Here, I respond to Dr. Charles Steele’s arguments that Mitt Romney is “clearly the lesser [evil]” when compared to Barack Obama. I hope to address each particular point made by Dr. Steele, but will first preface my remark by noting that even a true incrementally lesser evil is still evil and does not warrant one’s support. One key consideration in casting one’s vote is one’s share of moral responsibility in what would transpire if one’s candidate of choice (even half-hearted choice) gets elected. It may therefore be justified to vote for an imperfect candidate who could do some incremental good, but not for a candidate who would commit incremental evil – in the sense of reducing liberty compared to the situation that existed prior to his election. There is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would commit numerous incremental evils – and there is no justification for supporting him in any way, even if his transgressions could be predicted with certainty to be less severe than Obama’s.
Dr. Steele writes: “1) If the GOP wins both houses of Congress and repeals Obamacare, Romney would sign. Obama never would.
I am not so sure that Romney would sign any such repeal – and I suspect that he would probably convince Congress to quietly smother the entire repeal effort behind the scenes. After all, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is modeled directly after the 2006 Massachusetts healthcare reform (“Romneycare”) – both ultimately devised by one, Jonathan Gruber – an economist who has used his training for ill and a prime example for the rest of us economists of what could happen if one is not careful about the direction of one’s influence. Romney has shown in the past to be utterly unprincipled, willing to take (and subsequently abandon) any position that would score him political points, depending on the attitudinal currents of the moment. And neither he nor Paul Ryan have any compunctions about uttering overt lies to score political points. How many of those lies might be in the form of promises regarding what they would do if elected?
Dr. Steele writes: “The next President will likely pick 2 or more new judges for SCOTUS. Obama is certain to pick anti Second Amendment judges who will reverse Heller and do other mischief. GOP nominees will tend to be noticeably better (although not perfect).”
Supreme Court justices rather frequently tend to depart from expectations after their appointment (witness Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts, among many other recent examples). Thus, the political party of the appointing President is no clear indicator of how a justice might subsequently vote. Furthermore, in some recent cases the “conservative” bloc of the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of gross infringements of civil liberties – upholding, for instance, the right of police to strip-search anyone taken to a jail, irrespective of whether they pose any material risk or whether they are even accused of a crime (see Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, which was decided by the “conservative” bloc plus Anthony Kennedy in April 2012). Do I want the Supreme Court to restrict people’s ability to own guns, or their ability to wear clothes? Neither! This is why I will not give my moral sanction to a candidate who would appoint justices who might make such heinous decisions.
Dr. Steele writes: “Obama and the democrats are overtly anti-entrepreneur & anti-business (despite their convention rhetoric). Romney is not.”
I think they both are anti-entrepreneur in practice. Romney is, in essence, a mercantilist and supporter of the anti-free-market “crony capitalism” – the sort that clamors for bailouts for the most politically connected “iconic” firms, which then use the political protection to defraud consumers (as the large banks have done since 2008, and before) and gain an artificial advantage over smaller, more innovative, less political competitors. Romney has largely favored the bailouts of 2008 and can be expected to continue the policy of insulating a chosen oligarchy of corporations (the ones with Republican connections and extensive lobbying operations) from the rigors of market competition.
Dr. Steele writes: “Paul Ryan is one of the very few politicians to talk realistically about our impending sovereign debt crisis and the need to genuinely cut…again, not perfect, but far better than Obama/Biden’s endless expansion of the welfare state.”
Yet, as his convention speech illustrates, Paul Ryan has no qualms about butchering the facts to win appeal in the eyes of certain Republican constituents. Even when the stories he tells may have didactic purposes with which I agree, I do not endorse the distortion of facts to achieve those purposes. It may be that Paul Ryan’s rhetoric is simply a device to appeal to the libertarian and libertarian-leaning elements that are still open to the Republican Party – an attempt to repair the vast reputational damage done by the RNC’s attempts to shut out Ron Paul supporters during the nominating season. But if Paul Ryan can lie about the facts, he can surely also lie about his motives – and his rhetoric may, too, change rapidly if and when he secures office and does not need to care about libertarian support anymore.
My “Obomney 2012” video gives numerous examples to demonstrate that the choice between Romney and Obama is not much of a choice at all. Speaking in terms of the policies they support, a vote for Romney is a vote for Obama – and vice versa.
In another comment, Dr. Steele writes, “I look at the election as a chance to minimize damage. IMO Obama and the democrats are currently a much greater threat than the GOP.” And yet a single person cannot ultimately tilt the outcome of an election – especially given the Electoral College – but a single person can send a message by refusing to play along with the two-party system. If enough of us begin to think this way, then the libertarian voters will become a force to reckon with, a credible threat to the two main parties that unsatisfactory candidates will be disfavored no matter what. As an added bonus, if enough people in general begin to vote based purely on their conscience, then the whole “lesser of two evils” trap would disappear, the two major parties would need to rapidly evolve or would disintegrate, and government could become truly representative.
Obama will most likely win in 2012 anyway, because nobody truly likes Mitt Romney (except perhaps Romney himself – but then there is the question of which version of him he prefers). If one’s right to vote is to mean something this time around, that meaning can be found in the expression of one’s true highest preference (based purely on policy considerations) – and also in the steadfast refusal to accept the vicious two-party dynamic that has brought us the current massive fiscal, monetary, and civil-liberties abuses. I do ultimately agree with Dr. Steele that “real progress in expanding liberty will come from economic, technological and social processes, NOT from electoral processes. If elections and political processes do anything in this regard, it will be simply to respond to and formalize advances made by civil society.” But if this is the case, then there is no point supporting anything other than the very best available option in any election. That course of action could even be seen as a social statement, rather than a purely electoral one, and could signal the increased prevalence of certain attitudes to others in the general population.