For the Record (Politics)

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for:  Avdi’s endorsements for the November elections.

I spent a few minutes educating myself on the candidates for my district and their positions this morning.  Picking my candidate for a given office is usually pretty easy, so long as there’s a libertarian candidate, and she/he meets the most basic non-creepiness test, I vote for them.  This isn’t blind partisanship; it simply reflects the fact that only libertarian candidates come even remotely close to matching my values.  For me, 99% of the time all the other candidates amount to a choice between a sharp jab to the eye and a swift kick to the nuts.

Overall conclusion this year:  it’s a sad, sad field out there, folks.  There’s nobody to get excited about on this ballot.  That said, here are my picks:

For President and VP
Micheal Badnarik and that other guy.  He’s a bit kooky, but no more so than a lot of libertarians.  Plus he’s articulate and at least a little bit pragmatic, and he comes in a bit lower on the opportunist creep scale than Harry Browne did. Plus, for an unknown, he’s doing pretty well – his book was recently #9 on the Amazon sales ranks.  Which shocked me; I’m a realist about the popularity of the libertarian cause, and I am quite  surprised there is that much interest in him.

For Senator
Betsy Summers.  I disagree with a few of her positions, and I’ve sent her an email asking for clarification on how she reconciles them with libertarian values, but for the most part I like her stances.

For Representative, 19th District
Either Nobody, or Michael Paoletta.  Leaning torwards Nobody.  You know, I don’t ask much of my libertarian candidates.  Beggers can’t be choosers.  All I ask is that they have some concept of what it means to be a libertarian, at least a tenous grasp on reality, and some notion of the meaning of the word “pragmatism”.  And that they not be a total creep.

Paoletta’s answers on the Congressional National Political Awareness Test are not encouraging.  Almost every option is unchecked, with snide comments at the bottom of each section about how it’s none of the govt.’s business.  Okay, I can agree with that, but then why don’t you mark the positions which would reduce government’s role?  The whole response has a snotty combativeness that rubs me the wrong way.  For example:

“People like you that ask these questions are assuming the Govt. has these powers. You are not the solution you are part of the problem.”

Yes, there’s a place for saying “I object to the question”; but the campaign trail is not that place.  There is no website to get a better idea of Mr. Paoletta’s positions, either.  I may email him for more information.

State Representative, 93rd District
Nobody.  The incumbent, Ron Miller, doesn’t provide enough info either on his website or to VoteSmart to judge whether I want him to keep doing the job.  And while I’m amused by the idea of electing a Buddhist/Taoist environmentalist as representative of this very conservative area, Susan Savia‘s politics are too far from mine for me to vote for her in good conscience.  Perhaps I’ll write myself in.

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27 Comments

  1. i have a bad feeling that i’m going to be opening a particularly rank can of worms with this question, but…despite the fact that you know that badnarik won’t possibly win this election, and a vote for him is pretty much directly contributing to bush getting more votes, and i *know* you don’t like bush…why are you endorsing him? in my opinion, in an election like this, trying to bust up the system by aiming to empower a third party is counter-productive at best, and potentially destructive at worst…

    1. I hope this response doesn’t qualify as a can of worms. I’ll just be honest.

      First, I reject the idea that voting for Badnarik is a vote taken from Kerry. There are a lot of people who would even say it’s a vote stolen from Bush, beause they have the delusion that libertarians are somehow confused Republicans. I don’t think it’s a vote taken from either; to me, the libertarian vote is so far removed from either of those twit’s platforms that they would never have gotten it in the first place, even if there were no Badnarik to vote for. But I will grant that there are some libertarians who see things otherwise, and who are voting for who they see as the lesser of two evils – which, depending on the libertarian, is either Bush or Kerry. I’m just not one of them.

