People ask me who I am voting for in the Presidential election this year about five times a day. I wish they wouldn't. Asking me about the upcoming election is a bit like having people constantly asking me if I am looking forward to my root canal next week. I find the whole subject of elections depressing -- these are people competing to exercise power over me that they should not have -- and this feeling only is worse with the horrendous choices we are being offered this year by the major parties.
But I play along, and tell them I am voting for Gary Johnson. And then I get, about 100% of the time, this retort -- You're wasting your vote!
What the hell does this mean? Since we keep voting and nothing really changes in the corrupt actions of a power-hungry government, I suppose one could call that a wasted vote, in the same spirit of "doing the same thing over again and expecting different results." Many libertarians refuse to vote, both for this reason and to avoid giving their sanction to those who seek to exercise power. But that is now what most people mean when they say I am wasting my vote.
What they mean is that any vote that is not for one of the two main Coke or Pepsi parties is wasted because the system has been structured by these two parties to make third party runs effectively hopeless (in much the same way that Coke and Pepsi coordinate their actions in the retail channel to exclude rivals from shelf space).
This is clearly brilliant marketing by the two major parties to get this phrase so embedded in everyone's head, but it is stupid. For example, by this same logic, any vote for a losing candidate is wasted, so 47 or 48 percent of people are always wasting their vote.
The two major parties are going to continue producing the same crap candidates by the same process and espousing the same stale statism until people start voting for someone else.
I know a lot of folks fear a Trump presidency so much they are willing to hold their nose and vote for Clinton just to make sure that is avoided. I can't necessarily argue with that logic. Clinton is a conventional candidate and at least will suck in conventional and predictable ways. But I am more confident in the robustness of the American system to withstand bad Presidents, even perhaps as bad as Trump. I will say I would have been more confident in this statement 16 years ago before the last two Presidents worked so hard to erode Constitutional safeguards and checks on the power of the President. On this dimension (and really only on this dimension) a Trump presidency might at least have one silver lining, in that it would sure as hell cure the Left of their love for the imperial presidency.
I am not enough of a historian to speak for much more than the last thirty years, but the popularity of non-incumbent political candidates has typically been proportional to 1) their personal charisma and 2) our lack of knowlege of their exact proposals....Folks are excited about Obama because, in essence, they don't know what he stands for, and thus can read into him anything they want. Not since the breathless coverage of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault has there been so much attention to something where we had no idea of what was inside. My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault.
There is some sort of weird mass self-hypnosis going on, made even odder by the fact that a lot of people seem to know they are hypnotized, at least at some level. I keep getting shushed as I make fun of friends' cult behavior watching the proceedings today, as if by jiggling someone's elbow too hard I might break the spell. Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about. I guess I am just missing some gene that makes the rest of humanity receptive to this kind of stuff, but just for a minute snap your fingers in front of your face and say "do I really expect a fundamentally different approach from a politician who won his spurs in .... Chicago? Do I really think the ultimate political outsider is going to be the guy who bested everyone at their own game in the Chicago political machine?"
Well, the spell will probably take a while to break in the press, if it ever does -- Time Magazine is currently considering whether it would be possible to put Obama on the cover of all 52 issues this year -- but thoughtful people already on day 1 should have evidence that things are the same as they ever were, just with better PR.
And I wrote this about the candidate I actually preferred over the Republican alternative McCain. Which explains why it has been ages since I have voted for anything but the Libertarian candidate for President. The last election was actually a pleasant surprise, as I was able to cast a vote for Gary Johnson, who I was able to vote for not just as a protest vote but as someone I actually would love to see as President.
Today I have registered as the chair of Equal Marriage Arizona. We are seeking to place a proposition on the ballot in Arizona in 2014 to broaden the definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two persons". We are also adding language to protect religious freedom, specifically
“a religious organization, religious association, or religious society shall not be required to solemnize or officiate any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its Constitutional right to free exercise of religion."
Our press release is here. Gary Johnson's Our America organization has been kind enough to sponsor us, as have the Log Cabin Republican's national organization. My co-chair in Arizona is also chair of the Arizona chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.
I suppose in an ideal libertarian world, marriage would not even be subject to state administration. But the fact is that there are scores of provisions, from inheritance laws to financial and medical privacy laws, that give special privileges to couples who are officially married, such that it is a real equity issue that some couples are denied the ability to marry. Perhaps there was a time when some hoped that contracts or civil unions might be an adequate substitute, but I know too many single-sex couples struggling with the deficiencies in these alternate, and deficient, marriage substitutes.
We are not seeking a referendum on sexual choices or lifestyles. We are seeking a initiative expanding liberty by providing for equal marriage, for what could be more fundamental to personal freedom than choosing who one will marry?
More to follow.
