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The Libertarian Vote:

In past election cycles, I really haven't had a strong preference among the candidates. I voted for the Bernstein/Bernstein ticket in 2004, and can't really remember who I voted for, or for that matter whether I voted, from 1988 to 2000. But I'm much more of a Republican partisan this time, for a few reasons:

(1) Libertarians have been heavily involved in some of the most important constitutional Supreme Court litigation of the last two decades, either in terms of bringing the case, being among the most important advocates of one side's constitutional theory, or both. Among the cases in this category are Lopez, Morrison, Boy Scouts v. Dale, U.S. Term Limits, Grutter, Gratz, Kelo, Raich, Heller, and probably a few more that I'm not thinking of offhand. With the minor exception of Justice Breyers' vote in Gratz, in each of these cases, the ONLY votes the libertarian side received were from Republican appointees, and all of the Democrat appointees, plus the more liberal Republican appointees, ALWAYS voted against the libertarian side. The latter did so even in cases in which their political preferences were either irrelevant (Term Limits), or should have led them to sympathize with the plaintiff (Lopez, Kelo, Raich).

The only exception to this pattern is Lawrence v. Texas, in which Justice Kennedy seems to have been influenced by the Cato Institute's brief. But if the liberals had been able to muster five votes without Kennedy, I'm sure the opinion would have been quite different, less libertarian and more about "tiers of scrutiny" and whatnot. I'm a law professor, teach constitutional law, and the subject is dear to my heart. I'd much rather have the side that tends to take my ideological compatriots' constitutional arguments seriously on the Court. And Raich and Kelo, respectively, suggest that the liberals on the Court not only don't take libertarian arguments seriously, they don't believe in (a) any limits in federal regulatory power, whatsoever; or in (b) property rights, even when big corporations are using the political process to screw over the little guy.

(2) I'm not exactly a huge McCain fan. Indeed, other than Huckabee, he was probably my least-favorite choice in the Republican field. But as things have turned out, and despite some absurd, statist, campaign planks, in the home stretch he's running the most rhetorically libertarian presidential campaign I can remember since Reagan's 1980 campaign. Every time I hear a clip on the news, he's denouncing Obama for being a big spender and a taxer. He pledges to freeze most federal spending, and to take on entitlements and the grotesque reverse Robin Hood farm programs that Obama and almost all Congressional Democrats support. If he pulls out a victory, it will be seen as a stunning come from behind victory for those ideas. If he loses, and especially if loses badly, it will look like Americans are okay with "spreading the wealth."

(3) I think there are two great moral issues in American politics today, the disastrous War on Drugs, and free trade. The War on Drugs, for now, is hopeless. Free trade though, is not. Over the past couple of decades, a (statistical) billion people, more or less, have moved from poverty to the local middle-class because of globalization and free trade, far more people than have been aided by all the liberal do-goodism Obama, or any else, has or can muster. McCain is the candidate of free trade; Obama is the candidate of "fair trade," which in practice means protectionism. McCain's policies have the potential to rescue tens of millions of additional people from poverty, who will stay mired there under Obama. (And I always had at least one soft spot for Bill Clinton, for standing up to the unions and the know nothing wing of his party in favor of free trade and NAFTA).

(4) Nancy Pelosi. Harry Reid. Filibuster-proof majority. 'nuff said.

(5) I really still don't have any idea of what Obama is about. Is he the moderate, utilitarian, empiricist that Cass Sunstein raves about? Or is really quite far to the left ideologically, as various aspects of his biography suggest, but just skilled at hiding it for electoral advantage, with his very steady, moderate personality serving as a mask? The last thing the U.S. needs is a left-wing Ronald Reagan, but that might well be what we get.

Cold Warrior:
I agree with all 5 points, although I'm a bit confused about Point 1. Why would we assume that McCain wouldn't appoint "liberal Republican" (in other words, non-libertarian oriented) judges?

Having said that, this libertarian is more convinced by the libertarians-for-Obama arguments. (I'm thinking of Bernstein's GMU colleague Alex Tabarrok more than anyone else). I believe he posted it at marginalrevolution.com.

I make sure to choose a major party candidate these days in any close election that matters, so voting for Bob Barr is not an option.

