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