This isn't an attitude that's likely to pave the way to political success.
He's talking about the comments Robert Higgs
made in the Reason Who's Getting Your Vote?
article. What Mr. Higgs wrote was:
2004 vote: I never vote. I don't wish to soil my hands.
2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted only once in a presidential election, in 1976, and I did so on that occasion only so that I could irritate my left-liberal colleagues at the University of Washington by telling them that I had voted for "that idiot" Gerald Ford.
Favorite president: Grover Cleveland, because he, more so than any of the others, acted in accordance with his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution, despite great pressures to act otherwise.
Given his answer to the question of his choice for President in 2004, I think it's obvious the man from the Independent Institute is a principled non-voter in a similar vein as Wendy McElroy (with whom I agree
2004 vote: I'm voting for No One for at least three reasons: 1) As a Canadian, I am spared the insulting process of punching a ballot to express which power glutton should prevail; 2) as an anarchist, I refuse to legitimize the process that puts anyone in a position of unjust power over people's lives; and 3) as a practical matter of value returned for effort, the time is better spent enjoying family or working.
Most embarrassing vote: I have never voted in a political proceeding. But when I first became a libertarian while living in California, I did support the Libertarian Party candidate. This would be more embarrassing if I had not learned from my mistake. The lesson: It is not the particular man in power that I oppose but the power itself, which is unjust. As a matter of logic, if nothing else, I cannot oppose the office as illegitimate while waving a straw hat and yelling, "Elect my man to it!"
Glenn Reynolds apparently thinks everyone on the list wants a President exercising whatever authority he thinks he has over our lives. This is patently not the case if you spend some time to fucking think about it
. When "political success" actually means "imposing yet another asshole amongst our free exchanges," those of us who favor free exchange don't want political success. We want the absence of that interference and coercion.
I don't want someone else picking that asshole to rule over me. I don't want to do that for others. And I certainly don't want to lend my name and my honor to a system I cast no favor towards. Mr. Higgs put it well: we don't want to soil our hands with the act of casting an endorsement that actually translates into using force against others, even if in a insignificant and fractionally minimal manner. A "protest vote" is pointless because the act of voting strips information from your preference, leaving a single digit in one candidate's column that is utterly ignored unless it happens to be the deciding vote.
For example, Professor Reynolds says this in his slot in the article:
2004 vote: Most likely George Bush, and for one reason: the war. I'm having trouble trusting Kerry on that.
Does this mean President Bush, if reelected, will take that into consideration? How can he know Professor Reynolds disagrees with him on other issues? Why would the President and his advisors not just take that vote and lump it with the millions of others picking Bush, thinking those who vote for Bush want him reelected bad enough to push aside their objections to what he's done in favor of some other issues? In my opinion, there is no rational reason (aside from exit polls) why a candidate should not assume a vote for him or her is a vote for his or her entire agenda? See: A Libertarian for Bush?
Regarding what his e-mailer, Gabe Posey, said:
I think the primary reason for mainstream American not grasping hold of Libertarianism isn't that the party doesn't have great ideals or spokespeople, but primarily that the same upper crust elitism seen so profoundly in the Democratic party is rampant in the academically pious Libertarians. The party that demonstrates they are the party of the people is usually the party that wins.
As the folks at The Guardian have learned, letting people know you think they're idiots isn't an especially effective way of winning their votes.
I don't know what exactly Mr. Posey means by "academically pious" but it sounds like another attack against people who live by principles. If this is the case and Prof. Reynolds is insinuating that such people "think [others are] idiots" by holding fast to those principles, then I am deeply dismayed to have these people near me on the political spectrum. If initiating force against an individual (murder, assault, theft) is always wrong, then it is also wrong when a collective does it. Where's the consistency? If you are going to decry robbery, then you should also decry taxation. If you are going to denounce the murder of an innocent, then you should also denounce "collateral damage." If you are going to rail against state-planned economies, you should also rail against state-owned roads, airwaves, and security. It's all related.
A case in point are the comments the professor posted from a reader named Edward Clark:
I would like you to explain a little more on your impressions of libertarianism. I consider myself a libertarian, and not just because of my name. But listening to the libertarian party today leaves me with one reaction. Huh?