So this is not an easy one, particularly with the specter of full Democratic control at issue. But more than anything else, the Republicans need to be punished for 8 years of gross mismanagement and the abandonment of any truly conservative Republican principles. And I'll just have to hope that we get Sunstein's Obama and not the guy who served in the Illinois Senate.
10.31.2008 12:08am
Loophole1998 (mail):
Your choice of "great moral issues" seem arbitrary.
10.31.2008 12:13am
Reg (mail):
McCain's healthcare plan is another reason. Separate health care from employment by giving individuals the tax benefit rather than businesses. The current system helps big business by tying workers to jobs they keep only because of health care plans, and hurts small business and entrepeneurs who have to pay more for health care.
10.31.2008 12:14am
Dave N (mail):
And I'll just have to hope that we get Sunstein's Obama and not the guy who served in the Illinois Senate.
I have always found it better to judge people by their actions and not their words. As a result, I have a bad feeling you are engaging in wishful thinking and projection in thinking Obama will be anything other than what he has been.
10.31.2008 12:17am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Your choice of "great moral issues" seem arbitrary.
Thinking that moving a billion people out of poverty is a great moral issue is arbitrary?
10.31.2008 12:17am
Jmaie (mail):
Problem is, Cold Warrior, it will not be only republicans who suffer.

Point (4) gives me the shivers, especially as I think Obama is quite liberal and hiding it well. I hope I'm wrong and we'll know for sure soon enough.
10.31.2008 12:19am
Nicholas Nugent (www):

I think there are two great moral issues in American politics today, the disastrous War on Drugs, and free trade.


Funny, I would think the systematic slaughter of 1.3 million babies every year would make the top-two list of "great moral issues in American politics today." Why do I suspect it isn't even number three?
10.31.2008 12:20am
Doc W (mail):
One thing is sure--if self-professed libertarians won't vote Libertarian, then Libertarian candidates will remain at the margin in low single digits.

McCain is an anti-free speech warmonger. Obama is a left-wing collectivist and the most anti-gun major party presidential candidate ever.

A McCain presidency would have the advantage of gridlock with Congress and the likelihood of only a single term. But a McCain victory would vindicate the neocons, who really need to be run out of town on a rail politically after the way they destroyed the bright prospects this country had only 8 years ago. There is no lesser of two evils. There are differences between McCain and Obama, but they don't add up to a dime's worth.

The bona fide Libertarian candidate is the only option for this voter, and has been since 1980.
10.31.2008 12:23am
Cold Warrior:
Nicholas Nugent,

Remember, this is a discussion about which candidate would best further (or to put it frankly, be less damaging to) libertarian principles.

Sorry, your abortion argument belongs in a different thread.
10.31.2008 12:25am
Frank M Howland (mail):
It seems to me that it's the Democratic appointments who are on the libertarian side of the litigation around Guantanamo. Perhaps you can point to blog posts that would explain the libertarian point of view on this.
10.31.2008 12:28am
Kazinski:
I was lukewarm with McCain during the primaries until Thompson dropped out. Then looking at the Republicans left, I realized that dispite McCain's flaws he has consistently opposed pork barrel spending and indeed has been a consistent spending hawk over his term in Congress.

Going to Iowa and publicly opposing federal ethanol during a campaign when your candidacy is on the line is rare political courage.

About the only thing that makes me think Obama won't be that bad is his lack of political courage. He'll likely stay within the bounds of the American mainstream because he won't like the reaction he gets when he strays.
10.31.2008 12:28am
TMK (mail):
As a committed small "l" libertarian I have to wholeheartedly agree. Obama frightens me far more than McCain disappoints me.

A significant portion of liberals, among whom I include Obama, are personally very radical if not socialist at heart. They will impose on the American people as much as they are able to. The current fiscal crisis and rock-solid Congressional majorities could potentially allow Obama to take this country farther left than any President since LBJ if not FDR.

How any libertarian can vote for Obama is absolutely beyond me, even those who are doing it simply to send the Republicans a message (which I agree with in theory and would do as well if the stakes were not so high).
10.31.2008 12:30am
Cold Warrior:
Here's a couple clips from Alex Tabarrok's argument; read the full thing at marginalrevolution.com (By the way, I think this is an excellent debate we really need to have, and I fully respect the opposing point of view as set forth by David Bernstein and others):


First, war. War is the antithesis of the libertarian philosophy of consent, voluntarism and trade. With every war in American history Leviathan has grown larger and our liberties have withered. War is the health of the state. And now, fulfilling the dreams of Big Brother, we are in a perpetual war.



The libertarian voice has not been listened to in Republican politics for a long time. The Republicans take the libertarian wing of the party for granted and with phony rhetoric and empty phrases have bought our support on the cheap. Thus - since voice has failed - it is time for exit. Remember that if a political party can count on you then you cannot count on it ... Lack of power is no guarantee of virtue but Republicans are a far better - more libertarian - party out-of-power than they are in power. When in the wilderness, Republicans turn naturally to a critique of power and they ratchet up libertarian rhetoric about free trade, free enterprise, abuse of government power and even the defense of civil liberties. We can hope that new leaders will arise in this libertarian milieu.
10.31.2008 12:30am
highway61:
Spread the wealth

Okay, fine, I'll vote for the non-socialist. Your code words convinced me.
10.31.2008 12:31am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Libertarians, as such, were not involved in this litigation to my knowledge. Libertarians I know tend to sympathize with the arguments in favor of the detainees. Libertarian constitutional scholars that I know, however, seem to generally be skeptical as a matter of constitutional law with arguments like the majority's in Boumediene, and actually disturbed with the extent to which some liberals, on the courts and in general, want to tie the U.S.'s fate to "international law" rather than to the U.S. constitution.
10.31.2008 12:32am
Donny:
I disagree with your political analysis, but your legal analysis seems just factually incorrect. Wouldn't the libertarian side on Raich have been the dissent?
10.31.2008 12:33am
Observer:
"...and can't really remember who I voted for, or for that matter whether I voted, from 1988 to 2000."