      To me, believe it or not, I see Bush and Kerry as more or less equivalent evils. I’ve been learning about both of them for awhile now, and still nothing has jumped out to substantially differentiate them to me. I could not, even if I decided that this was the year to stop voting my conscience, determine with any confidence who is the lesser evil. I would forever be questioning my choice, no matter who won. In the evil department, from my way-the-hell-out-in-center-field vantage point, they are virtually indistinguishable. I can say with confidence that Bush has roundly botched things; I am sure that Kerry would botch things differently; but I can’t read the signs well enough to say whether he would botch things more or less. The “anyone would do better than Bush” line just doesn’t ring true with me. I have a pretty active imagination. Not that I need one; history furnishes plenty of examples of how things could be even worse. Bad as Bush is, I can think of lots of ways someone could out-fail him as leader. Would Kerry? Beats me.

      The trouble is, when determining the lesser evil, the issues that most people bring up when contrasting the two are by and large not the issues which are important to me. As just one example, both campaigns have said little or nothing about their stance on Intellectual Property law. And with all probability, whoever wins will take dictation from the big media lobby on that issue, just as they have in the past. Here and there are little differences which matter to me: I agree with Bush on Social Security reform and tax simplification; on the other hand Kerry, despite his miserable civil liberties record in the past, would if elected have a mandate to roll back parts of the PATRIOT act and fire John “Asshat” Ashcroft. I could go down the list, back-and-forth, but in the end no clear picture emerges of a superior candidate according to my definition. Lots of little differences, few big ones, and in the end two career politicians who both think they know what’s best for me.

      So for all those reasons, I can’t being myself to give a fig who wins or loses in a few days; as far as I’m concerned, either way we all lose. So I’m voting my conscience. There may come a year, I have not ruled the possibility out, that I choose to abandon my policy of voting my conscience no matter what, and embrace pragmatism in order to elect someone I see as the lesser evil. That year has not come yet.

      And finally… I think in every election there is going to be a good argument for voting the lesser evil. But if we always heed that argument, we’re going to be stuck with these two absurd, unrepresentative parties for the foreseeable future. I’m not willing to put my vote toward that future.

      1. i agree that it’s deplorable to have to vote for the lesser of two evils, and even more so that for so many of us, contemporary elections have been reduced to that.

        however.

        i have the same argument for you that i have for people who vote(d) for nader- what’s the point? you vote with your heart, but you’re not getting anywhere. from reading your earlier post, it doesn’t sound like you really *are* voting from your heart with badnarik- in fact, it seems as though he is the least of *three* evils for you, and happens to carry the libertarian flag, so is given extra points for being outside of the partisan “dichotomy” (which i agree, is not even really there at all).

        i wholeheartedly believe that a vote for anyone but kerry is a vote for bush, and no matter what, i am not willing to make that sort of sacrifice. i think it’s easy to get into semantic ideological debates over who will do what and when and why and it’s true, we don’t know that kerry will do a good job, but we *do* know that he’s not bush, and after struggling through the last 4 years (the economic downfall has directly impacted my life in a number of ways, as has the decrease in individual rights, so when i say struggling, i do mean it- and i can only imagine how much worse it’s going to get, considering how much is at stake), i’m absolutely not willing to risk giving bush power again.

        forgive my venom, but i just spent the last 4 years in a state populated by conservatives and naderites, and after having to put up with their prosthelytizing, this is something of a touchy subject for me.

        1. If that’s venom, you’re welcome to be venomous around me.

          I’ll only dispute one point above. If I came off as thinking of Badnarik as a lesser evil, then I stated my opinions badly. I don’t think of him as a lesser evil. With few if any exceptions, his values are my values.

          Perhaps if I too had been directly negatively impacted by Bush’s policies I would think as you do. I won’t discount that possibility. I’ll admit the only tangible impact Bush has had on my life has been more take-home pay. I suspect that even if the economic downturn had effected me badly, and I blamed it on him, I would still be equally dubious about Kerry’s chances of doing measurably better; but I can’t be sure.

