Libertarian History/Philosophy

Wants Obama To Win, But Will Be Happier If He Loses: Anarcho-Libertarian David Friedman on the Dilemmas of Political Group Identification


Anarcho-libertarian law and economics and political philosophy thinker David Friedman (author of anarchist political classic The Machinery of Freedom) delivers a refreshingly honest take on how our emotions and our political logic can clash in a world of recognizable political groupings:

I have little reason to want Romney to win, some reason to want him to lose. I am not confident of that conclusion—one can argue that Romney would be likely to appoint better Supreme Court justices, a point some libertarians have been making in his favor. One can speculate that the influence of the tea party Republicans might push Romney into being a better president than he wants to be. But the spectacle of the Bush administration is a strong argument on the other side.

If I switch the question from what I ought to want to what I do want, from reason to emotion, the result changes. I will be happy if Obama loses, unhappy if he wins.

Human beings have a tendency, perhaps unfortunate, to view the world as us vs them. Obama's supporters are, on the whole, people whose political views are more sharply opposed to mine than those of Romney's supporters. Insofar as my hardwired instincts are trying to sort political struggles into the categories of friend and foe, it is clear which side they put me on. If I think of the election as a football match, I may not be cheering one side, but I am definitely booing the other. Obama's defeat will be a crushing blow for a lot of people who I am inclined to disagree with and disapprove of….

Reminds me a bit of my "argument" for term limits. While I'm not sure they will have the political merits that the policy's libertarian fans promise, I do know they really piss off a class of people I am not fond of, politicians.

Friedman's fellow anarcho-theorist Randy Barnett (forgetting his beloved Lysander Spooner) this week made a hearty call for libertarians to vote Romney rather than Gary Johnson. Nick Gillespie took him to task for it earlier today.

NEXT: What Happens If the Electoral College Is Tied 269-269?

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  1. “Anarcho-libertarian law and economics and political philosophy thinker David Friedman”

    That’s gotta be tough to fit on a business card.

    1. He just goes with: “David Friedman: Alien Love God”

      1. I want a business card that just says “ME”.

        1. I want a business card as follows:

          R. C. Dean

          Special Circumstances

          That’s it. No contact information. If I want to talk to you, I’ll call you.

          1. I’m morally opposed to SC and what they do so I’d have to go with “Not affiliated with any meddling agencies”.

          2. No business card. Just an insanely weaponized AI floating next to me, handling my greetings.

            1. “You can leave a message with my knife missile.”

              1. The Culture is just Communism with really, really competent Top. Men. Machines.

                But, interesting stories nonetheless.

          3. [Basks in warm glow of pop culture reference recognition.]

            Seriously, though, when I semi-retire, that’s going to be my business card.

            1. Around here you thought somebody might not get a Culture reference? Really?

              1. I know, it was a hanging curve. Still . . .

                1. I didn’t get it. Still don’t actually.

    2. I just call him Duke Cariadoc.

  2. I cannot fathom why libertarians would prefer Republican appointees to the Supreme Court. Your commerce clause interpretation trumps the virtual abolition of half the Bill of Rights, for Jesus?

    1. S o c k p u p p e t…again your weak sauce hasn’t convinced me that a future full of Mason Reese look-a-likes on the Supreme Court is what’s best for the country! Now shut up and go eat your broccoli!

      1. I finally filtered it again. Recommend you do the same.

      2. You know who else had weak sauce?

        1. King Richard II?

        2. Michel Gu?rard?

        3. King Henry VIII?

    2. I can think of a couple good Republican appointees to SCOTUS in the past. I can think of **NO** good Democrat appointees. So there.

      1. That sums it up.

    3. Half the Democratic appointees are as bad on the virtual abolition of the Bill of Rights as Roberts and Alito. Breyer, for instance is terrible on the Fourth Amendment.

      What’s really frustrating is that, for instance, Democratic Senators are much more likely to oppose Republican Supreme Court nominees who are good on the Bill of Rights than those who are statist authoritarians.

    4. Obama SCOTUS nominees are likely to line up to Romney nominees thusly (by amendment):

      1st: Very slightly better
      2nd: Much, much worse
      4th: Just about exactly as bad
      5th: Slightly worse
      6th: Just as bad
      7th: Just as bad
      9th: Much worse
      10th: Much worse

      So I don’t really see how the math works out the way you have it.

      1. How can a nominee who has no use whatsoever for the 9th and 10th amendments be much worse than a nominee who has no use whatsoever for the 9th and 10th amendments?

        1. Depends on which rabbit you’re pulling out of the 9th’s hat. For those who believe there are enforceable rights hidden in there, GOPers are worse on the right to privacy, Dems are worse on economic liberty.

