A lot of people I know who say they love liberty still vote for Republicans and seem to have faith that doing so will bring about individual freedom. Given the abundant evidence that this isn’t true, I can’t figure out why they keep doing it.
I was closely associated with Republican candidates for all of my professional political career and for most of my life before that. So if I were going to identify with one of the mainstream parties — at least in culture and history — it would be the Republicans.
But I’ve learned that Republicans are very good at rhetoric about freedom — and I used to write some of that rhetoric — but not so good at delivering the goods. They talk about liberty (especially the economic kind) but when push comes to shove, they’re just as bad about setting up new rules to force people to act in ways they approve of. This is very obvious to anyone who’s paying attention, so why do so many of my fellow liberty-loving friends keep heading down the path where they’re going to be given condescending nods at election time, but ignored when actual day-t0-day laws and regulations are being written?
My Republican friends love to complain about the Obama administration and other Democrats. (I do, too.) But when I point out that Republican presidents and Republican-controlled Congresses don’t deliver on any of the things important to them, it doesn’t seem to compute. There’s an odd sort of denial that has to be the result of cognitive dissonance.
I believe that for a lot of people, the root issue that keeps them working with the GOP is the old belief that we have to choose the lesser of two evils. I’ve certainly considered that argument, and I’ve even made that pragmatic argument in the past. The question I have is this, though: How’s that working out for you?
Under George W. Bush and a Republican Congress, spending zoomed out of control — just as it zoomed out of control under Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress. (You can argue about which is worse, but they’re the same, honestly, regardless of narrow arguments you pick to shade the results toward one or the other.) If you say you want smaller government and individual liberty, you have to face the facts. Republicans aren’t going to deliver it. They’re just going to let you down when they don’t keep their promises.
For me, I’ve given up on the coercive state entirely. I don’t want to support anyone who claims the right to control me (or you), but I still observe party politics out of long habit and professional curiosity. When I was a political consultant, I marveled at the fact that voters constantly fell for my clients saying the same stupid things and making the same promises that couldn’t be kept. Now that I’m out of the game, it’s easier for me to see just how widespread it is. Even very bright and very well-educated people fall for the same things.
Even if you still believe in the coercive state, please remember that the lesser of two evils is still an evil. Don’t let yourself be compromised into supporting what is clearly evil.