          1. the way i see it, nothing could be as bad as bush. democrats have a record of being (at least slightly more) supportive of the working/middle classes, and as i don’t forsee myself ever rising above that economic status, i prefer a president who will at least address issues that relate to me.

            of course, it’s not just about economics. there’s also the issue of choice (which i know we’ve already gone over, before…i think it’s funny that we’ve never met, and yet we still have such lovely heated- and rather personal- debates ;)), and the issue of LGBTQ rights, and the issue of the environment, and the issue of sex-workers rights (it’s not discussed at all, but john ashcroft has attempted to implement a whole slew of new laws which make my job- and really, any sort of adult establishment, especially involving the internet/media- incredibly fucking difficult), and so many other things…i can’t be *sure* that kerry will stand up for these, but again, he has a history of doing so, at least more so than bush has. and all we have to go on- with anyone, really- is what they’ve suggested to us, thus far…

          2. i think it’s funny that we’ve never met, and yet we still have such lovely heated- and rather personal- debates

            Heh… the funny thing is… that’s not odd to me at all. That’s typically how I get to know people and decide I want to meet them IRL. You’re not the first person to say something like that though – I don’t know if you know , but I was the first person who she didn’t know IRL that she ever added as an LJ friend. After numerous LJ discussions and friendly debates we finally met in person, and now we talk whenever we see each other at a club. Meeting people this way suits me, because I tend to be shy and easily intimidated in social contexts. I probably would never have had the guts to talk to you any other way 🙂

            I agree that given the issues which are most important to you, voting Kerry is by far the most sensible option. And don’t get me started on Ashcroft… I think I’m at least a tiny bit familiar with some of the issues you face. There was an article in Reason recently about his crackdown on porn and the sex industry. Now there’s an example of the bad kind of fundamentalist. Although, according to another article I read in the Atlantic, he’s more savvy politician than fundy. Any way you cut it, he’s an ass.

          3. there’s a good kind of fundamentalist? heh 😉

          4. Sure… the kind that goes to goes to a backwoods church in BF Pennsylvania and doesn’t bother anyone but God 😀

        2. If you don’t mind…

          May I ask you what logical means you used to arrive at the conclusion that a vote for anyone but Kerry is a vote for Bush? And particularly, that the converse is not true – that a vote for anyone but Bush is NOT a vote for Kerry? I ask out of honest curiousity, not patronizingly – I’ve seen this sentiment before, and the logician in me is confused by it. Any light you could throw on the steps involved would be much appreciated.

          1. Re: If you don’t mind…

            ahhhh, logic 😉
            it’s been a while since i’ve done any sort of traditional boolean logic, so forgive me if this is a bit more abstract…

            the way i see it is this. there are two candidates who have a chance of winning this election, for better or for worse- kerry, and bush. which means that there is a 50/50 chance of one winning, provided that there is no sketchy vote-manipulating activity going on. thus, if someone votes for kerry, it is a vote away from bush, and vice versa.

            you throw other candidates into the mix- badnarik, nader- and while the odds don’t really change all that much in the sense that no matter what, we do live in a binary system where in which more than likely, it is a democrat or a republican who is going to win the presidency, it still skews things a little bit. i think that this is the point where things get a little bit ambiguous, but i see it like this: there are 4 candidates now, being bush, the two that won’t win, and kerry. i lump the three that are not kerry into one category, because everyone who is voting for them is not voting for kerry. because kerry and bush are the only two with a chance of winning the election, a vote that goes in the direction of anyone but kerry is, inadvertently, going toward bush, as it limits the number of votes that can go to kerry (because there are only so many people in the country, and thus only so many votes).

            this, of course, could be switched in the opposite direction to say that a vote for nader/badnarik is a vote for kerry, if you’re looking at it from the pro-bush perspective…although i find that to be unlikely, given that a third party supporter (or rather, a supporter of the two third parties which are present in this election) is more likely to (albeit begrudgingly) vote for kerry than for bush, anyway.

            how’s that? 😉

          2. Re: If you don’t mind…

            Works for me… my only debate is that while it’s reasonable to assume that a Nader voter would otherwise be voting Kerry, I don’t think that assumption can be made about libertarians. Granted, I don’t have any hard data, but from my own observation of libertarians, I’d say there’s a fairly even split between otherwise would vote for Bush, otherwise would vote for Kerry, and otherwise wouldn’t vote at all. That’s an unscientific perspective on a notoriously hard to nail-down bunch of people, but that’s my impression.

