Is There Any Hope For This Man?

Assessments of Barack Obama from planet reason

In July a Rasmussen poll found that libertarians make up 4 percent of the nation's likely voters—and that they favor Barack Obama over John McCain, 53 percent to 38 percent. There's a Libertarians for Obama blog (two, actually), a Libertarians for Obama Facebook group (54 members and counting), even Libertarians for Obama bumper stickers and T-shirts.

Though perhaps surprising, given libertarians' historical Republican leanings, this development shouldn't be shocking, given what the last eight years of GOP rule have brought: an exploding federal budget, a hefty new entitlement, and an expansionist foreign policy. It doesn't help that McCain has been campaigning for more than a decade as a "national greatness" conservative, not as a small-government Republican in the tradition of his Senate predecessor, Barry Goldwater.

At the same time, there are plenty of reasons to worry about the prospect of an Obama presidency. The candidate who drew cheers from antiwar activists and civil libertarians by opposing the Iraq war and the PATRIOT Act from the beginning also supports an array of new economic regulations and some blurry but potentially significant tax increases. His not-exactly-pacific rhetoric about Iran and Darfur, combined with his vote for a bill granting telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for illegally assisting government surveillance, has some worried that his positions on foreign policy and civil liberties might be closer to his predecessor than they'd like. And then there's the fact that an Obama presidency will almost certainly mean the same party controls both the White House and Congress, with eight years' worth of pent-up ambitions and long overdue favors to pay back.

reason gathered together a clutch of libertarians and fellow travelers in August and asked them to share their hopes and fears regarding an Obama presidency.

-Katherine Mangu-Ward

Virginia Postrel

Barack Obama has not run as the typical candidate, selling specific policies, a worldview, experience, or executive competence. He has instead sold himself, a glamorous icon onto whom supporters project their hopes and dreams and, in many cases, their own identities. If elected, he will have not a policy mandate but an emotional one: to make Americans feel proud of their country, optimistic about the future, and warmly included, regardless of background, in the American story.

A President Obama could deliver just the opposite. He might stumble badly abroad, projecting weakness that invites aggression (think Jimmy Carter) or involving America in a humanitarian-driven war at least as long and bloody as Iraq (think Sudan). As for inclusiveness, you can get it two ways: by respecting individual differences—however eccentric, offensive, or hard to control—or by jamming everyone into a conformist collective. Obama's New Frontier-style rhetoric has a decidedly collectivist cast. NASA is great, prizes for private space flight are stupid, and what can we make you do for your country? A guy who thinks like that will not worry about what his health care plan might do to pharmaceutical research or physicians' incentives.

Obama's campaign draws enormous power from his rhetoric of optimism-"hope," "change," and "Yes, we can." But the candidate's memoir betrays a tragic vision. In Dreams From My Father, almost everyone winds up disappointed: Obama's father, his stepfather, his grandparents, the people he meets in Chicago. Only his naive and distant mother keeps on pursuing happiness. Then she dies of cancer. He may preach hope, but Obama is not a sunny FDR or JFK. He's not a Ronald Reagan, expecting a pony in a room of manure. He assumes that any pony will have died of suffocation and worries that the horseless carriage has thrown stable hands permanently out of work. Hope is audacious because, at least in this world, it's futile and absurd. Faceless "power" is always waiting to crush your dreams.

The president's power has a face, and Obama's most fervent supporters believe he can repair the world with his face alone. Perhaps they're right, at least for the first month or two. We can only hope that he will respect the multiplicity of American dreams and the unpredictable ways in which their pursuit provides the basis for a better future.

Virginia Postrel, editor of reason from 1989 to 2000, is a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic Monthly. She is writing a book on glamour for The Free Press, which also published her book The Future and Its Enemies. She blogs at dynamist.com/weblog and at deepglamour.net.

Brink Lindsey

I believe that risking new mistakes is better than repeating old ones. On that basis, I feel obliged to look on the bright side of an Obama presidency. After all, I voted for George W. Bush twice, and I supported the Iraq war.

Iraq today is a complicated mess, and how best to extricate ourselves is a tough problem. I don't know how well Barack Obama would handle that problem, but at least he sees it clearly: His goal is to get us out of there. John McCain's goal, on the other hand, is to keep us there as long as possible. That fundamental difference is reason enough in my mind to root for Obama.

The Iraq fiasco was just one consequence of a deeper misjudgment: a panicky overreaction to 9/11 that inflated the real and serious threat of terrorism into an apocalyptic fantasy of World War IV. Delusions of "existential" danger lay behind the Bush administration's resort to torture and its mad claims of absolute executive power as well as its blundering botch job in Iraq. I myself suffered from such delusions in the first years after 9/11, but the accumulation of countervailing evidence eventually freed me from them. Bush, of course, has proved incurable. And McCain's case of 1938-itis is, if possible, even worse.

