This is somewhat of a following up from my previous post “How are Libertarians different?” Like libertarianism people often throwaway the explanations of Public Choice Economics when it is offered to them. Public Choice Economics is often offered to people as “looking at politicians as rational self-interest people.” The next phase is that people look at you and kind of go “duh.” It is much deeper in that. They also study institutions and the incentives politicians face.
Often times when you talk to Conservatives and Liberal (even some libertarians) the most important thing is getting the right person elected to office. What they end up doing is getting new people elected and fighting the fake Liberals and Conservatives who are already in place. Since they are usually unsuccessful with dethroning the fake Liberals and Conservatives, they often do this over a long time horizon and it becomes a neverending cycle.
What the Public Choice challenge is, is how can you arrange the incentives so that any President good or bad will not completely disrupt the system. Other Public Choice Economists come to the conclusion is that you can in fact never get the incentive structures changed. Further more there are other Public Choice Economists believe that a competitive system which prevents an identity from becoming a monopoly on force.
This may be hard to imagine without an example. If you think about the current political system we are faced with. The politicians that get elected are going to be the people who find the best ways to spread the costs and concentrate the benefits. This means pleasing special interests. They will also be the best at making political deals and saying things without saying anything at all. We all know this because we see it every election cycle. What we want is the straight talking, dudley do the right thing politician. The problem is that the incentive structure favors those who do the opposite.
Electing saints is what most regular people do, while Public Choice is more concerned with having institutions that protect us even if we elect a devil.