential debates. On the one hand, we know that our coverage affects the public’s ultimate view of the event — in that way, we are key participants in the debate, not merely observers of it.

But that knowledge is uncomfortable. It’s not the role we are meant to play. The press wants to reflect reality, not shape it.

And so we attempt, peculiarly, to recast ourselves as observers of voter reactions we can’t observe. We judge the debate based not on what we think to be true about it but on what we think the public will think to be true about it. And so we end up asking not whether the candidates made good arguments given what we know to be true but whether they made good arguments given what we imagine voters know to be true. And once you’re in that mindset, a section where Trump sounded good can be a win even if nothing he said made sense — after all, fairly few voters are trade policy or labor market experts.

But the public isn’t relying on us to tell them what we thought they thought watching the debate. They’re relying on us to tell them what we found when we compared the candidates’ answers to reality, and to the best analysis on offer from experts, so they can make a better-informed judgment on what actually happened in the debate. And sometimes there’s a very big gap between how good a candidate’s answers sounded and how good his or her answers actually were.

That’s the case for Trump’s opening section last night. He was speaking on the issues where he’s supposed to be strongest — his whole pitch is he’s a businessman who knows how the economy really works and what is really needed to fix it — and he showed he didn’t have any real idea what he was talking about. Voters deserve to know that.

—Ezra Klein
The Press Thought Trump’s First 30 Minutes Were His Best — They Were His Worst

Supreme Court Justice Mike Lee

Supreme Court Justice Mike LeeLast Friday, Donald Trump released a list of 10 more judges that he would put on the Supreme Court. As Ian Millhiser noted, Trump’s New SCOTUS Picks Signals Willingness to Abolish Child Labor Laws, Medicare, Social Security. But that’s not quite accurate because Millhiser is only talking about one of those picks: current Senator Mike Lee. We can assume looking at the other nine, things would be even worse.

The article focuses on a lecture that Mike Lee gave in 2010. In it, he claimed that the federal government is prohibited by the Constitution from passing child labor laws. According to Lee, that was left up to the states. Millhiser pointed out that we actually tried this and that all it did was cause businesses to move from one state to another — eventually causing all the laws to be repealed or simply ignored.

Mike Lee Is a Tenther

Similarly, Mike Lee doesn’t believe that Social Security and Medicare are Constitutional. He claims “the Constitution doesn’t give Congress any of those powers.” This must mean that Mike Lee is a “Tenther” — a person who thinks that the Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not expressly delegated to the Unite States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The problem is that the Constitution does not say this.

This idea came from The Articles of Confederation. You know: the form of government that the Constitution was created to replace because it was impossible to govern the nation under it. And that one little word makes all the difference in the world. People like Mike Lee are constantly putting it in our founding document because they want all the power in the nation to be at the state level. But the founders of this country wanted something different.

Trump’s America Would Be Unrecognizable

Imagine our nation if Mike Lee and the rest of the Tenthers had their way. Would we still have slavery in some states? Probably. We would certainly still have six-year-olds working in factories. And we would have no minimum wage. We wouldn’t even have a country. Various blocks of states would have broken off into their own countries. So not surprisingly, Mike Lee shows he is a true conservative by being against the very idea of this country. And Mike Lee is number one on Donald Trump’s newest list of Supreme Court nominees.

If you look at the data for voters in Florida, what you see is the biggest Trump supporters are people between the ages of 65 and 80. I wonder how they would feel about Trump wanting to put a man on the Supreme Court who wants to take their Social Security and Medicare away from them. They’d probably just dismiss it because conservatives always think that the bad stuff will be applied to those other people — the “bad” people — not themselves.

The Reality Trump Represents

But this is the reality. If Donald Trump becomes president, he will put people like Mike Lee on the Supreme Court. And while Trump may be out of office in four or eight years, his imprint on the country would last for decades. This is why all this nonsense about us just managing to get through a couple of years of Trump is such madness.

The next time you see Trump, imagine Mike Lee on the Supreme Court. Imagine a revolution — but not a normal one. Imagine our entire way of life being turned upside down without a shot fired — with just a Supreme Court decision or two. Imagine Supreme Court Justice Mike Lee.