G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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A presidential election forces us all to make up to three decisions: who to vote for, who to hope for, and whether or not to vote in the first place.
Here is what I plan to do on Tuesday: I will not vote for President, but if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to vote for one of these two candidates, I would vote for Romney over Obama. All that said, I hope Barack Obama gets elected for reasons vaguely similar to Steve Sailer’s. Steve says that he has a lot of Obama material and hopes he’s able to use it over the course of the next few years. I believe that Obama does provide us with plenty more material which will lead to a fuller exposure of liberalism. We can’t throw away this opportunity to give liberalism its full examination.
In the American Conservative symposium, Robert Murphy and Sheldon Richman trotted out the typical libertarian argument against voting. Whereas most normal people just say that their vote doesn’t matter, libertarians argue that voting in non-battleground states is an act of economic irrationality. Richman says that one runs the risk of being struck by lightning while venturing out to engage in this civic behavior. Such an argument assumes that every action we take through the course of the day is filled to the gills with economic rationality. Sometimes I just drive and drive around my town because I like to mix up my day a little bit. I burn gas for no good reason and have nothing but my own subjective unmonetizable satisfaction to show for this. Point being, why should voting be held to such a high standard of rationality compared to the many other things that we do in our lives which actually make no sense? Besides, that type of argument ignores some of the other value that voting provides: we get to tell others about who we voted for (or didn’t) and why; we get to root for our pick. In this way, voting is entertainment and it carries as much value as rooting for a sports team which offers us no positive economic benefit.
But guys like Murphy who make that particular argument in a symposium sort of ignore the whole point of a political endorsement. When you make an endorsement (or don’t), you’re pretending that a lot of people are going to listen to you. The endorser should just assume that lots of people in battleground states will take their opinion seriously and vote accordingly. So while the individual voter’s vote value nears zero because of the strong red or blue shading of their state, they have the potential to impact votes in contested locales. Endorsers should be of two minds then: how are they going to behave and how do they think others should behave. The libertarians here should drop the argument against economic rationality and just say that neither candidate provides a good enough reason to vote in the first place.
But back to my pseudo endorsement.
In the full-term I hope Obama wins. I voted for Obama in 2008 because I was partly swept up in Hope and Change. I was tired of Bush’s wars. I also did naively hope that Obama’s presidency would solve the racial divide which we’ve seen has obviously not diminished over the course of four years. If liberals are going to be assuaged, there will be much more love lost on this front and Obama’s various foibles over his term have made this clear. Part of me felt that we finally needed a referendum on modern liberalism, and I hope to carry that experiment to its full capacity. ObamaCare is the biggie. I don’t think that it will become any more entrenched than it already has become due to the Supreme Court ruling which upheld it. Under Obama’s watch it will be implemented by 2014, but I hold out (naive?) hope that it will quickly be dismantled after its self-evident failure. Obama, and liberals, will own this thing, and I believe it will fail on a national scale and will ultimately hinder liberalism in general.
Who do I think would be a better President in objective terms? I’d pick Romney. An improvement in the economy would mask very many of our current problems, and I do think that Romney’s focus on it would positively impact the mood of the country. And I appreciate that Romney would at least check – in the way that a major league pitcher checks the runner at first base – spending and the deficit. They say that conservatives forget about that rhetoric when they get into office, but I believe that Romney cannot escape that particular plank. On immigration: Romney provides a stronger check than does Obama. I do not care about abortion rights. This is almost beyond the political realm at this point. And just on pure style points I have developed a very strong aversion to Obama for his pandering to the female vote. Last election’s Hope and Change masked this particular stinky cologne.
So to sum up: I am not voting for President; I hope Obama actually wins the election and shows us in a most definitive way (8 years being most definitive) that liberalism is a failure; if I were viewing voting in purely non-cynical terms, I would endorse Mitt Romney to others, especially in states where a vote actually means something.