Their isolationist stance on security and foreign policy just doesn't make any sense in today's world. It is like surrending for the sake of liberty, which means liberty would end. On most other issues I pretty much agree with them.
A good response to this is in a Chicago Boyz post
containing these words from David Theroux, also from the Independent Institute:
Also for clarification, the proper term to describe the proposal we have been making for U.S. foreign policy reform is "non-interventionism", not "isolationism." "Isolationism" was a smear term originally coined by Wilsonians ("liberal-progressive" interventionists) to denigrate their opponents (constitutional and otherwise). The Wilsonian tradition is one of government interventionism both domestically and internationally, a position that Robert Higgs and other scholars have shown is inseparably linked by foreign interventionism (warfarism) being the central public-choice engine that drives domestic statism (http://www.independent.org/tii/catalog/cat_crisis.html).
In contrast to "non-interventionism," "isolationism" properly defined requires a "Closed Door" (or autarchic) policy severely restricting the free flow of people and trade internationally.
This is ironic because Insty does his trademark marginally noncommittal link to a post by Jonathan Gewirtz
of Chicago Boyz that points out that previous post. Mr. Gewirtz has this to say about those who choose not to vote (among others):
So, with some notable exceptions, these extremely bright people, many of whom spend a lot of time giving the rest of us advice on how to make decisions about public affairs, are a bunch of idiots in their personal voting behavior. Yeah, I know: most individuals' votes are not decisive, voters are rationally ignorant, the major parties are effectively a cartel, etc. These objections are narrowly true but miss the big picture. Voting should be treated as a civic sacrament, because on the margin our system can live or die depending on how carefully the voters vote, and they are more likely to take voting seriously if intellectuals don't denigrate it as an activity. This is especially true now, when the main issue of the day is of overwhelming importance and the major-party candidates have profoundly different approaches to that issue.
He further hits those he disagrees with "frivolous, apathetic, foolish or all of the above," finally culminating with
If ordinary people in places like Afghanistan appreciate how important elections are, both symbolically and practically, even when none of the candidates is perfect, why do so many smart people here miss the point?
The ideas this country was founded upon are fucked both in the long term and the short because of people like this. They reject those ideas (individualism, tax hatred, personal responsibility, etc.) by way of ignoring their larger implications. This "sacrament" amounts to a blessing of a system that's based on the notion that society should be elevated above the individual, that your wealth must
be confiscated to provide for others; that your freedom must
be sacrificed in order to lessen the risks others face. I find all of that thoroughly disgusting and voting for someone - even someone as good as Badnarik is on some issues
- who doesn't intend on quickly and entirely ending that system isn't voting for freedom. It is a vote for the continuation of the government yoke on our backs. At the very least
, we can choose to stop encouraging the bastards to think they have the right to hitch it to us.
Have a wonderful weekend. I have a kitten to play with and pumpkins to carve.
ADDED AT 5:29pm
Oh, and the irony of an Objectivist calling for Bush's election on the basis of his stance on terrorism:
The issue is America's moral right to take independent action in defending American lives.
...is hilarious. "America" is an abstraction, Harry Binswanger. It is a collective, a concept that we hold in our minds. It cannot act. Only individuals can. So don't demand I be taxed to pay for a war on terrorism I don't want any part of. If I see some jihadi planting a bomb somewhere, I'll do what I can to prevent it's purpose from being realized.
Mr. Binswanger also says The main negative, is of course, Bush's religiosity. Well, shit. While I am no fan of religion or its mixture in politics (See: Bush & Religion, Have YOU Been Prayed?, Top 10 Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Religion, and A Workplace Dialogue on Religion & Government for starters), the religion issue is not nearly as important as Bush's embrace of protectionism, his prosecution of the wars on drugs and freedom of speech, his support for government handouts and welfare, etc.
This is the abandonment of principle and any serious Objectivist should be ashamed of it.
UPDATE 1/20/2005 12:25pm
Glenn Reynolds is NOT a Libertarian
UPDATED 9/26/2005 2:47pm
He hasn't been paying attention to An Intellectually and Morally Serious Antiwar Movement.