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Why I Won't Abstain or Vote for the Libertarian Party:

Two possible alternatives to voting for McCain or Obama are abstaining from voting and supporting Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr. Many people believe that voting is irrational because the chance that your vote will influence the outcome is infinitesmally small. I think this logic is incorrect, for reasons I discuss in detail in the first part of this article. To briefly summarize my argument, I contend that voting is rational so long as 1) the cost of voting is low, 2) you care at least slightly about your fellow citizens as well as yourself, and 3) you believe that there is a significant difference between the rival candidates. The low probability of your vote being decisive is balanced by the enormous benefits that will accrue if it is. I'm no paragon of civic virtue; but I do care about the future of the country as well as my own. And I also believe that the cost of voting is low and that there is a substantial difference between Obama and McCain, even though I have serious reservations about both. Thus, it will be rational for me to vote in the 2008 election.

As for the Libertarian Party, back in 2006 I wrote a post entitled "Why the Libertarian Party is Bad for Libertarianism." I still endorse the argument I made there. Readers interested in my thoughts on the LP may want to check out that post.

tvk:
I quickly read your paper, and it strikes me that your argument about the utility of voting depends heavily on the assumptions, which I think you made far too favorable to your own case. I accept that the cost of voting may be roughly $10, and that the voter may be slightly altruistic in caring about fellow citizens at 1000th the level of his own welfare. But do you really think that the difference in a presidential choice can cumulativley change $5000 for every citizen in our system of gridlock government? More importantly, estimating the chance of a single voter wielding the decisive vote in a modern presidential election at 1/100M is far too high, it would seem to me. And of course your model is extraordinarily sensitive to even small changes in the assumptions.
10.31.2008 2:42am
Kazinski:
Even those in states that are not in play should not vote liberatarian this year. Bob Barr? Why can't we get a sane Liberatarian candidate? Why is it the Bob Barr's and Ron Paul's get the liberatarian ink. We need a Janice Rogers Brown to head the ticket, or possibly a Sarah Palin Republican/Liberatarian ticket in '12.
10.31.2008 2:43am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
I read the LP post.

the concerns in the post seem very practical. Basically, the LP is too small to ever win an election, and all intellectual influence libertarianism has had has come from outside the party.

But that is a little defeatist isn't it? If the libratarians such as you voted for the LP instead of the real candidate they thought was more libratarian, then the 10 to 15% of the voters you think are libratarian inclined would turn the 1% of the vote the LP gets into a 10-15% of the vote.

you are certainty correct that even if this happened, it wouldn't get us a librarian president, or get us any representation, because its an all or nothing election for each office (not a coalition system like Israel or European style governments).

However, there is more to politics than official representation. If it is true, as you say in your anti LP post, that little media/academic/political attention is given to libertarian views, then perhaps this might change should the LP get 15% of a vote (even if that resulted in no wins). Candidates in the major parties would possibly then consider how to change their particular brand of democrat like views or republican like views to more actively fit the libertarian vote. Their positions might change to woo the libertarian voters...and this would happen even if there was not a single LP candidate ever elected.

I presidential elections in the past there were 4rdparty candidates who actually won electoral votes for president. I would assume that next time around, both GOP and Democratic candidates were trying to figure out how to get those voters back (and they successfully did it seems..since the "American independent party" of George Wallace seems to no longer exist..despite winning electoral votes that one time.

on the other issue:
I'm not convinced that voting is rational simply becuase the reward of the possibility of making a difference is large enough to justify voting. The numbers you used in the paper make lots of assumptions that could also apply to the lottery. The lottery is also a very small cost (a couple dollars...about the cost of driving to and form the polls and the time spent). Similarly, the reward of winning the lottery is also potentially quite huge, but i doubt you play the lottery (or do you?)

Of course, there is the factor of the statement you make by voting-ie..doing the "right thing." People cant see who you voted for, but they can only see that you did in fact vote.

We need people to vote to have a democracy..we don't know why people choose to vote instead of staying home (we just know that they do and always have in large numbers)-but we do know that people often do things becuase they see or know about other people doing them. Perhaps by you voting you influence other people to vote. This is particularly true for leaders and intellectuals-who can have influence over the minds of many.
10.31.2008 2:46am
Obvious (mail):
Ilya,

There are 4.9 million registered voters in Virgina, where I believe you're located.

3 polls taken in the last week (10/23-28) each have Obama up by 7%

Assuming 50% of registered voters actually vote, Obama should get about 175,000 more votes than McCain in your state.

Let's assume you face NO COST from voting, and let us further assume you have EXTREME LOVE for your fellow man.

Despite these assumptions, I see no argument you've offered to the effect that care and concern for your fellow citizens requires you to engage in symbolic but KNOWN FUTILE actions.

