There Is No Libertarian Case For Mitt Romney
Stephen Green, PJMedia’s Vodkapundit, came out this morning with a post putting forward a libertarian case for Mitt Romney. I’ve seen several other people try to attempt to make this argument in the last several weeks, but they’ve all been conservatives trying to convince libertarians why they absolutely must vote for Mitt Romney rather than Gary Johnson on November 6th. Inevitably, those arguments, whether in the form of a blog post or a conversation on Twitter or Facebook end up devolving into the same ridicule and condescension one typically hears from conservatives directed at libertarians. A vote for Gary Johnson, they say, is a vote for Barack Obama, for example. Another common theme is to point out that the Libertarian Party doesn’t exactly have a record of electoral success, a fact which I concede but which I find completely irrelevant to the question of who I should consider voting for and why. They call you a Paulbot too, even though I was an enthusiastic backer of Governor Johnson’s bid for the Republican nomination and had pretty much had my fill of the Ron Paul movement way back in 2007. On the whole, the conservative argument to libertarians regarding the 2012 election has been dismissive, insulting, and based more on the false assumption that we want to be loyal Republicans. I’ve really grown quick sick of it, to be honest.
I consider Stephen’s argument to be different from those, however. For one thing, he’s ostensibly one of us, a blogger who has described himself as libertarian leaning for years and who has taken positions on issues that would certainly be at odds with what many would consider to be conservative orthodoxy. He’s also someone I’ve been reading since long before I ever started blogging myself way back in 2005 and I’ve always respected his opinions even when I’ve disagreed with them in some manner. So, I figured that if a fellow libertarian was making an argument in favor of voting for Mitt Romney, it was worthy of consideration. After reading the whole piece, though, I’ve got to say I find myself unpersuaded.
Let’s start with an argument that many of you will find familiar:
“Liberaltarians,” remember them? I’m not sure even if their charter member, Will Wilkinson, is still using the word. If you don’t remember, the Liberaltarians were hipper-than-thou libertarians who fell for Obama’s promise to protect civil liberties and cut the deficit in half, and if there are any of these people left after four years, they must be neck-deep in the Kool-Aid. Every policy we hated from George W. Bush, Obama has doubled down on, big-time.
See, those promises were just things Obama said to separate himself from the despised Chimpy McBushHitler. Fact is, Obama is fundamentally opposed to liberty, and he’s fundamentally opposed to the limitations placed on the federal government, and especially to the limitations placed on the executive branch.
I believe this makes Barack Obama a uniquely dangerous figure in American political history.
We have a younger Obama on tape, saying that welfare recipients and “the working poor” are a “majority coalition.” And don’t fool yourself into thinking that by “welfare recipients” he just means the huddled masses getting their “Obama bucks” and food stamp billions and disability checks. Under Obama, Wall Street is a welfare queen, too. So is our banking system. Half our domestic auto industry is on the take, too. Obama has gutted work requirements for individual welfare recipients, and gutted the profit requirement for big business and big banking and big finance.
The masses won’t give up their checks, and the crony capitalists won’t suffer any competition. The squeeze is on, and you’re in the middle of it. That’s the Permanent Progressive Majority.
This squeeze fundamentally transforms what America means, and what it means to be an American — from citizen to subject. It took a century to take us this far along the Progressive path to a Technocratic State of high-tech feudalism, but we’re almost at the end of the line. Another four years is probably all that’s needed to get there.
I find little to disagree with here. With some minor exceptions, such as the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, I consider much of President Obama’s Presidency to date to have been a disaster. Despite the fact that he was elected largely because the economy had crashed under the Presidency of George W. Bush, Obama did little to actually address the problems facing the nation. Instead, he championed an $800 billion “stimulus” bill that was packed full of Democratic Party pet projects. So, it wasn’t a surprise when we discovered a year later that the “stimulus” hadn’t really worked, and that we find ourselves four years later with an economy that is barely growing and a job market that remains incredibly weak. This is, as several analysts have said, the worst “recovery” since the end of World War II and, while I agree that there is much about the economy that is beyond the control of the President, the problem is that Obama didn’t even make a serious effort to revive the economy beyond engaging in the same failed Keynesianism that Democrats have become famous for.
