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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

 
The State of My Vote, 3/2/04:

Note: This is the first in an occassionally series of essays which will be interspersed with the Sydney Digest series. This first essay was composed late last week. Between now and that time, I have also become aware of Michele Catalano's excellent article on a similar subject. So go read that too.

And I’ve been pushed off that teetering Republican fence. Bush’s gay marriage amendment proclamation was the final straw. After the steel tariffs, farm subsidies, doubling of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and, what I consider most egregious, his complete failure to make any sort of defense of the war since the middle of last year, I simply can’t take it anymore. Josh Marshall seems to be right, almost every move Bush has made since Iraq (and even some before that) are simply political ploys and trial balloons meant to win votes. And all around Bush is an aura of creeping authoritarianism, pushing towards the center on economic issues, and pandering to the religious right on social issues. There’s no principle. And what really gets my goat is that one of the things I agree with him on, partial privatization of Social Security, has gotten NO play in 3+ years of his presidency. Yet, when Greenspan brings up cutting Social Security benefits, Bush can trot out his “support” for partial privatization, despite the fact that he hasn’t even bothered to put the issue on the table during this term.

And, so, at the moment, I will not vote for Bush. Not that it matters, because I vote in New Jersey, which would go Democratic because of the urban districts (Camden, Newark) plus the limousine liberals in Central Jersey even if the party was running a plant(*) (or Dennis Kucinich, which I suppose is the same thing). But I consider voting to be a privilege to take seriously, and to register my preference on government. Here in Australia, they have compulsory voting with a fine for non-compliance, and preferential voting (which is mostly important in lower house elections), to prevent the “wasted vote” myth, for instance, in a race of Nader, Kerry, Bush, Roy Moore, voters can select Nader or Moore first on their ballot, and then Kerry or Bush second, so that they can register their preference both to a minor party and then between the major parties(#).

So, given that my vote really doesn’t matter and that I’m not going to have a chance to register anything other than a first preference, if I was voting today, who would I go for? We’ve already eliminated Bush. What about the Democrats? Kerry repulses me with his flip-flopping, and his stance that the war on terror is a law enforcement exercise. Edwards has somehow landed to the LEFT of Kerry, and his populism and anti-free trade stances completely turn me off. Nader and Moore are right out; one too far authoritarian left, the other too far authoritarian right. I identify myself as libertarian-conservative, and those two both repulse me in the same way; they’re two sides of the same coin. This of course leaves those lovable freaks, the Libertarian Party.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the Libertarian Party. I was a card-carrying member of the party for about a year, and was a big supporter back in 2000 (I voted for Harry Browne in my high school’s mock election). But from what I’ve seen of the inner workings (which admittedly isn’t much), I feel that the Libertarian Party is completely unfit to govern. They act more like a debating society to reveal the “true” libertarianism. I feel as though if they were to come to power, somehow, any attempts to initiate their plans would fail miserably, because there’s no pragmatism anywhere in that party (Exception: Carla Howell’s Small Government Amendment in Massachusetts). That's why the Free State Project of theirs interests me so much, just because I really want to see if a Libertarian government would actually work.

At this point, I’ve eliminated every candidate that I know of (ignoring such “parties” as the Neo-Whigs and the Radical Moderates). There’s obviously a void in the political spectrum for voters like me. And other bloggers, like Michele Catalano, Glenn Reynolds, Rachel Lucas, and Daniel Drezner (yes, yes, there are plenty of others, too. Those are the first four that came to mind). What’s needed, as Mickey Kaus (scroll down to "Waiting for Perot") pointed out months ago, is a third party candidate to grab this group of “pragmatic libertarians”, who are left or left-center on social issues, right or right-center on economic issues, and are in favor of a strong prosecution of the war on terror (which may include any and all options up to and including an entire political and social upheaval in the Middle East). There’s a hole here, people! There were talks of a blogosphere ticket last year, but that seems to have died away.

So, who’s on my ballot? I don’t know. Consider me officially undecided.

* Remember Ficus 2000 in New Jersey’s 11th District? That’s back when I still found Michael Moore amusing.

# I realize that’s a ridiculously crude summary of the Australian political system. Don’t take it as the true gospel.

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