Compare: You see someone drowning in the ocean. You cannot swim. You care for this person. Since you cannot swim, actually saving this person is out of the question, but you CAN go into the shallow water and splash around a lot to give the impression you're trying to help.

1. Splashing around in the shallow water is of little cost to you.

2. You very much care for the drowning person.

3. Drowning is much worse than not drowning.

Do you really think your futile symbolic gesture is socially, morally, or ethically required?
10.31.2008 2:53am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
just one more point..i think your argument (which boils down to an equation with estimated values) about the utility of voting depends mathematically to a huge extent on the 1 in 100 million figure you represent. The other estimated figures are much less problematic to me.

I find it hard to believe that the odds of such a thing are as calculable as you say they are (indeed-they are much more calculable for the lottery)

the odds change highly based on what state or election we are talking about, what year and what office, whether statewide, locally or president.

Obviously president is the hardest argument to overcome. Suppose you live in Utah? still 1 in 100 million chance? Suppose it was the year after carter was about to be wiped out by Regan? still 1 in 100 million.
10.31.2008 2:59am
Ilya Somin:
The numbers you used in the paper make lots of assumptions that could also apply to the lottery. The lottery is also a very small cost (a couple dollars...about the cost of driving to and form the polls and the time spent). Similarly, the reward of winning the lottery is also potentially quite huge, but i doubt you play the lottery (or do you?)

The lottery is deliberately rigged such that the expected cost of is greater than the expected benefit. Otherwise, the lottery would collapse. Not so (or at least not necessarily so) with voting.
10.31.2008 2:59am
Ilya Somin:
I see no argument you've offered to the effect that care and concern for your fellow citizens requires you to engage in symbolic but KNOWN FUTILE actions.

The key word here is "known." Most likely it will indeed be futile. But there is a small but nonzero chance that it won't. And if that chance comes up, the payoff will be huge. If it doesn't, I give up only a small cost.
10.31.2008 3:00am
Ilya Somin:
If it is true, as you say in your anti LP post, that little media/academic/political attention is given to libertarian views, then perhaps this might change should the LP get 15% of a vote (even if that resulted in no wins). Candidates in the major parties would possibly then consider how to change their particular brand of democrat like views or republican like views to more actively fit the libertarian vote. Their positions might change to woo the libertarian voters...and this would happen even if there was not a single LP candidate ever elected.

The LP has failed to attract such attention for over 35 years. It's highly unlikely it will now suddenly succeed. Moreover, one has to consider opportunity costs. The same rexsources could benefit libertarianism far more if spent in other ways. Finally, I didn't say that libertarian views get little attention. Rather, I said that such attention as they get mostly comes as a result of non-LP activity. That shows that the LP is a poor investment compared to other types of efforts to promote libertarianism.
10.31.2008 3:03am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
False premise: That the utility of voting depends on the probability of affecting the outcome of the election.

Unless the election is very close, the odds of a single vote determining the outcome is vanishingly small, too small to serve as a basis for a rational choice.

No, the effect a vote can have is on the direction of public policy, regardless of who wins. For that purpose, the most effective vote is a vote for a minor party candidate with a strong message in an election where that minor candidate gets enough votes to provide the margin of victory. If that happens, both major parties and their candidates are likely to chase the voters for that minor candidate or party, and alter their positions accordingly. That is how a small minority can come to function as a veto group, without whose support the majorities can't advance their positions.

Few things would do more good than for there to be a close election between Obama and McCain with Bob Barr getting at least 10% of the vote. Suddenly, everyone would become a "libertarian".
10.31.2008 3:12am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
Moreover, one has to consider opportunity costs. The same resources could benefit libertarianism far more if spent in other ways. Finally, I didn't say that libertarian views get little attention. Rather, I said that such attention as they get mostly comes as a result of non-LP activity. That shows that the LP is a poor investment compared to other types of efforts to promote libertarianism.

I didn't say give thousands to the libertarian party or write books or articles supporting them. I said vote for them...no opportunity cost
10.31.2008 3:13am
Ilya Somin:
I didn't say give thousands to the libertarian party or write books or articles supporting them. I said vote for them...no opportunity cost

The problem is that voting for them in any significant numbers will in fact encourage people to give them money, spend time as LP activists, etc.
10.31.2008 3:32am
Oren:

Few things would do more good than for there to be a close election between Obama and McCain with Bob Barr getting at least 10% of the vote. Suddenly, everyone would become a "libertarian".

Or complain that Barr spoiled the election for McCain. At which point, the LP would sink back into obscurity under the weight of having cost an ideologically compatible candidate the election.
10.31.2008 3:57am
Mark F. (mail):
Ilya:

If Hitler and Stalin were running for President on the 2 major party tickets, would you feel you had to choose between them? Probably not, I would think.

It seems to me that many libertarians like myself just set the bar far lower when it comes to refusing to sanction evil by voting for really bad statist bozos.
10.31.2008 5:18am
Obvious (mail):
Mark F:

You say Hitler, I say Giant Douche...You say Stalin, I say Turd Sandwich...

