Policy and Politics Are Different Things

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What is more important this election: The culture wars or policy issues like inflation? In an op-ed as part of a point-counterpoint series from Inside Sources that is being syndicated to various newspapers, I argue for focusing on substantive policy:

Sometimes the quieter political issues have more to say. High-decibel culture warriors have been getting people riled up over everything from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” remake to a woman playing a flute. But more important things are going on right now, such as the highest inflation in 40 years. And there are healthier outlets than politics for releasing pent-up anger.

Just as junk food tastes great but can cause obesity and other health problems, a political diet of culture war outrage and partisan combat hits many of the brain’s psychological reward centers, but impedes rational thought.

That makes it difficult to solve real policy problems that affect everyone. As I’ve been saying since the beginning of the inflation mess, inflation is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it is a money supply issue. The Federal Reserve, not Congress or the President, runs the country’s monetary policy.

The Fed went way too far with its COVID response, growing the money supply by about 40 percent over two years, while real output only went up by about 4 percent. That imbalance is the cause of most of today’s inflation, and the solution is to get the money supply and output back in sync, growing at the same rate.

Neither party caused today’s inflation, and neither party can solve it. Mudslinging and motivated reasoning will not help to solve the inflation problem. Sound policy will.

There are better ways to engage politics than through cultural warfare:

While everyone has these reptile brain tendencies, some self-awareness can help us overcome them. If someone is clearly just trying to get people riled up, don’t give them that power. Turn off cable news. Be aware that not every political issue is an us-against-them issue. Know that it’s OK not to have an opinion on every issue. Focus instead on a few issues you’re passionate about, and get involved with those.

Politics and policy are two very different things. Politics is about winning elections. Policy is concerned with finding solutions to problems. This election, let’s focus less on politics and more on policy. Pay more attention to James Madison’s ideas and less to who plays his flute.

Read the whole thing here.