I‚Äôm glad Bush won. I voted for him. But, then again I am a right-wing ‚ÄúRepublican‚Äù asshole ‚Äì or ‚Äúhate monger‚Äù as I have recently seen on this site.
But, due to the inescapable reality of American politics, I voted party over person – a straight Republican ticket. All other types of voting are needless moral posturing. I was given two alternatives, not counting the up and coming Prohibition ticket, Socialist ticket, Nationalist ticket, Libertarian ticket etc (those who criticize the two party system maybe haven‚Äôt looked at a ballot in a while) and chose. Such is the nature of the system.
Actually, I lied. I voted for the Libertarian candidate in Tom Tancredo‚Äôs congressional district. I dislike Tancredo‚Äôs single-mindedness towards immigration. But, that vote was just moral posturing ‚Äì so I could tell people, specifically you guys, that I am a principled guy who sticks to his guns. So, guess what, I am a principled guy who sticks to his guns.
But my principles are heavily weighted toward the actual, the possible and the realistic. The truth of American politics unquestionably and authoritatively mandates that, in almost every election year (I‚Äôll grant 1992 and 1860 as partial exceptions) if you vote for a small third party candidate, or for yourself, you are throwing your vote away in the name of striking a moral pose. To believe that this is false is to ignore the blaringly obvious. Of course, this is assuming that your vote actually counts, which it doesn‚Äôt really, but that is a discussion for a different time.
Not that conspicuous moral stances aren‚Äôt important ‚Äì for humans it is at least as important, if not more so, that we appear moral than that we actually are moral. But, like all values, there is a trade-off involved: appearing moral or believing you are actually being moral. Throughout my life, I have consistently chosen what I believe, to the best of my ability, to be the latter. Taking on the moral onus of believing in the abolition of minimum wage is a prima facie more demanding argument, and more detrimental to one’s moral image, than defending minimum wage. The knee-jerk reaction to the question, my original reaction to the question, is quite clearly to promote a minimum wage. The same is true with the issues of nationalized health care, graduated income tax, idealistic foreign policy, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a hundred other issues that seem like such obvious public goods. It is a clear and simple fact; aligning yourself against these issues, these type of governmental coddling questions, is not the quickest way to garner the adulation of a saint. Aligning yourself with these issues, however, will do nothing to detract from your saintly status, even in my eyes.
But, I often feel like many people see the political lines as separating good and evil as clearly as a fantasy novel; and I am on the wrong side of their knee-jerk condemnations. In this sense my moral posturing is quite taxing. Sometimes, in my more despondent and provocative moments (such as this essay), I feel like this is the world of Middle-Earth, ala Lord of the Rings, and I am running around fervently and honestly trying to get people to vote for the Mordor Party ‚Äì a Sauron/Sauroman ticket with the Nazgul as the cabinet. Tolkien painted an age-old tribute to Monarchy and totalitarian rule ‚Äì the clear cut Good Guys being white male kings who ruled over their subjects. Their opponents? Industry-minded capitalists who used machines, not magic, and workers, not subjects, to obtain power. Furthermore, the ‚ÄúMordor party‚Äù seemed to be the only ones who were willing to employ the labor of the Goblins and Ogres, the dregs and outcasts of society, who were naturally cheap labor because they didn‚Äôt fit into the opposition‚Äôs well-oiled scheme of the domination and control of beautiful subjects.
Anyway, I facetiously digress, much further than I intended. To get back on track: why would anyone vote for the party of Mordor?
We live in a representative democracy. This is thankfully true. However, this means that, barring particularly exceptional circumstances, no one candidate is ever going to have a platform that is completely synchronous with our own. So we weigh our values; is the fact that he promotes free trade more important than the fact he is pro-Life? Is the fact that he has a realist view of foreign policy more important than the fact he is against gay marriage? These questions go on and on.
On his own merits Bush is severely lacking. He masquerades as a fiscal conservative while continuing to increase the size and scope of government. For us true libertarians this is a disheartening trend that shows no sign of abating. I believe the last good fiscally conservative president we had was Coolidge, who doesn‚Äôt get nearly enough credit. But, in this regard, Bush is still better than Kerry.
Bush‚Äôs domestic policy is certainly questionable. In a remarkably left-leaning move Bush ‚Äúreached out‚Äù to the democrats, Ted Kennedy of all people, and passed a horribly ill-conceived ‚ÄúNo Child Left Behind‚Äù act, which, once again, attempted to solve a serious problem by throwing money at it. My problem with Bush‚Äôs domestic policy is that he isn‚Äôt nearly conservative enough. Through the distorting mirror of his realist, conservative foreign policy and his conspicuous religious attitudes Bush is consistently painted as an extreme right-wing conservative. In point of fact he is essentially as conservative as Clinton was liberal ‚Äì which, is to say, not much at all.