PS -- I am turning off comments on this for a while, as it likely will get some media attention today. Y'all know I traditionally have the most open comments policy on the web, moderating for spam only. However, many people, including some in the media, still do not understand the difference between blog posts and comments, and tend to try to count political coup over the more outrageous comments. As a minimum, since most bloggers moderate, they assume that I do as well (no matter how many times I say I don't) so that any obscene or deeply insensitive statements are assumed to be tacitly approved by me, since I did not moderate them. Rather than moderate comments for content, I would prefer just to turn them off.
Republicans before the election worked to convince Libertarians that a vote for Gary Johnson (or any other third party) was a wasted vote -- that Libertarians needed to be voting against Obama and therefore for Republicans. Some libertarians have argued that the only way to change the Republican Party is from within. Libertarians need to join the party and then work to make the party less statist.
I thought this was a crock at the time and think so even more now. Here is the key thought: Republicans are not going to change their platform and their candidates and their positions to woo voters they are already getting. After the election, no one in the Republican leadership was talking about what a mistake it was to run a big government Republican like Romney -- the ex-governor of Massachusetts for God sakes -- who authored the predecessor to Obamacare. No one was wondering about Gary Johnson as a 2016 candidate.
What the GOP did do is panic at the shellacking they got among Hispanic voters. The ink was not even dry on the ballots before Republican leadership was considering abandoning their anti-immigrant stance in order to win more Hispanic voters. I am not sure that will get them Hispanic voters, but whether they are right or not, that is the conversation they were having. They were asking, "How do we attract voters WE DID NOT GET" -- not, "how do we attract voters we are already getting".
The turn of the century Progressive Party (William Jennings Bryant, free silver, etc) never won a Presidential election but both the Republicans and Democrats co-opted many of their platform positions because they sought to attract voters they were losing to the Progressives.
I don't see how Libertarians can look at a party that has fielded John McCain (author of speech restrictions) and Mitt Romeny (author of the proto-Obamacare) as any sort of long-term home. Heck, the Republicans more seriously considered Rick Santorum and Donald Trump than Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. I respect what Mr. Paul has done in bringing libertarian issues to the debate, but as long as he keeps reliably delivering his voters to whatever lame statist candidate the party fields, the GOP is never going to seriously address libertarian concerns.
I wasn't planning on watching the debates, but my wife made me watch the first 20 minutes. Is this really what passes for political discourse in this country? I was particularly struck by the appeals to unnamed authorities -- both candidates said something like "I saw a study the other day [unnamed] that said my plan was great" or "your plan was bad." Seriously pathetic.
And, after the corporatism and cronyism of the last 8+ years, the fact that Romney could not explain why it made sense to cut tax rates but eliminate deductions just convinced me he deserves to lose. He was losing to class warfare rhetoric on tax cuts, when he should have been taking the high ground, even with the occupy wall street folks, saying that it was time to stop tilting the tax code towards special interests and populist fads at least one of which -- the tilting of the tax code to home ownership -- helped drive the recent economic downturn.
I blog and don't tend to debate in real time, because I always think of great quips hours later, but even I had the perfect rejoinder for Obama in real time when he said, "I think we should return to Clinton era tax rates, when the economy was great and growing." Romney should have said, "If I am President, I will happily work with Democrats to do just that, as long as they agree to return to Clinton era spending levels. After all, if government policy during that era was really so perfect for the economy, then spending levels must have been appropriate as well."
I don't plan to watch any more of this garbage until and unless they include someone other than the Coke and Pepsi candidates. I'd like to see Gary Johnson but heck, even adding a Marxist would probably help.
OK, there are lots of reasons to get Obama out of office. The problem is, that for most of them, I have no reasonable hope that Romney will be any better. Corporatism? CEO as Venture-Capitalist-in-Chief? Indefinite detentions? Lack of Transparency? The Drug War? Obamacare, which was modeled on Romneycare? What are the odds that any of these improve under Romney, and at least under Obama they are not being done by someone who wraps himself in the mantle of small government and free markets, helping to corrupt the public understanding of those terms.
So I am pretty sure I cannot vote for Romey. I really like Gary Johnson and I am pretty sure he will get my vote. Republican friends get all over me for wasting my vote, saying it will just help Obama win. So be it -- I see both candidates undertaking roughly the same actions and I would rather that bad statist actions be taken in the name of Progressives rather than in the name of someone who purports to be free market.
To test my own position, I have been scrounging for reasons to vote for Romney. I have two so far:
1. Less likely to bail out Illinois when its pension system goes broke in the next few years
2. I might marginally prefer his Supreme Court nominees to Obama's
That is about all I have. Stretching today, I have come up with a third:
You know the press are in full defense mode protecting their guy in office when the only press that reports on the ACLU's accusation about sky-rocketing wire tapping under Obama are the libertarians at Reason and the Marxists at the World Socialist Web site. Four years ago the New York Times would have milked this for about a dozen articles. It may take a Republican President to get the media to kick back into accountability mode over expansions of executive power.