Is this just a way of saying that one does not care at all about the outcome of the election? It seems hard to believe that even the average American would forget this, but completely inconceivable that someone would blogs about politics on a daily basis would.
10.31.2008 12:38am
Nicholas Nugent (www):

Remember, this is a discussion about which candidate would best further (or to put it frankly, be less damaging to) libertarian principles.

Sorry, your abortion argument belongs in a different thread.


Fair enough. I'm not trying to threadjack. But the statement was that "there are two great moral issues in American politics today." Like Loophole1998, I take great exception to Prof. Bernstein's list (much as I respect him). Perhaps if these were simply the "two great libertarian issues in American politics today," I could come closer to buying it.

But if, as classic libertarians enunciated, the government's sole purpose should be to protect life, liberty, and property - see e.g., Frederic Bastiat, The Law - then a government that fails in that most basic duty to protect life, while at the same time exceeding its purpose by restricting other liberties, is the very definition of a crisis of libertarian principles.
10.31.2008 12:39am
David Warner:
Nugent,

"Funny, I would think the systematic slaughter of 1.3 million babies every year would make the top-two list of "great moral issues in American politics today." Why do I suspect it isn't even number three?"

Because you're too suspicious? Because everyone who thinks it is is already voting for McPalin?
10.31.2008 12:42am
Tatil:
David,

I know "fair trade" is usually code word for protectionism, but it does not have to be. EU uses the promise of membership to induce reforms in the countries that aspire to join in. It has improved matters in almost every country, eastern Europe, Balkans, Turkey... I don't think it is "bad" to use the carrot of free trade to push for democratic and social reforms or basic environmental protections, as well as economic reforms. Are you against it in principle or are you just afraid that Obama would just use it as a pretext to put up trade barriers?
10.31.2008 12:45am
David Warner:
DB,

Thx for highlighting the moral angle on free trade. Should International Law become ascendant, I expect those billion to have no little influence in how it is crafted long term. It may not be long until emigration becomes an appealing prospect.
10.31.2008 12:47am
hawkins:
This is by far the most ratioanl of the "Libertarian Vote" series of posts. I do not agree with the conclusion, but it raises good points and does not resort to the hysteria of the previous posts.
10.31.2008 12:49am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
highway:

Spread the wealth


Anyone who has a problem with "spread the wealth" also has a problem with Palin, since she likes the idea that Alaskans "collectively … share in the wealth."

So just decide which socialist you want to vote for.
10.31.2008 12:50am
Jerry Mimsy (www):
Donny: yes, the dissent in Raich were Justices Thomas, O'Connor, and Rehnquist, which backs up David's statement that "the ONLY votes the libertarian side received were from Republican appointees".
10.31.2008 12:50am
Donny:
Jerry Mimsy:

This isn't the McCain Campaign. Selective quoting isn't going to get you anywhere. DB's full quote states that, "all of the Democrat appointees, plus the more liberal Republican appointees, ALWAYS voted against the libertarian side." Are you saying O'Connor wasn't among the more liberal Republican appointees?
10.31.2008 12:54am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I guess here is my thinking....

I see roughly two competing threats on individual liberty in this country:

1) The tendency of the left (mostly) to want to take care of everyone-- this necessarily creates intrusive government by closely tying the individual and the state. This is what Bernstein seems to be worried about.

However... consider this too:

2) The tendency from the right to ask us to give up civil liberties (freedom of speech and association, due process, protection against unreasonable search and siezure, etc) in the name of temporary security.

However..... After GWB who seems only slightly less fiscally conservative than LBJ, I don't think you can treat #1 as the sole problem of the left anymore. Instead I think that we need:

1) Strong commitment to civil liberties (Obama is *far* stronger than McCain here based on their records)

2) Institutional conservatism with a plan of baby steps to reduce some of the damage. I don't know. McCain *might* be stronger than Obama here, but you wouldn't know it from the way he runs his campaign. Based on their records too, I think Obama probably has a slight edge.

3) Proposals that can be corrected in Congress with a net decrease in federal government. Many of McCain's proposals could be corrected in Congress by adding a lot of regulation (regarding medical insurance again, remind me *who* according to our Constitution regulates interstate commerce, on the other hand, I think the most objectionable parts of Obama's proposals could be weeded out in congress if we actually make our voices heard in the congressional offices).