Let's call the whole thing off...
10.31.2008 5:48am
Brett Bellmore:
Exactly, Mark F; Yes, there's a significant difference, and the two major parties will doubtless maintain a significant difference all the way down to Hitler/Pol Pot territory, if they continue to tolerate the duopoly during the entire decent. (My impression is that the Democrats are growing weary of it, and will make some moves next year to institutionally advantage themselves over the Republicans.)

The only way to stop that death spiral is if a significant fraction of the voting population draws a line, and says, "No further! I don't CARE if your opponent wants infanticide legally protected, or would ban all gun stores! YOU aren't good enough to get my vote no matter how bad your opponent is!"
10.31.2008 7:52am
cboldt (mail):
-- If that happens, both major parties and their candidates are likely to chase the voters for that minor candidate or party, and alter their positions accordingly. --
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Why do Republicans try so hard to out-liberal the Democrats then? IOW, there isn't a "follow some minority party."
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I think there is a common (roughly, "more central government" or "better management from a central planning authority") force that drives the two majority parties, and while the two major parties are substantially different in many regards, both of them promise "more" or at least "better" government.
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The major parties chase the other's voters, not the voters who subscribe to policies that the major parties ridicule as lunatic fringe.
10.31.2008 8:08am
cboldt (mail):
-- Or complain that Barr spoiled the election for McCain. --
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That's a good point in the general as well. The loser needs to blame something or somebody outside of his sphere of control. When the Democrats lose, it's Nader's fault. When GHWB lost, it was Perot's fault. Fact is, parties and politicians win or lose on their own merits. Attract enough voters, and you win.
10.31.2008 8:10am
cboldt (mail):
-- The only way to stop that death spiral is if a significant fraction of the voting population draws a line ... --
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You whole post sums up my thoughts better than I summed up my thoughts. And as for the remedy, that will happen after the Constitution exists in form only. "It's over." I don't foresee any scenario where the public decides it favors self-responsibility (and resulting uncertainty) over the path we're on. We are a defacto democracy, and history is a reliable predictor of where this ends up.
10.31.2008 8:15am
cboldt (mail):
-- "No further! I don't CARE if your opponent ... would ban all gun stores!" --
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Not caring about that particular item is suicidal for the existence of a free people. Mao was right about at least one thing. All power flows from the barrel of a gun.
10.31.2008 8:18am
Modus Ponens:
Ha!

A libertarian so principled that he won't vote for a Libertarian Party candidate.

I love it!

So, in the end, when it comes time to vote, "libertarian" = Republican Party running dog, no?
10.31.2008 8:31am
Brett Bellmore:
To be precise, I don't care if Obama will ban all gun stores, if voting for McCain keeps us on a trajectory to having the Republican nominee in favor of banning all gun stores some time around, oh, 2020.

And, Cboldt, I'm not a single issue voter, and I'm not going to vote for the guy who notoriously said that if it came down to fighting political corruption, or the First amendment, he was ditching the First amendment.
10.31.2008 8:33am
cboldt (mail):
-- To be precise, I don't care if Obama will ban all gun stores, if voting for McCain keeps us on a trajectory to having the Republican nominee in favor of banning all gun stores some time around, oh, 2020. --
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That is only slightly different from the way I excerpted and interpreted your comment, which was to not care, period.
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My proposition is that if freedom to keep and bear arms is an important issue to a person, then that person should be much less likely to vote for a Democrat or Democrat-lite (Collins, Ensign, Warner in the GOP are either hostile or lukewarm to the 2nd amendment).
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-- I'm not going to vote for the guy who notoriously said that if it came down to fighting political corruption, or the First amendment, he was ditching the First amendment. --
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I think the 2nd amendment is more important than the 1st - and that is not to say that I'd give up freedom to practice religion or the freedom to agitate with words. I see the Democrats as more hostile and less tolerant of political expression they disagree with and religion (e.g., jukeboxgrad asserts it is unconstitutional for a political candidate to express his religious beliefs as part of an election campaign). YMMV, and I see it does.
10.31.2008 9:07am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Can we trust the network polls? Are the biased? The answer to the latter question is yes, as shown by this report.
We compared polls produced by major television networks with those produced by Gallup and Rasmussen. We found that, taken as a whole, polls produced by the networks were significantly to the left of those produced by Gallup and Rasmussen.

We used the available data to provide a tentative ordering of the major television networks' polls from right to left. Our order (right to left) was: FOX, CNN, NBC (which partners with the Wall Street Journal), ABC (which partners with the
Washington Post), CBS (which partners with the New York Times). These results appear to comport well with the commonly held informal perceptions of the political leanings of these agencies.
Hat tip to Andrew Gelman author of the Red State Blue State ...
book.

