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The Henke Endorsement
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, October 21, 2004

Just a couple weeks to go till the election, so--for my own benefit--it's time I spelled out my thoughts--pro and con, major and minor--on the major candidates, and officially render an endorsement.

GEORGE W. BUSH [Republican]

PRO:
  • He is not John Kerry, and a second Bush term may force the Democrats to pay less attention to the radicals and demagogues that plague their party.

  • He has a conceptual understanding of the War on Terror that is most in line with my own - i.e., aggressive, forward-thinking, broad, and assymetrical.

  • He is in favor of tax cuts, which is 1/2 of a good idea.

  • His proposed partial-privatization of Social Security could be an important step towards re-energizing the concept of personal responsibility in matters economic.

  • He is opposed to much of the intrusive regulation that Democrats favor.

  • UPDATE: [as readers reminded me] Bush is more likely to appoint conservative/libertarian-friendly judges to the Supreme Court.

CON:
  • He's got the worst spending record since LBJ, with not a single sign that he has any intention of becoming a fiscal conservative.

  • His competence is legitimately in question. His prosecution of the war on terror has been marked by major missteps and few course corrections.

  • The Bush administration is notable for its inability--and, often, unwillingness--to address serious questions. Major questions about policies [Iraq, WMDs, troop levels, 9/11 and 9/11 Commission, Medicare bill, etc] and scandals [Plame, AWOL, post-9/11 EPA directions, etc] are generally met with silence, obfuscation or pollyanna-ish rhetoric.

  • Bush, himself, just does not have the rhetorical abilities we should expect in a Leader.

  • By dismissing--or neglecting to mention--controversy and uncertainty, and instead projecting absolute certainty in all cases, the Bush administration appears to have been willfully misleading in presenting the case for war against Iraq.

  • Bush signed the abominable Campaign Finance Reform Act.

  • Bush now favors a Gay Marriage Ammendment to the Constitution, which is an insult to the States and to individual rights.

  • Bush increased Federal control over Education.

  • Bush's Policy on Illegal Immigration appears to be "Encourage it, and maybe it will go away".


JOHN KERRY [Democrat]


PRO:
  • A Democratic President, and a Republican Congress = Gridlock = Historically, the most effective way to limit the growth of government.

  • A Republican Congress makes it unlikely that Kerry could carry through on his more liberal tendencies. [reference: Bill Clinton's second term]

  • Kerry seems, if not conceptually on-target, at least competent to handle the details of the Presidency.

  • Bush has already made the tough choice of starting some chain of democratization in the Middle East. Kerry has no choice but to finish what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • A reorganization of alliances and sympathies may be the proper cyclical strategy, since our post-9/11 political capital has already been expended usefully.

  • Whether Bush or Kerry is elected, it's hard to imagine we would need to engage in another invasion of the magnitude of Iraq or Afghanistan...or, really, that we could if we wanted to. That probability minimizes the danger of John Kerry's aversion to military action.

  • Kerry makes good points about the danger of WMD proliferation. It is an area that needs to be addressed.

CON:
  • John Kerry is a liberal Democrat, and that is an ideology absolutely antithetical to Neolibertarianism, a belief in limited government, and individual liberty.

  • Kerry has a conceptually limited, reactionary, inadequate understanding of the War on Terror.

  • The spread of Democracy is absolutely fundamental to our national security in the long term. Risk-averse as he is, Kerry has little interest in pursuing it, preferring the short term benefits of "stability".

  • Kerry's stated goals include a dramatic increase in the size and scope of government.

  • A Kerry administration will likely result in the institution of a much more socialized medical system in the US.

  • A Kerry administration would push the perception of the mainstream political spectrum to the left, perhaps permanently.

  • A Kerry administration would allow his critics to firmly establish the legacy of President Bush as a "failure" regardless of the outcome of his foreign policies--which are long term solutions that are short-term difficult--and his economic policies--which have had the misfortune of coinciding with a natural, unavoidably difficult economic period.

