A Sad Day for Liberty
by Anthony Gregory
by Anthony Gregory
Although John Kerry offered very little hope to the libertarian in the world of policy proposals, the reelection of George W. Bush is indeed a sad event for liberty.
We now know that, regardless of whether he "stole" the election in 2000, the electoral and popular majority came out in support of Bush. He didn't steal this one.
Why did Americans vote for him? According to polls, leading reasons for supporting Bush were "moral values," the economy, and terrorism.
Give me a break.
I guess "moral values" comprises the occasional statement that "marriage is sacred" or that "character and human dignity" are good. No matter how many innocent people a Republican kills or lies he tells, conservatives will support him as long as he "defends marriage" — even if he endorses civil unions and has the same outlook on the issue as his opponent! Maybe the federal marriage amendment idea helped. Allegedly, anything that further nationalizes the country in the name of family values is good for America.
Even though the economy is not doing so well — and the government shouldn't be charged with running the economy in the first place — many Americans voted for Bush as if he's the man putting people to work and producing all the country's goods and services. Although the War on Terror has only made us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, the voters feel so protected by the president that they rushed to the polls in his support. That'll show bin Laden! Vote for the guy who killed thousands in Iraq and radicalized the most secular Arab region in the Middle East!
The meaning of Bush's reelection cuts much deeper than any of these particular issues. It means that a majority of the electorate — including almost all voters who consider themselves Republicans or conservatives — have more apprehension about a vague alternative than about four more years of what we have seen.
We have seen the growth of government at a mind-numbing velocity. We have seen the creation of a new federal bureaucracy, new spying powers, two disastrous wars, a torture scandal, the largest expansion of welfare entitlements since the Great Society, and a long list of many other federal abominations, almost any of which make Clinton's years look like a libertarian dream and a paragon of virtue.
Whatever one might think about "voting to keep Kerry out of the White House," the American people (or at least a plurality of those eligible voters who chose to participate) effectively granted Bush another four years to do much of the same.
The Republicans also gained in the legislature. This would have been tolerable and even desirable if Kerry had won. But the Republicans will take this election as a mandate for every government program, war, police-state policy and spending increase they have their hearts set on; this election was a referendum: do Americans think the country is going in the right direction? Fifty-eight million people said yes. The Republicans will continue to expand the corporate-socialist state and wage wars, all in the name of free markets and peace. We have another four years of having to explain not only the faults of the government, but also how none of Bush's governance, despite the lying Republican rhetoric, has anything whatsoever to do with free enterprise and limited government.
Aside from the Republicans, another group also deserves blame: the Democrats.
What were you guys thinking? Did you really think that by nominating some Bush Lite™ who wrote parts of the Patriot Act, voted for Gulf War II, and did everything he could during the election to alienate classic conservatives as well as antiwar leftists, you'd beat the current president? I know so many people who would have voted for Howard Dean, who was a little more reasonable on spending and gun control and much more unambiguously opposed to the Iraq War. I know so many conservatives whose main problem with Kerry was that he was hardly even "Anybody but Bush."
The Democrats deserved to lose this one, although Bush deserved to lose even more.
As for the libertarians who supported this madman, I wonder something. What's so libertarian about supporting the least libertarian president in a quarter of a century?
There are two kinds of people who consider themselves libertarians: those who care more about aesthetics, rhetoric and façade, and those who care more about freedom and the growth of government. It took me until this election to realize something: I really do long for the days of Bill Clinton. And I do believe that those who think that sounds crazy simply aren't paying attention.
For the first time, I also think that the red states might be loonier than the blue. Now, I might be wrong about this, and I'm sure one day I'll change my mind again, but I'm actually thinking that California secession wouldn't be so bad. Unfortunately, the Republicans, having duped the red states, including the South, into supporting the nationalist agenda of the Party of Lincoln, will never let California go any more than they let South Carolina go 144 years ago.
George W. Bush is going to be a two-term president. That's unbelievable. I used to wonder how Americans could reelect Franklin Roosevelt after the New Deal, or Richard Nixon after his continuing of the Great Society and the Vietnam War, or Ronald Reagan after increasing government when he said he wouldn't, or Bill Clinton after Waco. Now I know.
Well, if Bush invades Iran, continues with his healthcare socialism, starts rounding up dissenters and runs this country into depression with his inflationary spending, I guess the Republican voters can at least be happy that they kept the slimy Democrats out of the White House.
Do I think Kerry would have been better? Not necessarily. He could have conceivably been worse. But we'll never know for sure. What we do know is that the Republicans have it all — Congress, the Senate, the White House, and the judiciary. Let's see how much liberty we get back. Let's see how much peace and security we get. I would be willing to bet that the growth of government will only accelerate now, and that we have a snowball's chance in hell of seeing new judges that "obey the Constitution." This election has only proven to the Republicans that they can easily win elections and maintain their base constituency no matter how much they lie to us, destroy the Bill of Rights and wage war on the American Dream.
November 4, 2004
Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research assistant at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.
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