Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't vote (for just anyone), it only encourages them.

This post should only be read if you have nothing better to do. It is not intended to convince anyone of better ways. It is only intended to organize my thoughts and record them for posterity. If anything is learned or better understood in the reading of my clumsy words, that's a bonus. 
Before you get too worried that I'm wasting away my right and responsibility to vote, yes, I'm voting. But I'm not voting for the Republican or Democratic Party nominee. And not because they are Republican or Democrat. Unlike many partisan slap-happy citizens, the label alone doesn't automatically mean "evil" to me. It's individual rhetoric and actions that win me over or repel me.

That said, Obama, having been president for four years already has the disadvantage by default. He's had more opportunity in the spotlight to say things and do things that turn me off, and that's not quite fair to him vs. Romney. But then I remember his over-confident promises and realize he made his disadvantage even worse by signing up for one term proposition back in the first month of his presidency.

I mean, really. If you're going to walk into office making large promises about your presidency, at least leave it open ended so you have the flexibility to say you need a second term to fully execute them. No, this president said, (paraphrased) "if I don't do this, and this, within four years, it's one term for me." (Both links are to non-partisan mainstream journalistic sources for you to hear and see his words for yourself. No Rush, no Hannity, no Tea Party, Obama-hating spin.)

This isn't a matter of his adversaries catching him in nuances of his word choice. Even his most loyal supporters should be upset that he would be foolish (read: overconfident and/or naive)  enough to say make such absolute promises. And he didn't even come close to realizing them. Not even close.

Harry S. Truman, another Democrat who made tough decisions to drop bombs, differed in one significant way. He had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that read "The buck stops here!"

I lose respect and trust for President Obama when he digs for excuses and passes along the blame for things he himself said his administration would do. Even if it wasn't reasonable for him to make those promises, he should at least own up to his former over-confidence. Instead, he digs a deeper pit.

These broken promises don't even take into account other justifiable reasons why even a hopeful democrat would not vote for him again. Violations of morality and concerning foreign policy such as these.

Not voting for Romney is a little less fair of me, since I'm obviously making judgements on what I'm afraid he would do, instead of anything he actually hasn't even had a chance to do as president. But there are a lot of people who haven't had a chance to be president yet and that doesn't mean I'm going to vote to give them a chance. My main issue with Romney is one of association, and in that sense, it might not seem fair, but it's fair enough for me, because my main concern is for the future, and if the GOP goes along thinking registered Republican are okay with what they are doing, they've got another thing coming. In that sense, Romney shouldn't take it personally, but the GOP as a whole should take it very personally. My current feelings are that casting a vote, my own personal stamp of approval, for the Republican National Party - its advertising, its congressional candidates, its loudest, most popular partisan cheerleaders, its embarrassing primary season and its treatment of the Ron Paul delegates at the Convention - would be disingenuous of me.

I am not one to reward bad behavior. I am often much harder on my own people than I am of those of other flocks. Just ask my Republican friends on facebook.

I'm also not a big fan of the face that Romney felt he had to put on to appeal to the base and win the nomination. I am more of a fan of the Romney that got some stuff done in liberal Massachusetts, and made a bunch of money being fiscally strategic and conservatively selective at Bain, and helping shape up and lead the 2002 Winter Olympics. I might vote for that moderate and savvy Mitt, but he wouldn't have been the GOP candidate if he stayed that guy. He barely squeaked by as is. It's not his fault that his party has become such a mess, considering he himself is actually not very representational of the mess (i.e. Romney is not Akin or Palin). But it is his fault he decided to become the guy who could get the nomination. 

So in a nutshell, I'm more frustrated with the evolving GOP than I am with their presidential nominee that's made a choice to work hard to appeal to the GOP. But I'm not comforted by Romney's foreign policy sound bites either.

I changed my voter registration to Independent about a year ago, then changed it to Republican when I learned that registered Independents can't vote in the Colorado Republican Primary caucus. As one who believes that Republcianism at its finest can actually be something admirable and inclusive and functional, I wanted to do my small part to help put rational voices at the head of the party. To no avail, yet.