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  • SIV||

    Is There Any Hope for Barack Obama?


    NO

    I will take comfort in laughing at friends, associates and acquaintances who voted for him when they are shocked to find out he isn't the President they thought he would be.

  • ||

    "I voted for George W. Bush twice, and I supported the Iraq war." -- Brink Lindsey

    Ed Crane should be asking for his resignation. That's an unforgiveable admission of immorality.

  • ||

    The reasons seem to come down to hating Bush and the Republicans of recent years, hating the Iraq war/war on terror, and wanting something new (with charisma!). Sorry, I don't think any of that is a good argument for voting for the most socialist major-party presidential candidate since FDR. (Especially one with a compliant Congress.)

    McCain is no prize, for many reasons described around here, but get a grip, libertarians: on balance he's clearly the least bad of the two candidates who have a chance at winning.

  • charlie||

    Yawn.

    As usual, Virginia Postrel's contribution amounts to a "glamorous" pile of bullshit that, as is her style, says nothing substantive beyond noting that Barack Obama has based his campaign on his personality and life story, rather than a specific governing agenda (this, we are supposed to believe, is highly unusual for a politician).

    And am I really to believe Jimmy Carter's alleged projection of "weakness" led to aggression against the United States? Since the U.S. was not attacked during his term, I presume she is referring to the Iranian hostage situation, in which case, maybe -- just maybe -- was the result of the U.S. backed overthrow of Iran's democratically elected leader and the subsequent U.S. support for nearly three decades of the brutal, authoritarian rule of the Shah? No?

    Finally, if Postrel truly believes there's even a remote chance that an Obama presidency will be a neo-McGovernite peacenik love-in, then she's been listening to entirely too much right-wing talk radio (or taking too seriously the naive hopes of the anti-war left).

  • ||

    on balance he's clearly the least bad of the two candidates who have a chance at winning.

    "I promise, baby, it's the last time I lose my temper and hit you! I swear I'll be good to you from now on!"

    PapayaSF is just an abuser-enabler.

  • SIV||

    Since the U.S. was not attacked during his term, I presume she is referring to the Iranian hostage situation

    Where did they seize those hostages again?

  • ||

    Good range of promise/pitfall here.

    We won't have to wait long to find out, of course... there will be an internecine bloodbath between Blue Dogs and Liberals, and I worry the Liberals will win, and want to push through tons of wrongheaded traditional programs. Whether Obama is busy Listening and being Thoughtful, or whether he preempts the Congress by forcefully laying out an agenda and lining up support for it-- that will make all the difference in the world. And it will be something that we'll see in the first 100 days.

    I am not surprised to read comments like PapayaSF's, but I am mystified at the continued conviction such folks have that they understand the True Obama and everyone else just can't see the Scary Truth. When you look at the endorsements here at Reason, you have an awful lot of smart people either endorsing Barr, planning to abstain, or endorsing Obama. Only a couple endorse McCain. When we look at this, and the tons of endorsements from respected scientists, economists, politicians, blah blah blah, I think it means something. Do we really think that all these people are so a) corrupt b) stupid that they'd endorse Obama if all the stupid rumors and accusations are true?

    The fact is, that the qualms reasonable people have about Obama are scary enough. I don't think they are right, but come on -- the idea that Obama could end up a hapless wimp like Carter-- that's scarier to me than the idea that he could end up doing a lot of "Socialist" FDR things.

  • ||

    Hmmm. Not the best group to ask that question. Apparently, "libertarian" no longer means what I always thought it to mean. "Small government." Has O! proposed anything that resembles "small government?" Higher taxes. More regulation. Some sort of "civilian corps" that is funded like the military. "Mandatory" volunteerism. Oops, sorry, I should have said "universal" volunteerism. Which still means you have no choice. Re-introduction of the "Fairness Doctrine." Shall I go on? In addition, your irrational opposition to the war is ludicrous, if typical of the isolationist tendencies of the party.

    Frankly, the pseudo-intellectual droppings these folks have strewn across my screen make me thankful that the Libertarian Party remains a marginalized denizen of the lunatic fringe. Maybe you and the Greens can go in halfsies on the post-election party. Do they still have phone booths where you are?

  • ||

    Like most of the respondants, I fear Obama will screw the pooch economically and hope I'm wrong. I'd pray I'm wrong but the FSM does not answer prayers. His noodly touch is completely random.

  • ||

    The reasons seem to come down to hating Bush and the Republicans of recent years, hating the Iraq war/war on terror, and wanting something new (with charisma!). Sorry, I don't think any of that is a good argument for voting for the most socialist major-party presidential candidate since FDR. (Especially one with a compliant Congress.)

