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In a world where politicians will do almost anything to punish their political enemies,
from closing down lanes of bridge traffic to turning loose the IRS, Netflix's series
House of Cards and its tale of the ruthless and ambitious congressman Frank Underwood
straddles the line between fiction and reality.
Here are the top three lessons to help you better understand the much anticipated second season of House of Cards.
Number one, as a general principle, we should be very skeptical of politicians. After all,
the motives of people who desire to rule others should be regarded suspiciously. The series
presents politicians as no different from any other human being in their desire to satisfy
their own interests first. For example, Frank is passed over for the Secretary of State
position he was led to believe would be his, and sets his plan in motion to essentially
get revenge and higher office. House of Cards is a strong realistic alternative to the romantic
view of politics so often seen in the media.
Number two, House of Cards shows the constant backroom trading of favors among the politicians,
their staffers, special interests, and, occasionally, the public. Politics is yet another way in
which people try to make themselves better off through exchange. Take Peter Russo for instance.
Frank saves Russo from the cops, who busted him for DUI and solicitation, and now Russo is effectively Frank's pawn.
He encourages Russo to flip-flop on the shipyards
that employ his constituents in order to promote a green project for the Underwoods' own goals,
with only a fig leaf of public interest. Unlike the market, where mutually beneficial exchanges
tend to produce unintended benefits for society, the consequences of political exchange are
often harmful.
Number three, politics attracts those who are especially skilled at public relations,
favor trading, and power plays, not necessarily those who best further the public interest.
Where the object is to manipulate other people into doing your bidding and to look good publicly while doing it,
those who have a comparative advantage in wielding this ugly form of power
will rise to high office.
As the economist F. A. Hayek put it in his book The Road to Serfdom, this is why the worst get on top.
If we want to prevent more Frank Underwoods from climbing the political
ladder, we need to change the incentives of politics in order to reduce the power of politicians.
We need a more limited government without the possibility of dealing in these kinds
of special favors.
Though some might call House of Cards deeply cynical, it's better described as an unromantic
and realistic view of politics, and one that finds support in political and economic theory.
You can learn more about this in our interactive Learn Liberty Academy taught by yours truly
and fueled by passionate Facebook discussions and riveting content. And we might even be
able to provide you with some ideas on what you can do about the problems raised in House of Cards.
Please register now.
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Frank Underwood's Top 3 Lessons for the Voting Public | House of Cards Review | Learn Liberty

60703 Folder Collection
Shih-Fang Huang published on November 9, 2017    林筠 translated    Christina Sun reviewed
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