Over the last few months I’ve read many posts and arguments about why libertarians should vote for Mitt Romney. None of them really spoke to the core libertarian beliefs of libertarians, which is the advancement of individual sovereignty and free markets. Of course, my conservative friends making these arguments never really spoke to how a Romney/Ryan ticket would advance those beliefs. The argument was almost exclusively along the lines of how badly Barack Obama has been as president.
Based on the numbers from David Kirby at the Cato Institute, Romney will take some 70% of libertarian-minded voters. Many of my libertarian friends are casting their ballots for Romney. Though I may disagree with them, I understand why and respect them.
Look, I don’t disagree that President Obama has been bad for the country. The national debt has skyrockted by more than $5.5 trillion, passed a terrible health care law, and he has expanded executive power. Nearly every step Obama has taken to “help” the economy and create jobs has hampered businesses. Moreover, the tax hikes that he wants to pass, which would marginally lower the deficit over the long-term, are among the things keeping employers from investing or hiring. Passing these tax hikes in the phony notion of “fairness” would almost certainly lead to another economic downturn.
The damage to the economy during Obama’s presidency are points that we’ve been over countless times. But there are other parts of his first-term agenda that need to attention.
And while this is hard to imagine, Obama has actually been worse than George W. Bush on civil liberties. Just last year, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained a provision that would allow for the indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorism. Because of its ambiguity, this provision could be interpreted by courts to include American citizens, stripping them of habeas corpus and their right to due process, both of which are guaranteed by the Constitution. And despite promises during the 2008 campaign, Obama hasn’t increased transparency in his administration. In fact, his administration has targeted whistleblowers. And sadly, this is only scratching the surface. There is so much more than could be said.
And then there is Operation Fast and Furious and the Benghazi cover-up. In the former, the ATF, which falls under the oversight of the Justice Department, allowed thousands of firearms and munitions across the border with Mexico and into the hands of that country’s most violent drug cartels. As a result, 200 people were killed with weapons connected to the operation, including Brian Terry, a US Border Patrol agent. When Attorney General Eric Holder was being investigated by the House Oversight Committee, President Obama expanded “executive privilege” to conceal thousands documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
During the most recent scandal, Obama and many members of his administration insisted that the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi was a result of an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube. They knew that such an incident could be damaging to Obama’s foreign policy credibility, especially since Libya was supposed to be more friendly to the United States after Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown.By the way, our involvement in Libya was a direct affront to War Powers Resolution, which requires congressionial approval for military action. More on that later.
Despite the fact that intelligence officials knew within 24 hours that the attack was the work of Islamic militants, administration officials — including UN Ambassador Susan Rice — insisted that the attack was a “spontaneous” protest gone awry. It took eight days for the Obama Administration to admit that it was a terrorist attack. And in the nearly two month since the attack, President Obama has been less than forthcoming on details about the lack of security at the consulate, despite requests for an increased presence.
After reading this, you may be thinking that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the way to go. You’d be wrong. While I can understand why many of my libertarian friends will cast their ballot for Romney, I’m not among them. Why? He doesn’t seem to have any core beliefs. Call me crazy, but when I cast my ballot for someone, I’d like to know where they stand on the issues of the day. Romney has shown me time and time again that he’ll say whatever will get him elected.
But on at least his current positions, Romney hasn’t exactly demonstrated a lot of leadership or clarity. Romney would at least leave current tax rates in place, assuming Senate Democrats are willing to go along, which would get rid of the some of the uncertainity in the economy. But other aspects are of his budget leave a lot to be desired.
He correctly explains that the United States is facing long-term economic problems, which have been worsened under President Obama. However, Romney has complained about the sequestration cuts to defense, claiming that they would make the United States weaker. Nevermind that these are cuts in the rate of spending increases. Defense spending will still grow by $100 billion over the next 10 years. Romney’s answer on spending is to impose 5% across the board spending cuts to non-defense discretionary spending, which is approximately 20% of the federal budget. That’s around a $42 billion spending cut. The budget deficit next year will be in the neighborhood of $900 billion. You do the math.
Romney complains that Obama cut more than $700 billion from Medicare to pay for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or ObamaCare). While that’s true, it’s dishonest to suggest that Medicare should be off limits to cuts. In fact, Paul Ryan’s budget also cut Medicare as part of its broader reforms. But here is the question that needs to be answered — With Romney complaining about these cuts, does any conservative really believe that Medicare will be touched in his administration? It’s not just cuts that Medicare needs. The whole program needs to be reformed.
Romney also promises to repeal ObamaCare. And on the stump, Romney has cited his experience in reform health care to show that he understands the issue. This still leaves me scratching my head. ObamaCare is RomneyCare, for all intents and purposes. Moreover, Romney has said in the past that his health care law is a model for the nation. It perplexes me why any conservative would believe that Romney is actually going to take steps to undo ObamaCare based on that.
On civil liberties and foreign policy, there is little doubt that Romney would preserve the status quo. Romney supports NDAA and the PATRIOT Act — both of which are very clear violations of individual liberties protected by the Constitution. Romney has also said that he doesn’t need congressional approve to bomb Iran, much like Obama did in Libya, continuing to make Congress an afterthought.
Romney’s rhetoric on trade suggests that he’s ready to start a trade war with China, which would only hurt American consumers.Whether or not he actually believes the absurdities he’s said on this issue or he’s just pandering to populist sentiment obviously remains to be seen, but it doesn’t leave a good taste in the mouths of those of us who believe that free trade is a good thing.
Two weeks ago, I cast my vote for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. I have no illusions here, Johnson isn’t going to win. However, he best represents my views on the economy, foreign policy, and civil liberities. He wants a balanced budget and would do it by slashing spending. He supports the right of individual to marry who they want. ANd he believes that we need to our troops home from current occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Some would say that I “wasted” my vote. That may be true, but I live in Georgia, which is viewed a solid state for Romney anyway. But conversely, I would say that the only time one wastes their vote is when they cast a ballot for someone who doesn’t represent what they believe. Neither Obama or Romney represent the America that I want to see.
As far as it goes, I have little use for the Libertarian Party these days. It’s clear that those running the show are just running a social club. And I’ve been less than pleased with the campaign that Johnson’s team has run — and I had a close-up view of it (I served as his state director in Georgia until June, when resigned out of frustration). But I personally couldn’t justify it casting a vote for anybody else when it all came down to it.