Big government is bad, but not quite as bad under the Democrats.
It is the time of the Presidential election season to reflect on our values. What, you may protest, the Presidential elections are over! True, but if we are to avoid the train wreck of 2004, we must think now of 2008.
Without a doubt, that election will be triggered by events. In 2000, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ever vote for a Democrat. Now, it’s something I certainly can not rule out. By supporting lower taxes and, at least rhetorically, smaller government, the Republican Party had always been the “lesser of two evils.” Thanks to the Bush Administration, and through no effort of the Democrats, the Republicans have now surpassed the Democrats in evil. I don’t know what motivates President Bush, but by retaining Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary and nominating Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General, he has become the Torture President.
Opposing him will be tricky, and will require compromise. Those who oppose Bush from the anti-government Right may seem to have little in common with Democrats, aside from opposition to Bush. And that is correct. But within that context, we could say that some things are worse than others.
It’s a matter of perspective. The libertarian view supports open trade but opposes trade “agreements” between nations as an infringement on national sovereignty. It believes only Congress should declare war (funny how the plain meaning of the Constitution is an “extreme” position). It supports federal, decentralized government - individual freedom as much as possible, and localized government as much as possible. It opposes the United Nations, foreign aid, and a host of federal laws, regulations, and taxes.
We’re not getting our way, and probably won’t get our way any time soon in either party. But, given the reality of Big Government, who would I rather see in charge of it?
Not being fond of national government, and less fond of international “organizations,” what would I prefer in a President who supports both? Would I rather see him work with the despised United Nations for peace, or against the United Nations for war? Would I rather see him abide by these phony “free trade” agreements, or make these worse by unilaterally raising tariffs? If George Washington’s advice to avoid “entangling alliances” is not to be followed anyway, would I rather see the President work with, instead of against, the major military and economic powers?
Beyond that, do I want a President whose desire to reform and solve problems comes at the price of an exploding deficit? Whose idea of Social Security “reform” is having the federal government buy into Wall Street?
It’s a potentially poisonous choice. To look back fondly on President Clinton is to underestimate the precedents of sheer brutality, immorality, and illegality that paved the way for Bush. Remember Waco. Kosovo. Elian Gonzalez.
But can the Republican Party be trusted at all on issues of war, civil liberties, and the deficit? The Democratic Party, and the Left in general, includes Howard Dean, Ralph Nader, and yes, Russell Feingold. They believe in big government, but at least they believe in responsible and accountable big government. A warmongering President is worse than the United Nations. A protectionist President is worse than trade agreements. A tax-cutting, big-spending President is worse than one who balances the budget.
2008 is a long way away. Events get in the way of plans. Maybe this Administration will collapse, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will ascend to the Presidency, and prove to all that reasonable Republicans still exist. In any case, there will be major events in this second Bush term. We don’t know what they will be, and maybe the Democrats will discredit themselves and the Republicans redeem themselves. But I doubt it.
The libertarian alliance with the Republican Party is dead, because the Goldwater/Reagan conservative movement, with which we agreed on federalism, taxes, and spending, is dead. That is why now is the time for libertarians to try to find common ground with left-liberals, progressives, and greens.
Now is the time for Democrats to re-think everything they stand for. They can’t afford not to. Let’s hope a number of them rise up in the next four years and not only speak out against the President, but also provide vision for a better, saner, torture-free America.