As for his foreign policy, well that is the least of my concerns. I don‚Äôt plan to go into a lengthy defense of his foreign policy which has been the most polarizing and controversial political stance by a president since LBJ. Suffice it to say that I am a stark realist on foreign policy. I do not believe in the chimera of world government. I believe that the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are worth the expenditure of American lives and money. When the possibility is quite real that there are thousands of men in the world who would be more than willing to place a nuclear bomb in Washington D.C. ‚Äì with the result of destroying the U.S. economy, the world economy, and quite possibly the entire United States‚Äô government, not to mention the millions of dead ‚Äì the cost/benefit analysis of this problem suddenly becomes incredibly skewed. Again, I will say no more about this lengthy issue except for this small, inadequate, but informative quip.
Oh, but in answer to Michael Moore’s incessantly repeated, ridiculously reductive and simplistic question upon which he seems to think the entire situation hinges: “Would you sacrifice your child for Fallujah, Bosra, Baghdad etc.?” Yes, I would allow my child to choose to possibly put him our herself in harm’s way with the possibility of death or injury but with greater possibility of the reward of a job well done. Moore’s sophomoric mind is the type of rigid unintelligence that believes complex situations are simple, that entire issues of policy and philosophy are ultimately hinged on one facile construction of manipulated rhetoric. This implied knife-to-the-throat-Sophie’s Choice-style yelling of “your child or Basra!?! Now! Choose!” is unbelievable. These aren’t the types of choices we are asked to make. Pure sophistry.
But, as I said, it is Bush‚Äôs domestic policy that most concerns me. In this instance, given my alternatives, it scares me less than what John Kerry‚Äôs would have been. The Federalization of the Health Care (all the efficiency of the DMV with the compassion of the IRS!) is, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous prospects this country faces. The result could mean many more Americans dead than the situation in Iraq could ever produce. Overall, Kerry‚Äôs record has consistently been remarkably left ‚Äì consistently promoting the raising of taxes and increased government coddling.
Let me put it very clearly; the growth of the U.S. government and the increasing demand for federal programs and institutions is one of the biggest problems facing this country now and for the foreseeable future. Our freedoms will not be radically usurped by a Patriot act or a pro-life Supreme Court justice. They will be slowly removed by taxation and the annexation of the private by the public. The single most important freedoms we have are inexorably intertwined with our economic freedoms. Economic freedom is social freedom. Because minimum wage only serves to unemploy thousands of Americans a year (debatable I know) the well-meaning government control that keeps someone from even getting a job, and the freedoms gainful employment allows, is more deplorable and ‚Äúfascist‚Äù than any social law. The consistently high and impenetrable unemployment rate of essentially every country in Europe (currently Germany is at 9.9%, Spain 10.6%, and the EU average is 8.9%) demonstrates the effect of such governmental policy. Minimum wage is only a small piece of the innumerable ways large, nannying government disenfranchises citizens and curtails their well-being (again, hugely debatable, but not here). Some conceit such as ‚Äúmany may not have a job and if they do they can‚Äôt take home half of the money they earn but at least they can get an abortion and aren‚Äôt subject to a Patriot Act‚Äù falls completely flat on my ears.
Let me put it more clearly:
– I am pro-choice. Bush will appoint pro-Life justices but this is a worthwhile trade-off to get strict constructionalist judges appointed who don‚Äôt rewrite innumerable laws through elitist judicial activism. One abortion case is peanuts compared to the thousands of cases that a restrained and conservative judge will opine upon. A choice in the face of a trade-off.
– Of course, I am for free speech. However, acts like the Patriot Act are essential to the functioning of a nation at war. Furthermore, Bush‚Äôs promotion of the Act is MUCH less extreme than Lincoln‚Äôs actions during the Civil War (I know, it doesn’t make either of them right. But it is a worthy comparison). Another choice in the face of trade-offs.
– Active and interventionist foreign policy is preferable to another attack on the U.S. that could be much, much, much more severe. Whether or not this type of foreign policy is the clear way to fight terrorism is certainly debatable. I happen to believe it is. Kerry doesn‚Äôt.
– Bush is a realist on foreign policy, with or without the issue of terrorism. I am a foreign policy realist. The current terrorism issue happens to bring this attitude to the forefront, as it would with almost any Republican president. Kerry‚Äôs foreign policy would have been placating and conciliatory.
– A (hopefully permanent) tax cut and some measure of economic conservatism (albeit not enough, but certainly more so than Kerry) promotes freedom and prosperity. Kerry would have repealed the cut. His social liberalism is less important than Bush‚Äôs fiscal conservatism.
This is only a smattering of the trade-offs I encountered in making my choice of President in a representative democracy. As I have stated here and elsewhere, I am NOT a Republican (it is hard to use that moniker for an atheist, if nothing else) but, in a representative democracy, I am given limited choices and I must analyze my trade-offs. This essay is far far far from exhaustive, and a litany of contentious statements can be listed in the comments section. I only intended to give an account of why anyone would vote for Bush, why I ‚Äì as a libertarian ‚Äì voted for Bush, why you need not be a ‚Äúhate monger‚Äù or a ‚Äúfascist‚Äù to have voted for Bush, and why someone who is moderately intelligent (or at least can write in complete sentences) may have critically examined the issues and still voted for Bush.
Just remember; MORDOR IN 2008!