Note too that independent review of proposed budgets suggests that McCain's budget has such of a big gap that the McCain campaign has said that McCain's speeches should not be seen as official statements. Maybe he can be more fiscally conservative than GWB and make it to the ranking of, say, LBJ.... Obama seems to win on the balanced budget (or close to it), fiscally conservative side too.

This being said, I think they are both qualified, capable, candidates who are likely to reverse some of the damage of the last 8 (or actually 16) years. However, at this point I don't believe the McCain campaign will do anything it is promising to do (which is probably fortunate, in the even they win).
10.31.2008 12:56am
Angus:
Jerry Mimsy,
McCain has promised more Scalias and Alitos, one of whom sided with the majority in Raich, and the other who most certainly would have.
10.31.2008 1:02am
Chimaxx (mail):
Wow. David Bernstein is going to vote for McCain. Who'd have guessed that, given his posts on the candidates over the past couple of months. Color me shocked.

[Editor: Vitriolic, obnoxious, rest of post deleted. And by the way, the available choices are not just voting for Obama or McCain, and I agree it was unlikely I'd do the former, but voting for a third-party candidate or not bothering to vote. I don't recall all the wildly enthusiastic pro-McCain posts that you seem to, perhaps because they don't exist.]
10.31.2008 1:04am
DavidBernstein (mail):
More liberal Republicans = Souter and Stevens.
10.31.2008 1:06am
Donny:
Ok, fair enough.

Still seems like a cherry-picked set of decisions. But perhaps I don't really understand why conservative libertarians care more about Morrison than, say, Rasul.
10.31.2008 1:15am
geokstr:
jukeboxgrad (mail):

Anyone who has a problem with "spread the wealth" also has a problem with Palin, since she likes the idea that Alaskans "collectively … share in the wealth."

So just decide which socialist you want to vote for.

Seems to me there is a world of difference between "spreading" a state's natural "wealth" equally between its citizens, rich and poor, and having government confiscate the "wealth" the group that produced it and "spreading" it to another that has not.

That is probably one of the most dishonest attempts at moral equivalence I have ever seen, and this election has produced a lot of them.

One guy pushes an old lady into the path of a speeding bus, and another guy pushes an old lady out of the path of a speeding bus. JBG, would you then conclude that both guys are equally evil because they both push old ladies around?
10.31.2008 1:27am
hawkins:
I think einhverfr hits it on the head. McCain has been talking a good game, but I dont know where his free trade, low tax, and limited government ideology has been all these years. Obama's supremacy on civil liberties more than makes up for his deficit to McCain on limited government.
10.31.2008 1:35am
geokstr:
einhverfr:

I see roughly two competing threats on individual liberty in this country:

1) The tendency of the left (mostly) to want to take care of everyone-- this necessarily creates intrusive government by closely tying the individual and the state. This is what Bernstein seems to be worried about.

However... consider this too:

2) The tendency from the right to ask us to give up civil liberties (freedom of speech and association, due process, protection against unreasonable search and siezure, etc) in the name of temporary security


I'm not certain where you get that the right wants us to give up freedom of speech. This right is already being trampled by the left with university PC codes that have spread to many other areas of life, and with "human rights commissions" already set up in many states to promote the "right" to not be offended. Wait until the left has the real power to punish critics, with the IRS, the Justice Department, and a veto-proof majority.

Or isn't freedom of speech considered a civil right?

Similarly, where is the right trying to limit freedom of association? Because we think "associating" with nothing but Marxists, Black Liberation Theologists, Muslim extremists and outright communists your whole life might give you the tendency to think and act like them?

You can "associate" with anyone you like, just don't expect others not to judge you by them.

I'm afraid I don't see your characterization of the left as just this warm and fuzzy desire to take care of everybody.
10.31.2008 1:41am
Cold Warrior:
Spread the wealth.

I had an appointment with a doctor today. He said his practice was unusually busy since one of the other doctors in his practice group is a reservist who has been deployed to Iraq. My doctor explained that he regularly shares e-mails with his partner, and the he is very proud of the work his partner is doing in Iraq:

His primary task is providing medical care to Iraqi children suffering from a whole variety of infectious diseases and other maladies.

Noble goal? Yes. Spreading the wealth of American taxpayers to Iraqis who lack access to health care is, indeed, noble. Or so everyone thought.
10.31.2008 1:45am
Jerry Mimsy (www):
Angus: I wasn't making the argument, I was pointing out what the argument was.
10.31.2008 1:49am
Bandon:
I voted for the Bernstein/Bernstein ticket in 2004, and can't really remember who I voted for, or for that matter whether I voted, from 1988 to 2000.