            In my specific case, there is no way in hell either of those two would ever have garnered my vote, so I think it’s most accurate to say my vote is lost to both of them.

          3. Re: If you don’t mind…

            I heard a Muslim man (leader type) talking on NPR Sunday morning about how a good percentage of Muslims are largley disgusted with Kerry (equally as much as Bush) and will likely be voting for Nader.

            That, to me, sounds like “a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush

          4. Re: If you don’t mind…

            which is precisely why i said: “this, of course, could be switched in the opposite direction to say that a vote for nader/badnarik is a vote for kerry, if you’re looking at it from the pro-bush perspective…”

        3. Something else occurred to me that might shed some light on my insistance on voting my conscience. I don’t know if it will clear up the question of “why” for anyone but me, though. Even if the reasons I stated above were not sufficient for me, there would be an underlying reason for me to vote my conscience by default. It goes back to my compulsive honesty. Voting is, to my mind, an indirect way of making a statement. The statement is “I think this person should be president” or, at the very least, “I think the ideals this person represents should be the ones guiding national policy”. Because it is a statement, if I voted for someone I didn’t really think should be president, it would be a form of lie. A little white lie, perhaps, but a lie all the same. This would be very difficult for me to countenance, and there would have to be clear and considerable danger posed by the alternative for me to be able to overcome my mental block against dishonesty. Call me nuts, that’s just the way my mind works. So that accounts for my initial bias towards voting my heart, rather than for someone who is more likely to win.

          1. i understand your standpoint, here. absolutely. i’ve always been big on the right to make (particularly self-righteous ;)) statements- i’ve metaphorically thrown rocks at mountains and not because i expect a change, but because i felt like it was important.

            still…over the years i’ve also learned that i need to pick my battles. and while it is important for me to stand up for everything that i believe in, sometimes it’s also important to realize the necessity for concession, even if just a little tiny bit.

        4. If everyone who said, “Don’t you realize you’re wasting your time voting for the third party because your really giving your vote to [insert Dem/Rep here]” would vote their conscience (if that was actually a third party candidate), then I think the Third Party Candidate might actually stand a chance of winning!

          1. i don’t agree…i don’t think that, as a culture, we are ready for that sort of change. if we were, it wouldn’t be a question of lesser-of-two-evils or voting because you have to, rather than because you want to; candidates would *all* be able to stand up for what they really believed in, and thus so would their constituents.

            really, really lovely thought, though 😉

          2. I beg to differ. Candidates can stand up for whatever they choose, but it is their finances that dictate whether or not the media will pick them up.

            So, for that reason, you will be stuck with the sorry choice of “the lesser of the two evils” and I will be stuck with “voting my conscience, whether you think it gives so-and-so my vote or not.”

          3. they *can*, but they *won’t*. no one is going to be all-out honest with anything, as it would run the risk of alienating too many people. and by no one, i include your third-party candidates as well.

            and honestly, i don’t consider my choice a matter of the lesser of two evils; i actually like quite a great deal of what kerry has to say, and thus am voting for him. it just happens that he is going to get somewhere with my votes, whereas independent party candidates more than likely (unfortunately, perhaps) will not.

            i don’t understand your harsh words; i’m not attacking you…:(

          4. If I might put in a good word for , she’s having a bad day, in the midst of a bad week. Don’t take it personally.

          5. In my own defense (thanks, Avdi, but I can field this one), the “you” I was referring to (in all of its forms – you, your, you’re) was the general one, not the -in-particular one. That I was responding to your comments made it appear as though I was speaking specifically to you.

