A Look At Our 2008 Options
I tried to take a break from politics. It didn’t work. Obama getting the spotlight, more than anything else, sparked my re-awakening. He reminds me of FDR. That is not a good thing. The more I hear of his ‘vision’–and peoples’ gushing reaction to it, the more I get the urge to scream, rip my hair out, and go become a hermit. Surely we can’t fall for the same trick twice? But apparently we can. Obama is the kind of person who would coax America into a cage–a comfortable one, but a cage nonetheless–all in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘prosperity’, neither of which can possibly be realized under such a stifling regime as he wishes to create, just as FDR once did in an administration that was more damaging to liberty than any that has existed since.
And from that came more political thinking, something I didn’t want to happen…
For years, I’ve taken to shorthanding my political beliefs as ‘socially liberal, economically conservative’. Something most of us have done when describing our philosophy to our more benighted friends. I’ve never been fond of it, seeing nothing ‘liberal’ about allowing government to control our economic freedom. I never liked the image that ‘socially liberal’ conveyed either, as all too many ‘progressive’ ideas on social policy are in fact quite authoritarian. And, as Hayek always held, to control the economic is to control the social, and vice versa.
Now as I look at the Democrats’ platform, I find there’s basically nothing there I can stand behind. Precious little in the Republican Party Line either, but at least there’s something. And more importantly, a someone or two I could get behind.
For the past 20 to 30 years, we’ve tended to vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. But that changed substantially in the 2004 election, as one would expect given the continual outrages that Bush and the Republican majority inflicted upon us. Only 53% of us voted for Republican congressmen in 2004, with 44% voting for Democrats. 2006 was possibly worse, but I’m too lazy to conjure up figures.
What’s bothering me about this is that we are attempting to choose the lesser of two evils, when either one is sufficient to destroy the United States as we know and love it. Oh, I don’t mean a land of ruins and squalor, but I do mean a land of stagnation and statism. A land that no longer resembles the country that our forefathers sought to establish.
Trying to choose between the two is kind of like picking which nuke you’d like to be hit by, the 21 kiloton Fat Man, or the 13 kiloton Little Boy? It’s not exactly a question that makes a whole lot of sense.
So how about a third option? Lets not get nuked at all. Or at the very least take steps to delay it. Too bad that as a country we’ve developed the mentality that longshots and third parties are nothing more than throwing your vote away, which is why the vast majority of libertarians divy up their vote between left and right. I was just 8 years old when Perot made his run at the presidency in 1992. I still know very little about him or his policies. What I do know is that at one point he led the polls. And on that fateful day in November, he managed to scavenge up a full 19% of the vote. Unheard of for a third party candidate in the modern era.
Unfortunately, we ‘learned our lesson’ after that, blaming Perot for Clinton’s ascendancy and Bush’s loss. In 1996, all third party candidates together earned barely half of what Perot did in 1992, and he was once again blamed as the reason Clinton won. And in 2000, they barely registered, although, once again a third party candidate–Nader–was blamed for Bush’s victory. The problem is, we learned the wrong lesson.
It’s true that we’ve always been more or less a two party system. But it hasn’t been the same two parties over the 200 and some years this country has been in existence. Parties changed, they split, they dissolved, and new parties came in to take their place. For crying out loud, the Democrats proudly call themselves ‘The Party Of Jefferson’ (and manage to say it with a straight face!). Does the Republican party of today even begin to resemble the vision of Goldwater in 1960? Heck no.
The lesson we should have learned from Perot is that it is possible to change the status quo. Rome was not built in a day, and in such a contentious and ignorant population–how else do you explain the way Democrats get away with calling themselves liberal–you can’t expect the revolution to happen in a single election cycle. Much as it pains me to say, this election will probably not be the revolution we want and need, but if we play our cards right, it can be an investment , one that will pay dividends in the future. I’m sure we’ll lose, but if we lose big enough, we still manage to demonstrate the dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties. And when the hue and cry raises up that our ‘thrown away’ votes allow the ‘wrong guy’ to win, that’s when we really go on the offensive. Both guys were the wrong guy, we’ll say. And look how well we did last time. Lets put the pressure on and actually win next time.
The lesser of two evils approach worked, more or less–less rather than more in hindsight–when one evil was substantially less lethal than the other. But in today’s environment, we can’t vote for the leading Republican just because he’s not a Democrat. And we can’t vote for a Democrat just because we’re pissed at the Republicans (like we did in the past two elections).
The libertarian and constitution parties simply are not viable. But we’ve been given a gift in Ron Paul. I’ve been a longtime fan of his. And I certainly never would have guessed he’d get as much attention as he’s gotten. I do disagree with his stance on the Iraq War and middle east interventionism in general. But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. That, more than anything has been the reason that for once a true liberal has gotten anything resembling real press for the first time in my life. Its allowed him to talk about his domestic policies at several venues. It’s absolutely refreshing to be able to hear a libertarian philosophy presented on TV.
I think we’ll see the buzz only continue to build as his newfound celebrity enables him to more properly and clearly state his position on domestic issues. And it’ll be interesting for sure if he’s allowed to attack head on the principles of the so-called modern liberals in a public forum. He did a great job of it on The Daily Show and with Bill Maher, much better than I would’ve thought.
Dr. Paul’s newfound celebrity is also coming at a great time, politically speaking. There have never been fewer Republicans, and the Democrats aren’t doing so hot either, so it goes without saying that there are more unaffiliated people of voting age than ever before. There is only one candidate out there who isn’t really a Republican or a Democrat (regardless of his nominal party affiliation). That right there, is a huge niche just begging to be exploited.
All he has to do is convince all those dissatisfied people that McCain, Giuliani, Hillary, and Obama are just the same ugly message of increasing intervention and domination of our lives, just clothed slightly differently. It really doesn’t matter if he wins the nomination as a Republican or not, so long as he managed to take those same supporters with him when he goes.
Like I said, I doubt he’ll win, and I do disagree with him on certain issues. But I doubt we as a nation are suddenly going to become satisfied with the Democrats and Republicans after the election either. So long as we don’t take his loss as a defeat, but rather gained ground, we have potential to influence the 2010 election to an even greater degree. And perhaps in 2012 the country might be ready for a truly liberal president.
Ron Paul is a chance at a future in which liberty still exists. He’s an investment in a future free of statists. The only viable investment there currently is.