Do you know what you’re voting for?

By Harry Browne

This past Saturday in the New York Times, John J. Miller condemned Libertarians for taking votes away from Republicans and allowing Democrats to win important elections.

He cited three recent U.S. Senate races in which Libertarian candidates won more votes than the margin of victory for the Democrats. And he said:

Libertarians are now serving, in effect, as Democratic Party operatives. The next time they wonder why the Bush tax cuts aren’t permanent, why Social Security isn’t personalized and why there aren’t more school-choice pilot programs for low-income kids, all they have to do is look in the mirror.

Perhaps it never occurred to him that Libertarians are more interested in reducing government than in “Bush tax cuts” that simply redistribute the burden of ever-growing big government. Libertarians want complete freedom from a bankrupt, compulsory retirement scheme – not some campaign-pledge sop from politicians who have done nothing to set them free.

And as for “school-choice” programs, most Libertarians have no desire to give the federal government the power to control private schools – the way it now uses vouchers and grants to control government schools and private colleges.

Let’s look at the record

Mr. Miller cites John Thune’s loss in the South Dakota U.S. Senate race this month. Thune lost by just 524 votes, while the Libertarian candidate won more than 3,000 votes. To Mr. Miller, this is a disaster. But if you examine John Thune’s record, you can see it was no disaster at all.

At Mr. Thune’s website, he details some of what he calls his “accomplishments” as a Congressman:

  • “Since he has been in office, federal spending on special education funding has more than doubled.”

  • “John’s seat on the Agriculture Committee enabled him to secure millions of dollars in dedicated funding for value-added ventures, such as ethanol plants and other processing facilities.”

  • “John led the fight for and secured House approval of $500 million in Community Development Block Grants for South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota to respond to the devastating blizzards and floods of 1997.”

  • “As a result of his work, the state is receiving approximately 60 percent more annually [in highway subsidies] than prior to his service in Congress.”

These are just some of his “achievements” that Libertarians are supposed to be grateful for. And, of course, not one of them is a constitutional function of the federal government. So why should Libertarians be ashamed of not voting for John Thune?

A bankrupt party

In the same way, we’re told that George Bush almost lost the presidency because Libertarians didn’t vote for him.

But why should they have voted for him?

Do you have any idea what kind of bills he has been signing – new laws that take away more of your money and more of your freedom, while shredding the few remaining tatters of the Constitution?

Take a look at a website that lists some of W’s “accomplishments.” And don’t try blaming these on the Democrats. I’m not aware of a single bill that George W. Bush has vetoed.

Bush and Thune are not atypical. In fact, they could be poster boys for the “Republican revolution” – which is about speaking in favor of freedom while doing everything possible to take it away, talking about fiscal responsibility while voting for every spending bill that comes down the pike, speaking reverently of the Constitution when campaigning and violating it when in office.

We’re told that, with all their faults, the Republicans are the “lesser of two evils.” But where Republicans and Democrats are concerned, there is no lesser of two evils.

The Democrats talk about civil liberties and peace, but vote for any monstrous new invasion the Republicans want. The Republicans talk about economic freedom, fiscal responsibility and gun rights, but vote for every new boondoggle the Democrats want – as well as the Brady Bill and other restrictions on your ability to defend yourself from thugs.

There’s only one difference between them:

  • When Democrats are in control, the Republicans at least make noises about the dangers of big government (even while they’re voting for it).

  • When the Republicans are in control, all political opposition to big government ceases.

Where’s your self-esteem?

Do you realize what you’re voting for when you vote Republican or Democratic?

Obviously, John J. Miller doesn’t. He probably doesn’t see the problem when he looks in the mirror. He probably doesn’t even realize that his support of the John Thunes and George Bushes of the world has turned him into a Democratic Party operative.