I've decided I'm not voting for anybody for president. Not even Badnarik.
Why? Well, here's the short version: No one represents the message I want to send with my vote accurately enough.
And now the extended version...
My interpretation of what it means to vote has been, as far back as I can remember, as an instant commentary on where our country should go next, plain and simple. I have no use for personality considerations other than as a factor in gauging appeal to others. In 2000 I voted for Harry Browne because his diagnosis of the american political system was, in my opinion, correct; in retrospect I've come to see his campaign as hobbled by an appearance of holier-than-thouness, but I still do not regret my vote.
This year however, with 9/11 in the rearview mirror defense policy is actually important -- Browne was a staunch water's edge isolationist but we weren't fighting anyone in 2000; Badnarik is a staunch water's edge isolationist while we have a chunk of the NY skyline missing, that isn't reasonable. It bothers me deeply that all complexity has been drained out of any discussion of national defense, with everyone arbitrarily divvied up into two groups like we're so addicted to doing: to the mainstream media talking heads & most pundits out there, you're either a "pro-war" hawk (making it sound like you're some militaristic bloodthirsty nutjob who'd indiscriminately attack anyone if they looked at us funny) or you're "anti-war" (as if you're a drippy pacifist who would turn the other cheek even after being punched in the face). Suppose you believe in the realistic use of force when necessary but you feel that our conduct has been nonsense thus far? There is no one to speak to that, only various strains of naive idealism, and whether that of the Democratic Imperialist crowd (Bush), the Liberal Globalists (Kerry), or pure isolationists (Badnarik), all miss the point. If there's a simple way to describe the problem, I'd say it's that we have too much "vision", and not enough of a narrow focus on our security -- no, we are not going to be able to democratize the entire world nor should we; no we cannot count on "the global community" & to do so is suicide; no we cannot just sit at the borders waiting for an invasion, that isn't how people fight anymore. It's hopelessly ironic that in asking for a simpler strategy I may be expecting...too much. All that I want us to do is overhaul our intelligence, end any pretence to higher goals, & not get involved where there is no threat to the US while when there is
a threat crushing it as harshly as we can manage, pity no one is running with that as their foreign policy stand.
Aside from the national defense angle, also I've been pondering some of the background of my own philosophy for awhile. Since I believe that the federal government should be made to realize that they do not have the authority to attempt to save us from ourselves, whether in the marketplace or in our personal lives, obviously I have no use for Bush's odd combination of christian fundamentalism & fiscal "triangulation", or Kerry's Everything-for-Nothing/blame-the-rich view, so there was never the slightest of point to remotely considering either of them. However, there is an issue that the Libertarian Party in general is failing to emphasize hard enough: the organizational bankruptcy of interventionist government. There are people out there for who rhetorical expressions towards individual liberty are enough, but the reason that the majority of voters are still stuck flipping a coin is that they have been convinced that government somehow works in their favor, and cheaply at that (at least for them). It needs to be made as obvious as possible, for those americans that have fallen into the entitlement mentality, that not only is something-for-nothing a ridiculous concept but they are being ripped off
: in a representative Republic like ours, w/ capitalism deeply embedded in our DNA, there is no more powerful & understandable motive than the drive to get the most bang for your buck. When we're overcharged for lousy service in the private sector, we take our money elsewhere, it should be seen as no different with government.
From my interpretation, this attitude, the libertarian equivalent of exploiting "kitchen table issues", is something that Michael Badnarik either does not believe in or has been hobbled away from running on by his campaign advisors, as he has not emphasized it anywhere near as much as Harry Browne did, preferring instead to rely on constitutional arguements. Now, those arguements may be generally spot-on, but he forgets how unfamilar the average american is with the concept referred to. As Kerry's "nuance" is for Democrats as a weakness, so goes Badnarik's over-reliance on constitutional explanations for the agenda of Libertarians: his aim is over Joe & Jane Average's head. It's bad enough that we are derided in public as Moonbats, but now our chosen candidate is leaving the weapon of anti-government populism on the table, and since all of the statist candidates are scrambling to paint on their best I-care-about-the-little-guy face to justify giving them more power this amounts to bringing a knife to a gunfight. I cannot support someone willing to walk into slaughter so blatantly.