by Steven Yates
Don't shoot! I'm aware before even starting that this is not likely to be a popular column. I risk losing some of whatever readership I've gained by having penned it. I may be called a scalawag and a turncoat by people I consider friends, people I'm trying to help. All I can say is, please hear me out! And then exercise your own best judgment.
In the past I've defended third parties. I tend to believe that both Patrick J. Buchanan and Harry Browne are highly intelligent, articulate men whose messages, if anyone actually heard them, would be good for the country in quite a few (though not quite all) respects. But it is time to face the music: they won't win. They won't even obtain 5 percent of the popular vote. Buchanan has acquired $12.5 million in tax money in order to campaign, because of the Reform Party's having gained something like 9 percent of the popular vote four years ago. I've seen his television commercials, and can certify that his and his running mate Ezola Foster's visits to my area have been publicized in the local media. While obviously not given the coverage available to Democrats and Republicans, Buchanan has not been blacked out; allegations to the contrary are simply untrue. As for Harry Browne, he is the heir of a political party that has been around almost 30 years now. There are quite a few people (almost 16 percent, according to one poll) who have essentially libertarian views of the world. This is not enough, for a party and school of thought that is way too intellectual for most public-school damaged voters today.
There are several other folks running on small-party tickets: Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party, for example, is also quite articulate. There is Ralph Nader of the hard-left Green Party. There is high-flying John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party whose biggest claim to fame is helping undermine the credibility of the Reform Party last summer in Long Beach, Calif., whatever the ultimate truth may be about that event. Perhaps there are others. Except for Nader, they aren't even on most voters' radar screens. I predict that Nader will get perhaps 2 percent of the popular vote this year and come out ahead of both Buchanan and Browne who may be doing well to approach 1 percent each.
Why is this case? One reason is that by and large, the third parties are revolutionists. Both Buchanan and Browne, in somewhat different ways because of somewhat different philosophies, want to overhaul the status quo in a big way. The latter would make deep cuts in the federal government at every level, not merely downsizing a few layers of bureaucracy but getting rid of entire agencies. The former would proceed with a moral emphasis that would, among other things, seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. Both would get the United States out of Nafta and the World Trade Organization. Both would tell the United Nations to pack its bags and get off American soil. Both would attempt to take this country back to the Constitution.
It is not that voters openly disagree with this (although some probably do). It is that most couldn't care less. The majority of voters like the status quo of the moment. Though nervous about some of the changes technology has brought about over the past few years, they are basically happy with the economy. The discontent that gave us a Republican Congress back in 1994 for the first time in 40 years just isn't there on a large scale any more. Much of today's public believes the government / media pronouncement that we are in an era of peace and unprecedented prosperity. This may be because the Washington Empire has been fighting its wars in places most Americans cannot even find on a map, well away from legitimate U.S. interests; and because we have created a huge credit bubble here at home. Both credit spending and taxes are at all-time highs. Over half of the public believes there really is a surplus. And while they grouse about taxes, many voters would complain a lot more if their government freebies abruptly disappeared. For quite a while now the prevailing mindset has been: sure, cut the size of government, but don't touch my goodies. With this short-sightedness firmly in control, nothing can change. Finally, most of our public school damaged public has never had to learn what is in the Constitution. Today's schools are too busy teaching about sex, how to recycle and how to feel good about ourselves.
So it is not as if there has been some kind of direct conspiracy against the outsiders. However one may cite the Commission on Presidential Debates as ensuring that only George W. Bush Jr. and Albert Gore would be seen in their televised performances, in an age increasingly dominated by the World Wide Web and instant electronic communications, conspiracies of silence are becoming harder and harder to pull off. Anyone with a computer, a modem and a minimum of know-how can access Libertarian websites, or visit Pat Buchanan's Buchanan-Reform site, or subscribe to email lists from which I've received dozens of updates this year.
Our present public is, by and large, too content to be interested. Voters don't want anyone to rock the boat, economically or politically, and that, this year, is going to be the bottom line. This is why the two most carefully orchestrated major party conventions and campaigns ever have been accepted without significant protest.
And so, whether we like or not (and I assure you a hundred times over, I don't!), we are stuck once again with two viable choices for president: George W. Bush Jr. and Albert Gore – two second-generation politicians and consummate insiders.
Given that stark of a choice, I choose Bush Jr., and I don't have as much trouble making the choice as I thought I would.
It isn't that I think Bush Jr. would be a great president or even necessarily a good one. It is an open question whether he has the fortitude or strength of character to stand up to the forces of political correctness that are rapidly taking over. He made us wonder after the Bob Jones University flap last winter, when he was criticized by liberals (including the turncoats in his own party) for making an appearance at an institution with a policy against interracial dating, a policy since rescinded. Rather than informing us that Bob Jones University is a private institution, and as such has the right to establish whatever policies it pleases so long as they don't interfere with the free choices of those outside, he apologized for whatever "offense" he had given.