Here's what's amazing to me: why should anyone be expected to pay any attention to the tortuous arguments that follow DB's opening paragraph after he makes the confession quoted above?

It is incredible that someone who professes to care so much about the choices for president has cared so little about voting in a way that could actually affect the outcome of any presidential election in the past 20 years. Writing in his own name on the ballot in 2004 makes a cute story, but there were important issues separating the main candidates even back then -- as there are now. When we are asked to vote for politicians, we are always faced with the need to choose between two (or more) "evils." I'm afraid that DB's comments on his own voting record since 1988 raise serious questions about his commitment and judgment as a voter.
10.31.2008 2:27am
LM (mail):
What Hawkins said.
10.31.2008 3:09am
Vermando (mail) (www):
I understand most of your post and respect much of what you say, but I fail to understand how your opposition to the War on Drugs translates into a vote for Senator McCain. I would have thought that complete Democratic control represents the only possibility for the roll-back that you are looking for, but perhaps I am wrong. Would you care to elaborate? Many thanks.
10.31.2008 4:08am
Asher (mail):
I wish I had read this post before I voted for Obama. That said:

I'm unconvinced that Obama's fair trade talk isn't just campaign rhetoric, and from the very, very little I read on the subject, I gather that new trade agreements aren't really going anywhere and that, practically speaking, Obama would have a much better chance of getting trade agreements through a Democratic Congress.

Constitutional law is a subject dear to my heart too, but a lot of the cases you mention are more interesting than they are important. Should I really vote on the basis of how Grutter and Gratz were decided? Is that really such an important issue? Or take Kelo. Bad decision, but haven't state legislatures largely canceled out its effects - couldn't you even argue that Kelo was a positive impetus to eminent domain reform? I just don't believe that the Court has enough power to cast my vote on the basis of who would make better appointments.

If McCain won, it would be seen as a stunning, come from behind victory for the school of thought that thinks (a) spending freezes during recessions make economic sense, and (b) taxes are a one-way ratchet - they only can be lowered, and to ever raise them for anyone is tantamount to creeping socialism. But are these good ideas? I'm very unconvinced that they are. I would rather see McCain lose so that the Republican Party might realize that they need to campaign on something more than a purely negative platform - that they're not going to be an electorally viable party in a nation that's demographically running away from them if they don't start taking education, healthcare, and stagnant middle-class wages seriously.
10.31.2008 4:32am
Mark F. (mail):
Seems to me there is a world of difference between "spreading" a state's natural "wealth" equally between its citizens, rich and poor, and having government confiscate the "wealth" the group that produced it and "spreading" it to another that has not.

Actually, the oil in Alaska's ground is properly the property of the oil companies who pumped it out, not the citizens of Alaska as a whole or Ms. Palin. No moral difference between stealing wealth from the oil companies and redistributing it and stealing from your wallet and redistributing it. Nice try though.
10.31.2008 5:11am
Mark F. (mail):
Please let me know the moral distinction between government taxation and common theft.
10.31.2008 5:13am
Maciej Stachowiak (www):
I believe strongly in economic liberty and used to vote Republican for that reason. But under Bush the Republicans have abandoned economic liberty and limited government principles, while continuing to strongly push for socially conservative positions and adding a healthy layer of fearmongering and authoritarianism.

McCain seems likely to follow in these Big Government Conservative footsteps. Even if he might be marginally better than Obama on some issues, the Republican party's abandonment of limited government needs to be decisively repudiated, and so they need to lose big.
10.31.2008 6:18am
cboldt (mail):
-- the Republican party's abandonment of limited government needs to be decisively repudiated, and so they need to lose big. --
.
Repudiating "big government" by giving the "bigger government" side a more decisive win is illogical. The signal will be, "the people have spoken - have given a mandate, and that mandate is bigger government."
10.31.2008 9:32am
Snaphappy:
Regarding the Bernstein/Bernstein vote:

Exactly how does one write in a vote for President, given that one actually votes for electors and not for the candidates for President/Vice President? When I voted in Virginia, there was a write-in option for every race except President/Vice President.
10.31.2008 9:41am
Sarcastro (www):
Mark F. is right! And since just about all governments tax, all governments are theives!

Back to the state of nature for me! No one steals from the naked guy scrounging for berries nuts in the woods!
10.31.2008 9:56am
Ben P:

Please let me know the moral distinction between government taxation and common theft.



What have the Romans ever done for us?
10.31.2008 10:08am
Happyshooter:
Dave, I disagree 80% with your view of the court. It is now a super senate with the power to issue decrees and new laws without appeal.

They are guided totally by their policy preferences.

Since it is a lifetime seat on the super senate, the president and senate are only important because of their ability to appoint new members. The congress as a whole is only important because of its ability to pass a budget (and I predict even that power will be taken from it in the next decade).

