The 'Anyone But Obama' Trap
I reject the 'anyone but Obama' concept for several reasons and will never vote for Romney or any 'lesser evil' who I believe could be even worse for America if they're cut from the same cloth as Obama is.
Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito
~from Vergil's Aeneid, also the motto of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, meaning "do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it."
I've been avidly watching the buildup to the 2012 presidential election for some time, especially as an admirer of Dr. Ron Paul and his message of liberty, sound money and non-interventionist foreign policy. I took an instinctive liking to the man back in the 1990s while my own views were still evolving and coalescing, as I've documented earlier in this column. That liking has only increased in the intervening years owing to Dr. Paul's consistent support for those issues I just mentioned, his refusal to compromise his core beliefs for any reason and an admittedly subjective but firm conviction on my part that he is simply a decent man.
I've been asked how I, as a staunch adherent of anarcho-capitalism as the key to the most free and prosperous path a people can choose to travel in this most imperfect world, can support a process to place a single person at the top of a hierarchic structure that has historically led to so much misery and death, most notably during the post World War II period, a catalogue of depredations that's dwarfed even the past dreadful chapters in our earlier history like chattel slavery and the atrocious treatment of Native Americans that accompanied the development of our country. A starting point for understanding this is the fact that side by side with all these negatives, America was notable for the most rapid growth in prosperity for the most people of any nation in history before it, at least in its heyday before the decline in that prosperity began in the early twentieth century. That for me is an undeniable affirmation that a genuinely free market works exactly as predicted by the Austrian economists I've admired for years, one of Ron Paul's guiding philosophies. Another tenet of anarcho-capitalism is strict observance of the Zero Aggression Principle, and that too is one of the pillars of Ron Paul's belief structure.
That he's of the Old Right school in the tradition of gentlemen like Senator Robert Taft, Garet Garrett, and my own role model as an essayist, H.L. Mencken is beyond question for me, but these factors tell me that Dr. Paul is really an anarcho-capitalist at heart, whether or not he's internalized that himself. I strongly believe that he would be guided by this philosophy were he to be elected president, and not for any disingenuous reasons on his part, either, rather because that philosophy is more nearly in line with what I think of as the Constitutional framers' intent. To expand on that:
Ron Paul is simply a human being and as such is a creature of his time and culture. In his twelve terms as a congressman, one of his most visible characteristics is his support of the U.S. Constitution and his faith in that document. It is here that I most strongly diverge with Dr. Paul; I agree with those who point out that the Constitution is a fatally flawed instrument that has allowed the current authoritarian American regime to evolve. As prominent anarcho-capitalist and libertarian pundit Gary Barnett has maintained , this situation was inevitable sooner or later. True, under the right circumstances and viewed in a pro-liberty light, the Constitution can be a useful guide to reigning in a government's power, but the holes in it, whether present by design or not, are certainly big enough to drive a tank through. I'm convinced that Dr. Paul's support of the Constitution is simply part and parcel of the paradigm he absorbed while growing up that reflexively accepts some government as a necessity.
Secondly, even he himself regards some degree of government as necessary, and is realistic in his assessment that the American people simply will not accept even minarchism at this point, much less outright market anarchism. Bathed in statist propaganda since birth, literally marinated in it as they mature, these concepts simply don't compute for them. I believe that Ron Paul's goal is to do with government exactly what activist Grover Norquist stated he'd like to do himself: "...shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." He knows that this won't be a simple task and adjusts his approach accordingly, not from any weakness of resolve or for expedience' sake, he's simply unwilling to waste time, effort and resources in a pointless effort.
Humans have historically acted as herd animals, which is why power hungry individuals have always been able to establish themselves as dominant actors in a given hierarchy's pecking order. In addition, they tend to harbor a normalcy bias , which creates a strong impulse to maintain or return to 'business as usual' even in everyday situations. Add to those a reflexive aversion to new or untried ideas and you can see why the majority of people can't comprehend how a society based purely on voluntary cooperation without government coercion could work, and often even fear it. The liberty movement as represented by Ron Paul has therefore a large hurdle to overcome, and neither myself nor anyone I'm familiar with involved with it has any expectation that it can be implemented on the first try.
All this is why no one who I regard as serious about restoring our liberties and trying to move society away from the old coercive paradigm has centered all of their efforts on Dr. Paul himself. It'd be nice to have a President Paul, certainly, and he could undo a fair bit of damage done by his predecessors, but as has been pointed out, there's only so much that can be done by one man. The destructive forces of the power hungry and sociopathic have had years to gather their head of steam, and if Ron Paul's in office as the dollar finally collapses with its attendant social breakdowns, it could be a far worse setback for the cause of liberty than losing a mere election. No, to my mind, as well as for the majority of people I know who promote genuine liberty, his most significant successes have been intellectual and apart from political action. The huge numbers of younger people are evidence of this, as well as his trend of regularly increasing popularity despite the blatant attempts to ignore him by the controlled mainstream media and the strong evidence (in my opinion and others') of voter fraud seen over the primary process. As an adherent of the Austrian school of economics, it's particularly gratifying for me to see people under 25 years of age discussing topics relating to the discipline, or examining the finer points of the evils of central banking and fiat currency. Instead of formerly trendy state-loving organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that specializes in ad hominem attacks against those who dare to disagree with it, they're joining Oath Keepers or other voluntaryist groups and becoming suburban preppers. We can thank Dr. Paul and the internet for results like these.