I decided today to volunteer for Gary Johnson's independent libertarian run for President. I have always been a Johnson supporter, and was disappointed that he did not get more attention in the debates and nomination process.
Yes, I know folks will be saying that if Gary Johnson does well, it will just be guaranteeing an Obama victory. You know what? Given the choices, I don't care. My other choices seem to be the guy who pilot-tested Obamacare and Rick Santorum, perhaps the only person the Republicans could have found with a deeper authoritarian streak than Obama. You know those 2x2 matrices where one leg is "government intervention in social issues" and the other is "government intervention in economic issues?" Where libertarians are low-low and Republicans and Democrats are each in one of the low-high boxes? Did you ever wonder who was in the high-high box? Well, Obama has moved pretty strongly into that space. But Santorum staked it out years ago. He is right out of the John McCain, I-am-nominally-for-small-governemnt-but-support-authoritarian-solutions-for-a-range-of-random-issues school.
In fact, I might argue that freedom and small government would be better served by an Obama second term that the yahoos likely to gain the Republic nomination. First, there is nothing worse than having statism and crony capitalism sold by someone who is nominally pro-market (see either of the Bushes as an example). Second, Republicans are much feistier about limiting spending and regulation in Congress when in opposition. They tend to roll over for expansions of state power when they have a fellow Republican in the White House -- just compare spending of the Republican Congress under Clinton vs. Bush. Medicare Part D, anyone?
As I heard Ayn Rand say in a public speech in 1981, there is only so far I can go choosing the lesser of two evils. I am now all in for Gary Johnson.
I continue to like everything I see of Gary Johnson. Unfortunately, I seldom see anything. For reasons not entirely clear to me, Johnson is being left out of the next Republican debate, despite polling better than many of those invited (and that despite a LOT less pub than folks like Rick Santorum).
I understand why the major media ignores him -- their strategy seems to be to focus on the wackiest Republican candidate, whoever that might be at the time. My only guess on Johnson is that he ticks off social conservatives who have a lot of power in the party. This is exactly the type of thing that has me not only indifferent to, but hostile to politics, and why you will almost never see horserace-style reporting of political races here.
Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson charged today in a formal statement through his campaign that the Family Leader “pledge” Republican candidates for President are being asked to sign is “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded”. Governor Johnson also plans to further state his position against the Family Leader pledge this afternoon in Las Vegas, NV at a speech he will deliver at the Conservative Leadership Conference.
Johnson went on to state that “the so-called ‘Marriage Vow” pledge that FAMILY LEADER is asking Republican candidates for President to sign attacks minority segments of our population and attempts to prevent and eliminate personal freedom. This type of rhetoric is what gives Republicans a bad name.
“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.
“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.
Johnson is easily my favorite Presidential candidate in recent memory.
“The fact is, I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor.”...
“Don’t get me wrong....We are proud of this distinction. We had a 11.6 percent job growth that occurred during our two terms in office. But the headlines that accompanied that report—referring to governors, including me, as ‘job creators’—were just wrong.”
I was pretty bummed out that Gary Johnson is not to be included in the debate slate for New Hampshire. I am not one (most definitely not one) to invest all my hopes and dreams in a political candidate, but I really like Gary Johnson and thought he could bring a new libertarian voice (in addition to Ron Paul's) to Republican discussions dominated by statists like Romney and Huckabee. I have met him once and listening talk about things like the costs of the war on drugs and immigration is just so refreshing from a politician of any sort, particularly a Republican. And in contrast to Ron Paul, who comes off as a bit wacky (and wonky), Johnson does it all in a very non-threatening way. Many people in this country self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- this is their guy. They just haven't heard of him yet.
As an ex-governor well respected by independents, he strikes me as infinitely more worthy of a debate spot than, say, Donald Trump, who did receive an invitation. I wrote a whole column on the importance of being previously famous, rather than experienced, as a qualifier for office nowadays.
Have you heard the news? Apparently Donald Trump is running for President. Of course you would have to be living in a hole not to know that. Over the last couple of weeks, based just on media stories tracked by Google News, there have been over a thousand news stories a day mentioning Trump’s potential run for the White House. In fact, there are more than double the number of articles on Trump’s potential run than their are on the actual candidacies of Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty combined.
Do you like candidacies by crazy populist billionaire reality TV stars? If so, then by all means, let’s have campaign spending limits.
The only thing more disappointing than most libertarian candidates for office are Republican and Democratic candidates for office. So my list of politicians I like and would be willing to actively support is pretty short, encompassing Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and I am not sure who else (I had been moderately comfortable with my the House Representative John Shadeg, but his retirement has led to his replacement by Ben Quayle -- yes, of that Quayle family -- of whom I am pretty skeptical.)
A while back at a Reason Foundation cocktail party I met former NM governor Gary Johnson. I liked what I saw of him there, and I still like him as I have learned more about him. Check out this profile in the New Republic.