But the problem for Democrats is that Gruber is not stupid. By all accounts, he is knowledgeable, candid and willing, on occasion, to criticize the Obama administration — an advocate for Obamacare without being a shill. But he is perfectly representative of a certain approach to politics that is common in academic circles, influential in modern liberalism and destructive to the Democratic Party.
‘My own inexcusable arrogance,’ Gruber told the committee, ‘is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act.’ Oh, yes it is.
Many academic liberals have fully internalized the ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ theory, given vivid expression by Thomas Frank. In its simplified version (and there is seldom any other kind), this is the argument that people who are suffering from economic inequality should naturally vote Democratic. But they often get distracted by the shiny objects of the culture war and tricked into resentment against liberal elites.
It’s a very short step from this belief to its more muscular corollary: Liberal elites (through liberal politicians) should constructively mislead Americans. The task of persuasion is pretty nigh hopeless, given the unfortunate ‘stupidity of the American voter or whatever.’ So the people must be given what they need, even if they don’t want it.