By Arnold Kling
Perhaps I am too jaded by excess air travel, but most of our homeland security seems designed to
A) Increase the power of congressmen and agency heads or
B) Put on a show for the yokels
C) Make us safer
One of my father’s favorite political scientists, Murray Edelman, would have said that this sums up politics in a nutshell. Edelman used the phrase “symbolic reassurance” as a more hoity-toity way of saying B).
Mass politics is a game of manipulating symbols. It’s tempting to want to believe that a politician is going to really do something to solve problems. If you succumb to that temptation, however, then chances are you’ve fallen for one of the tricks in the game.