Another Libertarian Rooting for Kerry
I've been thinking a lot about the Kerry v. Bush question, especially given the discussion between Aeon Skoble and Jacob Levy, both of whom I think highly of. Let me start by saying that I'm a "conscientious abstainer," and that if I were to vote, I would still vote Libertarian. However, if I was coerced into voting and could only vote for one of the two major party candidates, I think at this point I would, in fact, vote for Kerry. Or perhaps more accurately, as of now, I'll be rooting for the Democrats to win come November. This line from Andrew Sullivan is as good a place as any to start my argument:
But what is a "Bush Republican"? I think it has to be a combination of the social policy of the religious right (the FMA, bans on embryo research, government support for religious charities, etc), the fiscal policy of the Keynesian left (massive new domestic spending combined with "deficits don't matter"), and the foreign policy of liberal moralism (democratization as a policy in the Middle East).
There it is: Bush has governed as a social conservative and a fiscal liberal - precisely the opposite of what a libertarian would like to see (couched in the language of conventional politics). Add on to it a war that looks increasingly problematic, and you have a bad package.
From where I sit, Kerry will be no worse on fiscal matters including health care (and, as Tyler Cowen points out, possibly better if he is gridlocked with a Republican Congress). He can't possibly be worse and will likely be better on many of the social issues where Bush is in bed with the religious right. And, best as I can tell, his position on the war (or is it positions, plural?) is more or less indistinguishable from Bush, making that a wash. Kerry is grown-up enough to more or less recognize the seriousness of the terrorist threat, but hopefully less willing than Bush to go find it where it isn't. In the end, I think a world with Kerry as president and a GOP-controlled Congress is the least of all evils. Gridlock rules!!!
Let me finally add a caveat that Jacob raises as well: the trade issue. Edwards is really bad on trade and if the Democrats run as protectionists, my earlier calculus is upset. Protectionist policies could survive a divided goverment (apply your good old public choice here) and would have devastating consequences not just for Americans but for so much of the rest of the world who really needs free trade a lot more than "we" do. I would have a hard time even verbally supporting a presidential ticket that was willing to keep the third world immiserated for the sake of a few votes in swing states.
Consider this an argument for just how bad the Bush administration has been. I so cannot stand both Kerry and Edwards on a personal level - the thought of a smarmy, elitist, faux-child of the 60s paired with a greasy, blow-dried, trial lawyer is making me reach for a bucket - that the idea of even verbally supporting their victory fills me with immense psychic trauma. (Only Al Gore would be worse.) However, my analytical side tells me that little could be any worse than the incumbents and that the 90s showed the power of gridlock. So I swallow hard and silently root for a split decision. For now.
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Sheldon Richman - 7/11/2004
Steven--you've nailed it. I fully agree.
Ralph E. Luker - 7/10/2004
Steve, Take a bicarb in November, Steve, and cast a vote for Kerry. For the health of the republic, this administration has _got_ to go.