I woke up this morning fully expecting to need a stiff drink by the end of the evening once the seemingly inevitable reelection of President Barack Obama is announced. Since I rarely imbibe at home, I’ll probably just try to bury my head in a book or some work instead.
Now I don’t think this is a sure thing. Like Marc, my gut (or perhaps my heart, a very unreliable organ) is screaming that a majority of Americans can’t possibly want to lock-in ObamaCare (which when it fails to deliver will lead to a fully socialized system), return an administration full of inept bumblers, or help deliver even more unfaithful interpreters of the Constitution to the Supreme Court. And then I remember James Buchanan’s essay “Afraid to be Free” and my heart sinks.
A well-connected and level-headed Republican operative and friend of mine insists Romney is going to win for the very reasons Marc gives – and even argued that Michael Barone’s prediction of Romney winning over 300 Electoral votes is not far off the mark. Of course, the state polls in the key swing states suggest otherwise. But the gut says that the sampling is too optimistic about Democratic turnout, that independents are going to break for Romney (and not mimic 2000 when they broke for Gore), and that the trend of economic news isn’t strong or clear enough to insure what macro models tell us. The gut also wants me to reject what the darlings of the media like Nate Silver keep saying. He’s no Jim Cramer but his analysis feels too optimistic for his guy Barry.
So I can imagine a Romney victory that becomes clear either after the Rust Belt votes come in or sometime later in the month after Ohio’s pathetic excuse for a reasonable election system gets sorted out. But here is what the head tells me:
Electoral College: Obama 284, Romney 254 (almost went with 290-248 but had a hunch on Iowa going Romney narrowly)
Popular Vote: Obama 49.8, Romney 49.0
Senate: 52 Democrats (and Inds), 48 Republicans
House: Republicans hold the majority
As is obvious from what I say above, my pairwise preference is for Mitt Romney. I have no illusions that a Romney presidency would be a fully satisfying one for somebody with my philosophical commitments. If he wins tonight (or later in the month), I’ll be moderately happy for a very short time and then the sobering thought of the RomneyCare architect being in the White House will slap the thinking bits of my brain.
Yet I think it is very important to have a Republican (or at least not Barack Obama or any other Democrat) in the White House at this moment in history. An Obama victory will lock-in ObamaCare and set things up for something even worse down the road. It will also mean that the difficult budget negotiations ahead will more strongly reflect Democratic spending preferences and that the inevitable tax increases (no matter which candidate wins) will be larger relative to spending cuts than they would be under a Republican White House. And finally, even the staunchest libertarian would be hard-pressed to argue that the chances of a friendly Supreme Court justice being nominated aren’t greater under a Republican than a Democratic President. Look at the ObamaCare decision. The solid partisan wall was on the left of the Court. Yes, That Man in Robes flinched but look who wanted to toss out ObamaCare – they were all Republican nominees. And a Republican President nominated Douglas Ginsburg to the Supreme Court and Alex Kozinski to a lower court. For these reasons and more, I prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama.
I should also note that Randy Barnett makes a prudential case echoing my reasons for preferring the Republicans in the Wall Street Journal today. I highly recommend it. Yes Marc, the binary has problems and they both frequently call on us to wear stripes. But the Republicans offer greater hope for liberty at this moment in time – so the best case for a libertarian preference for Obama would be a desire for the US to hit rock bottom so that we can begin anew (and an Obama victory is what a block of people in key states thinking like us would help cause if they voted for Johnson).* The problem is that there is a lot of ruin in a nation, as Smith noted, and I’d like to see us avoid as much of that ruin as possible given the unlikely possibility of a true liberty-friendly “new order for the ages” springing up phoenix-like from that immolation. That being said, libertarians should still push back hard when Republicans veer from the path of freedom and free-markets. We need to fight it out in the two big parties given Duverger’s Law (and we can dream about neocons and other big government conservatives having to face this law within a libertarian Republican Party).
* Lest readers think I’ve ignored reality, I acknowledge the irrationality of individual strategic voting in large-scale elections where the costs of voting are non-zero. However, I hope that as a whole, lots of people do vote for my pairwise preference (especially in Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, etc). Therefore I should probably shut up and let people believe in their noble lies that when acted upon actually matter in the aggregate (though of course we can’t control what others do by our own act of voting and therefore it is still individually strategically irrational). Now since I live in a safe Romney state with a Republican party that needs to hear even my small voice rejecting its schizophrenic views on liberty (and again given the irrationality of individual strategic voting which I hope readers of this blog as a group will ignore!), I’m going to cast a ballot for Gary Johnson. But if I could be the marginal voter the moment before the polls close, I’d choose Romney over Obama and then fight like hell for liberty from within.
CAVEAT: Please note that the blog posts here at Pileus discussing individual votes or noting the liberty-enhancing benefits of any particular party or candidate are solely the opinions of the individual contributors and do not reflect the views of Pileus as a whole or any supporting institution. Pileus and its supporters do not endorse any candidate or piece of specific legislation and the purposes of this blog are strictly educational and for the entertainment of its readers.
Read Full Post »