Sunday, October 19, 2008

In a Presidential Election Quandary --Vote for More Government--or for More Government??

I've been unable to decide what to do on Election Day for some weeks now.

I'm a Libertarian, so my default mode is to vote for our candidate, Barr. That's what I'll do if nothing else comes up. But the temptation to vote for Barack Obama, as a historical moment in American history, is hard to resist.

I like his personality too. But he's a conventional Democrat in many ways -- he's promising to end tax cuts, launch big new costly programs, "fix" medical care by, to all intents and purposes, nationalizing it; and, in effect, as some have noted, changing us into a European socialist system. I don't want that; the slow growth and even greater government intrusiveness characteristic of European economies has no attraction to me. And I know that, once we're well into that mode, the special interests will lock us into it for a long time; no European country has succeeded in escaping it.

Some argue that Obama is much more reasonable than that -- more of a Clinton type, who will govern from the middle, fend off the most extreme Democrat proposals, and produce the prosperity we need. But Clinton managed to do that in part because for most of his time in office, the legislature was majority of substantially Republican. That gridlock was good for the country, and helped make the Clinton presidency look better than it otherwise would have.

The Obama presidency won't suffer from gridlock, unfortunately. The Democrats will dominate Congress. Obama will be able to do anything he wants -- and his personal sense of proportion notwithstanding, he will be under a lot of pressure from Democrats to produce all those government programs, all those tax shifts and increases, all those government agencies the Dems so badly want. He will not be in much of a position to veto some grand piece of Democrat leftist/socialist legislation.

So I fear that; I fear Euro-socialism taking over the country.

On the other hand, I fear McCain, mainly because I fear his enthusiasm for meddling in the world. I don't want us to go shooting at Iran. Or anybody else.

Then we get to the contradictions. Obama may lead to expanded government and higher taxes, and a weakened economy. But Clinton's administration led to tempered government growth, no increase in taxes, a balanced budget, and a booming economy. The joke at the time was that Clinton is the best president the Republicans ever had.

Bush, by contrast, has led the biggest and longest expansion in government power and spending in our history. The champion of smaller government is the best president the expanding-government Democrats could have wished for. The Republican president has given us a double-whammy -- the foreign wars beloved of conservatives, and the nationalization (of the financial sector) beloved of socialists. We've lost coming and going!

So I can vote for a guy who promises to expand government, increase taxes (or at the very least, eliminate tax cuts), meddle in more of the economy -- and, based on recent history, won't do any of those things. Or I can vote for the guy who promises smaller government and better tax policies but, based on recent history, will certainly preside over ballooning government, ballooning debt, and greater intrusiveness -- and go to war anyway on top of that.


Looks like I have no choice but to vote for the only candidate who wants to reduce the size and intrusiveness of government -- really, not just in rhetoric, who wants to stop promising favors to every interest group -- really, not just in rhetoric; who wants to keep our noses out of other countries, really; and who supports a free market and a free people--really. The Libertarian candidate. He won't win, of course -- you don't win office by promising *not* to meddle, spend, intrude. But at least I can vote without feeling like I have to wash my hands afterwards...

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