W. James Antle III
I would like to vote for Mitt Romney. If Romney’s foreign-policy statements throughout the campaign had been closer to what he said during the final presidential debate—a far cry from realism or non-interventionism, but showing some basic awareness that the country does not need or want a repeat of the Iraq War—that’s what I would certainly do.
Not with any real enthusiasm, mind you, but without feeling particularly conflicted about it. Much like voting for Bob Dole.
As a Massachusetts native, I go back a long way with the GOP nominee. In the first election where I could vote, I chose Romney over Ted Kennedy. I voted for him for governor eight years later. He did a good enough job that I would have voted to reelect him, and I did support his lieutenant governor, the even more liberal Kerry Healey, when she ran in his place.
Romney balanced the budget and held the line on taxes, as promised. He also showed the qualities I came to dislike—flip-flopping, creating Romneycare, abandoning the state to the Democrats when it suited his presidential ambitions. But overall, he did a better job in Massachusetts than Barack Obama has done as president.
I haven’t been able to vote for the last two Republican nominees, though I haven’t voted Democratic either. I’d like to return to the GOP fold.
Yet I can’t help but think back to 2000. I planned all year long to vote for Pat Buchanan. I supported him in the Reform Party’s mail-in primary. Yet the closeness of the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore brought me back to the GOP. Twelve years and two wars later—one that went on too long, the other unjust from the start—I wish I’d stuck with PJB.
Gary Johnson is the only candidate who opposes both Obamacare and an Iraq-like war with Iran, my litmus test issues. I am troubled by his libertine positions on abortion and immigration, however. Virgil Goode is better, but seems to be a Romney-like prevaricator on foreign policy. Settling defeats the purpose of voting third party.
So I’m still tempted by Romney. But like thousands, perhaps millions, of other Americans, if I don’t vote for him, Bush will ultimately be to blame.
W. James Antle III is editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation and a contributing editor to The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter.
Andrew J. Bacevich
The most important thing about the 2012 presidential election is that on November 6, it will finally end. With that, the fever will break, the hysteria will subside, and something akin to normalcy will return, at least for a brief interval.
We must hope and should pray that the balloting itself produces a decisive outcome, in contrast, say, to 1876 or 2000. Yet whoever wins, rest assured of one thing: the results won’t match the hype. Whether the next four years oblige us to put up with a President Obama or a President Romney, the Republic will survive.
As the concluding presidential debate made crystal clear, when it comes to foreign policy the choice is between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Regardless of who may sit in the Oval Office, the post-Cold War U.S. penchant for militarized meddling is likely to persist. At most, it will take modified form, both Obama and Romney backing away from further intervention with ground forces, while singing the praises of missile-firing drones as instruments of targeted assassination. Not much perhaps, but let us not sniff at this modest retreat from the follies of the past decade.
When it comes to the actual determinants of the nation’s future, which are cultural and economic, the choice is between clichés and cluelessness. Face it, folks, the candidates in this contest don’t quite rise to the intellectual standard of John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson or even Woodrow Wilson vs. TR.
For the record, I voted (once more) for Obama. But in terms of importance, I rate that decision on a par with choosing between fish or chicken when dining out. When all is said and done, it’s the size of check that matters. My guess is that regardless of who wins the bill is going to be a doozy. Just thinking about it is enough to kill my appetite.
Andrew J. Bacevich is currently a visiting fellow at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
There’s a lot to be said for the saying “don’t vote, it only encourages them.” But democracy really is better than autocracy, so I vote as long as there is a candidate or ballot issue on which I feel strongly enough to have my vote end up in the total. Of course, casting a ballot won’t make any difference, but I get small satisfaction in voting against a wasteful bond initiative or for a principled minor-party candidate.
So I will vote on November 6. Now, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t actually announce my selection lest it be held against my employer’s 501(c)3 status. That seems an extreme interpretation of the law, as long as I don’t use my position as a Cato Institute scholar to advocate that others do the same. I have greater respect for private than state authority, however, so I will eschew making such an announcement.
