The debates are over. In one week, we will know who our President will be for the next four years. The votes – and an endless onslaught of polls – now await.
As opposed to 2008, I have avoided writing about the 2012 Presidential election, as I’m frankly unexcited about the whole thing. That’s not to say I haven’t been paying attention. America is pretending it has a choice in direction with Obama and Romney, when it does not. The phenomenon here is that the Right demonstrably acquiesced fighting for America’s center, posing as some uber-conservative movement, when all the while Romney’s campaign promises are not much different from Obama’s actions.
Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP nominee shook things up for me a bit, as I see the national debt as the number one issue our country faces. While Ryan talks a good game on fiscal matters, his voting record fails to impress. As some of you know, I supported Ron Paul in the Republican primary, as he was the only one seriously talking boldly about our debt, our broken monetary system, our backwards foreign policy, or the executive and legislative branches trampling the US Constitution. None of these issues have been discussed adequately in the general election.
Instead of being bold, and instead of capitalizing on the Tea Party successes of 2010, the Republican establishment chose to run an admittedly weak candidate who’s only saving grace is he’s Not Obama. The resounding argument to vote for Romney is to “stop Obama.” So I ask, what exactly would Romney be stopping? There are no significant policy differences between the two, in both foreign and domestic policy proposals. So I am prepared for another four years of Obama, because even if Romney wins, that’s what we get.
The Same Foreign Policy
There is a misconception that President Obama is an antiwar foreign policy minimalist who “ended the war in Iraq” and is drawing down in Afghanistan. The War in Iraq actually ended according to the Bush timetable, a fact oft-forgotten as the Status of Forces Agreement was signed the day Bush had shoes thrown at his head. In fact, many within the Obama Administration were negotiating to stay in Iraq this time last year. When those negotiations failed, Obama falsely claims to have “ended the war.”
With regards to Afghanistan, Obama doubled the number of troops there, with no clear mission, while restricting the rules of engagement, wasting both lives and money in a war effort without defined goals. American troops now outnumber al Qaeda 1000-to-1 in Afghanistan, where extremism is reportedly growing, which begs the question: Which group is responsible for the presence of the other? For the record, I advocated a victory declaration and immediate withdrawal the week Bin Laden was killed.
On the whole, Barack Obama has been a picky-choosy interventionist, bypassing Congress to assist in conflicts at his – and only his – discretion. In the past four years, Obama has unilaterally authorized additional military action in Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan, and Uganda, to go after Joseph Kony. This is a full reversal of what was he said in 2007, in a Boston Globe interview:
“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
In his most notable unilateral military move, Obama assisted rebels in the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, the sovereign leader in Libya, after putting $750 million worth of Cruise Missiles into that country during the Arab Spring. In case you missed it, our presence in Libya backfired last month with the assassination of our Ambassador.
Where has the Obama Administration been with regard to Egypt? Tunisia? The Syrian civil war? The Iranian Green Revolution? It just depends. Depends on what? Who knows. It certainly does not depend, however, on the Congress. All we really know about the President’s foreign policy decision-making methodology is that he operates off a Secret Kill List; which:
“In effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”
It is with the Secret Kill List that Obama assassinated Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born Internet cleric essentially guilty of speech crimes, in Yemen. What’s more, Obama used the Secret Kill List to assassinate his 16-year old son, Abdulrahman - also an American citizen – two weeks later when he was headed to a barbeque in Yemen. Both assassinations were carried out by Drone attack; in fact, the Obama Administration has launched five times as many Drone attacks than the Bush Administration did, because, as comedian Steven Colbert pointed out, ”He doesn’t have to worry about habeas corpus, because after a drone strike sometimes you can’t even find the corpus.” And the antiwar movement? Silent.
On some of these points, Romney is no different from Obama; on others, I have not heard anything from Romney about them, which gives me little promise there will be any change. As Plato said, “Silence gives consent.” What we do know is Romney supports Obama’s drone wars and prolonging our presence in our current wars. While hitting Obama for his perceived silence during Iran’s Green Revolution, Romney calls for more crippling sanctions, and his desire to prevent Iran from obtaining not just a nuclear weapon, but a nuclear weapons capability, which is something completely different. Romney also wants to try Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for speech crimes inciting genocide, preemptively, before the UN. And this is “conservative?”
The Same Domestic Policy
Under Obama, the US government added a record $6 Trillion of debt in 4 years. This out-of-control spending is to blame for our loose monetary policy, a phantom issue with which we will be dealing with for decades. We overspend to the point where 40 cents of every dollar spent is borrowed, forcing the Treasury to print bonds, which the Federal Reserve purchases and stockpiles with money it prints “out of thin air.” By undertaking these policies, since 2007, we have tripled our monetary base. As well as future tax increases, future inflation results from increasing the monetary base, so get ready. We are already seeing commodity prices rise. Although the Fed reports 2% inflation, when calculated with the older method, we see grocery prices inflated 9% in 2011. Did you see a 9% return on your savings and investments? How about a 9% wage increase? As price increases are regressive in their damaging effects, our overspending is directly responsible for our increased income inequality under Barack Obama, for which the Left prescribes more spending.