  • A Kerry administration will almost certainly coincide with the natural boom in the business cycle, lending to the mistaken--correlation, STILL, not equalling causation--impression that Democratic Presidents are better for the economy. Kerry--and Democrats--will get credit for economic policies and realities that are not their own doing.

  • Kerry's view of globalization involves less extension of US "Soft Power" and more allegiance to artificial, international organizations....organizations which rarely have similiar goals and principles as the United States.

  • UPDATE: Kerry will appoint very anti-libertarian judges to the Supreme Court.


DAVID COBB / RALPH NADER [Green/Independent]


PRO:
  • It would be nice to have a viable third Party in American Politics.....

CON:
  • ...but not that one. I don't think I need to explain why a Neolibertarian would oppose a quasi-communist group like the Green Party, or candidate like Ralph Nader. It's no coincidence that a Google search for "Economists for Cobb" shows zero results. And none for Nader, either.



MICHAEL BADNARIK [Libertarian]


PRO:

  • A libertarian candidate, with a belief in limited government and the Constitution.

  • Promises to work towards an end to the counter-productive "War on Drugs".

  • A strong Badnarik showing might indicate an important shift towards more libertarianism in American Politics.


CON:
  • Badnarik is living up to the Loonytarian stereotype. He's been arrested on the campaign trail, he has refused to get a drivers license or file an income tax return, and has suggested he would blow up the UN building on his first day in office.

  • Badnarik's foreign policy is very closely akin to the naive--even dangerous--isolationism. He advocates an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, which would be a strategic and moral disaster.


MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS:

  • I don't think a 2nd Bush term would be nearly as tumultuous as the first.
  • I don't think a Kerry administration would be nearly the disaster many critics assume.
  • I don't think Cobb, the Green Party, or Nader are worth further discussion.
  • I don't think Badnarik is a productive candidate for the libertarian cause.


STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS:

A vote for Bush would help prevent a Kerry Presidency. But, it would also tell the GOP that they can continue to ignore fiscal conservatives and libertarians. If there truly is "no betrayal we will not tolerate" then the GOP will never need to attend to our interests again, and will become the Democratic Party, Part II.

Similarly, a vote for Badnarik would encourage the Libertarian Party to keep nominating ideologues with no interest in anything but principled failure. If that is the case, the LP may as well dissolve, go home, and spend their lives slapping each other on the back for a failure well done.

At the end of the day, my choice is between voting for:
  • Bush - because the war on terror is so important, and Bush is the only candidate with a conceptual grasp of the war.

  • Badnarik -- a protest vote against Bush, reaffirming the value of libertarians to the GOP.

  • None of the Above - A protest against every candidate, none of whom are pragmatically libertarian-friendly.


CONCLUSION: There is no candidate that I can endorse on principled grounds. No candidate seems likely to advance the philosphical principles in which I believe. Bush is moving the GOP in all the wrong directions, Kerry and Cobb are antithetical to libertarianism, and Bardarik is the typical Libertarian candidate: he prefers principled failure. That's not a strategy for advancing libertarianism....it's a rant.

I see no strategic Neolibertarian value in voting for either Bush or Badnarik. If a failure to vote for Bush results in a Kerry Presidency? That is still better than the permanent loss of the GOP to libertarians and fiscal conservatives. Inasmuch as one vote can exert any influence, my only option is to make a principled vote for Nobody. So....


I Endorse None of the Above In 2004. I plan to vote that way. .

UPDATE: See this further explanation, too.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I cancelled all my Libertarian literature because there are more Badnariks than you want to think in the LP. Plus all the emails I started getting were indistinguishable from posts on the Democratic Underground or the Dean campaign - full of Bush hatred and lies.

