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In New York State, the winner of a general election is often whoever won the Democratic primary. So by the time I get a chance to cast a vote, many elections have effectively been decided.
This year, Senator Barack Obama will win New York State. Period.
It’s a sure thing affords me a little flexibility with my vote.
I’ve never been a big fan of John McCain. Although I salute him for a life in which he’s shown more courage than most men—including myself—ever could, he’s just never appealed to me as a politician. Was his maverick persona genuine or merely designed to maximize media coverage? Senator McCain obviously knew that, as a Republican, the surest way to end up on TV is to publicly tell your own party to shove it.
I also consider the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform law to be one of the greatest infringements on political speech this country has ever enacted. (I explain a bit why in my interview with Michael Moore.) It isn’t quite the Sedition Act, but a part of me will never forgive McCain for pushing it or President Bush for signing it. It would be a bittersweet irony if, hamstrung by rules of his own creation, John McCain were to be defeated by an Obama machine that made a mockery out of the central premise of McCain/Feingold: that by passing it, the political system would be shielded from the corrosive effects of money.
On the other hand, I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who surrounds himself with such an appalling cadre of felons, bigots and 60’s leftover leftist revolutionaries who have changed only their means, not their ends. Obama campaigned as a messianic blank slate, and the media did its best to ignore any information that might smudge up the halo. The best I can say is I hope Obama is a much better—and more moderate—man than his associations indicate. We don’t really know who we’re getting by electing Obama. But I won’t be voting for him, especially at a time when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are running Congress.
So Obama’s out.
Philosophically, the political label that matches my views the most would be “libertarian.” Unfortunately, it’s a label shared with a political party of the same name.
“Big-L” (as in the party) Libertarians seem to attract an uncomfortable mixture of conspiracy theorists, isolationists and pacifists. The Libertarian Party is the political equivalent of a Star Trek convention. Contrast that with “small-L” libertarians (as in adherents to the political philosophy) who tend the be the type of people you’ll have the most fun breaking laws with.
I consider myself a libertarian for two reasons.
First and foremost: for the betterment of the human race. True, these aren’t easy days to proclaim oneself an unashamed capitalist. But whatever governmental market distortions led to the current financial crisis, the simple fact remains that no single system has brought more material comfort to more people worldwide than capitalism.
In America today, people we consider poor have a standard of living that would’ve been thought of as middle-class a century ago. Sure, we can to do better for more people, but there’s only one historically proven way to do it: capitalism. By definition, government can’t create wealth. Only private economic activity can. The more economic activity, the faster the growth, and the richer even the poor become. The larger the share of the economy that flows through the government, the longer it’ll take for the engine of capitalism to grow poverty into extinction.
The second reason I’m a libertarian is because I believe that the individual should be afforded the maximum personal liberty in cases where no other individual’s rights are being abridged. In their private lives, people should be allowed to set whatever personal boundaries their consciences allow and require. And while I believe that people should abide by some form of moral code, it is not the function of the state to impose one person’s moral code on another. If you want to convince someone else to live by your rules, you’re free to do so in the private sphere. But government is too big a bludgeon to be used for such a function.
So, in a nutshell, that’s why I’m a (”small-L”) libertarian.
Unfortunately, the (”big-L”) Libertarian Party is a bit of a joke, repeatedly letting itself get hijacked by vanity candidates who aren’t serious about libertarianism or winning elections.
This year’s Libertarian Party candidate is Bob Barr, a former Republican who didn’t seem to be much of a libertarian until the moment he figured out he could get the party’s nomination.
When Bob Barr was last seen on the political stage, it was during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Barr, as one of Clinton’s ineffectual Republican antagonists, went on to be thought of as one of those Clinton-was-lucky-to-have-him-as-an-enemy types.
Barr isn’t the sort of candidate I’d pull the lever for in any other circumstance. But I don’t live in a swing state where voting for the Libertarian is effectively the same as a voting for Obama (who—for me anyway—fails the libertarian lesser-of-two-evils test).
The political leanings of my fellow New Yorkers has effectively reduced my vote to a protest anyway. So I might as well cast my vote in a way that most accurately reflects my political philosophy.
Which is why, this year, I’m holding my nose, voting Libertarian, and hoping that, somehow, McCain wins.
Someone has to stand between your wallet and the Democrats in Congress.