Let it be said, though, that the time is well past for voting for the lesser of two evils. The one thing that should be obvious is that whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama wins, in four years government will be more expansive and expensive. Washington will have started more foreign wars and invaded more domestic liberties. More people will have gone to prison because they prefer to smoke marijuana rather than tobacco. There’s no difference in the direction being taken by the RepubliCrat duopoly. Only the speed in going. Why bother voting for a big-spending war-mongering statist over another big-spending war-mongering statist?
Thankfully, there is a good alternative on the ballot, someone who has fought spending as governor, advocates peace, and wants to stop jailing pot smokers. Vote for him and you don’t need to shower after going to the polls. I shan’t mention his name or indicate that I’m voting for him—it’s important, after all, to keep the IRS at bay. But I can trust in the intelligence of TAC readers.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
I’m sick of these holier-than-thou purists who say they won’t vote for Romney because he was once pro-choice and still supports various exceptions, or because he once invested in a company that made money by incinerating aborted fetuses, or God knows what else. Some pro-lifers even want to drag completely unrelated issues into the conversation — “torture,” preemptive war, even economics!
If you’re pro-life, Catholic, and of a conservative disposition, isn’t it obvious that the Mormon/Randian ticket is the only choice? I mean, the only pragmatic choice? This is politics, people! It’s all about compromise and getting your hands dirty. And I, for one, refuse to compromise my pro-life beliefs and dirty my hands by refusing to compromise my pro-life beliefs and dirty my hands. Even if that dirt is really blood.
Anyway, just do the math. Practically speaking, fighting abortion — and being pro-life! — is all about overturning Roe v. Wade. Nothing else matters. So, just multiply the percentages attached to the following outcomes to see that you have a moral obligation to vote Romney/Ryan on November 6: Chance that Supreme Court justice retires/dies in next four years (15 percent), times chance that President Romney appoints a justice he believes would vote to overturn Roe (50 percent?), times chance that said justice would actually vote to overturn Roe (40 percent? cf Republican appointees Souter, Kennedy, O’Connor, Stevens, etc.), times chance that Court takes up a case that challenges Roe during term of new appointee (generously, 20 percent), times chance that new appointee remains key swing vote in said case when taken up (again, generously, 20 percent).
Dude, that’s a .12 percent chance that electing Romney would result in the end of Roe! How can you ignore that, you purists? Did you say something about Iran? Syria?
There you go again, changing the subject. Some of us prefer to be practical.
Jeremy Beer is co-editor, with Bruce Frohnen and Jeffrey O. Nelson, of American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia.
Bradley J. Birzer
Every republic has an expiration date. Whether that date comes sooner or later depends on many complicated factors, but none more important than that a significant portion of the republic’s population behave virtuously. If the American republic even exists anymore, it does so in the most tenuous of fashions.
The task of any real conservative or libertarian in 2012 is to decide if and what we can preserve, praying for as much stability as possible for the lives of our children and grandchildren.
It is telling that our republic, founded without political parties and without the desire to have them, has devolved over the past two centuries into a Leviathan, controlled, at least openly, by two powerful interest groups, each with its own core constituency and its desire to expand its own power beyond where it now exists. Enough is never enough for our two political oligopolies and their supporters, it seems.
Still, even if the Constitution of the United States deserves a proper burial to honor its brief but hollowed history, I am by temperament incapable of not voting. The first presidential election in which I was old enough to vote was 1988. I voted for Ron Paul then, and I’ve never missed a vote since, despite the many arguments presented by friends claiming that my vote is either inconsequential or implicitly condones corruption.
That decided, how to vote, then?
For me, there’s never even been a possibility of voting for Obama. The Democratic Party history is one immersed in slaughter: removal and abuse of the American Indians, the desire for a national police force to return escaped slaves, and the concentration of loyal Americans of Japanese descent into camps.