Therefore you can not average poll data as averaging assumes the polls are unbiased which clearly they are not.
10.31.2008 9:14am
cboldt (mail):
-- Therefore you can not average poll data as averaging assumes the polls are unbiased which clearly they are not. --
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Just another example of "garbage in, garbage out." Anytime popular media gets an analysis correct as a matter of rational logic, it's an accident.
10.31.2008 9:18am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Addendum to m my prior post.

My statement, "Therefore you can not average poll data as averaging assumes the polls are unbiased which clearly they are not" is too strong. The report provides only prima facie evidence that the polls are biased.

The network polls fail to inform the public that their reported "margins of error" do not capture all the polling error. The MOE only give the sampling error. The adjustments to the polls for non-sampling errors provide the networks with a opportunity to fiddle with the results according to the political biases.

Message to Obamabots. Do you really think that the media with the exception of Fox do not exhibit a bias towards the Obama and the Democrats? Fox of course has its own bias, but we all knew that.
10.31.2008 9:31am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
If one really wants small government, I would suggest:

The Republican Party may once have been the party of small government, but Bush/DeLay/Rove have made it the party of "Spend even more than the Democrats to buy an electoral majority!"

Turns out, that ain't workin' so well.

Pundits are already talking about the "war for the soul of the Republican Party" that will ensue after the looming electoral debacle. This war will pit small government conservatives against big-government religious nanny-staters who seek to expand government power to enforce their view of morality.

Libertarians have a dog in that fight. They need the small government conservatives to triumph in the intra-party conflict.

If one lives in a state where the result of the election is a foregone conclusion (think California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, etc.), then a vote for McCain actually helps the Palinesque Jihadis: "See! We got the base out to vote in Massachusetts and California! If we put a Bible-thumper at the top of the ticket, we'll win next time!"

A vote for the Libertarian Party send the exact opposite message: "I believe in small government and will come home to the Republican Party IF the Republican party stops screaming about boys kissing and actually starts to be fiscally responsible.

Heck, even if you are a Republican who likes bigger government, you ought to vote Libertarian - if the jihadis capture the Republican party, you'll just be guaranteeing that Obama will have a second term. Is there anyone outside of the religious right who actually believes Palin '12 could defeat an INCUMBENT Obama? Dude. Put down the crack pipe.

Finally, a vote for the Libertarians is also a call for moderate Republicans like Powell and the intellectual elites like Will and Brooks to come back home because it will help the sane branch of the Republican Party win the intra-party fight.

None of this applies if you live in a close state. If McCain is within the margin of error in your state, you probably want to vote Republican in the hope that the polls are off in the other states.
10.31.2008 9:33am
PersonFromPorlock:
Mark F.:

If Hitler and Stalin were running for President on the 2 major party tickets, would you feel you had to choose between them? Probably not, I would think.

How about a Pure Protest Party? The PPP's candidates would 'run' on the platform that if elected they wouldn't serve and that voting for them was the only way to say "none of the above."

I'm reasonably sure that you can't shame politicians, but a substantial protest vote might at least slow them down. And people might be more inclined to cast such votes if they didn't have to vote for the other guy to do it.
10.31.2008 9:39am
cboldt (mail):
-- Palinesque Jihadis --
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Your imagination is persausive to you, and to others who want the Democratic party ideals and platform to prevail in the long run. Your pejorative invective discloses your position.
10.31.2008 9:39am
Angus:
Therefore you can not average poll data as averaging assumes the polls are unbiased which clearly they are not.
Except that averaging polls has a tendency to counteract the bias by averaging together pro-McCain biased polls with pro-Obama biased polls. That, plus the fact that averaging the polls proved fantastically accurate as a predictor in 2004. Two data points:

#1. RCP's average called 49 of 50 states correctly, a large number of which were won by less than 2%.

#2 RCP's pegged the popular vote as Bush 50.0 - Kerry 48.5. Finaly tally? Bush 50.7%-Kerry 48.3%.
10.31.2008 9:42am
Angus:
Message to Obamabots. Do you really think that the media with the exception of Fox do not exhibit a bias towards the Obama and the Democrats? Fox of course has its own bias, but we all knew that.
Regarding polls, the paper you linked to concluded in its final graph that NBC/WSJ and CNN polls leaned more in favor of Republicans than Democrats.
10.31.2008 9:45am
pedro (mail):
I agree with Ilya's substantive point that voting is, in many circumstances, rational. I also think voting has personal utility for considerations that are not normally regarded as rational. I happen to vehemently disagree with Ilya's assessment of the relative virtues and vices of the two candidates' platforms, however. Being less convinced of the rightness of my economic ideas than Ilya is of his, I pay more attention to culture. And, culturally, I find the Republican party utterly disgusting, sadly.
10.31.2008 9:58am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"Except that averaging polls has a tendency to counteract the bias by averaging together pro-McCain biased polls with pro-Obama biased polls."

