Michael Barone is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner and co-author of the biennial Almanac of American Politics, now nearing its fortieth anniversary and available online. Mr. Barone is the author of several other books, among them the political history Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan (referred to in the interview below) as well as Our First Revolution and Hard America, Soft America.
He is a walking encyclopedia of American politics. Who is the American politician reputed to have defeated his opponent by alleging that he was a shameless extrovert? That his opponent’s sister was once a thespian in wicked New York? That it was an established fact that his opponent, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy? Mr. Barone can not only tell you who was reputed to have said these things, he can give you the lowdown on whether he really did say them (as he did to me a few years ago).
Mr. Barone recently sat down with Peter Robinson for a discussion of American politics. it is an enormously interesting and wide ranging discussion, presented in its entirety below thanks to our friends at the Hoover Institution.
The interview begins with a discussion of the changes in our politics that have taken place during the four decades covered in the Almanac, beginning with the shift in population. During the past 40 years, as Peter Robinson writes, Americans have been moving South and West. Why is that? Mr. Barone explains:
One of the reasons for that big shift has been comparative tax policies of the states. For example, compare New York, which has lots of state and city income tax, with Texas, which has no state income tax. In 1970, New York had 18 million people. Today, 40 years later, 19 million people — not very much growth. Texas in 1970 had 11 million people. Now it has 24 million. Most people didn’t anticipate this shift in 1970. They thought, “Well, you can throw any amount of taxes on there. It won’t make much difference because people have to be in New York, and they won’t like Texas because it’s hot there in the summer.” Not only did they fail to understand economic incentives, they failed to understand air conditioners.
You will want to watch the whole thing.
UPDATE: A reader comments concisely: “Best interview ever.”