I'm a moderate libertarian. Hardcare libertarians will tell you there's no such thing. I like bike paths, maintained hiking trails, and well-paved roads. I like National Parks (though I'd be okay with handing them all over to the states in a pinch). I'm a product of public schools (but private University). I don't mind paying taxes for improved shared quality of life, as long as waste is minimized. But I've come to learn that the Constitution makes it very clear that most all of those tax-funded quality of life perks are actually locally organized anyway. Or if they aren't currently, they could and should be. Very few things ought to be controlled by the federal government. The founding fathers realized that the federal government should be very limited in its power and plenty of rational people today still think so. These are not all people that own guns and vote straight ticket Republican. These are people like me. And people in your family. And your neighbors and friends. And maybe you. Rational philosophies held by normal, educated, thinking people with whom I bet you wouldn't be ashamed to associate.

May I make a very strong suggestion? Read the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and other amendments. Read them every single year. Really. This is not an exhortation that you should take lightly and think in the back of your mind "yeah, yeah, I know, the Constitution." Literally read it. Take a Sunday afternoon, sit down with a nice cup of your favorite beverage and read it earnestly. Take notes. While you're at it, read the Declaration of Independence. 

Within the walls of my home (or church) I likely look like a social conservative. When I'm in a voting booth, or at work, or anywhere else, I'm a moderate libertarian that doesn't feel the slightest temptation to legislate my personal beliefs on the coast-to-coast public. This is not two-faced. This is one thinking person who believes that we should not be coerced by laws to do the right thing, and my right thing may not be your right thing, but usually it is. I believe most people are really good. I believe we need to be kind to each other and look out for one another. I believe we should be accepting of each other, so long as we don't infringe upon each other's rights. 

And because I believe that our big problems require tough solutions, and I don't see either the GOP or Democratic nominees laying down plans for real change (though they want you to think there's a big difference between them), I'm not giving either of them a stamp of approval (aka a vote), as I feel that would be disingenuous of me.

There are many this election with the "lesser of two evils" rationale. This rationale takes no longer term strategy into account of showing the two party system that there are are other parties. Or at least showing them that both of the two main parties should adopt more classic, American libertarian policies. Libertarian policies actually meld really well with Republican and Democratic core philosophies already, so it's not a radical request. Republicans should be drooling over Libertarian fiscal policy and smaller federal government. Democrats should be drooling over Libertarian civil liberties policy. Unfortunately neither main party voluntarily follows these philosophies as they should, because doing so would require them to give up one major perk: Power: The audacious assumption that their personal preferences should become national law.

George Washington didn't want power. He just wanted to faithfully fulfill his elected duty, do no unnecessary harm, and then retire quietly. To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances. I want George Washington back.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican that campaigned for national unity and civil liberties. I want Abraham Lincoln back. 

The way Romney talks about foreign policy and Constitutional Amendments that many feel would infringe upon the civil liberties of others, he's no Washington or Lincoln. 

The way Obama seems smug in his election and eager to pass the buck, he's no Washington or Truman.

I'm voting for Gary Johnson, who will not win, of course. But me and maybe 6 million other people will be voting for him because we know we should vote, but that doesn't mean the options the two major parties are providing are in line with our principles. And we hope that both parties will get the message that they should do a much better job of applying libertarian principles to their existing platforms. At least that's my message. 

Call it a protest vote if you want. Call it a wasted vote if you want. But it certainly isn't as wasted as a vote for a candidate that scares me or disappoints me. Voting against your conscience is a truly wasted vote, wouldn't you say?

The economy is picking up. It's going to continue to get better at a snail's pace over the next several years regardless of who is elected on Tuesday. The two main parties don't want you to believe that, but I recon it's a very safe bet. Safer even than a Bain Capital investment and certainly safer than a Solyndra investment.

So, I am voting. But not for the establishment. Not this time. It only encourages them.