Your statement would be true if the bias were both random and symmetrically distributed about a mean of zero. Neither is the case.

"That, plus the fact that averaging the polls proved fantastically accurate as a predictor in 2004."


We don't have an analysis of the bias (if any) in the 2004 polls. The report deals with 2008. We would also have to look at the final polling results for bias.
10.31.2008 9:59am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"Regarding polls, the paper you linked to concluded in its final graph that NBC/WSJ and CNN polls leaned more in favor of Republicans than Democrats."

That's why the report abstract used the phrase "taken as a whole."
10.31.2008 10:02am
Angus:
We don't have an analysis of the bias (if any) in the 2004 polls. The report deals with 2008. We would also have to look at the final polling results for bias.
Unfortunately, there is just no way to tell bias until after the fact until we see which pollsters were the most accurate. If the pollsters Republicans denounce as "biased" end up being correct, then they weren't biased at all. Likewise, the pollsters that Democrats denounce as being biased.
10.31.2008 10:04am
Curt Fischer:


"Except that averaging polls has a tendency to counteract the bias by averaging together pro-McCain biased polls with pro-Obama biased polls."



Your statement would be true if the bias were both random and symmetrically distributed about a mean of zero. Neither is the case.


Huh? First, if bias had a mean of zero, averaging polls would eliminate all bias, regardless of how asymmetrically it was distributed and how non-random it was.

Second, I don't think that Angus's point was that averaging solves all problems, just that it helps ameliorate the problem a bit. That is true under a much broader set of circumstances.
10.31.2008 10:08am
JB:
Ultimately, this post by Ilya and the similar ones by David (and others, if I've missed them, by Todd and Jim) are pure rationalization, and the posters will vote for McCain based on the irrelevant overparanoid fears about Obama they posted at great length on earlier.

If that wasn't the case, the "divided government" and "rational voting" posts would have been much longer and more numerous than the "Obama is a kook" ones.

Revealed preferences, folks.
10.31.2008 10:11am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Why settle for the lesser evil?


http://www.cthulhu.com/
10.31.2008 10:19am
some dude:
So who are you voting for?
10.31.2008 10:32am
cboldt (mail):
-- this post by Ilya [is] pure rationalization, and the posters will vote for McCain based on the irrelevant overparanoid fears about Obama they posted at great length on earlier. If that wasn't the case, the "divided government" and "rational voting" posts would have been much longer and more numerous than the "Obama is a kook" ones. --
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A variant of "quantity is a predictor of quality" or "quantity is a predictor of position."
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I'll have to locate these "Obama is a kook" posts. Don't you mean "the poster is a kook," for misapprehending Obama?
10.31.2008 10:37am
JB:
I'll have to locate these "Obama is a kook" posts. Don't you mean "the poster is a kook," for misapprehending Obama?

You may offer your analysis of the posts' veracity. I was distilling their pagelong messages into a single phrase, for effect.

The point is, VC posters who took hours out of their lives to write posts and comments calling Obama a kooky socialist, and minutes to write about divided government, have already shown why they are voting, and it isn't any of the fig-leaves they are bruiting about now.
10.31.2008 10:40am
Eli Rabett (www):
Nature endorses Obama. Very unusual and the grounds are instructive and yes, I am blog whoring but it's only two clicks away.
10.31.2008 10:42am
cboldt (mail):
-- VC posters who took hours out of their lives to write posts and comments calling Obama a kooky socialist, and minutes to write about divided government, have already shown why they are voting, and it isn't any of the fig-leaves they are bruiting about now. --
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Again, I'll have to re-read the posts, but my intuition is that the people you refer to disagree with Obama's positions as a matter of policy, so their decision is whether to vote for his big-party opponent, or to cast what they see as a more principled ballot, in theory. Reality bumps into theory, and they explain why (still rejecting Obama's policies) they choose McCain.
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IOW, I think they've been consistent in rejecting the position you adopt, that Obama is superior to all the other choices.
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"Kooky socialist" is an odd construction. I see the arguments that aim to tar both candidates with the label "socialist" (i.e., McCain and Obama are both socialist, so that's no reason to prefer one over the other), or that neither warrants the label. Pretty common, that, argue over the application of a label rather than compare the choices using other terms. But that aside, what is a "kooky socialist"?
10.31.2008 10:55am
Sheesh:

I haven't voted myself since my kids were 5. Since they were old enough to walk they've gone into the booth with me and pushed the buttons I point to, and when we're done they thrown the switch.

Vote because good men died face down in the mud so you could.
Vote because it is the sacred sacrament of a free people.
10.31.2008 10:58am
kooky socialist:
But that aside, what is a "kooky socialist"?


Instead of trying to keep up with the Jones, a “kooky socialist” worries about keeping up with the Swedes.

