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Don’t Blame Me Just Because I Voted For Bob Barr

by @ 1:24 pm on July 20, 2009. Filed under 2008 Election, Bob Barr, John McCain, Libertarians, Politics, Republicans

Over the weekend, Melissa Clouthier took the time to take to task those of us who refused to compromise our principles last November and voted for Bob Barr over the atrocious McCain/Palin ticket:

DontBlameBobTShirt[P]eople are coming out of the woodwork saying, “Don’t blame me! I voted for Bob Barr!” I ask you, Is that something to be proud of?

John McCain was a terrible candidate for a myriad of reasons I won’t list here. Rather than blogging anything negative, many times, I just held my tongue. (Other times, not so much.) Why? Do I and all conservatives who voted for John McCain lack a spine and principles? Some would say so. Did I hold my nose and vote for John McCain because I’m a conservative sellout?

I voted for John McCain for precisely the reasons we’re seeing right now. President Barack Obama is a statist. He’s a socialist. He wants to remake America into some liberal delusional utopian fantasy and he’s damn near succeeded at every single thing he’s wanted to do.

My brother was in Venezuela last week and talked to a local businessman who marveled of Chavez,”It’s amazing how much has changed in four years. How quickly it happened.” And it wasn’t good change. And he wasn’t hopeful. Do those who voted for Obama honestly think a slide of Venezuela-like proportions is impossible?

President Obama is a disaster for America and I hold those who voted for Bob Barr every bit as accountable as if the so-called principled person voted for Barack Obama himself. It was a vote that aided and abetted an enemy of freedom. How can a freedom-loving person be proud of this?

First of all, it’s worth noting, as Bruce McQuain does, that those of us who voted for Bob Barr can hardly be blamed for the outcome of the election:

Bob Barr pulled all of 511,324 votes. Statistically that’s 0% of the electorate. Had every Bob Barr voter voted for John McCain, he’d have ended up with 58,854,995 votes instead of 58,343,671 to Obama’s 66,882,230.

So, even if Robert Stacey McCain, Jason Pye, and myself — along with 511,321 other people (or those 181,818 people, like Leslie Carbone, who voted for Chuck Baldwin) — voted for McCain/Palin rather than Barr/Root last November, it would have had absolutely no impact on the election. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Heck it wouldn’t have even shifted a single Electoral Vote. Therefore, the good Doctor’s assertion that Barr voters are in any way responsible either for the election of Barack Obama, or any of the policies he’s implemented is simply wrong.

Clouthier acknowledges this simple fact in an update to her post but goes on to insist that McCain would have been better as President, from a libertarian perspective I assume, than Obama has been to date, but that statement belies that fact that John McCain was never the conservative that his supporters claimed he was:

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

The prospect of as President John McCain serving, as he would have, with a Democratic-controlled Congress should not be one that anyone who calls themselves a limited-government free-market fiscal conservative would look forward to, and it was in that spirit that Leslie Carbone made the conservative case against John McCain back in October:

If McCain is president, thanks to conservative votes, it will be McCain, and his fellow anti-conservatives–both those philosophically opposed to small government and those so philosophically unmoored that they have no convictions at all except power–who continue to shape the right-of-center side of America’s political conversation. And that will mean continuing to fight destructive Democrat policies with destructive Democrat-lite policies.

Rejecting McCain, on the other hand, gives us time and space and, most of all, integrity, to recover the principles that made Ronald Reagan the most successful president in modern times, and, in so doing, repair the conservative cause.

Clouthier, on the other hand, took the opposite approach:

John McCain was a terrible candidate for a myriad of reasons I won’t list here. Rather than blogging anything negative, many times, I just held my tongue. (Other times, not so much.) Why? Do I and all conservatives who voted for John McCain lack a spine and principles? Some would say so. Did I hold my nose and vote for John McCain because I’m a conservative sellout?

Which is worse ? Supporting a candidate you know is “terrible” and staying silent about his many, known and obvious, failings ? Or supporting a candidate that clearly stands up for the principles you believe in even though you know he is going to lose ?

Quite honestly, I can’t fathom a scenario where Clouther’s support makes more sense than Carbone’s.

Finally, Clouther seems to think that libertarians are little more than impatient Republicans and that we all just need to sit down, shut up, and take our medicine:

Libertarians don’t help anything by flopping around at the edges and indulging in third party fantasies. Libertarians needs to put their formidable energy into the Republican party at the bottom and take the party back to constitutional greatness.

The biggest mistake that Clouthier makes is assuming that libertarians are, or at least ought to be, naturally Republican. While the Republican platform does lean libertarian when it comes to economic issues, and Republican politicians and pundits tend to use limited government rhetoric that clearly appeals to libertarian ears, the reality of Republican governance over the past decade leaves much to be desired. It was a Republican President and Congress that gave us Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and an unprecedented increase in the surveillance of our daily lives. It was a Republican President and a Republican Congress that allowed government to grow at a rate unseen since the days of LBJ. It was a Republican President, and the Republican leadership in Congress, that gave us the TARP bailout. It was a Republican President who bailed out the auto industry even after Congress had voted against it. It was a Republican President who doubled the national debt over the course of eight years. And, it was a Republican President and Congress that single handed-ly destroyed the credibility of the Republican Party on economic issues.

Given the way that it’s performed over the past decade, there’s no reason to believe that the Republican Party will govern any differently than it has in the past, and no reason for libertarians such as myself to sign on to the Republican agenda.

It’s a story we’ve seen play out before. Obama will, most likely, fall victim to the economic realities that make much of what he wishes to accomplish impossible. Republicans will come back to power. Government will continue to grow. Deficits will rise. Freedom will erode. And, then, when it all goes to pot again, there will be those like Dr. Clouthier telling libertarians that they just need to buck up and be good little Republicans.

Sorry, but I’ve already been burned once and it’s not going to happen again. That’s why, when November 2008 rolled around, I voted for Bob Barr for President. When it comes to lesser offices and future elections, I’ll vote for candidates who actually believe in limited government and free markets regardless of which party they belong to. If neither of the major party candidates fit that bill, I’ll vote for the Libertarian Party candidate, or I won’t vote at all.

The Republicans can have my vote back when, and if, they earn it.

3 Responses to “Don’t Blame Me Just Because I Voted For Bob Barr”

  1. I voted for Barr as well. I had thought about voting for Baldwin like Ms. Carbone, but decided that Barr’s experience made him the more palatable candidate. Perhaps I’m one of the malcontents that Ms. Coulthier is referring to. I was not about to vote for John McCain or Barack Obama.

  2. Charlie,

    That’s me…..a malcontent, and proud of it

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