    Have you ever thought of laying flowers on the graves of all our young men and women killed in that useless war? Have you ever thought about the trillions wasted on that stupid war? Have you considered illegal wiretaps, unlimited detention sans charges? Have you considered NCLB and that shining example of fiscal prudence Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit? Have you considered the Justice department has time to go after pornographers but lacks personnel to investigate the recent shenanigans in the financial industry?

    I have and I've concluded the GOP deserves a sound thrashing this year.

    Bob Barr '08.

  • ||

    The reasons seem to come down to hating Bush and the Republicans of recent years, hating the Iraq war/war on terror, and wanting something new (with charisma!). Sorry, I don't think any of that is a good argument for voting for the most socialist major-party presidential candidate since FDR. (Especially one with a compliant Congress.)

    Didn't the guy that we have nationalize banks, expand government more than anyone since FDR and expand the police state to levels not seen since WWI? If I were to take a wild stab, I would call that guy the most socialist major party candidate since FDR. Maybe even moreso.

  • Lester Hunt||

    What an interesting set of answers -- you asked most of the people I would have liked to hear from on this question. I guess the one thing I would want to add is that the most important thing about an Obama Presidency, probably, will be the Democratic party. If the Demos have supermajorities in Congress, they are liable to drive the boy President. And I don't expect them to drive him to a good place.

  • ||

    The only good thing about an Obama win is that maybe a few conservatives will quit sucking government cock and realize there is no duty to obey unjust laws.

  • ||

    Hmmm. Not the best group to ask that question. Apparently, "libertarian" no longer means what I always thought it to mean. "Small government." Has O! proposed anything that resembles "small government?" Higher taxes. More regulation>>

    I think the stench of Bush has even effected the libertarians. Not only is Obama the anti libertarian in terms of issues, but this particular cult of presidency is revolting. Say what you want about Clinton, Gore or Kerry, but this Oprahrization is anything but free minds, free markets.

    But Obama has the luxury of following the most incompetent president in modern history. People are so digusted with Bush, that they want all the opposition to *change* thrown out- including Hillary.

    I laughed off Obama early on, thinking that the electorate isn't very bright= Clinton, Bush, the motley crew of Massachussets politiicans; but there is no way they would elect this guy.

    Said it before, and I'll say it again. After eight years of Bush, and eight years of what's coming. If the libertarian party can't make any headway, we don't deserve to have a party.

  • ||

    I've got something for any libertarian that thinks they can justify voting for Obama:

    Prepare to be disappointed.

    I can't believe that I'm saying this but... Ayn Rand was right, compromise kills.

  • ||

    If the Demos have supermajorities in Congress, they are liable to drive the boy President. And I don't expect them to drive him to a good place.>>

    Your assuming the money men don't already own him. I know the masses are led to believe this is grassroots, but surely the cynics on the Reason message boards know better.

    Democrats, particularly this one, are about as organic when it comes to fundraising, as R's are for small government.

    As if he beat the Clinton machine on his own.

  • BDB||

    "Not only is Obama the anti libertarian in terms of issues, but this particular cult of presidency is revolting. Say what you want about Clinton, Gore or Kerry, but this Oprahrization is anything but free minds, free markets."

    Two words. Sarah Palin.

  • cunnivore||

    Either Obama or McCain will have troops in Iraq at least until the next election. So there's no point in voting based on Iraq this time around, save that for 2012.

    Personally, I consider this election to be a choice between turd sandwich on white or turd sandwich on wheat. Bring a quarter to flip in the voting booth if you want, it won't matter. Just don't pretend that there's some huge difference between the two.

  • ||

    Charlie: I think Postrel was also thinking of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Soviet/Cuban adventurism in Africa, etc.

    Angry Optimist: If voting for the lesser of two evils "enables abuse," I suppose so. I would like to know how you avoid doing so. Voting Libertarian? Not voting? Sorry, I think that's just as enabling as my strategy.

    Yoshiyahu: Politics is largely emotion, and scientists and economists are just as susceptible as anyone else. Many Obama supporters aren't stupid, just refusing to see past their emotional biases. (And of course that can apply to Obama opponents as well.)

    Ginsocal: Yup, I pretty much agree.

    J sub D: Sorry, we'll have to disagree on Iraq and war on terror stuff. Iraq is nearly over and the post-9/11 civil liberties stuff is so far pretty minor IMHO. And if you don't like NCLB and Bush's Medicare expansion (and I largely agree with you), I'm sure you'll hate Obama with a Democrat Congress even more.

    Mo: I see your point, but the alternatives may have been worse. At least with McCain, there's a good chance the Feds will sell those bank stakes. With Obama, not so much.

    Lester: Yup.

  • cunnivore||

    The only good thing about an Obama win is that maybe a few conservatives will quit sucking government cock and realize there is no duty to obey unjust laws.

    ...until they get back into power. Then it'll be February 1995 all over again.

    Until our country totally collapses, it's going to be an endless game of statist ping-pong between the R side and the D side. The people's nerve endings of liberty have been cauterized beyond all repair. Of course, the collapse of our country may also bring its own statist renaissance.