Obama has embraced this wretched tradition. Indeed, no president has overseen a loss of civil liberties more dramatically than the current one since Franklin Roosevelt disgraced the once august executive office. Not only did Obama fail to close Gitmo and reverse Bush’s policies promoting “national security,” he’s not-so-slowly Gitmoizing the entire United States. As the great Robert Higgs has argued, if you don’t believe we are living in a police state, you must be blind.
I find nothing overwhelmingly attractive about the current Libertarian Party presidential candidate, and the Constitution Party’s tendency toward theocracy scares the willies out of me.
So, I’m left with a corporate wind-up Ken-doll, Mitt Romney. I might still offer a write-in candidate. But, if I do decide to vote Romney, I will do so with extreme reluctance, reciting the mantra, “Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Justin Amash belong to this party. It can’t be all bad.”
Bradley J. Birzer is the author of American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll.
If I vote, I’ll either select Gary Johnson or write in Ron Paul. This election has almost guaranteed that America will have at least four more years of bad government.
Obama’s economic policies are a disaster, and pissing away a few more trillion dollars won’t make America prosperous. “Hire more teachers” is perhaps the most wearisome refrain of the entire campaign. Obama’s faith that expanding government payrolls will make us all rich is sufficient proof that he has learned nothing from the lamest of recoveries.
Romney would be the most pro-war draft-dodger to ever win the presidency. (I am surprised the Obama team did not make better use of that 1966 photo of Romney at the Stanford pro-war rally.) His saber-rattling towards Russia is appalling, and he seems likely to seize any pretext to start bombing Iran. His de facto disavowal of all his prior foreign-policy declarations in the final debate with Obama was weasely even by Clintonite standards. If he wins, I expect he would perpetuate most of Obama’s failed economic and social policies.
Both Obama and Romney apparently believe that the president is entitled to do as he pleases, the law and the Constitution be damned. This election has made clear that few Americans give a damn even when the government claims a right to assassinate Americans or to detain them without charges in perpetuity. The NSA and Patriot Act surveillance scandals never showed up on either campaign’s radar. Americans cannot expect to have good presidents if presidents are permitted to make themselves czars.
Is American democracy in a death spiral? The belief in American exceptionalism blinds many people to the growing political decay. Perhaps the follies of both Obama and Romney will help Americans recognize that no politician will be able to redeem Leviathan. But that lesson should have been stark many elections ago.
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy.
It’s touching how earnestly Americans deliberate over presidential candidates. In most states, it just doesn’t matter — the presidential contest is not close.
But this is liberating. You can act as a single-issue voter to Send Them a Message (in the immortal words of George Wallace — whose American Party candidacy in 1968 did send a message that the South, and the white working class, were fed up with the Democratic Party). You do this by voting for a minor party that has a key position at odds with the bipartisan majority-party consensus.
The bland jellyfish who run the generic, content-free major-party campaigns don’t have beliefs, but as marketing professionals they know a market niche when they see one. Recent example: the right-to-life movement, which has terrified the GOP that it will bolt if not paid at least lip-service. (Of course, getting more than lip-service is another story. But lip-service is a start.)
I happen to think that the most important single issue facing the U.S. is its post-1965 immigration disaster, both legal and illegal. The bipartisan Permanent Government is literally electing a new people. Within 30 years, the U.S. will be majority non-white and will cease to exist as we’ve known it.
So in 2008, I wrote in Chuck Baldwin — of the Constitution Party, which advocates an immigration moratorium — amazing local polling officials, who didn’t realize it could be done. It’s thrilling — you get to get see your vote! Baldwin got 64 votes here in the Connecticut Berkshires, 311 statewide.
Alas, in 2012 the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode did not qualify as a write-in. So I will vote for the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, who is useless on immigration but okay on foreign policy.