In addition to failing on the economy, the President also vastly increased the power of the Federal Government with a far reaching health care plan that, if preserved, would create an entirely new entitlement program that would drain Federal dollars. Internationally, he foolishly expanded the scope of the war in Afghanistan, a decision that has done little but result in the death of another thousand American soldiers for no good reason. He has expanded an assassination by drone program far beyond that contemplated by President Bush, including authorizing the assassination of an American citizen without due process and without judicial review. He committed American armed forces to a military engagement in Libya without seeking the authorization of Congress, something even George W. Bush didn’t do. And, he’s refused any entreaties to investigate the excesses of the Bush Era War On Terror.
These are all very good reasons to vote against Barack Obama. There’s just one problem. I already plan to vote against Barack Obama.
The one thing that the Romney supporters I’ve talked to, as civilly as possible of course, have been unable to provide me with is a reason to vote for Mitt Romney.When I ask for such a reason, the response usually boils down to some variation of “Barack Obama is a bad man.” Okay, let’s say I accept that, the fact is that Mitt Romney isn’t the only not-Obama on the ballot here in Virginia, and Gary Johnson is far more allied with my values and beliefs than Romney is. So, why should I vote for Romney?
Here’s Stephen’s argument:
So is Mitt Romney the man to save us?
But he can buy us time.
We’re libertarians, big-L and small, and so we know what it means to be the tiniest of minorities. We lose, because we don’t deliver the goods to our constituents, nor do we want to. The very idea appalls us. But the high-speed gravy train is beginning to derail. We’re sitting on $16,000,000,000,000 of existing debt, we’re adding another trillion every 12 months, entitlements are exploding, our job-creation machine has been broken, and when that train derails it’s going to take the nation with it.
What we need is breathing room, a chance to get the economy growing again, to get people back to work again. It’s no coincidence that when we reformed welfare, it was during an economic boom. Wealth papers over lots of differences, and allows people to get things done. And there’s lots that needs doing. We can start by repealing ObamaCare, repealing Dodd-Frank, and just generally undoing the last four years. These are things Romney has promised to do.
Will he do it? I hope so, and if he wins it will be our job to ride him and ride him hard to live up to those promises. What I do know for certain is that Romney isn’t Obama Lite, despite what you might think. Romney won’t dial back Washington to 18% of our GDP. But he might get it down to 20%, which, believe it or not, is a big — and absolutely necessary — improvement.
We’ll see no such improvement from a second Obama administration, which aims to ramp up Washington to something like 110% of our economy.
Unless I’m misreading it, this seems to boil down to an argument that libertarians should vote for Mitt Romney because he will delay the inevitable by a couple of years and we can hope that he, and whatever kind of Congress we have in 2013, will actually do something that will start to pull us back from the brink. This isn’t a bad argument, but it’s not exactly a great one either. It basically boils down a campaign slogan that says “Mitt Romney: He sucks a little less than the other guy.”
I suppose that will be enough for some people, but it certainly isn’t inspiring, and it requires a heck of a lot of faith in a Republican Party that has been nothing but a disappointment for far longer than I can remember. After all, the last time we had Republicans in charge of the Executive and Legislative Branches, we ended up with a trillion dollar unfunded entitlement, a massive increase in the Federal education bureaucracy, and two wars that we not only didn’t pay for but which coincided with tax cuts which is about the fiscally dumbest thing you can do. We also, of course, ended up with massive erosion of civil liberties in the name of the “War On Terror,” and people being tortured in America’s name. Given that record, why should I think that a Romney Administration would be any more palatable to libertarians, or that it would take any real steps toward reducing the size, scope, and power of government?
If the record of the GOP weren’t enough, there’s also Mitt Romney’s record itself. Up until he decided that he wanted to run for President, Romney was the prototypical Northeastern Republican, moderate on social issues, mostly fiscally conservative, but also willing to consider programs like the Massachusetts health care program, which was the prototype for ObamaCare. What assurance do we have that he wouldn’t change his mind again once he became President, especially if it meant that it would help enhance his re-election prospects? I understand that political leaders need to be flexible at times, but when I run into someone who has changed their political beliefs more than once for obvious political advantage, I really have to wonder if I can trust them.
I’m not going to tell other libertarians how they should vote. Some have made the decision that defeating President Obama is their top priority and I can understand that. Others, like me, are sick of choosing between the lesser of two evils and seeing the person you voted for leading the nation further down the road to calamity. Some, like Kevin Boyd, are suggesting that not voting for President at all is the way to go. You can all choose for yourselves. For me, though, I have yet to hear a persuasive case for any libertarian to support Mitt Romney, which is why I will be voting for Gary Johnson.