  • cunnivore||

    I think Postrel was also thinking of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Soviet/Cuban adventurism in Africa, etc.

    How did those work out for the Soviets again? While Reagan's aggressive FP undoubtedly helped nail the coffin shut, there's something to be said for the previous strategy of giving the commies enough rope to hang themselves, too.

  • ||

    PapayaSF -- true enough. Emotion is driving both sides, and it's all emotion over Obama. That being said, if you want to rely on reason rather than emotion, you have even less cause to bandy about "socialist" as a legitimate label for Obama.

  • ||

    "I will take comfort in laughing at friends, associates and acquaintances who voted for him when they are shocked to find out he isn't the President they thought he would be."

    So will I, when he turns out not to be a secret radical Muslim socialist...

  • shrike||

    Libertarianism has three legs -

    Small federal government
    Light foreign footprint (Paulism)
    Civil/Personal Liberty


    The GOP (Bush/McCain) fail on ALL three.


    The aborto-freaks here (SIV, Guy Montag) don't get it - but most folks do.

  • ||

    Vote the 2nd ammendment, then we can at least fight to protect the rest of the constitution.

  • ||

    "Not only is Obama the anti libertarian in terms of issues, but this particular cult of presidency is revolting. Say what you want about Clinton, Gore or Kerry, but this Oprahrization is anything but free minds, free markets."

    Two words. Sarah Palin.>>


    And I find the Ron Paul supporters a bit creepy too. Although I'd vote for Paul and may write him in since I can't get over the fact that Barr was a typical republican five minutes ago.

    The Palin support is certainly vapid. But this following of BO is unprecedented.

  • ||

    Either Obama or McCain will have troops in Iraq at least until the next election. So there's no point in voting based on Iraq this time around, save that for 2012.

    It's been 5 and a half years since that foolhardy episode began. You may have noticed, people, even some Americans, are still getting killed and wounded. The bleeding of the treasury remains unstaunched.

    I don't wish to put the discussion about who will most likely get us out of this fuck story of a misadventure the soonest off for four years.

    People shouldn't have factored in Vietnam in our '68 political calculus?

  • Other Matt||

    The GOP (Bush/McCain) fail on ALL three.

    And Obama/Pelosi clears any one of them?!? Let's see...Small govt, nope. Light foreign footprint, well, we get out of Iraq and get into another few dozen Somlia's, so I'd think that pretty clearly qualifies as a "No" there also. Civil/Personal Liberty? Let's see, against gay marriage, second amendment cranial rectal inversion, believes in "common sense regulation" of rights.

    I'm just not feeling it. I'm still seeing gridlock as our best option.

  • ||

    Hope for Obama? Sure. Hope for the rest of us? Not so much.

    -jcr

  • ||

    this following of BO is unprecedented.

    No, it's not. We've had several celebrity presidents before who got this kind of following. FDR, JFK, and Lincoln (posthumously) spring to mind.

    -jcr

  • BDB||

    Don't forget Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan, JCR. Teddy Roosevelt, too.

  • ||

    The issue of whether it is accurate to call Obama's support for an income tax, a progressive income tax, nationalization of the bakning, mortgage and financial service industries, collective bargaining, closed shops, national health care, the federal reserve system with its fiat money, the continued monopolization of the administration of justice, the continued monopolization of the issuance of currency and his continued support for military keynesianism, has generated more than a plethora of posts.

    Some argue that it is inaccurte to call Obama a socialist. They reason that Obama has not called for the government to own all of the means of production and that he has not advocated that the government nationalize every industry. Therefore, the argument goes, Obama is not a socialist. Those that support this position do not reject the assertions set forth in the first parapgraph of this post. Rather, they tend to cite a Wikipedia entry defining socilaism or a definition or two frrom an on-line dictionary as if the citation of the same is some kind of all inclusive, comprehensive, nuanced, complete treatment of socialism and what it means. These references to a Wikipedia entry and a definition in an on-line dictionary are trotted out as if they are a kind of a merger or integration clause, barring any further discussion as to what socialism means.

  • ||

    "get into another few dozen Somlia's"

    It was a GOP Prez that undertook the Somalia mission. A Democratic President ordered our leaving there.

  • BDB||

    My God, Georgia is now a toss up on RCP!

  • ||

    Still others urge that the use of the word socialist in characterizing Obama's political philosophy is impairing our ability to communicate. They contend that employing the term socialism in connection with the Kenyan's political and economic philosophy is hyperbole; some, even argue that the use of the same exposes one as a moonbat (yeah, that word really means something) libertarian. Many in this camp fear that libertarians calling Obama a socialist will turn the masses from the good news of liberty (for example, the type of "peoples" that continue to support Diane Wilkerson-are you reading Joe?).

