Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama versus Barr

I never thought much of Bob Barr when he was a GOP congresscritter, but it appears that he has converted to libertarianism enough to convince the Libertarian Party to nominate him as that party's candidate. As usual, the scenarios under which he could be elected are all highly improbable. So a vote for him would be symbolic, a message to the other parties that libertarian values are so important to a significant number of voters that they had better pay some heed to them. I am of two minds and have to think this through before November.

A lot of libertarian leaning folks will consider a vote for Barr as "throwing away their vote" and will vote for one of the majors to help elect the lesser of two evils. As usual, John McCain will make noises about smaller government and lower taxes, but it should be clear by now to all but the stupidest libertarians that the GOP is lying when it says these things. They throw out these mantras and then grow government like nobody's business and lay a huge tax burden on future generations.

If a libertarian is planning to vote for McCain, I question his libertarian credentials and/or his sanity and/or his intelligence. McCain is the candidate of the warfare and surveillance apparatus, of mooching big business. He's not going to make government smaller or reduce the tax burden, except for some bigwig contributors. He will shift the tax burden to the next generation like GOP regimes always do since 1981.

Obama, on the other hand, might be a legitimate choice for a libertarian, and I could see myself voting for him. I have my reasons. For the time being, the Democrats are less threatening to my freedom than the GOP. Secondly, the GOP wants punishing and could do with a period in political exile. The GOP is better as the party out of power. Also, the GOP is beholden to a core constituency of rabid authoritarians in the Christianist Right, and I view these folks as just about the biggest threat to my freedom in the world. I regard them as a greater threat than any terrorist organization, and keeping them out of power is an act of self defense that justifies voting for a Democratic candidate who doesn't really come close to my views on a lot of things. Moreover, Democrats have shown a lot more fiscal responsibility than the GOP and so are more likely to reduce the cost of government and the long term tax burden. Finally, they honor civil liberties more than the GOP.

A lot of libertarians have right wing tendencies and could never pull the lever for a Democrat, but they can't really stomach McCain and the authoritarian GOP, because he's evil, so they'll vote for Barr. A vote for Barr is a way out for them to exercise their right to vote without betraying their values. I reckon that Barr will take a lot more votes from the GOP than from the Democratic Party and that a vote for Barr is half a vote for Obama. I might vote for Barr if I don't vote for Obama. In fact, for me, as a denizen of New York, there is no chance at all that McCain will win my state, so my voting for Barr will not hurt Obama.

I don't really care if Barr is sincere in his conversion to libertarian ideas, because I don't have to worry about his winning the election. I hope that he comports himself in a manner that does not discredit the party, in which case I may well vote for Barr, unless I vote for Obama, or unless I just stay home on election day.

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