With QE3, the Fed will be spending $40 billion/month on Mortgage-Backed Securities in perpetuity. To put this into scope, the War in Afghanistan costs $8 billion/month. The automatic Defense budget cuts known as “sequestration” would cut only $4 billion/month. As you’d guess, Wall Street profits have skyrocketed since then, as they are offloading their balance sheets of so-called “toxic assets.”
Our markets are policy-driven now, because we have refused to do the hard things. We are at a point where we must cut spending to balance the budget. Tax increases will never get us there. Most agree that cutting taxes and spending simultaneously is the best way to spur economic growth, but cutting taxes without cutting spending only encourages bad behavior, as government gets to enjoy the benefits of spending “at a discount.” That’s another reason why taxes and spending must reflect one another; it keeps us in check with reality.
The proposed Romney budget, however, doesn’t balance for 30 years. As Romney has been nondescript about what he will cut, you should not expect any real change in spending under a Romney Administration. In fact, Romney has pledged not to cut our top three budget items, Medicare, Social Security, and Defense, comprising 70% of government spending. To put spending into perspective, the Ryan Budget – seen as Draconian by even some on the right – would spend $40 trillion over the next ten years, whereas Obama’s “socialist” plan would spend $46 trillion.
While I appreciate much of Ryan’s rhetoric, it’s different from his voting record: Ryan supported the $700 billion Bank Bailout known as TARP, the unpaid for Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, certain stimulus spending, auto bailouts, and military expansion. Make no mistake, these policies contributed to the Federal Reserve’s tripling of the monetary base.
With social issues, there is a perception of difference, but again, there is no real choice between the two candidates. There is a misconception that Obama is “liberal” on social issues, but Obama has conducted more raids on marijuana dispensaries than Bush, has conducted more deportations of illegal immigrants than Bush, has merely adopted Dick Cheney’s moderate view on marriage equality, and has furthered the reach of executive power and expanded the police state signing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which, in Section 1021, allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens captured on American soil without due process, thereby neutering the 4th Amendment. Romney has indicated he will be more aggressive on all referenced social issues, and – worst of all – supports indefinite detention.
Romney has also indicated reigning in executive overreach would not happen under his Administration. While Obama is guilty of usurping the same executive power he criticized Bush for using – whether to pass certain DREAM Act provisions by executive order, or by invoking executive privilege to protect Eric Holder in the Fast and Furious scandal – Romney wants to use an executive order to allow states to opt out of Obamacare. As you may remember, the model for Obamacare was Romneycare, with the individual mandate idea coming from a so-called conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation.
As there is no real choice, I’m left to vote my conscience in the 2012 election. Unlike the Tea Party – or Occupy Wall Street for the matter – I will not silently hold my nose to vote in 2012, for the reasons stated above. I have voted in every presidential election since I was of voting age, and this marks the first election in which (a) I am a registered Republican, and (b) I will not be voting Republican. I will be voting for Gary Johnson, whose record I encourage you to investigate.
I’m left with the question posed by David Boaz of the Cato Institute: “Is it better to vote for what you don’t want and get it, or vote for what you want and not get it?” If I want politics to change in my lifetime, for a better governing structure for my children, I need to let my vote register in the affirmative, starting now. At the same time, I have, regrettably, abandoned any hope for a libertarian revival within the Republican Party, at least in the near term. Libertarians are disjointed, and, I believe, always will be. That’s our nature. We hate the status quo, but we hate structured politics as well. So I hope for a better way forward in 2016, but I’m not holding my breath.
Although he’s ahead in the popular vote now, I’m predicting Romney will lose, as the electoral math is simply not in his favor. Politics are cyclical. The 2012 election compares nicely to 2004, with Obama as Bush, and Romney as Kerry. Like Bush, Obama’s popularity is waning into a tough election. But Kerry was weaker, leading to a Bush victory. Therefore, I predict Obama’s second term will be as unpopular as Bush’s, and the GOP, as the opposition party, will rebound and run a new face in 2016, such as Marco Rubio, as the Democrats did with Obama in 2008. And so the cycle continues.
Robert Heinlein once said, “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled, and those who have no such desire.” The question I’m left with is how do I want to treat people, and how do I want to be treated? It’s a question answered by the Golden Rule, and in the second commandment given by Jesus Christ, in Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’m voting accordingly.
Share on Facebook