  • ||

    "One big positive of getting a fellow who taught constitutional law into the Oval Office is that he's likely (isn't he?) to restore constitutional government."

    Hahaha. Yes, surely, Sir.

    A lot of people are going to learn or re-learn a simple lesson - at least, if they aren't too invested in disliking Republicans and GWB (in many case justly) to admit it - things can always get worse.

    And boy, are they going to when this crew gets control of all three branches of government.

    The big question at this point is how long it will take the Obama libertarians (those who actually are libertarians) to pipe up with the same ferocity.

  • ||

    The biggest irony being that those of us who aren't fools (and work in the business) realized as early as 2006 (after Iraq and Afghanistan were clearly gone to shit) that there wasn't going to be any war with Iran initiated by us so long as we were so tied down - under any administration.

    So good job boys. You ran the pom-poms for an administration that's going to give us a New-New Deal, in large part over an issue that wasn't even an issue.

    Idiots.

  • ||

    Cambridge On-line Advanced Learner's Dictionary-

    socialism. the set of beliefs which states that all people are equal and should share equally in the wealth of the country, or the political systems based on these beliefs.


    marxism. a social, political and economic theory which is based on the writings of Karl Marx.

    The cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary is not one of the dictionaries that has been cited in prior posts that I have read. The above dictionary definition of socialism is compatible with Obama's philosophy. He supports redistribution of wealth. He supports a progressive income tax. Support of a progressive income tax has always been touted by socialists as a means of "sharing" the wealth of a country.

    I have called Obama a Marxist as well. Karl Marx supported an income tax, a progressive income tax, collective bargaining, closed shops, nationalization of industires, greater government control of education and on and on.....just like the Kenyan.

  • shrike||

    Well, liberty mike, like most here - give me Obama socialism over Bush/McCain Fascism any time.

    No contest.

    I like my freedom exempt from Christo-fascism.

  • ||

    "It was a GOP Prez that undertook the Somalia mission. A Democratic President ordered our leaving there."

    Exhibit A of those who think they're clever, but don't know jack shit about what they're talking about.

    Bush I (perhaps incorrectly) brought us into Somalia on a temporary mission to stop a large scale famine in which hundreds of thousands people were dying, in large part due to the lobbying and pressure of that bastion of right-wing nuttery known as the Congressional Black Caucus and mau-mauing of the press. The mission had no-nonsense ROEs and was fully intended to be transitory.

    The Clinton Adminitration, at the urging of the UN Security Council, authorized U.S. troops to specifically go after Aidid on the utopian notion that we were going to rebuild Somali society...which led to the firefight that forced Clinton's hand at home on largely Republican-driven pressure.

    But we've got rote talking points to comfort us over the next however many years, so all's good.

  • ||

    Nearly everything the Bush Administration did wrong was an inheritance of Democratic ideas, either at home or abroad, from nation-building to irresponsible spending and entitlements. They, however, had to deal with not only vestigial resistance from a segment of their party, but an inherently government bureaucracy and national media that was on them 24/7.

    Now you're going to get the real deal, aided and abetted all the way.

  • ||

    *inherently hostile

  • ||

    Didn't the guy that we have nationalize banks, expand government more than anyone since FDR and expand the police state to levels not seen since WWI? If I were to take a wild stab, I would call that guy the most socialist major party candidate since FDR. Maybe even moreso.



    Yes, Bush is indeed the biggest big-government president since FDR. Unfortunately Obama is promising to be even bigger.

  • Scott66||

    "One big positive of getting a fellow who taught constitutional law into the Oval Office is that he's likely (isn't he?) to restore constitutional government."

    "Hahaha. Yes, surely, Sir."

    Yea that made me laugh too.

    Perhaps Ms. McCloskey should go to the address below for a better understanding of what Obama thinks of the constitution. Note he gave this interview during the time he was teaching constitutional law.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

    The short summary, the constitution does not mean anything. Or perhaps it means what the people in power say it means.

  • Paul||

    And am I really to believe Jimmy Carter's alleged projection of "weakness" led to aggression against the United States?

    Actually, there's evidence that Jimmy Carter's weakness led to aggression in many places around the world, against many peoples. But let's not rehash that.

  • economist||

    I'm crossing my fingers and hoping Barack Obama turns into Bill Clinton. Not perfect, but certainly better than, say, a Carter or a Roosevelt.

  • ||

    Yoshiyahu: One simple metric is to compare Obama's voting record with Bernie Sanders, Socialist-VT. Obama votes with him, or to his left, nearly all the time. Doesn't that tell you something?

    Obviously Obama is not marching in a May Day parade, waving a red flag, singing the Internationale, and calling for state ownership of everything. (That was, BTW, more or less the ideology of his father.) But there's no denying his basic orientation: more government control of the economy "for the public good," more money for the government to redistribute, more deference to the UN, etc. etc.

