Voting for Gridlock

Jon at Netcynic makes the case for voting for John Kerry as a means toward divided government.

First off, why would a libertarian who trembles at the thought of big new government programs and sincerely believes that the government shouldn’t spend money it doesn’t have vote for a candidate who has proposed huge new domestic programs? Easy: gridlock.

Remember the 1990s? The budget got balanced and we even ran a sort of surplus. I don’t think Billy and the Dems did it and I don’t think Newt and the Republicans did it. I think they did it together, because they hate each other.

To claim that either party is the party of small government is now a joke. Under George W. Bush, with a Republican Congress, we’ve had madcap domestic spending, and not just anti-terror efforts. The Medicare benefit is not only a huge giveaway to our richest age group, but the bill actually forbade Medicare to negotiate lower prices for its customers, thus turning it into more corporate welfare. Even though they haven’t funded portions of it, No Child Left Behind amounts to, if I remember correctly, the largest increase in federal education spending ever. If you remember, once upon a time Republicans were going to eliminate the Department of Education. Bush is not a small-government candidate, and the Republicans are not a small-government party.

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I think was because their

I think was because their spending priorities were so different that they coulnd't agree, not that they hated each other. Also, both sides were going for the balance the budget vote. Perot had made that a big issue, and so they were trying to cover thier backs.

Right now there is not the conflict in priorites. Bush is actually worse than the Dems on some areas of spending, especially education. So they feed off on each other.

Also there is not the threat of a protest vote of "plauge on both your houses" that can do anybody any harm, so they are ignoring the issue.

The problems with the Republlicans and the tax cuts is they are like folks (I have been one) spending thier bonus before it comes. The bonus will be there, I believe. But not as big as advertised.

I've never been trackbacked

I've never been trackbacked before. Thanks!

Anyway, to Steven: I'm relying more on pure partisan animosity (of which we have plenty) than any conflict in priorities. I think the Republicans in Congress will try to stop John Kerry's domestic agenda simply because they don't want him to have any good talking points or legislative 'successes' to point to. I think, and I may be wrong, that the R's in Congress would deny John Kerry a program they'd give George W. Bush simply because Kerry is a D. I don't know if that will lead to a balanced budget, but it might at least lead to fewer fiscal adventures than we've had with R's in both the White House and the Capitol.

Aren't we ignoring the fact

Aren't we ignoring the fact that in the long term we need an actual libertarian political force to bring about a more free society? Or have libertarians given up on doing anything more than slowing our decent into oblivion?

I'll never understand you non-LP libertarians. Do you just not care? Or do you have some scheme up your sleaves that I just don't see yet?

There is this irreconcilable

There is this irreconcilable point of contention that will always exist. It exists with other parties, even major parties, and it exists with this one. Yes, the LP is toothless and hapless and has no chance in hell of making a real difference right now. But, the only way that is going to change is if the LP gets more and more votes. However, those votes won't make much immediate difference, since the candidate has no chance.

Then, I suppose, it seems to be all about time frames. A vote for Badnarik now may have the long-term effect of strengthening the party recognition. But a vote for Kerry will have the short-term effect of gridlock. Which do you want?

To be honest, the "Kerry=Gridlock" argument has been the single best thing Kerry has had going for him, and it's been tossed around the blogosphere for months and months. Jon's not the first one to make that argument, not by a long shot. But, it IS a good argument, and, coupled with the "hold Bush accountable for his horrific actions and punish him by voting him out" argument, made a pretty strong case for Kerry. He had my vote, before he even started speeches.

Then he slowly but surely kicked my vote, stomped it, shat upon it, laughed at it, and walked away from it. His wussing-out on Iraq [I would have perpetrated the same evil crimes, but I would have involved more nations in said evil] was the biggest thing. There are too many people in this country for whom the war is a massive sticking point, and they'd vote for anyone who would do something about it. But Kerry sounds like Bush Lite, and he has worked long and hard to lose my vote. Congratulations, Mr. Kerry. Badnarik gets it after all.

Arenâ??t we ignoring the

Arenâ??t we ignoring the fact that in the long term we need an actual libertarian political force to bring about a more free society? Or have libertarians given up on doing anything more than slowing our decent into oblivion?

When slowing your descent is the best option, then you should choose it, right? It's not like a vote for Badnarik will get him elected. Of course, its not like a vote for Kerry will get him elected either. Really, your vote doesn't mean anything, so I think you might as well go with principle and vote for the LP. But if we're cheering for candidates, cheering for Kerry seems better than cheering for Bush because of the gridlock.

Iâ??ll never understand you non-LP libertarians. Do you just not care? Or do you have some scheme up your sleaves that I just donâ??t see yet?

I'll never understand you LP libertarians. Do you just not understand how pointless and futile it is to convert an entrenched power structure and an apathetic, non-libertarian electorate to our oddball beliefs?

What difference does it really make whether Badnarik gets 1.0000% or 1.00001% of the national vote? I think the time and effort you LP-oriented folk spend might be directed along more fruitful paths...

Sure, I'm aware that we need

Sure, I'm aware that we need an actual libertarian political force. But the time to build up that force isn't an election year- during this year, it's time to try to put the brakes on our descent into oblivion. The most important work of liberty at this stage- the slow, boring, work of convincing our friends, family and associates of the benefits of real liberty- can be done anytime, but only once every four years (once every two if your Representative isn't one of those permanent incumbent) do we get a chance to apply the brakes a bit.

I think LP-libertarians, feeding on the constant stream of positive news from the LP, are a bit confused about where we stand at this point. We are not on the verge of victory. We're a marginal political group way out on the fringe and most people, if they heard what we think (no public schools! legalize crack!) would assume we'd lost our minds. Trying to win elections now- especially national elections- is trying to run before we can walk.

So what is the plan of this non-LP libertarian? I'll keep arguing for liberty and trying to show my associates the advantages of liberty, and when elections come around, I'll vote strategically, for gridlock and domestic fiscal sanity. We're not ten years from the LP being a serious political force. We're many, many more, if it is even going to happen.

For me, the "gridlock"

For me, the "gridlock" argument is not good enough to vote for Kerry, but it does make me worry less about my having voted LP, should Kerry win.

Should Bush win, I found a consolation prize in this Economist article:

But the Republicans have put emasculating the Democrats at the very heart of their second-term agenda. They plan to reduce its footsoldiers by contracting out hundreds of thousands of federal jobs, to reduce its income through tort reform (which may slim down the lawyers' wallets) and right-to-work laws (which will allow workers to opt out of union dues). And they plan to boost the number of people who own sharesâ??and hence a stake in the success of the capitalist systemâ??by beginning to privatise Social Security.

Either way, I have a fantasy that the political axes will shift to make small government an issue again. The Democrats lose big, and fracture into isolated weaker socialist groups and a core that realizes that the "economically conservative, but socially liberal" holy grail is really just a small government (aka LP) platform. Or, the Republicans lose by a little, and realize that from now on they need to court the small government wing better than they did in the last few years.

But I'm not holding my breath...

Jon - glad to hear some

Jon - glad to hear some sensible thought about libertarian strategy!