It is true, furthermore, that one searches through the Bush agenda in vain for evidence that he would cut a single federal agency or program. Proposals to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, for example, have fallen by the wayside. But Bush wants to spend fewer federal dollars than Gore, and his tax cuts would allow those of us who work for a living to have slightly more control over the fruits of our labors.
I am not sure what kind of Supreme Court Justices Bush Jr. would appoint, assuming (as seems probable) the next U.S. president will get that opportunity. He has professed allegiance to Christianity, which suggests an impulse to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the real test will come when his feet are in the fire. My guess is, he will appoint pragmatists rather than conservatives who reject the idea of a Constitutional "right" to an abortion. This means that regardless of who wins, Roe v. Wade will still be there four years from now. The fact that Christian conservatives have been all but absent from the national conversation this year, including within the Republican Party, is telling. But it isn't just the Republicans. Again, much of the public just isn't interested. If there were clamors for Christian conservative points of view outside of sites on the World Wide Web, surely we would know it by now. Even Dr. Laura has found herself having to apologize for having called homosexuality deviant. Her television show is struggling for survival. This is the America of 2000.
In this case, why vote for Bush? The best reason to vote for Bush is Al Gore. Frankly, the prospect of a Gore Regime scares the living Hell out of me! Gore would open up whole new dimensions of statism, building on the chronic lawlessness and hunger for power that has characterized the Clinton Regime. And he would do so without the sexual buffoonery that has distracted Bill Clinton all these years. I don't see him cheating on Tipper, for example. I can't picture him receiving oral sex from interns or fondling the staff. He's not been accused of having raped any Juanita Broaddricks. What he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in focus. He made a shrewd move in choosing as his running mate one of the few Democrats who had publicly criticized Bill Clinton's behavior. Without the sexual baggage, Gore would be quite capable of concentrating his full efforts on consolidating power in the Washington Empire.
For more than two years – since the summer of 1998, roughly speaking – evidence has been accumulating of what kind of country the United States could become under a Gore Regime. In the summer of 1998, some may recall, Gore compared critics of affirmative action to duck hunters shooting at targets. This was pure libel, of course, but he got away with it. Gore has always solidly backed race-based preferential policies. If we are unsure what Bush would do, with Gore there is absolutely no doubt.
Gore, moreover, has said openly that he would select Supreme Court Justices who believe the "living Constitution" dogma that has propelled 40-plus years of judicial activism. Those who read the Constitution the way the Framers intended it to be read, whether about gun-ownership, free speech, freedom of religious expression, etc., would be given short shrift. Again, we may be unsure what Bush might do, but again Gore leaves no room for doubt. A Gore Regime would accelerate the trashing of the Constitution.
There is plenty other evidence of the extent to which the country would take yet another quantum leap leftward under Gore. During his acceptance speech last summer, Gore laid out one proposed federal program on top of another: throwing more taxpayer dollars into public schools ($170 billion over a ten year period, he says), more for police on the streets (suitably federalized, I presume), more for new versions of Hillarycare, more entitlements, and so on and so on. And we haven't yet mentioned Gore's natural appeal to radical feminists and homosexuals who would continue their present course of undermining the U.S. military, ruining what is left of the universities and trashing American culture. Under a Gore Regime, political correctness would have complete carte blanche.
Finally, one of Al Gore's less-talked-about schemes would brake the growth of the Internet-based economy by imposing vast new taxes on Internet-based businesses. Where taxes are possible, regulatory control soon follows. In a short period of time, it might not be as easy to access alternative sources of news and information over the Internet. After all, the Southern Poverty Law Center has already declared war against so-called "hate sites" and the organizations behind them. No doubt these guys and other purveyors of cultural Marxism would thrive under a Gore Regime.
Eight years of Clinton Regime have taken their toll in a way that actually helps Gore: he can lie like a rug and get away with it, in a culture where truth is no longer of interest. When the effort to remove Clinton from office for lying under oath during Monicagate failed, the Republicans in Congress basically gave up. They never pursued the Clinton Regime about the far more dangerous Chinagate. They are not likely to pursue the steady stream of prevarications and exaggerations coming from Gore, be they his shadowy denials about fund-raising (as with the infamous Buddhist Temple) or the more recent allegations of secret dealings with the Russians.
Now what worries me is that at least some proponents of Southern nationalism have shared with me a belief that Gore will win this election, or even expressed hope that he will. Their assumption is that under a Gore Regime the attacks on personal liberties and free expression will get so extreme as to provoke a broad-based reaction that will fuel the drive for independence.