My fear is that the political class will recall, when their senate and pres are in power, that a 'lifetime' appointment is only held while the member is still alive. I can see some seats being opened in my lifetime.
10.31.2008 10:17am
Sarcastro (www):
Happyshooter wait, like the Pelican Brief?
10.31.2008 10:23am
Jeff Leyser (mail):

But I'm much more of a Republican partisan this time


Umm, yeah, I think we figured that out.

While I don't doubt the honesty of this post, David, I'm pretty surprised to see nothing about religion in it. You've spent an awful lot of time and energy posting about Obama from the Jewish perspective over the last couple of months. But I see nothing about how your Judiasm is influencing your decision in this post. If that doesn't play into your decision, why so many posts on the topic?
10.31.2008 10:32am
DavidBernstein (mail):
But I'm much more of a Republican partisan this time

Umm, yeah, I think we figured that out.
No, you didn't because I came very close to voting for Barr.
10.31.2008 10:49am
Jeff Hays (mail):
"Here's what's amazing to me: why should anyone be expected to pay any attention to the tortuous arguments that follow DB's opening paragraph after he makes the confession quoted above?"

So did you ask yourself this question? Cause you like, did.
10.31.2008 10:50am
Bandon:
Please let me know the moral distinction between government taxation and common theft.

Please provide an example of the last time a common thief stole money from you and then used it to fix the road to your home.
10.31.2008 10:51am
Bandon:
Jeff Hays,

I think you missed the point of my question. I asked why DB would presume that it would be reasonable for anyone to listen to his arguments after showing himself to have a history of such careless voting over the last 20 years. That is why I didn't waste further time discussing the rest of DB's post.
10.31.2008 11:02am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Yeah, because my "careless" voting was really likely to affect the outcome, I had to think really, really long and hard before writing in my name, given the that I had to weight the mere trillion to one chance of my vote being decisive versus the feeling of disgust I would have had for days afterwards about voting for Bush or Bandarik.
10.31.2008 11:06am
Joe Bingham (mail):
This was a great post.
10.31.2008 11:58am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

But I'm much more of a Republican partisan this time, for a few reasons:


Well also, Ayers. I mean, I assume an issue is important to your vote if you bring it up that many times.
10.31.2008 11:59am
Weary Libertarian (mail):
I contributed to the Barr campaign. I had a Barr bumper sticker on the car. When I cast my absentee ballot, however, I pressed the button for McCain. I'm not a one-issue voter, but the thought of Obama stacking the courts with left-wingers who will be around for decades to come weighed too heavily on me.

Of the Supreme Court cases David mentioned, two stand out. Heller came out right simply because of the whim of Anthony Kennedy, but, as Obama's record shows, he is solidly anti-Second Amendment. Grutter, however, is a stain on the Court in the same way that Dred Scott and Plessy are. Does anyone think that Obama would appoint someone who would vote to overrule Grutter?

The nation on Tuesday may choose to have the most left-wing government since 1933, but it certainly won't be with my help
10.31.2008 12:01pm
PLR:
While I am not a Democrat and have no special enthusiasm for that party, I am hopeful that there will be a Democrat in the White House for however long it takes to fill the Supreme Court seats currently held by Scalia and Thomas.

If the GOP ever decides to get over its disdain for lawyers and representative government, they will have a shot at getting my vote. But only a shot.
10.31.2008 12:09pm
PLR:
If the GOP ever decides to get over its disdain for lawyers and representative government, they it will have a shot at getting my vote.

Or if the GOP could invent a useful blog editing tool ...
10.31.2008 12:11pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"But a McCain victory would vindicate the neocons, who really need to be run out of town on a rail politically after the way they destroyed the bright prospects this country had only 8 years ago. There is no lesser of two evils. "

But with Congress solidly in the hands of Pelosi and Reid, I really doubt a McCain presidency would result in much adventurism.
10.31.2008 12:34pm
Happyshooter:
Happyshooter wait, like the Pelican Brief

Sort of, only without the 'acting', and with the president figuring out that the power to pardon is the power to have people killed.

"Will no one rid me of this troublesome chief justice?"

Seriously, I have seen better characters and acting in a scooby doo episode from 1969.
10.31.2008 12:44pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Anyone who has a problem with "spread the wealth" also has a problem with Palin, since she likes the idea that Alaskans "collectively … share in the wealth."

I've always enjoyed watching leftists play this moral equovaction game. What Obama said is allegedly not bad because Palin said something dissimilar. To wit: In Alaska, the people own the oil. Which is nothing like taking my money and giving it to someone who did nothing to earn it.

But pretend it does.

