In a likelihood, two weeks and one day from now, I will be standing outside of my local polling place in Western Prince William County, Virginia waiting for the doors to open so I can cast my ballot in the 2008 election.
Unless the polls and electoral college projections that we’re seeing right now are remarkably bad, or there is an historically unprecedented shift in the public mood over the next two weeks, or, unless, as former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards once joked, one of the candidates is caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, it seems fairly clear that Barack Obama will win and America will have it’s first non-white President.
I’ve been voting in Presidential elections for twenty years now. In my first General Election, I was faced with a choice between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. Partly because Bush’s pandering on the flag-burning issue disgusted me, but mostly because I considered my first vote for President to be so important to me personally that I wanted to vote for the candidate that actually stood for the things I believed in, I ended up voting for the Libertarian Party nominee that year, Ron Paul. I voted Libertarian again in 1992, for Andre Marrou, and in 1996, for Harry Browne.
Then came the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with Bush, but he seemed to be different from the nominees the Republicans had put up in the past and, as an added bonus, spoke out against the Clinton Administration’s policy of “nation building” in countries like Bosnia. The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, had descended in to parody — Harry Browne was nominated again but the party had quickly become little more than a vehicle for him to promote his own business ventures. Since there was no way I was going to vote for Gore based on his policies, Bush seemed like a better choice than throwing my vote away on a third-party candidate that wasn’t taking the election seriously.
By 2004, I had soured on Bush’s foreign policy but he was still a clearly better choice than the candidate the Democrats had selected, and the Libertarian Party seemed to be in more disarry than ever.
Man, do I regret those votes I made in 2000 and 2004 now.
Did I feel at the time like I was compromising my principles when I pulled the lever for George W. Bush not once, but twice ? Absolutely, but. as I think many Americans do on a regular basis, I fell hook, line, and sinker for the “lesser of two evils” argument.
That’s not happening this time.
After eight years of a Republican President who has engaged in a reckless and irresponsible war, and expanded the size, scope, and power of the Federal Government at a greater rate than any President since Lyndon Johnson, I’ve come to realize that compromising your principles in the voting both is, ultimately, just a path that will lead you to regret what you’ve done.
Back in February, I crossed party lines and voted for Barack Obama in the Virginia Democratic Primary, but my reasons for doing so then were quite clear:
What’s needed, I am convinced, is a break with the past and a new direction. In some sense, although I hate to admit it, John McCain represents that for the GOP but Barack Obama represents it even more and, more importantly, is running against the one person who, if she wins, would guarantee a return to same crap we’ve been dealing with since 1993 on both sides of the political aisle.
Defeating Hillary Clinton was, I thought then and still think today, essential to even taking the baby steps necessary to move America beyond the divisive politics that has been infecting the political system for the past twenty-odd years. If my vote for Barack Obama on February 12th helped make that happen even in the smallest degree, it was worth it.
I also noted in February:
Does this mean I would vote for Obama in November if he’s the nominee ? No, and, frankly I probably wouldn’t.
Given Obama’s positions on a variety of issues, that answer today is an emphatic no. Whether it’s the economy, education, health care, taxes, or a whole other variety of issues that face America today, it’s clear to me that Obama believes in more government, not less. He suffers from the same fatal conceit that all liberal Democrats do — the idea that they can use the power of the state to remake the world in their own image.
On the issues, John McCain isn’t much better. The difference is that McCain campaigns on rhetoric that makes you think that he believes in individual liberty, self-reliance, and small government. The reality of a hypothetical McCain Administration, though, is demonstrated quite clearly in his response to the financial crisis, his support of the bailout, and his insane idea to have the government buy-up and renegotiate distressed mortgages. These are not the policy proposals of a man who believes in the free market.
Moreover, McCain has run his campaign in a manner that is at the very least offensive and borders on an insult to the intelligence of the American voter. He selected as his Vice-Presidential running mate a woman manifestly unqualified for the job. He engaged in the pointless, some might even say reckless, stunt of pretending to suspend his in response to an economic crisis that he obviously had no real understand as to either the causes or the remedies. And, most recently, he engaged in nearly two weeks of relentlessly negative campaigning that concentrated not on the issues facing the country, but on his opponents alleged associations with someone even he admitted was a “washed up terrorist” and, in the process, brought out some of the worst in his supporters.
I said a long time ago that I would never vote for John McCain based solely on his manifest disdain for one of the fundamental freedoms in the Constitution. Now I can say that, even if he had never sponsored McCain-Feingold, his conduct during the course of this election has demonstrated to me that he is unfit to be President of the United States.
That’s why, this year, I am voting for Bob Barr for President of the United States.
Unlike any other candidate running for President this year, Bob Barr stand unequivocally in favor of the principles of individual liberty and limited government that stand at the core of America’s founding documents. He’s the only candidate who has spoken out against the evils of the Nanny State in all it’s manifestations. He’s the only candidate who has made the case against a solution to the problem of increasing health care costs that doesn’t involve more government regulation, higher taxes, and no real solution for the consumer. He’s one of the few politicians I’ve ever seen admit that he was wrong when he repudiated his previous positions on the War on Drugs. He’s spoken out on the Bush Administration’s assault on civil liberties, taken a clear and consistent position on the Second Amendment, called for the separation of government and the economy, and called for a return to a defense policy that actually involves defending the United States rather than engaging in adventures abroad. More recently, he has been the only candidate to speak out against government bailouts of private companies — whether its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the entire banking industry.
Most importantly of all, though, Bob Barr is the only candidate running for President on a platform that is based upon the ideas of individual liberty and limited government that the United States was founded upon. They are ideas that have worked in the past, but they’ve been abandoned by both major political parties.
It’s time to return to the America that was meant to be. It’s time to vote for Bob Barr.