This, my friends, is playing a dangerous game that could easily backfire. First, do we want bad things to happen to this country and its people, to give us tools we can use to pursue our political goals? We are better and more honorable than that. But second and possibly more important: one of the things we should have learned from Seattle, December 1999, is that the government is quite capable of finding thugs whose only interest is in breaking things and using them to discredit legitimate, peaceful protests and movements. Imagine such a gang turned loose on a League of the South meeting or convention. All the thugs would have to say is that people were seen entering the building with the hated Confederate flag on their lapels, that Confederate flags were prominent inside, and that they were offended. Neither the government nor any national or local media would come to our defense, any more than the German national media came to the defense of Jews whose businesses were destroyed during Krystallnacht. If anything, we would be accused of having instigated the whole thing by having kept our politically incorrect symbols. Because of biased media reporting, the public still won't perceive that anything is seriously wrong since the incident didn't affect them directly. A few such incidents, and independence movements are in trouble. How many people, with jobs to keep and wives and children to look out for, will stay involved despite fears for their safety? How many others will disappear into the woodwork?
Could things get that bad? I don't know, and I've no desire to find out. The point is, there is no way a Gore Regime could be good for the South – or any other place outside the Washington Empire. Of course, if Gore wins and a lurch toward centralization ensues (perhaps involving other issues such as stealth attacks on privacy), it could precipitate the sort of crisis in which independence movements could flourish. But I'd just as soon play the lottery as gamble that way. At present, almost any group can meet in public, and its members discuss issues and plan strategy. Under Bush, this will probably not change. Under Gore, who knows? Do we really want to run the risk?
It is true that Gore and Bush agree on a good bit more than the establishment would have us believe. Both are basically statists and internationalists who supported, for example, the Clinton Regime's illegal and immoral incursions in Kosovo. Neither has addressed problems such as illegal immigration (as has Buchanan). Bush has not come out and said that our worst social problem is not racism but illegitimate births. But Gore is more of a statist and an internationalist than Bush. The differences between the two are greater than the third parties would have us believe. This is not a mere choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Gore is a micro-manager and control freak who would be obsessed with details. Bush would be more likely to delegate authority. The latter is far more amenable to local autonomy, and therefore eventual independence won peacefully.
As an example of where Bush wants to come from, I think, let us remember that one of Bush's more controversial stances was about the Confederate flag. When pressed for an opinion, he correctly described it as a South Carolina problem for South Carolinians to solve, not a federal issue to be decided or opined on in Washington.
Gore, on the other hand, was blunt and unequivocal: take it down!
This should be remembered when deciding whether to go on supporting a third party candidate this year, or to "give in" and vote for Bush.
So what is recommended? Take the long perspective. Vote for Bush, and wait. The time is coming. On one front, over the past ten years, the country has turned into a moral and cultural sewer, and we are dangerously close to thought control. On another, the national spending spree of the 1990s will exact its price; people cannot spend indefinitely on credit. Basic economic law will put the brakes on the so-called boom for which the Clinton-Gore crowd desperately wants credit. We are clearly headed for a crisis of some sort, very possibly on a timetable which I have discussed elsewhere: every 70-plus years on the average, this country experiences a crisis. The last such crisis was precipitated by the Crash of '29. That was 71 years ago. The one before that came about when South Carolina signed the Ordinance of Secession, in 1860, 140 years ago. The Constitution itself emerged from such a crisis in 1787 — 213 years ago. Coincidence?
The important thing, however, is that voters have to care. They have to want the sort of changes that would lead back to limited government and state's rights. To want this, they have to feel threatened by the status quo, and withdraw support from it. Despite all the haranguing, that has not happened this year. It won't happen between now and November 7. It is clearly going to take a national shock of major proportions to awaken the public from its present stupor. Then, and only then, will a third party have a chance at winning the kind of sizable and substantial allegiance it must win before we can take our country back.
So though I take no pleasure in saying it, your best bet is to vote for Bush on November 7. If you absolutely must support a third party candidate, go for Nader. Most of the 2 percent or so votes Nader will get would otherwise go to Gore; there are allegations that in states where the race between Bush and Gore is very close, Nader's presence could tip the scales in favor of Bush. The other minor candidates are not going to have any impact. What does matter is that in the last analysis, with things coming right down to the wire so far as the future of freedom in this country is concerned, You Do Not Want Al Gore To Win This Election!!
Steven Yates has a Ph.D in Philosophy and is the author of Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (San Francisco: ICS Press, 1994). A frequent contributor to LewRockwell.com and The Edgefield Journal, he lives and freelance writes in Columbia, South Carolina. He is at work on a new book manuscript, tentatively entitled The Paradox of Liberty.