Given all the faults, I honestly believe Bush is fairly sincere and since I don't believe for one second that the POTUS controls the US and it's economy, I'm willing to give the bumbling baffoon to keep Kerry out of the office. It's definitely the lesser of all evils.

Besides, you still have the option of writing your representatives in your local political party and indicating your displeasure of whatever bothers you. All major candidates know that all they have to do is satisfy 51% of your needs so removing your vote because of even a large collection of grievences is futile.

Too bad we don't have a full democracy, huh?
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
Glad to see you abdicating your responsibility. What a childish attitude. -- If I can't have it my way then I'll take my vote and go home.

I will gladly hold you to this during the next four years when you complain about the direction this country is taking, for I believe if you are not part of the process, you have no right to complain about the results.

Hope you enjoy your 4 years of silence.
 
Written By: Nobody in Particular
URL: http://
Nonsense, NiP. I *am* voting. Specifically, I will be punching a ballot against the current slate of options, and voting for the GOP to return to some semblance of responsibility and principle.

It's not a childish attitude...it's a strategic attitude. I recognize the importance of coalition-building and pragmatism. But, at some point, the parties--all of them--go too far. And what do you do, when they go too far? How do you reveal your displeasure? At the ballot box.

Seriously....I'd like to know how you would affect the parties, if you are willing to simply cast your vote, regardless of the betrayal?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net/blog
When you vote remember this impassioned plea not to write in “None of the Above”. Just leave the space empty. Any write-ins may add to the work load of the election judges and they've got a long, dull, thankless job as it is.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
John:

I originally posted in replay to one of Volokh's libertarian conspirators who is voting Kerry to send a message to Bush and the GOP. It's a bad idea, it won't accomplish what you think it will. If you're interested in the (somewhat) long rationale, link to rest of post
 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
I could care less, really whom you would or would not endorse. Your opinion is not that important to me. As a full grown and semi-inteligent human being I am and have been for quite some time been able to make this and other decisions on my own. Having said that I must say that untill now I have enjoyed reading you blog and have found it intelligent, insightful and an intelligent read.
However I'm forced to rethink the last. For someone to refuse to vote on the future of the leadership of one's country just because none of the candidates meet every or even the majority of the criteria you put forth as what you feel is those qualities needed in a candidate worthy of your taking the time and effort to cast a vote is childish thinking.
I will be hoping that many Democrats are also disapointed in the availible canadates and feel it is below them to vote for such unworthy mortals.
 
Written By: Kevin
URL: http://
Jeebus, Kevin, read what I wrote in a comment above. I'm not "refusing to vote". I AM voting. I'm voting to effect a change in the GOP.

And perhaps you haven't read my closely, but I have consistently indicated that one doesn't have to agree with everything a candidate says. There is a degree of coalition-building compromise that is necessary.

But there is also a point at which the compromise becomes too much. So I'll ask again: do you have a point at which the betrayal becomes too much? Will you vote for your Party no matter what?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net/blog
You are voting, but not for President, is that right?

I Endorse None of the Above In 2004. I plan to vote that way. .


Your vehement bolded endorsement of "none of the above," as quoted above, is leaving the mistaken impression that you aren't voting. Clearly, that would be the most certain way to "vote" for none of the above: simply stay away from the polls. I don't understand your reaction to what seems to be the easiest method to cast a vote for "none of the above."

A lot of people see the post, come to the comments, and scroll to the bottom to give you an immediate "piece of their mind."
 
Written By: David R. Block
URL: http://
In my case, I actually plan to go to my polling place, and write in "None of the Above".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net/blog
I have no Party. I'm not aware of the "Kevin" Party and as such doesn't exist, I have been forced to vote for those individuals whom come closest to representing my views and beliefs. I admitt that at times this has resulted in votes that were more against one person than for someone else.
If you feel that your party has left you behind or betrayed you, may I suggest working towards something else, instead of throwing up your arms, picking up your marbles and walking away in a huff? Or is there some thing here that I am missing?
 