    His attitude toward the Constitution is also scary, as noted above. And I should think any commenter here now suffering under "Bush/Cheney fascism" would think Obama's judicial views far scarier.

  • ||

    this following of BO is unprecedented.

    No, it's not. We've had several celebrity presidents before who got this kind of following. FDR, JFK, and Lincoln (posthumously) spring to mind.>>

    Wasn't around for those guys, nor do I believe we haven't had celebrity presidents. But I don't remember large numbers of people using phrases such as *save us*, *our only hope* etc.

    Magazine covers of just a guys face? Did any journalist say Kennedy gave them a shiver up their leg?

    No doubt people fawned over the aforementioned guys. But before they were even elected? The conservative worship of Reagan is laughable, but they didn't speak like zombies in '79- that came later.

    I saw Clinton in person, eight rows back, a month before the '92 election. Folks were mesmerized by his message, but like him or not: the guy actually had a message, complete with a detailed pamphlet. This reaction to BO is bizarre. Although I disagree with him on most issues, it is the reaction of the electorate I find disgusting.

  • ||

    I agree that this Obama worship is frightening. I thought the adoration of Bill Clinton was bad enough (like the "remember we're your children" - ugh), but it can't touch the Obamamania.

    I can't agree that there is anything better about McCain, except his VP pick may be less of an idiot than Obama's. The ONLY plus to McCain is that of split government.

  • the unregistered voter||

    One big positive of getting a fellow who taught constitutional law into the Oval Office is that he's likely (isn't he?) to restore constitutional government.

    Wow. Just wow. If Obama has made anything clear, it's that he regards the Constitution as an obstacle to be surmounted, rather than an obligation to be honored. Sure he knows the Constitution. He knows it well enough to be dangerous when he's squeezing out of it what he wants it to say. In Obama's case, knowledge of constitutional law is bug, not a feature.

  • ||


    I can't agree that there is anything better about McCain, except his VP pick may be less of an idiot than Obama's. The ONLY plus to McCain is that of split government.


    McCain doesn't have a redistributionist philosophy. He's a Teddy Roosevelt Progressive at heart. His impulse is to let business be business, but to rein in what he calls "greed." Obama, insofar as one can tell, is a Marxist at heart. His impulse is to spread around what he sees as much more static, some notion of "wealth" that floats around. Note that I didn't say "Stalinist." I mean that he thinks like your average sociology prof, not an evil dictator -- not that the ends are always so different.

    McCain is much more of a free trader and has pushed to liberalize immigration and the southern border. He has a genuine record of opposition to earmarks. Obama is the union candidate, with no philosophical opposition to protectionism and handouts.

    Both candidates sound like they wouldn't mind a war here or there, though I honestly think that McCain, though he seems more bellicose, would be more cautious, in light of Iraq. Obama has made noise about "humanitarian" military adventures a la Clinton, and unfortunately I think he would be more willing to give us another Somalia than McCain would want another Iraq. I could be wrong.

    Things to be concerned about with Obama: card check, the FCC regulating political speech, Democrats gratuitously lashing out at conservatives with various other laws, and really whack judicial appointments.

    Things to be concerned about with McCain: he "reaches across the aisle" at the worst times. He's a crusader for "clean campaigns," which blinds him to how wrongheaded he can be. He can be a crusader in general, and blind to how wrongheaded he can be.

    It seems to me that Joe Biden is quite anti-libertarian; an anti-gun, "tough on crime", drug warrior puritan with a D by his name -- damn near a fascist in my view. His energy policies are assinine. Palin is acting like the social conservative for the "base", but I think this is a mistake (ditto for McCain, who has never in his real life been a RR guy at all). But beneath this, the GOP pair has a realistic energy policy -- whatever you think of Palin, she does have a clue about energy -- and they have a certain Western strain of libertarian instincts that Obiden utterly lack.

    Anyway, I think that this forum article was far more informative and intelligent than the "who are you voting for?" piece. Thanks, Reason.

  • JLE||

    This ship is definitely sinking.

  • Sun Stealer||

    Everything wrong with the libertarian movement is best exemplified by the politically retard staff at Reason. They have no idea what the hell is happening. Iraq, a mess? That place is finally winding down, Afghanistan's the new hot spot. Even Obama has admitted that the surge was a success. And FYI, Obama wanted to delay the year for withdrawal to a date more politically beneficial to him. This is only one case of the Reason staff being completely misinformed on everything. The only things the folks at reason understand are economics and technology, they can't piss straight when it comes to anything else.

  • ||

    Sun Stealer is right.

    With some exceptions, among them Virginia Postrel, Megan McCardle and Arnold Kling, libertarians are people whose minds don't develop beyond the sophomore year in college. The courage, character and love of honor and of country that animate John McCain are alien to most libertarians.

    Anyone who claims to love liberty and who supports Barack Obama over John McCain is not a morally serious person.