One other point, remember all those on the left here denying Obama benefitted from Affirmative Action?
Well, here is "the one" in his own words:

I'd also like to add one personal note, in response to the letter from Mr. Jim Chen which was published in the October 26 issue of the RECORD, and which articulated broad objections to the Review's general affirmative action policy. I respect Mr. Chen's personal concern over the possible stigmatizing effects of affirmative action, and do not question the depth or sincerity of his feelings. I must say, however, that as someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career, and as someone who may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action policy when I was selected to join the Review last year, I have not personally felt stigmatized either within the broader law school community or as a staff member of the Review. Indeed, my election last year as President of the Review would seem to indicate that at least among Review staff, and hopefully for the majority of professors at Harvard, affirmative action in no way tarnishes the accomplishments of those who are members of historically underrepresented groups.


The truth marches on...
10.31.2008 1:43pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
1) you're pretty selective about which issues you care about - it may be "bad law" but Roe and gay marriage are good libertarian outcomes; so I'm not impressed.

2) You misunderstand - the Obama victory will be an endorsement of stability and sanity, not spending. McCain is unstable and Palin is wierd - that's the whole shebang. Besides, another supply-sided fool cutting upper bracket taxes right now and putting Gramm in Treasury could really sink the economy.

3) good points, but I would rank defeating Islamofascism (awkward short hand, I know) ahead of those issues. Obama has the right policies for that, and he's not a hot-head lacking in good judgment.

4) We have to take the risk.

5) It's the risk we take with every election - at least he ought to be competent, so its a big step up.

So, I may not be too happy, but it's not a hard choice.

HGB
10.31.2008 1:53pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):

Actually, the oil in Alaska's ground is properly the property of the oil companies who pumped it out, not the citizens of Alaska as a whole or Ms. Palin.

The Alaska oil wealth savings account was in place before Palin was elected. Voters created the trust fund in 1976.
Those funds are invested and citizens are paid dividends.

This isn't at all comparable to the federal income tax either in structure, intent, or function.
10.31.2008 1:54pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Besides, another supply-sided fool cutting upper bracket taxes right now and putting Gramm in Treasury could really sink the economy

You can't name a single instance in American history where raising marginal tax rates led to economic growth.

Obama has the right policies for that,

Invading nuclear Pakistan?
Really?
10.31.2008 1:56pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Actually, the oil in Alaska's ground is properly the property of the oil companies who pumped it out,
How do you figure? True, they did do work to extract it, but they're not extracting it from their own land, but from someone else's.

If I go dig on your lawn and strike oil, can I keep it for free?
10.31.2008 1:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
geo:

having government confiscate the "wealth" the group that produced it and "spreading" it to another that has not


If I do all the work involved in finding the oil and drilling the well and pumping the oil out of the ground and finding customers and delivering it to them, and then the government takes some of that money away from me and gives it to you, someone who has done nothing whatsoever to get that oil out of the ground and turn it into money, then that is indeed an example of "having government confiscate the 'wealth' the group that produced it and 'spreading' it to another that has not."

But it's perfectly fine when Palin spreads the wealth around (and she drastically boosted the payments, which is probably one of the main reasons she was getting high approval ratings). Here's why: IOKIYAR.

And of course that's the same reason that no one accused McCain of being a socialist when he opposed the Bush tax cuts a few years ago.
10.31.2008 2:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hawkins:

McCain has been talking a good game, but I dont know where his free trade, low tax, and limited government ideology has been all these years.


There are a bunch of things popping up that have been well-hidden for a long time. For example, suddenly 'conservatives' are talking about the merits of a divided government. Where was that principle in 2004?
10.31.2008 2:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cold:

Noble goal? Yes. Spreading the wealth of American taxpayers to Iraqis who lack access to health care is, indeed, noble. Or so everyone thought.


Good point. Of course, if were using the wealth of American taxpayers to take care of Americans who lack access to health care, that wouldn't be noble. It would be socialism.

The GOP seems to be all for nation-building, but only if it's someone else's nation. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that colossal contract shenanigans are much easier to hide when they happen on the other side of the planet and are obscured by the fog of war.
10.31.2008 2:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
joe:

In Alaska, the people own the oil.


Which pinko came up with the idea the government should own all that land, and all that oil? Doesn't Palin believe in free markets, and private ownership? Why would anyone think the government can manage that land more efficiently than a private company would? If it's OK for the government to own all that land, why not just let the government own all the land in the whole state? What's the difference? Because it's a good idea to "share in the wealth," right? That's what Palin said: "share in the wealth."

The Alaska oil wealth savings account was in place before Palin was elected.


And she greatly escalated the payment. If she was something other than a socialist, she would have gone in the other direction, and sold that land to private companies.
10.31.2008 2:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
with Congress solidly in the hands of Pelosi and Reid


That reminds me. Here's a scenario I've heard no one mention. McCain wins. McCain dies in office. Palin takes over. She proceeds to quickly do a bunch of really dumb and corrupt things, a la Troopergate. Her approval ratings dive below Dubya's. Ds have a huge majority in Congress. They vote overwhelmingly to impeach her. Nancy Pelosi becomes our second female president. Yay!
10.31.2008 2:42pm
LN (mail):

The Alaska oil wealth savings account was in place before Palin was elected. Voters created the trust fund in 1976.
Those funds are invested and citizens are paid dividends.