Only if the GOP is utterly discredited can we get back to the full-scale Patriotic Third Party that Pat Buchanan presaged in 2000.
Peter Brimelow is the editor of VDARE.com and author of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster.
Marian Kester Coombs
The Stupid Party vs. the Evil Party, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, “not a dime’s worth o’ difference between ’em.” It’s true: both the Dems and the GOP are about growing government, the Dems faster and furiouser, the GOP with half-apologetic restraint. For those whom pollster Scott Rasmussen terms the political class, confiscating our income is like the pro forma remorse felt by the Walrus and the Carpenter: “‘I weep for you,’ the Walrus said,/’I deeply sympathize.’/With sobs and tears he sorted out/Those of the largest size.”
Only the Libertarians see clearly how to escape the death spiral of tax-and-spend, and — even better — really want to escape it. The clients of the two major parties — the military, the entitlement crowd, the public sector unions, the big banks — conspire to keep spending high by pretending the world will end, and threatening to end it, if a single dollar is lopped off their automatic budget increases. They create a vision of Navy SEALs having to go mano a mano with frail old ladies. Taxpayers finally just give up in disgust. “Two paths”? No, more like the high road and the low road, and they’ll both get to bankrupt in the morning.
But I will vote for Mitt Romney, in spite of all. The “narrative” of this election, its human story, has once again drawn me in, and I am ready, indeed anxious, to be fooled again. America is again “at a crossroads”; the “fiscal cliff” approaches; we are again asked “What sort of America do you want?” God knows. Whatever America we can get.
Marian Kester Coombs blogs at mariankcoombs.blogspot.com.
Michael Brendan Dougherty
I won’t vote. Yes, I want to see Barack Obama’s presidency ended. He has been a bad disappointment, though not a disaster, on foreign policy. Obamacare is a rolling nightmare, the failures of which will inevitably be used to justify its expansion.
His “contraceptive mandate” shows that in his governing vision there is no room for actual pluralism: institutions that have the independence to define their mission in ways that conflict with the priorities of the state. I find an American left that dropped the battle for daycare but picked up the battle to make chemical infertility a positive right utterly warped.
If the story of this election is that Obama didn’t need an agenda beyond trolling social conservatives about rape and contraception, that is going to be bad for the causes I care about. Also, I can’t be sure he wouldn’t involve us in a war with Iran.
Then there is Mitt Romney. His family life, his personal charity, his piety, and his business acumen speak well of him. His “flip-flopping” and evasiveness reveal him to have as low an opinion of mass democratic deliberation as I do. And a man who said in the last debate, “we don’t want another Iraq” is obviously no John McCain. Mitt Romney would reverse the stupid mandate. He would appoint judges who are bad on civil liberties, but better on social issues.
But I think that the party he leads and his cadre of advisors make him significantly more likely to go to war with Iran than Obama. I won’t risk having the deaths of scores of thousands of Iranians and many Americans on my conscience. I don’t think he’ll double Gitmo. But I don’t think he’ll stop the drone wars, either.
So I hope Obama loses. And I hope Romney doesn’t take us to war, but the risk of that is too great to give him even something as piddling as my vote.
Michael Brendan Dougherty is TAC’s national correspondent. Follow him on Twitter.
I have no enthusiasm, one way or the other, for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Having spent the final weeks of the campaign abroad, I find the passions these two unimaginative, uninspiring, utterly conventional politicians inspire to be baffling. No matter which one wins in November, America is condemned to muddle through.
As a conservative, I find the Romney candidacy especially frustrating because it demonstrates that the GOP and movement conservatism have learned exactly nothing from the disastrous Bush years. The one thing Obama has going for him is that he would be somewhat — but only somewhat — less aggressive than a Republican administration that will surely be mobbed up with neocons. For me, voting for Romney on foreign policy depends on the extent to which I believe he lacks the courage of his stated hawkish convictions. On the other hand, he may lack the backbone to stand up to his advisers. It’s a risk.
