On a stage in a great auditorium stood four be-suited men, each vying for the hearts and votes of the people surrounding them.
And the people, they were angry.
“Government is too big,” they shouted. “We must make it smaller!”
And so the first man spoke up with great confidence. “I am the leader that you seek, for I am philosophically opposed to big government. I believe that government should do only that which the people cannot do for themselves. And, frankly, even that seems like a stretch.”
And the people nodded and murmured with approval, for that was exactly the type of philosophical bent they were seeking in a leader.
At once, the second man responded: “Indeed, my voting record demonstrates that I have supported a smaller government at every opportunity, and, therefore, I am the leader that you seek. I have never voted to regulate anything at all. In fact, I believe that regulating is the poor man’s not regulating. And I am not a poor man.”
And the crowd clapped and cheered for the second man, for his was exactly the type of voting record they were seeking in a leader.
Not to be outdone, the third man addressed the assembled: “I believe in maximum liberty from government interference,” he shouted. “In a perfect world, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms would all be consolidated into one Freedom: Freedom from the bigness of government. And the Norman Rockwell painting depicting this Freedom would consist entirely of an earnest-looking citizen burning his Form 1040.”
At this, a full-throated roar burst forth from the assembled, and they did begin to feel flush and shift uncomfortably in their seats, for this was exactly the type of overly specific bravado they were seeking in a leader.
Attempting to gain the affections of the shifting crowd, the fourth man cried out: “I shall make government so small that voting booths will be the size of shoeboxes, and reading the ballots shall require the use of a microscope! Needless to say, my government will not be providing the microscopes.”
“If you elect me,” blurted the second man, “I shall immediately resign in order to prevent an increase in the size of government!”
“If even one piece of mail is delivered during my presidency,” belted out the third man, “I shall gladly commit seppuku on the White House lawn!”
And the assembled did whoop and holler louder still, and spittle did accrue in the corners of mouths, and the men they did continue, enlivened by the ruckus:
“Could man make a government so small that he himself could not inefficiently operate it? I intend to find out the answer to this question!”
“If I must have a government, its sole function shall be to apologize for governing!”
“How many of my governments could fit on the head of a pin? We will never know, as my government will not feature a Census Bureau!”
And now the great panting throng did sway and scream all manner of profane things, and throw pillows were brought to laps and shirts untucked, as these were exactly the type of soundbite zingers that they were seeking in a leader.
Each feeling that he had won the day, the men retreated from the stage. The still-quivering members of the electorate eventually quieted, satisfied that their heroes would deliver unto them a smaller government—one small enough to fit neatly into the pocket of, say, the banking industry.