This isn't at all comparable to the federal income tax either in structure, intent, or function.


Not in intent?

Aren't the collective property rights that Alaskan residents have over the oil in the ground a matter of social convention (as opposed to natural law)? The land in Manhattan is not collectively owned, and revenues generated on the land in Manhattan are thought to belong purely to the private entities that own buildings, shares in corporations, etc. Why collective ownership instead of private ownership?

You can say that "voters created the trust fund" but didn't voters also "create the federal income tax"?

BTW, marginal tax rates increased during the 1990s, when socialist dictator Bill Clinton ruled America with an iron fist. It's unfortunate that his vicious rule left so few survivors who have a clear memory of those dark days.
10.31.2008 2:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ln:

marginal tax rates increased during the 1990s, when socialist dictator Bill Clinton ruled America with an iron fist


It's even harder to remember the dark days of socialist dictator Ike, when the highest marginal rate was 91%.

Let's compare Obama's plan to what we had under Pinko Ike and Pinko JFK (rates were unchanged from 1954 to 1964; pdf). $250K in today's dollars is the equivalent of $37,800 in 1964. The marginal rate on that income would have been 53%. Obama proposes 39%, what we had under Clinton. If 39% makes Obama a socialist, I guess Ike and JFK were uber-socialists.
10.31.2008 3:12pm
Fub:
David M. Nieporent wrote at 10.31.2008 12:57pm:
If I go dig on your lawn and strike oil, can I keep it for free?
Yes, provided that you till the surface at least a foot deep and no more than three feet, don't break the water main, remove all undesirable plants and roots, install a sprinkler system, and cover it with a nice low maintenance grass of my choice.

You can keep any precious metals or gemstones you find too.

Such a deal!
10.31.2008 4:26pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
I agree Palin is no libertarian, she's a socialist statist like the rest of them. She just looks better.
10.31.2008 4:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
She just looks better.


This video proves that McCain thinks you're right.
10.31.2008 4:42pm
Asher (mail):

The Alaska oil wealth savings account was in place before Palin was elected. Voters created the trust fund in 1976.
Those funds are invested and citizens are paid dividends.

This isn't at all comparable to the federal income tax either in structure, intent, or function.


I mean, I believe she raised the tax and gave people a bigger dividend. It's all very analogous, really; the income tax was created in, what, 1913? It will have been in place before he gets elected too. All Obama's doing is raising the top rate three points.
10.31.2008 5:07pm
MartyH (mail):
To those of you saying that Palin is a Socialist:

Alaska owned the North Slope land before oil was discovered. It's one of those dumb luck things. Had Alaska and not the Federal government owned ANWR, there'd be wells all over that place.

Alaska is not charging BP et al money to pump BP's oil. Alaska is charging BP to pump Alaska's oil. Seems fair to me.
10.31.2008 5:20pm
byomtov (mail):
DB,

Is the one billion number you quote the total number of people who have moved out of poverty in "the last couple of decades?"

If so, on what basis can you attribute this entirely to "globalization and free trade?" Surely there are lots of other factors - technology advances, changes in Chinese economic policies, etc?

I do generally support free trade, it's just that I think some of the claimed benefits are overstated.
10.31.2008 7:02pm
Terrible Secret of Space:
> One guy pushes an old lady into the path of a speeding bus,
> and another guy pushes an old lady out of the path of a
> speeding bus. JBG, would you then conclude that both guys
> are equally evil because they both push old ladies around?


Please stand at the top of the stairs.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwL5Yr1Ks9I

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-10ewA5pZsg
10.31.2008 9:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
marty:

Alaska is charging BP to pump Alaska's oil


As soon as you say "Alaska's oil," you are describing the collective ownership of resources. You're saying the people of Alaska collectively own "Alaska's oil." But what's special about that land? If it makes sense for that land to be owned collectively by the people of Alaska, then why shouldn't that principle be applied to all the land in the state?

The situation is summed up pretty nicely here:

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama "Barack the Wealth Spreader," seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government's activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year's check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that "we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs." Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it ("collectively," no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.


And speaking of Karl the Marxist, which pinko came up with the idea the government should own all that land, and all that oil? Doesn't Palin believe in free markets, and private ownership? Why would anyone think the government can manage that land more efficiently than a private company would? If it's OK for the government to own all that land, why not just let the government own all the land in the whole state? What's the difference? Because it's a good idea to "share in the wealth," right?
11.1.2008 4:46am