You'd understand, if you had your own Minniwegian accent.
10.31.2008 11:21am
cboldt (mail):
-- a "kooky socialist" worries about keeping up with the Swedes --
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I think that's in error, but understandable because "kooki" is a homonym of "kooky."
10.31.2008 11:42am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Cdbolt said:

- Palinesque Jihadis --
.
Your imagination is persausive to you, and to others who want the Democratic party ideals and platform to prevail in the long run. Your pejorative invective discloses your position.

Your belief that objecting to a Christianist government makes some a (gasp!) Democrat illustrates my point. There is a fundamental tension between small government Libertarians and folks who want to use the power of government to promote their view of Christianity.

There are many people who would vote for a smaller government Republican party if such a party existed. Since these small government types don't have tha option, they will default to their social values and conclude that the social goals of the Jihadis (oops! I did it again!) are immoral and will vote against them. You can see this with Palin - many people who would otherwise vote for McCain are turned off by her description of the witch doctor as a prophet of God and by her support for the anti-Gay Marriage Amendment.

Parties are bog-tent entities. The Democrats have similar factional differences that can be counter-productive (Blue Dogs vs. Northeastern libs).

When the Republican party was balanced between the poles of their factions, many small government types could make a cost benefit analysis and pull the lever for Reagan, Bush Senior, Dole and even G.W. the first time. But under G.W.'s first term, it became clear that it was the culture warriors who were driving the party.

So, cdbolt, this isn't some Liberal Dem rejoicing in the fall of the enemy. I'm simply offering an alternative game strategy to Professor Somin. Even if you think I'm some type of commie symp liberal, how is the analysis wrong? YOU may support the jihadi branch of the Republican party. But the question is: how would a Libertarian game the current situation?

I maintain that a vote for McCain plays into the hands of the part of the Republican party that is hostile to small government.
10.31.2008 12:00pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Since I just read it, compare the Economist's endorsement of Obama to Nature's. It is instructive that they both emphasize McCain's unwillingness to educate himself on important matters and his impulsiveness and contrast this with Obama's willingness to listen and steady behavior
10.31.2008 12:03pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Cdbolt -


One more thing in the interest of full disclosure. I don't want the Democratic party's platform values to prevail. I want a smaller government, individual responsibility, and I want ALL of the Constitution to be enforced. I can't vote for that right now. I can only choose between a big-government party that openly narrows its base to "real Americans," and only supports the 2nd Amendment OR a big-government party that advocates collective responsibility that only supports the 1st Amendment.

If the small government conservatives can retake the party, I'll vote for you next time. But this time I'm voting for the guy who doesn't hate gays, and non-Christians.

If you've lost this real American (I'm White, a farmer, a gun owner, a Christian, married and a heterosexual), you are in trouble.
10.31.2008 12:09pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Even if you think I'm some type of commie symp liberal, how is the analysis wrong? YOU may support the jihadi branch of the Republican party. But the question is: how would a Libertarian game the current situation? --
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I think the analysis is flawed because it flows from an incorrect factual basis. What you see as "jihadi christians" haven't been able to impose whatever policy it is that you object to. Maybe you are just hostile to people expressing Christian belief, I don't know - but your screed comes off that way, and most people who are hostile to public expression of religious belief also advocate (as you do today) that the Democrat be given the favor of a vote.
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I don't think any libertarian gaming can be effective. I'm a defeatist/John Galt in that regard.
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-- I maintain that a vote for McCain plays into the hands of the part of the Republican party that is hostile to small government. --
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I don't disagree with that. My point is that a vote for Barack Obama plays into the hands of the part of BOTH the Republican and Democratic party that is hostile to small government.
10.31.2008 12:11pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I can only choose between a big-government party that openly narrows its base to "real Americans," and only supports the 2nd Amendment OR a big-government party that advocates collective responsibility that only supports the 1st Amendment. --
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I don't see the GOP as any more or less hostile to the 1st amendment - shared blame on McCain/Feingold, and that abomination seems to hurt the GOP more than does the DEMs.
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I hear you on your preference for "collective responsibility," and that goes a long way to helping me understand that given a choice between DEMs and GOP, you choose DEM. I am averse to the notion of collective responsibility, when that is forced by the government.
10.31.2008 12:17pm
Tinhorn (mail):
It is not sufficient that there be a "substantial difference" between the candidates, but rather one that the voter perceives is (1) meaningful in utility, and (2) likely to be persistent. There is a big difference between chicken and steak, but if they both have different plusses and minuses but their overall utility is similar (within the margin of error), then it makes no real difference to me. Also, if I have been vacillating between the two choices such that I believe that sometime during the week (or month, or year) after November 4 I am likely to have a different preference than I did on November 4, then what good will my vote on November 4 do for me? Indeed, if I do not feel that my preference is likely to have some permanence, then I might be affirmatively *upset* that I voted for such a dimwit on November 4, having seen the light a few days (weeks, etc.) later. And who needs that?