    Anyone who is willing for this country to lose a war to the likes of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan should find himself another country. He doesn't deserve to live in this one.

  • ||

    "Obama, insofar as one can tell, is a Marxist at heart. His impulse is to spread around what he sees as much more static, some notion of "wealth" that floats around."

    Marx advocated the collectivization of industry, not just the redistribution of wealth. I don't think too highly of the guy's economic platform, either, but Calling Obama a Marxist is ridiculous.

  • Elemenope||

    Sorry, I don't think any of that is a good argument for voting for the most socialist major-party presidential candidate since FDR.

    Really? Most socialist since FDR? How does someone even measure something like that?

    Ayn Rand was right, compromise kills.

    Of course she thought so: she was an extremist.

  • ||

    Reasonites, be prepared - no matter who wins -to be pissed every day at something the administration and Congress does. The only question is "Will we throw up our hands in despair and walk away or will we redouble our efforts, as the remnant of liberty?"

  • ||

    I can't agree that there is anything better about McCain, except his VP pick may be less of an idiot than Obama's. The ONLY plus to McCain is that of split government.>>

    Agreed, and with Barry D as well. I have my reservations about Palin- she's inexperienced, a Republican, and not exactly Bill Clinton in terms of presentation.

    However, Joe Biden is the idiotic pick to end all idiotic picks. This moron voted for that stupid war, and then against the only part of it that made sense- the surge? Wanted to break Iraq up in to three different regions? Gee Joe, that is mighty white of you.

    One of the authors of *the war on drugs*. Been in the Senate more than half his adult life...etc. Need we go on?

    I know the guy is funny, and makes for good copy, but my goodness he's a disaster. If his alleged foreign policy experience (and ahem, the fact that he helps in Pennsylvania) is what got him the VP slot, I say no thanks.

  • ||

    http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/urban_policy/

    This is the "libertarian" stuff that is supposed to make us want to vote for him:

    Support Local Law Enforcement: Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to fully funding the COPS program to put 50,000 police officers on the street and help address police brutality and accountability issues in local communities. Obama and Biden also supports efforts to encourage young people to enter the law enforcement profession, so that our local police departments are not understaffed because of a dearth of qualified applicants.

    Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: America is facing an incarceration and post-incarceration crisis in urban communities. Obama and Biden will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the successful Welfare-to-Work Partnership and work to reform correctional systems to break down barriers for ex-offenders to find employment.

    Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.


    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • ||

    Since the U.S. was not attacked during his term, I presume she is referring to the Iranian hostage situation

    Where did they seize those hostages again?


    On sovereign US territory, the US embassy.

  • ||

    They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

    Which is of course why M4s carbines are being issued to the Chicago PD.
    *grr*

  • economist||

    Picassolll,
    It's okay for the authoritas to have big scary guns, because we know that elected governments never, ever, in a million years, even if threatened waterboarding for failure to do so, abuse their power. Ever.

  • economist||

    However, any private citizen that likes to have big scary guns is obviously a dangerous nut.

  • Nick||

    I'm not voting for McCain or Obama (either Barr or goofy write-in) but there are some undeniable facts about Obama that make me (despite being a left-leaning classical liberal) far more frightened of his ascent presidency than McCain's.

    #1 being Obama's pledge to "make government cool again." His complete lack of skepticism towards government as fix-all is absolutely frightening. At least McCain (usually, when he's not supporting bailouts for political purposes) shows it with his economic policy.

    #2 is a comparison between running mates. Palin actually attended several LP meetings and has spoken kindly of libertarians and Ron Paul. Biden angrily shook a Cato Institute-fellow-written book at Clarence Thomas and demanded to know whether he agreed with that book's views.

    Obama seems to aspire to be a "great" president to be remembered in the history books. Most of the "great" presidents, like Jackson, Lincoln, FDR and JFK were some of the worst presidents because they resulted in massive shifts in the direction of the country via massive expansions of government. The best presidents in my opinion are generally the ones who hardly make any impact, like Coolidge or Taft. Or that one who died right after his election. I can see McCain being that kind of president, especially with a Democratic Congress. Few if any presidents have made a positive impact or placed real restraint on government, with perhaps George Washington being the best example.

    Another big reason McCain is preferable - a willingness to use the veto pen, especially in order to slash spending. If McCain is to be a one-termer as I expect, he shouldn't need to hold back. The use of veto is a huge and a marked difference from both GWB and BHO. On the other side, the Democrats, who will likely be more pissed than any of us can remember if McCain actually wins, will gladly obstruct any potential wars of McCain's.