As a religious and social conservative, Obama’s assault on religious liberty — the HHS mandate, I mean — has been deeply alarming, chiefly because it reveals a characteristic secular-liberal hostility to faith and the faithful. In the next four years, the Supreme Court is likely to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. When the case comes before the court, it’s vital to have a majority of judges who are acutely sensitive to the enormous burden religious institutions will have to carry if same-sex marriage is constitutionalized. Given the profound and ongoing shift in popular culture in favor of gay marriage, it may be unrealistic to expect even a conservative court to maintain the status quo. Social conservatives should at least expect the court to establish a secure firewall protecting religious liberty against same-sex civil rights claims. President Romney will almost certainly nominate justices sympathetic to religious liberty; President Obama almost certainly will not.
Is it more dangerous to run a greater risk of war or a greater risk of a significant contraction of religious liberty? That’s the question on my mind as I decide my vote. Believe it or not, it’s actually a comfort to know that living as I do in a state that’s a lock for Romney, my vote won’t matter at all.
Rod Dreher is a TAC senior editor. Follow him on Twitter.
Throughout the GOP primary that began an epoch ago, the eventual nominee faced a succession of hopeless cast-offs, lunkheads, and glorified green-room gamers whom the media came to dub “Not-Romney.” I can testify to the need for this character. In 2008, I shamefully donated money to Sen. John McCain in order to stop this transparently preposterous impersonator of a conviction politician. In this year’s Virginia primary, I plumped for Rep. Ron Paul. I have written copiously here and, previously, at U.S. News of my loathing for Romney. It is visceral and, according to my long-suffering wife, possibly irrational.
Why? Here it is: Mitt Romney’s national ambitions represent little more than a nihilistic pursuit of power for power’s sake. No one knows for sure how he would govern because he very likely doesn’t, either. He has been on both sides of nearly every issue of substance not merely throughout his career, but sometimes during this campaign. Yes, all politicians trim, hedge, occasionally even change their minds. With Romney it is a characterological defect. His utter lack of intellectual honesty — indeed of any recognizable intellectual core whatsoever — is not something that should be rewarded even in a political system as shallow and dysfunctional as ours.
The alternatives to Romney are lousy. Obama’s Eisenhoweresque realism on fiscal policy and war are tempting, but he is captive to the worst elements of the feminist left. More than that, his political capital is exhausted. If he ekes out a win, we’d likely have to endure four years of lame-duckery.
In ’08, I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate, Bob Barr. This year, I plan to do the same on behalf of former Gov. Gary Johnson. His crash-austerity economic program is a joke, but it stands no chance of ever becoming law. He is pro-choice, but sympathetic toward the immediate pro-life agenda. In the end, I’m the kind of voter — Republican-leaner in a critical battleground state — whose support Romney needs. Whatever happens Nov. 6, I will derive satisfaction from the infinitesimal harm I will cause to his campaign.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both big-government types who only differ in terms of how they will bankrupt us – through social programs or through Pentagon spending and wars. Neither has a coherent plan to do anything about the economy, largely because the situation is so grave that the types of intervention the government is capable of are essentially ineffective even if they do benefit certain constituencies. Regarding health care, I believe the American people has dire need of a system where access is not denied due to preexisting conditions (i.e. if you’re actually sick you can’t get health insurance) or where insurance is tied to one’s job, but Obamacare with its mandates, minus any attempt at controlling costs, is not the solution.
So for me it comes down to foreign policy. I believe that Obama’s targeted-killing program and drones are basically an attempt to render constant warfare acceptable by making it largely invisible with no boots on the ground and body bags coming home. As the killing by my government is both illegal and immoral, I consider it and its authors despicable. Romney, on the other hand, is so ignorant of foreign policy that he will likely be guided by his neocon handlers, nearly all of whom favor pre-emptive war on Iran, a country that does not threaten the United States and which has provided no casus belli. So Romney will mean major war almost for certain plus a continuation of all the malignancies that Mr. Obama has introduced, confirming in everyone’s minds that the U.S. is truly a rogue nation. A bad deal either way, but Romney will be worse.
