Why is the government so good?

Reading Bryan Caplan talk about how voters are irrational leads me to ask a question. Given the level of irrationality among voters, why aren't our economic policies worse? Since protectionism is so popular, why has the level of tarriffs been going down for over fifty years? If taxes on the rich are so popular, why have the top rates been in decline for most of the past 25 years?
I think one reason is that politicians know that if the economy goes down they will get blamed. They saw what happened to the first George Bush because of a recession and don't want that to happen to them. If the economy does poorly, they will receive no credit for having enacted popular proposals. So it is their best interest to seek out the best policies to keep the economy strong.
Secondly, politicians need economists to give them ideas. If a candidate has policy ideas that no reputable economist will sign on to, his opponent can use that to attack him. Also, politicians are too busy campaigning to think of ideas so they hire economists to do their thinking for them. As the profession of economics grows toward consensus, the politicians will follow them. The success of the free market economics is because the battle of ideas has been won. Once the battle of ideas is won, those ideas will slowly seap into platforms, and from there into policy. That is why the battle of ideas is so important even though most voters will be ignorant of those ideas. And why rationality has a chance against irrationality.

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Interest groups

Probably play some role as well. Each piece of good economic policy probably delivers a concentrated benefit to some or another organized interest group.

It probably is the parasites

It probably is the parasites (the politicians) trying to use as much power as possible without destroying the host (the voters). If they destroy their host, their empire collapses. The calculated politician therefore will try to extract as much as possible only up to a certain point. They seal their own fate if they extract to the point of diminishing the source of their supply, so to speak.

Politician's self awareness

In order for your model to be true, politicians would have to understand that their acquisition of power hurts the voters. Every politician seems convinced that their policies will help the voters. Therefore the more power they have the more they will be able to help the voters.