Holding My Nose, and Heading Straight For The Bush
Editorial written by on Sunday, November 5, 2000
I have a recurring fear: that I will cast my vote for all of the Libertarian Party candidates on Tuesday. Then I will wake up the next morning to find that Al Gore won Missouri, and hence the White House, by one vote. Not to mention, Mel Carnahan's ghost unseats John Ashcroft, sending his totally unqualified wife to Washington.
That would be a rough morning, indeed.
I have previously stated in this forum that no vote is a wasted vote. I've pondered that more as the election grows near. Many of the important races are close. Too close.
Voting your conscience is never a waste. However, it can still be stupid under certain circumstances.
Such as an extremely close election, like this one. The 2000 elections are shaping up to be decided by a razor-thin majority and some potentially intriguing Electoral College monkey business. Missouri's races are tighter than a forty year old... well, you know.
This has caused me to rethink my vote.
Protest votes do take some bravery in the face of certain defeat. They're not always fruitless. Third party movements have, over time, forced the major parties to address their issues. Why do you think the Socialist Party isn't around much anymore? Because the Democrats gradually took most of their issues. Reform Party? John McCain has most of their issues, and Pat Buchanan has their nomination.
A brief education on the Libertarian Party: their philosophy is generally economically very conservative, but socially very liberal. And odd mix, but one that tends to fit my beliefs fairly well. I think like they do, and have for a while. I flirted with joining the Libertarian Party for years.
I saw the nomination of "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush in the Republican primaries this March as the final insult. I joined the Libertarian Party in protest.
The GOP, under "Dubya", has tried to too hard to remake their image from a party of greedy, insensitive, nasty, rude, reactionary, politically incorrect, white, warmongering xenophobes. In fact, now they sound a lot like Democrats.
That's a shame. I liked them the old way.
Anyway, the libertarian philosophy has been around for a long time. Many argue that the Founding Fathers were actually libertarians.
As a political party, however, the Libertarians have been around for only thirty years, and there's no sign of a "movement". In fact, the last time I checked, the Libertarian presidential candidate was polling somewhere around half a percent. Yee-hah! None of the statewide candidates is running a viable campaign, with the exception of Lt. Governor nominee Phil Horras' entertaining travels.
That's a damn shame, considering they probably have the highest I.Q. of any political party on a member-by-member basis.
It always seems to always be conservatives and libertarians who are splitting for third parties and fouling up elections. The Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Reform Party "Perotistas" (currently held hostage by the Buchanan Brigades) are all essentially offshoots of the Republicans.
I wonder why that is? Are conservatives and libertarians just more passionate and fanatical about our politics? We obviously like to flee for the hills when any candidate dares to speak moderation or impure ideology.
(I think it's just gravy to see Ralph Nader and the Green Party threatening to blow things for the left. That would be a refreshing change.)
In any event, the Libertarian Party has a very pure ideology. Possibly too pure. They can never be accused of hypocrisy. They want government out of everything, whether it be the economy, welfare, or social issues. Such a powerful, simple concept... but one that tends to scare the living hell out of people. Dismantling the welfare state overnight is a lofty goal, but even biggest optimist realizes what kind of electoral bloodshed that would bring.
I guess it's easy to be ideologically pure when you don't have to worry about winning. Or governing.
In a tight race, a vote for a Libertarian candidate can be one less vote that a solid Republican contender could have gotten; hence it's essentially a boost for the Democrats.
And as revolting as I find Dubya, Al Gore would be even worse. Throw in the Supreme Court nominations at stake, and it seems more urgent to vote for Bush. Despite my reservations.
Liberal pundit Michael Kinsley said in a column a few weeks ago that Democrats also had serious misgivings about Clinton in 1992. But twelve years of Republican rule had made them desperate, so they supported him anyway because they thought he might actually be able to win. He did. Twice. (Although it's usually hard to find anyone that will admit voting for him.) I think the same thing is now happening with conservatives and libertarians. We see Dubya as not nearly conservative enough (and flawed in other ways) but a potential winner. While Gore is seen as unthinkable.
If you think third party votes don't make a difference, ask Al Gore about Ralph Nader. Or ask former President Bush about H. Ross Perot.
I think I've finally gotten that through my thick head.
This is not a bandwagon thing. It's a matter of "calling all hands" to fight, at the climax of a pitched melee. Despite my howling conscience, I'm going to hold my nose and vote for Dubya. And the living, breathing John Ashcroft. Though I agree with Libertarian philosophy more often than not, I cannot vote for them. In a tight race, it's inexcusable.
A martyr may be a hero, but he's still dead. So I'm selling out.
The lesser of two evils. Dammit. I thought I was better than compromising my core principles again. But apparently I'm not.
Voting this year for Bush will feel awful the morning after, like a bad hangover. But I don't see a choice. Feeling hung over and somewhat guilty the morning after the election is infinitely better than feeling a throbbing pain in your rectum.
The races are too close, and the alternative is to be Gored. And, electing a dead guy to the Senate. No, thank you.
In the end, I guess I'll just have to be an outspoken, crass Republican with an off-color sense of humor. I can't be a very good Libertarian if I can't vote that way myself. Much less encourage anyone else to.
I have not changed my way of thinking one iota. Nor will I. No party can tell me what to think. But I guess I've come home to the GOP, for better or worse.