If Obama is leading comfortably in polls in Virginia on election day, I will vote for Gary Johnson or will write in my hero Ron Paul. If the race is tight, I will vote for Obama to keep Romney out.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.
I am not going to be voting this coming Tuesday. Obama has proved a bitter disappointment to all those who hoped that he would rein in the warmongering of George Bush. To the contrary, Obama has continued our senseless war in Afghanistan and now seems bent on war with Iran and Syria. Thousands of troops and “contractors” remain in Iraq. In blatant disregard of moral decency and international law, he has ordered drone strikes that kill innocent people (“collateral damage”) and has claimed and exercised a supposed right to have American citizens killed at his own discretion.
Romney, amazingly, criticizes Obama for not going far enough. We must increase the defense budget, he says, even though our spending on armaments exceeds that of all other industrialized nations combined. He thinks that Obama has not acted with sufficient ferocity against Iran, and he and Obama vie with each other in avowing their unconditional commitment to continued Middle Eastern entanglements on the side of Israel.
In domestic policy, though Romney promises to repeal Obamacare, his own proposals require intrusive government control of healthcare. He proposes no fundamental reform of our inflationary monetary and banking system. He is one more in the long list of Republican candidates who want government to dominate the economy even as they declare their devotion to the free market. Concerning Obama and the free market, it is not necessary to say anything at all.
Why not support Gary Johnson instead? I do not think he has broken sufficiently with the dominant statist assumptions of contemporary politics, though to his credit he has taken steps in this direction. Those who favor a noninterventionist foreign policy will view with misgiving his statement that “Our military should remain the most potent force for good on Earth.” In domestic policy, he supports the so-called Fair Tax. The “fairness” of a punitive national sales tax escapes me.
There is only one nationally prominent political figure who champions a completely free market and noninterventionist foreign policy. I would enthusiastically support Ron Paul, but sadly he is no longer a candidate.
David Gordon is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and editor of The Mises Review.
I’ve recently heard friends say that they won’t vote for either candidate put forth by our indigenous version of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party. And I really don’t blame these refuseniks. They’ll vote for a third-party presidential candidate if one shows up unexpectedly on the ballot. Otherwise they’ll leave the space provided for a presidential choice blank, if they vote at all.
Originally I intended to support the candidate of the Constitutional Party, Virgil Goode, mostly as a protest vote, but also because I agree with Goode’s party more often than I do with the authorized parties. Now this will not be an option. The Republicans have spent a fortune keeping the CP from getting on the ballot by hiring lawyers to challenge every name on every petition CP officials submitted. This was done to force those on the right to vote for the candidate of the Fox All-Stars and the Weekly Standard, a very rich man but without firm views except for his unwillingness to put distance between himself and Bibi.
All the same, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Barack no matter what. Because of his executive order amnestying loads of illegals, his bullying of religious institutions into paying for their employees’ contraception, his attorney general’s perpetual shenanigans, and because of all the brainless movie stars and fashionistas behind him, I am totally put off by Obama and his gang. And just about everything the opposition says about his gross mismanagement of the economy and his use of bailouts to reward Democratic special interests seems incontrovertibly true.
But not everything comes down to my dislike for Obama. Romney most certainly does not represent for those of us on the Old Right an attractive non-Obama. During his second debate, it was impossible to find any social issue on which he disagreed with his leftist opponent. Equally troublesome, despite his recent appearance of being moderate on foreign policy, there is no reason to believe Romney would not return to his neocon handlers as soon as he won the presidency.
Clearly neither the Rep nor the Dem is my cup of tea. Still that does not prevent me from taking sides internally. Although I could not possibly vote for either candidate without turning green, I would be happier if Obama lost.
Paul Gottfried is the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College.