            I will tell you, as Avdi has told the world of himself, when I speak it is my opinion not fact (unless I offer supporting factual arguments, and even that can be opinion based). Also, when I speak of “you” in conversations like this it’s typically in the general sense, not the specific.

            I wasn’t attacking you either, dear. Although I was having a bad day (as mentioned) due to catching my 8 year old son in two lies all at once.

  2. Glad you are voting your beliefs…

    I looked over the Badnarik website/that link that or you posted a while back about third party candidates… and I found that I had multiple serious issues with the Libertarian party, amongst others… Most importantly, the only serious justification for rights that they seem to emphasize is property rights.. and, personally, I think that is ridiculous.. I mean, okay, property rights are cool and all, but the natural rights of man-as elucidated during the Enlightenment–are the foundation for all of our other rights, in my view… Not just the fact that it is possible to come up with a system whereby we proclaim exclusive domain over certain physical objects… (but oddly enough, not others… )

    Anyway.. If there libertarians were less Ayn Rand, and more Electronic Frontier Foundation, I would find them way more appealing…

    Thus, I find myself voting my usual party–the Democrats–for President and am fairly happy doing it.. (not really enthused–but say around 75% enthused…)
    On the Senate level, I’m really enthused, since we have a really cool senator in Feingold.. and a really idiotic Republican Challenger in Michels…
    And I like our Dem. Rep, Tammy Baldwin… and generally, I like the candidates that the Dem’s have running for state rep and senate…

    I am, however, prolly going to vote Green on County Clerk, I believe, because their candidate strongly supports Instant Run-off voting, which I think would be a good way to shake up the system..

    anyway…
    In all honesty, I think that an election between McCain and Dean would have been a hell of a lot better.. both in the fact that I respect both of them a lot more than either candidate.. and I think they tackle the issues a lot more directly.. but oh well.. so ist das Leben…

    1. Re: Glad you are voting your beliefs…

      Property rights, as discussed by libertarians, refer to a wider field than you might think. I’m not big on the philosophical end of the movement (not without lack of desire, just lack of time to study) but I think it might be say that rights which others give different names, libertarians state in terms of poperty rights.

      Anyway.. If there libertarians were less Ayn Rand, and more Electronic Frontier Foundation, I would find them way more appealing…

      An interesting choice of poles… you’re right, John Perry Barlow is definitely not on the Randroid end of the libertarians. And I don’t agree with either of those two. Such a diverse group we are… 🙂

    2. Re: Glad you are voting your beliefs…

      If you don’t get a chance to read that whole interview, I think this quote is particularly apropos: “We’ve got two distinct strains of libertarianism, and the hippie-mystic strain is not engaging in politics, and the Ayn Rand strain is basically dismantling government in a way that is giving complete open field running to multinational corporatism.”

      That from the founder of the EFF.

  3. I’m voting for folks who will support instant runoff voting, regardless of other issues.

    Until we get instant runoff, (as Avdi so sucinctly puts it) “we’re going to be stuck with these two absurd, unrepresentative parties for the foreseeable future.”

    1. I also like something Badnarik supports, which i cannot remember the exact name of. I think it’s something like “approval” voting. Basically, you put a check box next to all the persons you would accept as a candidate. (Badnarik mentions he would put a check next to his friend from the Personal Choice party as well as his name).

      I would put a check by Badnarik and Peroutka and myself.

  4. (nods) I’m voting for Badnarik. When the only choices the electoral college gives us is a republican or a demcrate, I will make my voice heard and so no – I will not vote for either of those 2.

    That aside, I am actually voting *for* someone instead of voting against someone. His beliefs reflect mine and best represent my interests. Libertarians are making their way into government on lower levels.

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