I have no quarrel at all with those who feel that the voting bang is worth their buck, but I have long felt that not voting in certain circumstances (which I find obtain for me in most elections) is fully rational for some of us.
10.31.2008 12:22pm
theobromophile (www):
The problem with voting for McCain, as a vote against Obama, or staying at home in protest against the two candidates, is that those are very blunt signals that are easily misinterpreted. Voting for McCain can be seen as: an endorsement of his policies, of Sarah Palin, of his policies despite Palin, of fear of Obama, a vote for divided government, etc. Likewise, staying at home could indicate antipathy towards the entire process, dissatisfaction with the candidates, or something else entirely.

At least when you look at the entire range of voting - presidential candidates, propositions, Congress, Senate, state elections, etc., you can give a slightly more nuanced signal. Even if your vote doesn't count for any of those races, candidates will know how much (or how little) support they have for their positions. While candidates who win by one vote and one million votes both win, the latter has a much larger base of support of his positions; the former knows that if he pisses off one supporter, he could be ousted the next time around.
10.31.2008 12:28pm
trad and anon:
The Republican Party may once have been the party of small government
When? Under Reagan, he of the enormous budgets and corresponding deficits?

Republicans talk a good game about small government, but once you put them in power they start making it bigger again.
10.31.2008 12:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Curt Fischer:

I should have written:

"Your statement would be true if the bias were both random and symmetrically distributed about a median of zero. Neither is the case."
10.31.2008 1:29pm
Spitzer:
Libertarians would be better served by far if the party simply endorsed one of the major party candidates, or better yet, put that candidate on their own ballot (must as the "conservative" and "liberal" parties in NY). Endorsement and/or carrying the candidate on the actual ballot would allow the LP to influence the election, and influence the candidates' behavior, potentially giving libertarians a seat at the table. Even though the parties are not "pure", libertarians would be better off if the LP exercised influence and nudged policies in their direction, than by caterwauling from the sidelines. Indeed, by endorsing and placing the candidate on the actual ballot, the LP could even be seen as a kingmaker (assuming the number of votes for Candidate X qua LP leader is necessary to put Candidate X over the electoral top in one or more states). In politics, kingmaker status is the best way to get politicians to mouth your words and adopt your platforms.
10.31.2008 2:25pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Cdbolt -

I'm a believer in individual responsibility. I don't like collective responsibility.

The First Amendment isn't just speech - it includes freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. Many Jihadi Republicans want to legitimize their brand of Christianity. I disagree on the theology and think Christianity isn't well-served by "official support."

I'm not advocating a vote for Obama - I'm advocating a vote for Barr. If your small government vote cannot elect McCain as the lesser of two evils (note how I made my case ONLY for areas where Obama had an insurmountable lead like Hawaii or Massachusetts), then a vote for Barr can give support to small government Republicans in the party realignment.
10.31.2008 4:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sheesh:

I haven't voted myself since my kids were 5. Since they were old enough to walk they've gone into the booth with me and pushed the buttons I point to, and when we're done they thrown the switch.


Excellent. Thank you. This should be the norm.

I think for some people it's most convenient to vote when the kids are in school. We can probably think of ways to make this less of a problem.
10.31.2008 4:37pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt:

jukeboxgrad asserts it is unconstitutional for a political candidate to express his religious beliefs as part of an election campaign


Please note the following facts:

A) Until just now, I have not been present in this thread

B) You aren't providing a link to what I actually said

C) Instead of providing a quote, you're providing a somewhat misleading and oversimplified paraphrase

Considering those facts together, I think what you did is poor sportsmanship.

What I said is here.
10.31.2008 4:37pm
Eddiehaskel (mail):
I am dumbfounded that in a democracy any "reasonable" person needs to ask whether it is "rational" to vote. I suppose however that this ranks with wondering how many angels fit on the head of a pin.
10.31.2008 5:15pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I'm not advocating a vote for Obama - I'm advocating a vote for Barr. If your small government vote cannot elect McCain as the lesser of two evils (note how I made my case ONLY for areas where Obama had an insurmountable lead like Hawaii or Massachusetts), then a vote for Barr can give support to small government Republicans in the party realignment. --
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I owe you (and freely give) an apology for mistaking your point of view. Entirely my fault for jumping to a false conclusion, as that point of view is fairly well stated in the post I first responded to.
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What set me off was my perception that you have an aversion to the Bible-thumpers, on account of them being effective at setting government policy. II see them making plenty of noise, bless their hearts, but not getting much in the way of policy. My aversion is to the Rockefeller/Country-club wing of the GOP. Those twits grow government, and energize a revolving door between pet private enterprise (personally owned) and government.
10.31.2008 5:35pm
cboldt (mail):
Me: jukeboxgrad asserts it is unconstitutional for a political candidate to express his religious beliefs as part of an election campaign.
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Instead of providing a quote, you're providing a somewhat misleading and oversimplified paraphrase ... What I said is here [10.26.2008 8:51pm]. --
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I'm referring to your 10.23.2008 9:17pm (in the same thread):

If I tell voters they should pick me because my religion is better than yours, I'm encouraging them to apply a "religious test." That's a violation of the constitution.