      2. What 1st amendment issues are Dem appointees likely to be better than GOP appointees on?

        They’re much worse on the issue of paid political speech, and let’s see how “hate speech” goes when/if the transit ad bans make it to SCOTUS. I suppose you could argue that they might be better on obscenity, but that’s an ultra-minor issue right now given how few prosecutions for obscenity there are. Religious/irreligious freedom is likewise basically a dead issue.

        But I agree with the rest of your analysis. Not sure how the different ends of the spectrum will be on the 3rd amendment.

        1. Indeed correct. They lost all cred on being better defenders of 1A with Citizens United.

      3. That looks like the basis of a solid pen and pencil RPG.

      4. The left is now horrible on speech issues, so I’m not sure I follow. Unless you’re thinking religion, but that’s not that hot of an issue right now. Not in the courts, anyway.

      5. What about the 3rd?

  3. Question: at what point (if ever) is it acceptable to stop being a fan of a sports team?

    I’ve had it up to here with the Cowboys ownership. Been a fan since I was a kid, but if I don’t feel like the owners or front office care, why should I? I think there’s a line somewhere between “thick and thin” and being a bitter clinger. How many years of “thin” would it take to get you to renounce your fandome, and embrace another team?

    I’m just so godamned sick of Jerry Jones.

    1. *fandom

      Though a fandome might be a cool thing to make.

    2. Any time you want, JJ. How is it not acceptable for you to change your loyalty? It’s yours and the Cowboy’s don’t own it or even deserve it if you don’t think they do.

      1. Logically that is true and correct.

        Unfortunately we’re talking sports fandom, possibly one of the least logical enterprises on the planet.

        1. How is it different than political partisanship? In fact, I’m surprised the parties don’t field teams in the major sports.

          1. What we’re seeing today is the sport, ProL. In fact, it’s the Super Bowl.

            1. I refuse to accept that these are the best contestants America has to offer. We need a playoff system.

              1. Did the best contestants make it to last year’s actual Super Bowl?

            2. Minus the awful halftime show.

              1. Just turn on MSNBC and all your awfulness will be in full swing.

                Less attractive cheerleaders, too.

          2. How is it different than political partisanship?

            Generally speaking if we lose to the Pedophilia Feebles, they don’t get to dictate the laws in Dallas for the next year.

            1. Yeah, the great thing about sports partisanship is that it doesn’t matter. It’s the one place where you can do that and not be an idiot (at least not in any particularly important way).

        2. The best way is to make a clean break. Don’t try to replace the Cowboys with another team, just stop watching football on Sunday for a couple weeks. Then, when you start watching again, pick a team to root against, say the Seahawks, instead of a team to root for. I’ve steadily been giving up on the Pats this way.

          1. JJ should do this and he should root against the Seahawks. That way we have one more thing to fight about.

            1. What is the Hawks’ position on deepdish?

              Are they pro-Voyager?

              1. Go ask Pete Carroll, I don’t know.

                1. Well, ah, I have, ah, eaten the deepdish. Really great pizza. And, ah, I’ve also eaten the, ah, thin crust. It was, ah, something I wanted to do. It was, ah, real nice. Golly, I love when you, ah, take the, ah, crust and the sauce and, ah, melt the cheese on top. You know, ah, if the cheese isn’t, ah, melty, then, ah it isn’t going to be good. Ah, but, if it is then, ah, it’s great. And uh, really love it.

                  /Pete Carroll

              2. I think a large portion of Epi’s anger stems from the fact that the Seahawks as a team love deep dish pizza and think the ST reboot was the best movie yet.

                1. By that logic ProL should be the biggest Seahawks fan in the world.

              3. THERE IS NO VOYAGER!

                1. …ONLY ZUUL!

          2. I’ve steadily been giving up on the Pats this way.

            Oh, being steadily good isn’t enough for you, princess? Fuck you.

            1. You should totally become the biggest Tom Brady fan there is.

              1. Have you seen the pictures of him totally dressed up as a cowboy? O. M. G.

            2. The Pats are one season away from collapsing back to the pre-Bledsoe days. I’m just preparing myself.

            3. I dunno. No defense only works in this watered-down NFL. I miss the one that killed people.

              1. The Seahawks are working on it.

              2. Ray Caruth didn’t play defense

          3. Why are you giving up on the Patriots of all things? This is akin to divorcing Bar Raefeli for insufficient hotness.

            1. The Patriots have no respectable D. They are all offense and those guys are getting old. It’s not that they’re bad now, but they’ll be there soon enough.

