Voting For The Lesser of Two Police States

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In
2000, many libertarian-leaning voters decided to vote against Al
Gore, giving their endorsement to rule the country to George W.
Bush. Some others may have chosen the Democrat, and a depressingly
small number gave their support to Libertarian candidate Harry Browne.
Many libertarians did not vote at all, refusing to concede any legitimacy
to the state, and engaging in what many have argued to be the best
libertarian electoral strategy of them all
.

The
first group of voters I mention, not particularly thrilled with
Bush, but utterly appalled by Gore, held their noses in the voting
booths, and joined millions of comrades who shared the sentiment
that eight years of Bill Clinton had pushed America in an unmistakably
socialist direction, and Al Gore, if elected, would only accelerate
the sad process. Clinton's attempt to nationalize healthcare, his
murderous attack at Waco, Texas, his belligerent, unconstitutional
bombing of Serbia, his advocacy of myriad intrusions in business
and the family — this legacy had to be stopped, and libertarian-leaning
voters could not let Al Gore continue it, with his extravagant promises
of a new millennium of increased central planning at home and foreign
intervention abroad.

Bush
promised a more "humble" foreign policy, respect for states'
rights on medical marijuana, a tax cut, and a fledgling Social Security
"privatization" plan. Across the board, said many of my
friends, George II was the lesser of two evils.

Of
course, he also called for more education spending, bizarre "faith-based"
welfare programs, and expanded Medicare coverage for seniors. "Even
so," chided many of my friends, "he's still the
lesser of two evils."

By
now, most sensible people have abandoned that theory. Bush won the
presidency by the smallest margin in American history, and has pretty
much gotten away with everything
we feared Gore might have inflicted upon us.

Nowadays,
many libertarian-leaning folks believe that John Kerry is the lesser
of two evils. To stop America's charge toward fascism, George W.
Bush must lose in November. Which probably means, unless
a third party candidate has unprecedented success, that John Kerry
must win.

What
would John Kerry do if elected? We can't know for sure, but we can
look at what he proposes, on just a handful of issues.

On
foreign
policy,
Kerry believes in a "bold progressive internationalism
that focuses not just on the immediate and imminent, but insidious
dangers that can mount over the next years and decade, dangers that
span the spectrum from the denial of democracy, to destructive weapons,
endemic poverty and endemic disease."

Whoah
boy! Kerry wants the U.S. government to go around the world and
fix all the countries that aren't democracies, confront the nations
that have "destructive weapons" — as opposed to the other
kind — and wipe out poverty and disease. Whereas many accuse Bush
of lying about an "imminent threat," Kerry says that's
too high a standard for intervention. Sounds like a formula for
invading
the whole world.

If
the War on Iraq is Bush's idea of a "humble foreign policy,"
maybe we can hope that Kerry is likewise misrepresenting his own
"progressive internationalism," and would as Commander
in Chief actually bring home our troops and shut the door on the
UN.

On
education,
Kerry's web-site says he believes in an "u2018Education Trust Fund'
that means fully funding education, no questions asked."

Well,
if Bush's record expansion of federal education funding is still
inadequate, how many billions of dollars will "fully funding"
education cost? Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot that we're not supposed
to ask any questions.

In
fact, I can imagine a Kerry Administration policy of "no asking
questions" on all sorts of issues. But I have one more question,
anyway:

What
on earth does John Kerry mean when he says he wants to "enlist
citizens in the cause of a safer, stronger, more secure America"
in his proposed "New
Army of Patriots,"
which will establish a "nationwide
commitment to national service"?

At
the very least this will be as foolish as Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian
Conservation Corps boondoggle, in which youth were paid to dig holes
and fill them back up, all while actual production might have helped
the Americans starving during the Great Depression. At the worst
this might mean a national draft, both for military and civic purposes,
in which America's young will end their twelve years of government-mandated
indoctrination in government schools just to find themselves enslaved
by Uncle Sam to dig trenches, either in America or the Middle East.