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I think it could cost a candidate an election if he said something like "pick me because Christianity is better than Islam" [substitute your choice of religions/denominations], but I don't assert that such a statement is unconstitutional.
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The subject of our conversation at the time was the contention that Palin's campaign cast her opponent as a non-Christian, and you intimated that sort of activity is prohibited by the Constitution.
10.31.2008 5:53pm
Doc W (mail):
Some people rationalize voting for an anti-free speech warmonger. I vote Libertarian.
11.1.2008 1:44am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt:

The subject of our conversation at the time was the contention that Palin's campaign cast her opponent as a non-Christian


I don't think we need to recapitulate what was said in the other thread. And I've already explained why I object to the statement you made in this thread. You should have used an actual quote rather than a casual paraphrase, and you should have linked to where the quote came from. Especially because I was not present in this thread to speak up on my own behalf.
11.1.2008 4:54am
cboldt (mail):
-- And I've already explained why I object to the statement you made in this thread. You should have used an actual quote rather than a casual paraphrase, and you should have linked to where the quote came from. --
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Yes, you did explain. I didn't quarrel with your explanation or suggestions, but that doesn't mean I'm going to comply with your suggestions in the future. Obviously, I think the paraphrase was accurate. Obviously, you think it was inaccurate. Since neither of us is amenable to change our point of view, debate on the point would be futile.
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With regard to the credibility that should be accorded a paraphrase, others who read here can make exactly the same observations you did - a paraphrase is not a quote, and in this case, it wasn't substantiated with a link citation.
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With regard to the importance of that particular paraphrase, it was used as anecdotal support of my impression that those who express hostility toward public expression of religion tend to also support the platform and candidates of the Democratic party. Whether I characterized your hostility "perfectly" isn't important in that context.
11.1.2008 8:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
those who express hostility toward public expression of religion tend to also support the platform and candidates of the Democratic party


There you go again, misrepresenting my position. It's definitely not about "public expression of religion." In the other thread I explicitly supported the "public expression of religion." The problem is "public expression of religion" by a candidate in the context of a campaign (especially when that expression is about drawing a contrast between my religion and the other guy's religion).

Not the same thing.
11.1.2008 2:25pm
TCO:
I've never voted L in my life. Straight ticket Republican. But I'm going to do it this election. The RINOs and accomodationalists are killing the soul of the party. It actually HURTS our chances when they do things like the bailout and HELPS them when we do things like being solidly conservative ala Palin. So fuck them. Fuck them to hell.
11.1.2008 2:37pm
TCO:
My IDEAL case would be one where voting for Barr cost the RINOs the election. Then maybe we can purge the pussies out of the party.
11.1.2008 2:40pm
cboldt (mail):
Me: jukeboxgrad asserts it is unconstitutional for a political candidate to express his religious beliefs as part of an election campaign.
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jukeboxgrad: -- Instead of providing a quote, you're providing a somewhat misleading and oversimplified paraphrase ... The problem is "public expression of religion" by a candidate in the context of a campaign (especially when that expression is about drawing a contrast between my religion and the other guy's religion) --
11.1.2008 5:31pm
David Warner:
TCO,

"Fuck them to hell."

At least then you wouldn't be lonely there. Good plan.
11.1.2008 5:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt, I see your point. I was not and am not asserting that your paraphrase was wildly misleading (as some are). I said "somewhat misleading." That's because saying that something is problematic, or a violation of the spirit of the constitution, is not quite the same thing as being outright unconstitutional.

Also, 'express my religious beliefs as part of an election campaign' can mean a bunch of different things. Consider:

A) I oppose/support the death penalty for various reasons, including my religion
B) I am religion X, and he is religion Y, so therefore you should vote for me

Both A and B fall under the rubric of 'express my religious beliefs as part of an election campaign.' However, A is defensible (in my opinion), and B is not. Romney rightly complained when people did various forms of B. Trouble is, that's what Palin did.
11.2.2008 2:12pm
MNLib:
I say vote Libertarian on Tuesday, make your presence known. Then, in the smoke-filled and battle-scarred aftermath of McCain's trouncing, the LP and the Constitution party and all the libertarian-leaning members of the Republican party, and anybody else who wants in, can sit down and say: The Republican party as we knew it is over, it's time for a new direction, back to the basics, back to the time when America functioned.

How did it come to this? How did we lose our way?
11.3.2008 1:07am