Hey there! I really like your blog, and find that your political views are a bit closer to mine than many other libertarians I know, but I did have one question: in November, will you be voting for Obama, or the GOP contender? Or, perhaps, neither? If you are voting for Obama, would you mind explaining your reasoning behind it? As a lover of civil liberties, I find it difficult to entertain the idea of supporting him with things like the NDAA having been passed under his administration. Thanks!
In case there’s any confusion, I’m not a classical libertarian by any means. My opinions on economics and universal healthcare are essentially anathema to mainstream libertarianism. I do share quite a lot of ground with mainstream libertarianism on criminal justice, foreign policy, and national security, however.
I will not be voting for Barack Obama. You can check out posts here, here, here, here, and here for reasons why. But the big one that drove me over the edge is the fact that his administration is holding Yemeni detainees in prison with full knowledge that they have committed no crimes against the United States, and in defiance of a federal court order granting a habeas corpus petition for their release. This sort of official lawlessness is what I voted against in 2008. And it shocks my conscience to see it repeated by a President who should know better. Due Process-free assassination is just icing on the cake once you get to the point where you’re knowingly holding innocent people in prison.
With that being said, keep in mind that my opinion of Obama is not universally bad. Indeed, I often defend him from the absurd political attacks of his adversaries, in which they either exaggerate his positions, or rely on phantom positions he has never taken.
I also like the fact that Obama set the precedent of creating a White House vintage micro-brew, which I hope continues under future administrations, since, well, beer is cool.
In one of the posts linked above, I summed up my position on Obama thusly:
Just as I praise Obama for ending DADT, changing the political landscape on the enforcement of DOMA, and his relative restraint with respect to Iran, so too do I condemn Obama for expanding executive power to include extra-judicial killings of American citizens, victimizing medical marijuana users, and detaining innocent “terror suspects” indefinitely in defiance of a court order.
Gay rights are a huge issue for me, and no one can deny that Obama has done more for gay Americans than any President before him. The repeal of DADT, walking away from DOMA, and extending federal benefits to same-sex partners are all meaningful accomplishments that can’t be denied.
But gains in civil rights for one group ought not to come at the expense of another. Deportation of illegal immigrants has been unprecedented under the Obama administration, often with cruel results. The War on Drugs continues to rage unabated at the federal level, which is waged in wildly disproportionate numbers upon minority communities, and places immense burdens on chronically ill patients. And while Obama has done his best to mend diplomatic fences with the Middle East over the course of his Presidency, Executive agencies here at home have facilitated unchecked civil rights abuses against Arab and Muslim Americans.
It’s got to stop. I can’t support a President who does this stuff. I got mad at Obama when he refused to fight for a single-payer option, but I knew that he didn’t support single-payer before I voted for him, so I didn’t abandon him then. I got mad at Obama when he later sold out and refused to fight for a public option in the healthcare bill, but I continued to support him, because I understand political pragmatism means you can’t always get what you want (even though it often results in flawed legislation). I got mad at Obama for giving in to the GOP over extending the Bush tax cuts, but I at least took heart knowing the guy tried and failed. I got mad at Obama when he refused to aggressively push the Simpson-Bowles plan, which remains the most plausible, politically possible budget compromise between Left and Right that this country has seen in a long time. But I understand that Washington is a big place, and he could’ve reasonably concluded that it wasn’t in the best interest of all the parties involved.
But I can’t support a President who participates in the activities I’ve outlined above. And that’s frustrating: because I can’t tell you how happy I was when Barack Obama was elected. And despite frequent characterizations of disaffected Obama voters as afflicted with a “savior complex” (perhaps true in some cases), I think the recollected history of my support for the man, as outlined above, demonstrates that I don’t abandon support for a politician on the basis of one or even a few wrong moves. I abandon support for a politician when they cease to behave in a way that I believe leads the country, on the whole, towards a better tomorrow. I just simply cannot say that about Barack Obama anymore. Not under current circumstances.
It must be remembered that Obama is undoubtedly preferable to his Republican peers. I would rather live in Barack Obama’s America than the America envisioned by 90% of the GOP candidates. But the fact remains that I have but one vote to cast; and I will not cast it for someone who does the things that Obama has done, or at the very least allowed to take place. It is, of course, true that the perfect ought not to be the enemy of the good; but in a contest between the lesser of two evils, there is no longer any good to vilify. And I won’t facilitate lesser evils just because the greater one scares me. There are alternatives. And if participating in the electoral franchise still means anything in this country, then I will proudly cast my vote elsewhere to demonstrate that neither of the two big parties in America are institutionally capable of representing me right now. If any of this rings true with you, then I invite you to do the same.
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