In my time at Western Michigan University, I have stumbled into many political conversations with friends and acquaintances, almost all of whom claim to be “fierce and passionate liberals.” But when I actually get to talking with most of these people, I’m amazed at how many of them are against the kind of pervasive government intervention that both Republicans and Democrats engender freely.
For example, most college students remain ignorant to the fact that, last December, President Obama placed his signature on the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill including provisions for the indefinite detention (without trial or criminal charge) of any person(s) considered a threat to United States security, including U.S. citizens. Indeed, the bill is so rife with possibilities for totalitarian abuse that, even if President Obama had done everything else right in his administration, I would still not have even considered voting for his second term: those possibilities scare me too much.
But when pressed about Obama’s Constitutional freewheeling, most of my friends go on the defensive, claiming that, while Obama may not be their ideal candidate, he’s still better than Mitt Romney, as if this statement alone can justify their vote. In the same breath, many of these “fierce democrats” bring up their support of Obama’s social policies as their central force of reasoning, beliefs that government should have no place in limiting what a woman does with her body or who is allowed to marry whom. While I passionately agree with both of these issues, and can even understand people using them as justification for staying far, far away from Romney and the Republican Party (especially after the Todd Akin disaster that played out this fall), it is difficult to avoid the fact that, for all of their democratic posturing, most college students I encounter actually align more closely with Libertarian ideals than with anything else; they just don’t know it.
The Third Party in the Media
Chalk this apparent ignorance up to the media, which has either portrayed this year’s third-party candidates in questionable light or not portrayed them at all (the same statements count for double in regard to Ron Paul’s bid for the Republican Presidential nomination).
The problem is that voters don’t feel the need to inform themselves on the full political landscape before they cast their votes. So many first-time voters get swept up in the “movement” for a particular candidate (this phenomenon essentially carried Barack Obama to victory in 2008), but don’t take the time to educate themselves on viable third-party options, an unfortunate laziness which only further engenders the idea of the “either-or” two-party system that has been rotting our political scene and, indeed, our entire country, from the inside out for years.
The fact that third-party candidates are not given space within primetime debates, alongside their less-qualified competitors, is an offensive, dishonest and thoroughly unfair judgment. We relegate legitimate nominees like Gary Johnson (the Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (the Green Party), Virgil Goode (the Constitution Party) and Rocky Anderson (the Justice Party) to a separate debate that doesn’t allow them to put their points in contest with Barack’s barrage of bad ideas and Mitt Romney’s onslaught of no ideas. Furthermore, these candidates can’t even get on the ballot in some states, further rendering their already futile campaigns insignificant in the eyes of many voters. And when third-party candidates are on the ballot, most young voters have a negative connotation of what they are trying to do, turned against them at a young age by parents who scapegoated Ralph Nader for “stealing” votes from Al Gore or convinced by the media and by unenlightened friends that a vote for a third-party candidate is a wasted one.
Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Ideal
But that isn’t the case. A vote for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party, for example, is a vote against invasive governmental intervention, against the Federal Reserve’s nonsensical practice of “quantitative easing” (a process Johnson has dismissed as “printing money and buying debt”) and, in connection, against the unacceptable rates of inflation that our money supply has seen in recent years; a vote for the Libertarian party is a vote for a prosperous free-market economy, for civil and social liberties, for educational reform and for continued internet independence and freedom; and a vote for the Libertarian party is a vote against the reckless, damaging, economically ignorant and downright unconstitutional governmental provisions that have been signed into law throughout the past decade, from the Patriot Act to No Child Left Behind, from War on Drugs legislation (and the illogical, history-repeating criminalization it has caused, a la the Prohibition era) to the aforementioned “indefinite detention” and, of course, to perhaps the most bombastic of them all: the Affordable Care Act, or ‘Obamacare.’ These ideals will be explained in another editorial later this week. Keep an eye on the WesternHerald.com for further updates.
Conclusion: Scarcity in the American Economy
Last week, my step-dad posted something on Facebook that really rang true with me, a quote from American economist Thomas Sowell:
“The first lesson of economics is scarcity. There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it,” Sowell said. “The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
He’s right: politicians want to be able to give their constituents everything. They want to hand out higher education, stellar wages, good jobs and high-quality healthcare to all interested parties, but in trying to make each of these things a universal right rather than a privilege or a reward for hard work, the same politicians have blatantly disregarded the key economic principles (scarcity, supply and demand) that brought each of those things prestige in the first place, making a mess of the free market economy, driving inflation to a fever pitch, reducing the quality of the very systems they were trying to reform and ultimately, decimating the idea of the “American dream.” Why should our people work hard if the government will just hand them everything they need to get by? Why should kids strive for exemplary achievement in high school if federal student loan systems and the resulting over-saturation of higher education accept mediocrity? How can doctors and patients form a meaningful relationship with one another and come to an agreement about the value of health services if government and insurance agencies are intervening at every turn? These are just a few of the problems facing our nation right now. My fellow editors are right: Mitt Romney is not the person to fix these problems. But Barack Obama has proven over the past four years that he can only add to them. In that case, we must reject the “either-or” mentality of the two-party system and turn our support towards the person who is best equipped to repair the damage that excessive government intervention has caused. In this election, that person is Gary Johnson, Libertarian.