L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 282, August 1, 2004
Happy 50th Birthday Michael Badnarik!
The Lesser Evil vs. The Greatest Good
Special to TLE
The 2004 election is now only three months away, and at the height of summer, the campaign rhetoric continues to heat up. We're inundated with negative campaign ads; we're flooded with media reports of who is campaigning where; and most of us are left shaking our heads over the futility of finding even one candidate that's wholly acceptable. It's that lack of acceptable candidates over the course of many years now that's had most of us shrugging our shoulders and resignedly casting a ballot for the lesser evil, and which has finally come to mean that some no longer go to the polls at all.
Pollsters are everywhere asking potential voters their preferences, and with every poll, the race between the two major party presidential candidates seems to stay neck-and-neck. But other opinions have started to filter out this election year, and some are heartening. Much as Ralph Nader apparently siphoned votes from those on the left who didn't think Al Gore was quite left enough, there are candidates in the Constitution and Libertarian Parties who could very well do the same this year to George W. Bush (Nader is, of course, back in the race but so far hasn't managed to get onto any state ballots). Gun ownerstraditionally Republican voterscan't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, but large numbers are threatening to stay home this year because they can't bring themselves to vote for George W. Bush, either. And John Kerry, while he's not facing any real threats from alternative party candidates or any overwhelming competition from the Republican Party, can't manage to scare up any real support for his campaign, either.
George W. Bush is suffering from broken promises and an artificially centrist stance which has alienated the hopeful conservatives and Reaganesque libertarians who elected him; John Kerry is suffering from a well deserved reputation for waffling, wallowing, and a truly astounding lack of personal charisma. And yet there are voters on both sides of the political spectrum who, swallowing their bile, are going to vote for the candidate belonging to the party that has traditionally come closest to representing their own ideology. Why are they holding their breath as the pull the lever? Because they're voting for the lesser of the evils which, as some have pointed it, is by definition also the greater good.
I've never endorsed any candidate from any party. I've also never claimed membership in any party. That's because there's never been a candidate or a platform with which I could completely agree. Though I'll confess to occasionally copping to the "lesser evil" excuse and forcing myself to vote accordingly, I simply could not stand up in public and say, "Hey, this would be a great guy to vote for!" because I quite frankly have never believed it myself. Oh, I've voted for some decent candidates and been relatively pleased to do so. But were they truly candidates about whom I had no reservations? Nope, not a one of them (and lest you ask, no, I've never had the privilege of casting a ballot for the one politician in Washington for whom I do have respect, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas).
Under the Democrat Clinton administration, we found the federal government considering nationalized health care; accused of using FBI files to threaten government workers; lying to Congress under oath; bombing aspirin factories; drastically curtailing the Second Amendment; and in general sullying the Oval Office while taxing the life out of the average American worker. Under the Republican Bush administration, we have (so far) found the federal government accused of inadequate (at best) foreign intelligence; apparently covering up connections between big business and foreign policy; drastically curtailing most of the rest of the Bill of Rights while continuingdespite promises otherwiseto attack the Second Amendment; and in general muddying America's reputation around the world while taxing the life out of the average American worker. If there's a lesser evil here, I'm hard pressed to find it.
Everything that I've discussed, criticized, or complimented in my past weekly columns has come from a single perspective: that of Liberty as originally defined and presented in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The news articles I've highlighted have, without an exception, been those with positive or negative impacts on our liberties as affirmed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Since national officeholders in this country take an oath that involves swearing to uphold the Constitution, you'd think I could find a presidential candidate actually willing to do so. This year, I finally did.
While several of the candidates may adhere to one or two of the following platform planks or campaign promises, there's only one who can say he's in favor of each and every one, and without expending tax dollars to get them, either. Those things include free enterprise; a policy of global non-interference; affordable health care and prescription drugs; self defense and the Second Amendment; separation of church and state (for example, he opposes a federal marriage amendment on the grounds it infringes on freedom of religion); the Fourth and Tenth Amendments; and much more. He has expressed not merely a willingness to reconsider certain laws, but a conviction to actually repeal those that are not authorized by the Constitution. To add credibility to his promises, he has a demonstrated knowledge of the Constitution in that he actually teaches classes on the document and its meaning.
This candidatethe single man out of the many running for national office in 2004 who actually cares about true liberty and American freedom as it was intended by the Founding Fathersis this year's Libertarian presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik. Go to the campaign web site and read more about Mr. Badnarik's qualifications and viewpoints for yourself. And then consider very carefully the following:
Argument: If you don't vote for the lesser evil, the greater
evil may win!
Argument: If you vote for a third party candidate, you'll
waste your vote.
Argument: If Michael Badnarik gets too many votes, George W.
Bush might lose.
...and just for a moment, dare to consider:
If every single American who is tired of voting for the lesser of evils actually voted for the candidate of his or her choice, Michael Badnarik would stand a chance at being far more than a mere spoiler in these elections. He could be a contender. Want to make history with a pro-freedom revolution via the ballot box rather than bloodshed? Inhale the spirit of the Founding Fathers, and have the courage to vote against an overreaching government and for freedom. Vote for Michael Badnarik. At worst, an important point will have been made. At best? Someone's going to win this year's elections, and it would be a truly glorious day if it were all of those who love liberty who came out ahead in the end because Michael Badnarik came out ahead in the polls.
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