    Another reason McCain is preferable is that we have seen McCain and Obama's foreign policies converge. They may have been on opposite sides of the Iraq war, and I would fall on Obama's side on the issue. But both recognize it's about time to go, both want to reassert our presence in Afghanistan and potentially Pakistan, and both want to get us involved in Sudan. Obama may get us out of Iraq a year or two earlier only than McCain to move us straight in to Afghanistan and Sudan. McCain may make the transfer more gradually. Either way, our foreign policy is likely to end up in just about the same place and be just as expensive. Cancel Obama's big advantage.

    Also, McCain is not the typical religious zealot GOP candidate, which should be refreshing for libertarians and secularists. McCain may be pro-life, but he's less of a moralist when it comes to private decisions than your average GOP politician. Obama is as or more likely than McCain to be using faith based initiatives to move his policies forward.

    On most levels, McCain is preferable to Obama. I'd like one of you defending Obama to refute these points. I don't have a horse in the game because I'm not voting for McCain, but I can't even remotely understand why any libertarian could find Obama preferable on just about any level, especially when the cult of his presidency is factored in.

    I even consider myself "of the Left." I support naturally progressive taxation (a system with one land value tax to replace income, payroll, sales and property taxes; and one corporate value tax to replace corporate income and capital gains taxes), despise corporations as perversions of a free market, support successful public schools, support reduction of government in a progressive manner that impacts the poor the least, and recognize that a meritocracy is required before a free society would be widely accepted. But despite my many values agreements with Obama, I still can't understand why anyone would find him preferable to McCain.

  • ||

    JFK might have sexy and martyred but he sure wasn't a great president. Obama likes to think he'll be all cool and the gang, but he's going to be Jimmy Carter.

  • Limitarian Libertarian||

    All politicians including Libertarian politicians are megalomaniacs or something of the sort. The most important thing to them is attention. That said, libertarians' endorsements of politicians degrade the libertarian brand. Libertarians, for now, should not be voting for politicians; they should vote the libertarian brand (i.e. straight Libertarian ticket). There is no need to identify individual reformers until most people are ready to jump off of the sinking big government ship.

    Actually, it may be too late for Libertarianism to command respect as a quality brand. To many non-limit-arian ideologists have used the the term libertarian to describe their lunacy (e.g. Bill Maher, Camille Paglia, etc.) Even Ron Paul revealed that he doesn't believe in evolution. How can one believe in market capitalism and not evolution? Market capitalism and evolution are two ways of describing the same natural law -- survival of the fittest and the resources of the weak are reallocated to a more useful purpose. Think about it! Go Markets!

  • ||

    A bunch of great, thoughtful contributions from mature minds who actually grasp real politics. I especially found Rauch illuminating. Most of you commenters, however, are total retards.

  • DS||

    What a sad group of "libertarian" commentators. The best any of them could muster was "hope" that he won't be as bad as some people think.

    Obama has been packaged since day one as a blank slate - somebody who anyone can project their political beliefs on and make them stick - notice how the so-called libertarians in the above article projected their hopes and beliefs on this guy without one shread of evidence. This is because he has no record, has never been the leader of anything, and the MSM has basically given him a free pass as far as scrutiny goes. He has purposely said very little and rode the wave of anti-Bush sentiment to the white house. Talk in generalities, don't say anything specific, promise everything to everybody in a general enough manner that everybody can see their self looking back in the mirror. Platitudes about about hope, bi-partisanship and other non-specific claptrap are exactly what the voters have been looking for, and he gave it to them.

    This has been a brilliant strategy - saying anything specific would have been really stupid. Look at the whole bail-out nonsense - he stayed as far away from that as he possibly could and never said anything specific. Brilliant.

    Starting in January when he stops being a blank slate and starts having to make real decisions, I think a lot of people are going to have a big dose of buyers remorse - and they will have nobody to blame but themselves because they wanted to believe.

    And McCain is no better, he would just be more predictable.

    I also have to say something about this:

    "Most of the "great" presidents, like Jackson, Lincoln, FDR and JFK were some of the worst presidents because they resulted in massive shifts in the direction of the country via massive expansions of government."

    Say what you want about Andrew Jackson on some issues like Indian removal and his unfortunate personal feud with Calhoun that lead to him threaten states rights during the nullification crisis, but he put the central bank out of business and was the last president to completely pay off the national debt. He most certainly did not expand goverment - he was the closest thing we've had to a libertarian president on the issue of the size and scope of government since his time. Jackson would be appalled at what the party he essentially founded has become and would be dreadfully ashamed of being lumped in with the others in that list.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Big-government McCain, or bigger-government Obama.

    Wow. What a choice. Kind of like "you must stick your hand in either this pot of boiling water, or that pot of boiling oil - but at least you get to choose"...

    We are soooo fucked, no matter the outcome.

  • Sun Stealer||

    First off, let me say this, Obama is not a marxist, because marxists are internationalists where as Obama has ethnocentric tendencies. Obama is however a hard core socialist with a utopian vision and zero tolerance for critics.

    That said. We have a choice this election between John McCain and the second coming of Stalin.

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