Monday, July 18, 2016

Don’t Vote for Me!

I almost wish Gary Johnson and other libertarian politicians would adopt an ironic “Don’t vote for me” stance in their political speeches. Something like the following:

If you want someone who is going to tell you that all your problems are someone else’s fault, don’t vote for me!
If there is a tax or subsidy, a tariff or quota, that treats you differently from your fellow citizens and you want to keep that privilege, don’t vote for me!
If you want immediate action every time something emotionally compelling hits the news, don’t vote for me!
If you want a strong leader who will re-shape the world to his exact specifications, don’t vote for me!
If you want a leader who discounts the value of non-American lives all the way to zero, don’t vote for me!

I won’t let you keep your special privileges. I won’t tell you that everything wrong with your life is someone else’s fault. In crafting policy I won’t react emotionally, or bend to the emotions of a populist mob. When crafting foreign and immigration policy, I won’t treat the lives of non-Americans, who comprise most of the human race, as completely valueless. And I won’t assert that my vision of what’s best for humanity is the one true vision. I won’t interfere in market activities between consenting adults. I will not treat this nation as a singular mass of humanity, like an ant farm, as something to be manage and perfected by my own hand. I will allow free people to make their own decisions, including their own mistakes. I will show restraint and humility in wielding the tremendous power you trust me with, knowing that a misstep would ruin or perhaps even end countless lives. I will interfere *only* when there is violence, theft, or fraud, and only then when a lower level of government is not addressing the crime in question. If you think these are good ideas, if you think these are moral policy positions, if you think that initiating violence requires some kind of justification, then I’ll humbly accept your vote. But I wouldn’t recommend it!

I’m half joking here. Libertarian candidates aren’t exactly winning elections right now, so people hardly need to be told not to vote for them. Still I think the sarcasm makes a good point. Yes, by voting libertarian you would be voting against your narrow self-interest in the sense that you’d be losing one or two special privileges. But, for one thing, everyone else is losing *their* special privileges, too, so it’s at worst a wash and probably a net benefit to do away with everyone’s special treatment. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do. I wonder how successful this approach would be. It worked for Cartmanland.

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