Shooting at the Left and Right: Rooting for a Split Ticket and Voting Libertarian

Alex Friedman

The campaign of fear is in full swing. Vote for Bush/Cheney or Osama Bin Laden is going to come to your doorstep and blow up your family. Vote for Kerry/Edwards or else the entire economy is going to be outsourced to India and you’re going to starve to death. Nice options, huh? Oh, and you’ve got those “independent” groups chiming in to try to scare the bejesus out of you, too. Like rockthevote.com’s campaign, which urges us college-agers to vote because of issues like a potential military draft. Of course, all major candidates oppose the draft, as did the House of Representatives recently, by a 402-2 margin. But hey, vote or you’ll be sent to the front lines in Iraq! Incidentally, the two representatives in favor of the house bill were liberal Democrats – are the Rock The Vote people telling us to vote Republican? Whichever side you listen to, the pattern is the same: establish that this is the most important election ever, scare the hell out of the voter with impending doom (terrorists, job loss, the draft, threats to the “sanctity of marriage,” etc.), then offer the Republican/Democratic candidate as your savior and protector. Just remember, Government is your only hope. President Bush, as all the polls tell us, is regarded as “strong on defense.” Why? Because he’ll protect Americans by meddling as much as possible with that hornet’s nest that is the Middle East and assuring that there are enough things over there blow up, because hey, stuff blowing up elsewhere makes us feel safer. Nevermind that we’re only breeding a new and larger generation of America-hating fanatics, no matter how noble our intentions are. A foreign policy based on interventionism got us into the mess, why bother changing now? And then there’s Senator Kerry. He tells you to vote for him because the economy’s crummy. I’m no fan of Kerry’s opponent, but I would still ask how this is the President’s fault? Like it or not, Bush inherited an economy that was already past the technology boom years and clearly slowing. Then 9/11 hit, wreaking havoc on the airline industry and the financial sector in New York City and putting the economy into an unavoidable recession. It’s been a slow process, but the economy is rebounding. The rebound would probably be even quicker – and outsourcing not an issue – if U.S. businesses were less taxed and regulated. Is that what Kerry and the Democrats are advocating? You can stop laughing now.So that’s where we’re at: America loves the guy with the awful foreign policy, and the guy with the awful economic policy. I’m so thrilled for November 2! Of course, the candidates’ supposed ideological differences don’t even seem to matter much. America likes Democrats on economics, so Bush has responded by acting like a big government Democrat domestically, running deficits by upping spending on farm subsidies, other forms of illegal protectionism and prescription drugs for seniors (not to mention the billions that will continue to go to Iraq for years to come). Kerry on terrorism and foreign policy? Don’t forget, he voted for Bush’s beloved Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Republican Party, where have your fiscal conservatives gone? As much as I disagree with conservatives on social issues, we tend to agree on matters like small government and free trade. At least that’s what I thought – but Bush and the Republican Congress have been mediocre at best on trade, and “spent like drunken sailors” on their way to expanding government and running up deficits that are sure to bring taxes right back up in the future. Democratic Party, what happened to your social liberalism? Articulate a coherent argument against the erosion of our civil liberties – I’m on your side and would love to back you. Throw in the fact that every major Democratic politician seems to support the death penalty and the failed war on drugs and oppose gay marriage rights, and I’m more than a little disheartened. Unfortunately, while the Democratic Party has shifted ever leftward on economics (bad), it appears to be moving nowhere on issues of personal freedom (also bad). Admittedly, I’m a political freak – “conservative” on economics, “liberal” on social issues (perhaps more aptly described as “pro-freedom” all around). As a result, I should agree with Republicans half the time and Democrats half the time, and base my vote on which of those halves matters most to me. But the parties have strayed, and both now advocate big government (anti-freedom) solutions to all major issues. As a result, mine will be a disgusted protest vote for a candidate with no chance of winning, a crazy Libertarian named Michael Badnarik (I’m from New York, not a swing-state, don’t worry). On election night, I’ll be rooting for the split ticket – with Republicans likely to retain control of the legislature, this means Kerry for President. The benefits would be twofold: firstly, it gets Bush out of office before he can start any more wars, and secondly, the hatred between Kerry and the Republicans will run so deep that the government might actually not be able to get anything done for awhile. Imagine that – all of these dire problems, and no government to solve them? Somehow, I think we would manage to survive …