Robert L. Stine, in his wonderful Goosebumps series of children’s books, warned young people to Be Careful What You Wish For.
Some of us, particularly social libertarian RINOs and moderate independents with an isolationist bent, had grown frustrated with Republican leadership after several years of George W. Bush and GOP control of Congress. So, when a new broom began to sweep clean in 2006, we started looking wistfully at the Democrats. Perhaps, we reasoned, the time had come to set aside past errors and chart a new course. We have, in some ways, gotten what we wished for. But the package came with a whole lot more.
We didn’t want another conservative president naming yet another SCOTUS justice who would trample civil liberties and spend their vacations chasing the godless homosexuals into reform clinics to “cure” them of their curious disorder. We had lost patience with hawks who lived and died by the phrase “projection of American power” and saw the best recourse to intractable foreign leaders to be hundreds of thousands of American troops and a cloud of Tomahawk missiles. Perhaps — just perhaps — the Democrats were ready to usher in an America with a new and improved face.
But we still felt the same old trepidation. What about the taxes? What of the spending and the federal intrusion into our lives on every level? “Not this time,” the Democrats assured us! “We’ve learned our lesson. Spending must be responsible, unlike that of the Bush administration. And we’ll cut taxes for most of you, just like you want. If any taxes are raised at all, it will only be on a slim percentage of the very richest.” (And let’s face it … nobody likes those poncy, bourgeoisie bastards anyway, even though they already pay the lion’s share of all taxes in the country.)
Who could forget the bright promise of Obama’s tax plan, as helpfully laid out with charts and diagrams by the Washington Post? McCain was the one who would tax you into submission. The plan of the Democrats was positively benevolent. And we were touched when Barack Obama laughed off the comments of McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds where he said:
No one cares what Barack Obama does with his toys, but Americans do care that he wants to raise taxes, add a trillion dollars in new spending and redistribute your hard-earned paycheck as he sees fit.
Tucker was wrong, of course, but who among us could have imagined — even in those dismal days — that his only error would be in underestimating the magnitude of the spending? Even some Republicans are now sighing and looking back nostalgically at the idea of Congress only spending one trillion dollars.
And what of those tax promises? The initial tax cut was delivered on schedule alright. But then the train really began to pull out of the station. Not getting enough cash for your domestic agenda? How about imposing the biggest tax increase on cigarettes in history? (A tax, by the way, which always, always, always delivers the largest hammer blow to the poorest and least educated.)
Having trouble paying for your government run health care plan? Why not just start taxing the health care benefits of those workers who have actually managed to secure some insurance for themselves? We’re going to save the global environment! But unfortunately, in the process, we’re going to impose a massive cap-and-tax plan which energy providers will pass on — penny for penny — to every American of all income levels.
While we’re on the subject, weren’t the Democrats supposed to be weaning themselves off their addiction to bigger government and intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens? And yet we are watching Washington leap boldly into deep, calm pools where the Constitution never intended them to dip a toe. President Obama is already the de facto CEO of the auto and banking industries, with the Department of Health Insurance soon to follow. Could we really see a day when the federal government will pick and choose when political speech and dissent can be redefined into domestic terrorism?
I chose to support Bob Barr in the last election, being dissatisfied with my other options, and I have no regrets on that score. I would not want John McCain to be appointing the replacement for Justice David Souter. Trouble is certainly brewing in places like Iran and Honduras, but I wouldn’t wish to face these trials with a president who envisioned the first, best answer to be the 101st Airborne. And I most assuredly want a leader who seeks to live in peace with the Muslim nations of the world rather than converting them.
But on the domestic front, what’s a libertarian independent isolationist to do? We have no party. We have no candidates. We’re simply faced with a perpetual series of bad choices, forever sacrificing either fiscal discipline and small government or diplomatic restraint and social progressivism. It seems that when we achieve one of them for too long, we begin to yearn for the other. And no matter which we select, there is a high price to pay on back end.
Be careful what you wish for. You’re most always sure to get it … and a lot more.