Meanwhile, those who love the status quo are regrouping to push their vision of acceptable political action with redoubled force as the 'presumptive' Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, continues to gain ground. Ron Paul supporters who continue to support him are often derided as deluded or mentally imbalanced and told they simply must support Romney in the name of party unity or, more and more frequently, that Barack Obama is the worst president in America's history and must be ousted from office lest he finish the job of destroying America in a second term. I'm seeing this 'anyone but Obama' meme everywhere, even from people whose opinions I respect on other issues. While I find Obama's actions as president to be detestable, I reject the 'anyone but Obama' concept for several reasons and will never vote for Romney or any 'lesser evil' who I believe could be even worse for America if they're cut from the same cloth as Obama is.
In my observations, it's been affirmed many times that people are indeed simply people, whose individual nature is not determined by any label they choose to apply to themselves. Labels are meaningless and are often used as distractions that avert attention from the fact that a person's actions belie their stated beliefs and intentions. Perhaps I'm jaded; this concept seems obvious to me, yet Americans still fall for the scam at every turn. In Mitt Romney's case, when compared to Obama and Ron Paul, I've noticed that he seems almost identical in his stance to Barack Obama, and both 'acceptable' candidates are the opposite of Dr. Paul. When it comes to campaign donations, Mitt Romney's top donors include the very banks that were the recipients of bailouts at the public's expense and have been described as hurting rather than helping the economy, especially in the housing market. By contrast, Ron Paul's greatest donations have actually come from members of America's armed forces . Mitt Romney has become notorious as a flip-flopper on important issues, claiming to support whichever side is likely to bring him the most political advantage.
Though as I've said I've seen enough of these examples that I'm at the point where I find these deceptions obvious, occasionally I'll have difficulty convincing people of the legitimacy of this situation. A bit of searching turned up this useful resource, a presentation by G. Edward Griffin, author of the well known book The Creature from Jekyll Island about the private Federal Reserve. In it, Griffin discusses the false left/right paradigm that ambitious and unscrupulous politicians still use to confuse the public:
I especially appreciate this video for specifically mentioning the media blackout against Ron Paul's earlier campaign; the more people notice and comment on the mainstream media's consistent and blatant attempts to marginalize Dr. Paul and his message of liberty, the less they'll affect opinion, not only in his case but in general.
Lately we've been inundated by calls to abandon Ron Paul and his message if we want to 'win' in November. I couldn't disagree more strongly with this idea. Win? Win what? A candidate who's shown over and again that he will always promote the State over individuals, the special interests that have bought and paid for him whose obvious intent is to transform the world into one giant fiefdom with themselves at the pinnacle of the hierarchy and ordinary people reduced to powerless serfs on their plantation? We hear that continuing support for Ron Paul means a vote for Obama or a wasted vote at the least. I've heard a hundred reasons put forth intended to dissuade people from following their hearts and instincts, all in the supposedly urgent cause of 'winning' and ousting Obama from office in November.
No, thank you.
These strategies are traps, siren songs designed to draw us back into the same old left/right paradigm that G. Edward Griffin discussed. If people fall for them, they'll only succeed in returning us to the complacency that results from thinking we've done something substantial. This contest also demonstrates the worst aspects of political action whereby the majority enforces its will upon the minority in every area at gunpoint, even when this involves infringing upon or negating our basic rights as humans as acknowledged by our Bill of Rights. As such, a lot of people are focusing more on the 'what's in it for me?' aspect of politics instead of what's best for the public, distracted from the near-daily erosion of our rights.
How do I respond to these insistent demands that I must support Mitt Romney? Well, given that Mitt Romney's actions have demonstrated his unambiguous support for a strongly statist agenda nearly identical to Obama's, this is like being told I'm obligated to choose between lung and liver cancer. I refuse to do this, as do most of my friends and associates. Playing by the rules as defined by those who would subdue us will never produce positive results.
Worse, I'm concerned by a possibility that doesn't seem to have occurred to a lot of people: that a Romney presidency has the potential to do a great deal more harm to America than even Obama’s has. Barack Obama is a known quantity at this point, but Romney, by being presented as a lesser evil to the public will essentially reset the clock to buy himself time if he gains the presidency. By putting people off their guard, he can work a lot of mischief unopposed over the time it takes the public to realize they've been sold out yet again. I don't think we have the luxury of that time to waste.
This is why for my part I intend to stay consistent with my core values and refuse to support anyone who violates those values. There's no choice for me; a lesser evil is still evil. No matter what popular opinion or pragmatism suggests as the course of action, winning this one contest is relatively unimportant, so I'll be supporting Ron Paul and the message of liberty in any way I can, from writing in his name if that's an option to simply withdrawing my consent to this rigged game by withholding my vote if all else fails. That's just my solution and I wouldn't presume to tell anyone else what to do, of course.
I'm still trying as hard as I can to get free of this housebound confinement that disability has visited upon me so that I can join my brothers and friends in the Combat Veterans for Ron Paul in their march on the RNC in Tampa this August. Our plan is straightforward: to peacefully affirm as the world watches that we find the current system of coercive, rights-violating 'leadership' utterly unacceptable, and support Dr. Paul and that all-important message of liberty.
I honestly don't know what the result will be of following this course. Likewise, I have no pat answers to the conundrum we find ourselves enmeshed in. I do believe that we should work toward helping a whole new paradigm arise that doesn't play into the same old circular logic that got us in the current death spiral we're in now. I believe that our best bet for success in this is to combat the destructive collectivism as discussed by G. Edward Griffin with an overwhelming show of the vast power of individuals working for a common goal of peace and prosperity, abiding by the principles of liberty and non-aggression...and stick with it. Most importantly, to paraphrase the motto of the Mises Institute, at this critical period in our history we simply cannot afford to grant evil another inch, but must proceed ever more boldly against it.
Image (Mitt Romney) Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Gage Skidmore
Image (Ron Paul) Credit: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0/Peter Vidrine