Written By: Kevin
URL: http://
If you feel that your party has left you behind or betrayed you, may I suggest working towards something else
Ah, I see what you're missing now. I *am* working towards something by casting this vote. Specifically, what I am working towards, is a return-to-sanity by both the Republican and Libertarian Parties.

Parties--well, except for the LP--work by forming coalitions. If the GOP sees that its Conservative/libertarian coalition is abandoning it, then they will have to correct course and appeal to those people again. That is what I hope to achieve.

The alternative is that the GOP abandons libertarian principles, keeps the votes of the C/l's and sees no need to ever be Conservative/libertarian again.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net/blog
I respect your stance but unless I completely glazed over it in your post (possible - I'm a Red Sox fan and enjoyed last night WAY too much) I don't see that you considered the possibility that the president for the next four years will likely nominate 4 Supreme Justices. Bush will nominate judges that will interpret the Constitution where Kerry will nominate Judges that will re-write it. That is, to me, right up there with the war on terror.
 
Written By: Chaz Nugent
URL: http://
# A Democratic President, and a Republican Congress = Gridlock = Historically, the most effective way to limit the growth of government.


I know this is the conventional wisdom re: gridlock, but it certainly isn't consistent with the fact that Reagan sent budgets to the Democrat Congress year after year that were smaller than the ones he ultimately signed, meaning that the split-party situation at that time was in fact growing government faster than had the Republicans been in full control.
 
Written By: Lance Jonn Romanoff
URL: http://www.ljonn.com/
I've been reading here for a while, and I respect your opinions and they generally are in line with mine.

But there's one of your Pros for Kerry that looks shaky to me. This thing of realigning alliances.

This is already underway. We're realigning with partners who might actually be a factor in the 21st century and ditching irrelevant and malign actors like the French. Kerry will undo all this.

It's your nickel, but for some reason it's really important to me that you rethink that one. And it probably will remain importat to me until that receptionist puts out that bowl of brownies I saw her bring in this morning.
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
I think one could go through the Pro and Con points - which you've apparently spelled out very well - and assign a "point weight" to each (+ for Pro, - for Con). Then just add the points. Winner wins.

F'r'example:

He is not John Kerry, and a second Bush term ...
+2 points

Bush, himself, just does not have the rhetorical abilities we should expect in a Leader.
-2 points

Kerry seems, if not conceptually on-target, at least competent to handle the details of the Presidency
+2 points

John Kerry is a liberal Democrat, and that is an ideology absolutely antithetical to Neolibertarianism, a belief in limited government, and individual liberty
-12 points

... and so on.


 
Written By: Mike
URL: http://www.rigoletto.com/blogger.html
I have no problem with any of your thoughts, and understand what you mean by saying it is a strategic calculation.
I disagree with some of your assessments of Bush, but that's no problem, either, as it is due to a difference of perspective on certain issues.
However, there is one bit of cognitive dissonance in your discussion of Bush's cons:
A Constitutional Amendment requires that the representatives of the states be involved in the initial passage, and only after the President signs the bill (if he signs it) does go back to the individual states for ratification; furthermore, that ratification requires 3/4 of the states to approve before it is added to the US Constitution.
A Constitutional Amendment does not happen by Presidential fiat. Considering all that, how can it be "an insult to the States" when there is nothing in our government that actually allows equal levels of State input?
And I think the President made it absolutely clear that he preferred the issue remain a State issue until a handful of judges arrogated the power of legislation to themselves, didn't he?
You may disagree with his stance, in that if a different President wouldn't sign the bill, it would require a veto-proof majority to pass the Amendment, but please don't distort the issue and say it insults states' rights, because such an amendment would go along way to preserving and re-establishing rights eroded by such liberal mechanisms as "Roe vs. Wade".
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
I've already voted, and I voted for None of the Above, as well!

http://hereticalideas.com/index.php?p=2432
 
Written By: Alex Knapp
URL: http://www.hereticalideas.com
I'm voting for Bush, but I think if it's close, the Democrats will win via all the vote-fraud that is rampant in the swing states.