Kerry
plans to include in his "New Army of Patriots" program
mandatory service for high school students, to teach America's teenagers
the "rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

How
quaint. I hear they've tried similar programs in Europe. In fact,
Germany,
way ahead of the game, introduced such a program back in the 1930s.

In
truth, it's impossible to know what Kerry means with his Kerry Youth
proposal or any other campaign promises. He loves using strange,
ambiguous language to obscure his intentions. He likes to glorify
America's "first defenders." Do you know exactly what
this means? I don't, either, but his site has
eighty-four pages
that mention these "defenders."

John
Kerry's main criticisms of Bush all have to do with alleged inaction.
He astonishingly accuses Bush of not having spent enough on domestic
programs, and he
says
, "I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in
the War on Terror; I believe he's done too little." In principle,
Kerry approves of Bush's usurping of unconstitutional executive
powers – so much the better to bolster the office in preparation
for Kerry's entrance.

Meanwhile,
Bush's main complaint about Kerry is that he'll be weak in the face
of foreign enemies — even though the Democrat voted for the Iraq
War, and agrees
that other countries have an obligation
to join in on U.S. aggression,
even after they suffer blowback themselves.

This
is a scary election. In previous years, candidates would at least
sometimes pretend to believe in freedom, in some vague sense, and
would pay lip service to the Constitution. Nowadays, both parties
seem to be competing to make America a police state.

The
term "police state" is no exaggeration. It accurately
describes a government that imprisons people without trial, denying
them access to lawyers or the press, and a system where it is a
crime
to declare your own innocence
of a victimless
act
and yet law enforcers who beat
unarmed men to death get off the hook completely
. That the pubic
is not outraged by these trends demonstrates how desensitized the
people have become – the perfect condition for the advancement
of tyranny. Both Bush and Kerry support police state policies, and
they intend to extend them to even more unfortunate victims.

Their
only differences are completely meaningless, in the scheme of things.
Bush likes tiny tax cuts, which make the police state cost more
in the future. Kerry opposes the cuts, and wants us to pay for the
police state now. They might also have slightly different policies
on the environment, as well. But they both favor a foreign policy
liable to get us into nuclear war, which is bad for the environment,
last time I checked.

On
every real issue – from the Patriot Act to the War on Terrorism
to government healthcare — the two candidates either agree completely
or attempt to out-do each other in their calls for more, more, more.

Some
have said that Kerry will at least create "grid-lock,"
and that a split government, with a Republican Congress and Democratic
President, won't be able to expand the state as quickly. This might
be true for some domestic social spending, which Republicans tend
to oppose more adamantly when Democrats get the credit. But I generally
expect there to be bipartisan cooperation in turning America into
an Empire abroad and a concentration camp at home.

If,
on the other hand, Kerry wins and the Democrats take over Congress,
we might have a new FDR situation to deal with.

If
Bush wins, he'll take the second term mandate seriously, and probably
invade a couple more countries and eviscerate a couple more amendments
in the Bill of Rights.

Either
way, America is going downhill. Just as many conservatives and libertarians
supported Bush out of fear of Gore's socialism, no doubt many leftists
and libertarians will vote for Kerry out of fear of Bush's warmongering.
A few libertarians, aware of how terrible Kerry is, but for some
reason not convinced of Bush's statism, might give their electoral
approval to Bush and hope the country survives the next four years.

It's
impossible to know which of the two major candidates will bring
about the lesser police state.

To
retain your dignity, the least you can do in November is refuse
to give either of these control freaks your express permission to
rule you, your country, and the rest of the world.

March
25, 2004

Anthony
Gregory [send him mail]
is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He earned
his bachelor's degree in history at UC Berkeley, where he was president
of the Cal Libertarians. He is an intern at the Independent Institute
and has written for Rational Review, the Libertarian
Enterprise, and Antiwar.com. See
his webpage for more
articles and personal information.


        
        

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