The Libertarian Case for Mitt Romney
I have a Libertarian friend who's likely to vote for Gary Johnson, but is open to supporting the GOP -- if someone can convince her why Romney should get her vote. With just five weeks left, I suppose it's time for somebody to make the libertarian case for Mitt Romney.
Before we begin, a few words about the actual Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson. Johnson is almost everything you'd want. He's a solid libertarian without being weird about it -- and you know exactly what I mean. He doesn't come with the baggage of Ron Paul's cult of personality. Best of all, Johnson has real executive experience as the governor of New Mexico. And he won't be elected president of these United States in a millionty-billion years.
In fact, he'll be lucky to break one-half of one percent of the popular vote.
Look, I like Johnson. I find him endearingly goofy, although that's probably not a trait most Americans look for in their commander-in-chief. But he's a good man and a solid libertarian, so if I fail to make the case for Romney -- then absolutely please do vote for Johnson. Afterwords, you won't have to do the Walk of Shame back to your car, like I will.
Since the father of RomneyCare isn't exactly an easy sell to libertarians, first we have to look at the man already sitting in the Oval Office. And it's safe to say that unlike 2008, in 2012 there is absolutely zero Libertarian case to be made for Barack Obama.
"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.
China currency manipulation, the Afghanistan surge, the civil war in Syria, the Drone War over the Middle East, gay marriage, the Life of Julia, the War on Women, Republicans want your father to take away your free birth control then impregnate you and force you to carry the child to term even if it kills you -- these are largely distractions. The only thing that matters in this election is stopping the Progressives from completing their task, and to give ourselves the breathing room necessary to enact real reforms.
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.
Some of you are nodding your heads at this, with a grim approval. I know, because I've done it, too. We have this phoenix fantasy, that after the Federal Leviathan comes crashing down, it will be we, the libertarians, who pick up the pieces. Our predictions of disaster will have come true, we will have been vindicated, and a better America will emerge from the ashes.
It's a theme that dates back at least to Atlas Shrugged, but it's become a recurring theme in popular speculative fiction. Think of John Ringo's The Last Centurion or John Birmingham's Without Warning, and others too numerous to count. In each, some terrible apocalypse befalls America and/or the world, and then we somehow put the pieces back together to form a more perfect union, in harmony with our founding principles.
Only I don't see it that way.
Let's look at France. Late in the 18th century, the monarchy was overthrown, and a republic established. The French Republic succumbed to the temptation of empire, but then the emperor was overthrown and the monarchy restored. France has had two republics, just since the end of the Second World War. Take away the kings, you still have France. Take away the emperor, and France is still there. Put in a president, and the French are still French.
In just the last hundred years, Germany has had a kaiser, a republic, a Nazi dictatorship, two Germanys (one drearily Communist), and now a unified Federal Republic. Through it all, the Germans remained German because they're German.
Most nation-states are built on a common culture, language, and ethnicity. This gives them a simple, hardy core of commonality, from which cohesion emerges naturally. Governments, entire political systems, may come and go, but the people are always there.
America has none of those things.
America is an idea, and an ideal. Take away that idea, crush it under the weight of a failure unprecedented in its scale and scope… and what's left?
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.
Obama sees it as his job to add every day to the Rube Goldberg device that Washington has grown into, while simultaneously throwing sand into its gears. If that seems like a contradictory notion, or even a sick notion -- it is. But we've watched Obama do just that for four years now. How much more can it, can we, take?
But the simplest reason is this: If Obama's Cloward-Piven crash does come in the next four years, a turnaround artist like Romney might just be the right person to have at the helm. It's no scare tactic to remind you what a dedicated Progressive does with a crisis, especially an engineered one.
I'll leave you with one last thought from one of libertarianism's accidental founding fathers, Robert Heinlein. In Stranger in a Strange Land, Jubal Harshaw has some words of wisdom for his friend Ben Caxton. Ben, a columnist, is considering writing a piece that will bring down the administration of Secretary-General Joe Douglas. But Jubal cautions Ben to
"Look at Douglas and ponder that, in his ignorance, stupidity, and self-seeking, he resembles his fellow Americans but is a notch or two above average. Then look at the man who will replace him if his government topples."
"There's little difference."
"There's always a difference! This is between 'bad' and 'worse' -- which is much sharper than between 'good' and 'better.'" [Emphasis added]
We don't get to choose this year between "good" and "better'" -- have we ever enjoyed that choice? But we do get a sharp distinction this year between "bad" and "worse."
I'm going with "bad" because I'm not sure we'll survive another term of the worst.