With that in mind, maybe Kerry will win. It WILL be a disaster once he tries to withdraw the troops and signals to the Islamic world that we're gonna be the UN's bitch for the next 4 years. Once Kerry starts on the gun registration/ban path, the tax increase path, and the litigation easement path, the shit will surely hit the fan in America.

Can you say "Civil War II"?

[Sigh] mebbe this country needs the "System Reset" button pushed to clear out all the accumulated crap from the last 228 yrs and start over with the basics as outlined in the Constitution
 
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
Jon, I'm afraid this is one where you and I are goig to seriously disagree and may never agree.

I'm voting for Bush because only the President can lead in the War on Terror. While I hate his notions of big government and am a Libertarian also, I realize that the President much less control over the size and scope of government than most think. He may propose anything he wishes, but it always requires Congressional approval. Fighting the terrorists or surrendering that fight, though, can only be done by the President. No one can make him commit military strength to that fight or take tough or conciliatory diplomatic positions with various countries if he's not so inclined.

George Bush has proven that, evne though his plans may be flawed and rigid in places (and I'm not convinced that he's made as many errors as some thing) it at least exists. Kerry's simply would not. There's no way to get around that for me.

So my own strategy is to vote for a Commander-in-Chief who will fight terrorists and their national sponsors and members of Congress who will toe the fiscal and "scope" lines.
 
Written By: Jimmie
URL: http://www.sundriesshack.com
Wow. Talk about being a total dick. I do not particularly like all those asshead hippies who run around waving Marxist crap because they feel that they can not truly vote for any mainstream candidate because they are "all the same", and you have showed yourself to be of the same kind. I guess the only real differences between you and the hippie Marxist is erudition, and that you have a job, and you say the same thing as them in a more bombastic way. So when the Islamofascists kill your family, you can find solace in the fact that you could not possibly vote for Bush on "principled grounds" considering "Bush increased Federal control over Education."

--Khuda Haafiz, my friend.
 
Written By: TEM
URL: http://
Nice analysis of each candidate's pros and cons. Did you leave out Michael Paroutka for a reason?

I agree with your sentiment. There are few more powerful ways to send a message to an elected official than to withhold a vote. One powerful way to communicate dissatisfaction is to withhold campaign contributions (in the form of money or voluntary labor). Of course, if you're already not contributing, it won't have much message power.
 
Written By: Stephen
URL: http://discrec.blogspot.com
Did you leave out Michael Paroutka for a reason?
Same reason I left out the Prohibition Party. They are inconsequential to the election, and to my calculation. Gotta draw the line somewhere, you know. :)
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net/blog
There are few more powerful ways to send a message to an elected official than to withhold a vote.


I disagree. Low voter turnout has, sadly, become a given in the U.S. Karl Rove counts on this with his strategy of having Bush run to the right, rather than to the center as traditionally done in the general election, to energize the Bush base. The idea is voter turnout in a close election; Bushies assume that they will gain more in mobilized voters on the right than they lose in turned-off voters in the center. I strongly prefer a vote cast for anyone than an uncast vote; it sends a stronger message.
 
Written By: Don Thomason
URL: http://
You got a valid point, Mr. Henke. Really, none of the candidates merit tenancy in the White House. Our primary concern at this time is the war on terror, and I think Bush is more likely to gain the respect, or at least fear, and defeat of our adversaries, and Kerry is much less likely to do this. Badnarik won't cut it, his tone is too placating toward enemies, though I do like his end the war on drugs attitude. Cobb and Nader are abominations. I'd vote for Nobody, too, except these are all nobodies, each in their own way to lesser and greater extents. Good and thoughtful analysis of yours.
 
Written By: Southern Wolf
URL: http://southernwolf.net

 
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