              1. I also sense pending doom for the Patriots, but that might just be wishful thinking.

              2. Also, I’m moving away from the rabid “We ripped their fucking throats out” type of fan towards the more measured “Hey, the Pats played a good game” type fan. Life is too short to wasted on getting bent out of shape over grown men getting paid more money than I’ll ever see to play a game a couple weeks every year.

              3. They’ve drafted well on D lately.

                The D will come into its own…just in time for Brady to retire.

      2. Change your loyalty? If you change your loyalty, it wasn’t loyalty to begin with.

        1. Leave it to Tulpa to no-true-Scotsman a sports thread.

    3. As a lifelong Redskins fan, I feel your pain.

      My father gave up on his beloved Cleveland sports teams (Indians and Browns). He just couldn’t take it anymore.

      1. Fuck you both. My team has not lead once through 9 games, worst team since the 29 Buffalo Bisons. The last team my team beat in a playoff game was the Houston Fucking Oilers…. three years before they moved.

        Being a Chiefs fan sucks.

        1. Fuck you man. I took J. Charles early in my fantasy draft, and you guys haven’t done shit w/ him b/c you’re always playing from behind.

        2. I liked them back in the day, when they consistently had a great secondary and would ruin the Raiders’ season. Oh, and that crazy running attack with various Nigerian death menaces.

        3. Hey, remember when you thought it would be a good idea to be the 2008 Browns? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        4. What are you talking about, they beat the NO Saints.

      2. My father gave up on his beloved Cleveland sports teams (Indians and Browns). He just couldn’t take it anymore.

        Same with my dad; he occasionally watches them just root against them and seems to gather great pleasure from it.

    4. Your first mistake was being a fan of the Cowboys. True story–Hitler was a Cowboys fan.

      1. Hitler was a Cowboys fan.

        Why do you think I picked them in the first place?

        1. I have a pet theory that all Cowboys fans are Nazis.

          1. I’m Jewish and a Cowboys fan… what does that make me?

            1. Kinky Friedman?

            2. A stereotype – the self-hating Jew.

        2. Because of the Cowgirls?

          Did anyone know that JJ was a male cheerleader in college? True story, look it up.

          1. A Nazi male cheerleader.

            1. Is there any other kind?

              1. No, you’re right to chastise me for my redundancy.

      2. You know who else was a Cowboys fan?

    5. And if it adds to the conversation, I always also liked Atlanta and would cheer for them if the ‘Boys had a bye, and as long as they weren’t playing eachother. So I’d switch to the Falcons.

      Also, their color scheme fit in w/ the two college teams I support (having attended classes at both), Texas Tech and UGA.

      Yeah they never won a Superbowl, or hell, even a playoff game, but at least Arthur Blank acts like he gives a shit.

      1. *playoff game lately; I know they lost the Superbowl in ’98 or thereabouts.

        1. Yeah, they lost Super Bowl XXXIII (John Elway’s final game).

      2. Georgia and the Cowboys? My Evil Detector is going off.

        1. My Evil Detector is going off.

          Well, I am voting for Obamney.

        2. Evil? I’m right there with him. I’m a lifelong Dallas Cowboys, OK State Cowboys, and UGA Bulldogs fan my whole life. I also have taken a liking to the Atlanta Falcons recently and the Detroit Lions (because of Stafford).

          1. Wow dude, we should totally gay out together.

            Unless you’re a chick, in which case, marry me?

            1. Pssst… Matrix = hook-nosed Jew.

      3. UGA

        I knew there was something to despise about you.

        Stupid dwags.


        1. miserable insects. I’m getting my bug spray and flyswatter ready for the 24th when UGA dominates the yellow bellies again this year.

        2. I knew there was something to despise about you.

          Oh there are many more interesting things to despise about me…

    6. You idiot, you just switch to hating your favorite team. I’ve done it for years. It’s easier to watch the Browns fucking suck when I’m yelling at them for being such losers.

      1. I’ve always envied Browns fans, for the purity of their pain.

        1. The Browns are the perfect team for Cleveland. “Yeah, we suck, fuck you.”

          1. Is there any sentiment there that the Ravens are, in fact, the real Browns, and that some effort should be made to trade the teams?

            1. That rings a bell…something about FUCK ART MODELL IN HIS FUCKING CORPSE CONMAN ASS…but I can’t remember what now.

              1. Okay, let’s phrase that differently. If Cleveland were offered a chance to swap the team called the Browns for the Ravens (along with the right to rename and outfit the Ravens), does Cleveland accept?

                1. Yes, but I only want the players who have murdered at least one person.

                  1. The best of those is getting pretty old.

              2. + all points ever.

                I would have gone ape shit if the NFL had forced the Browns to go through with that bullshit “honoring” of Modell before the start of the season.

                Rest Without Peace Art

      2. Sadly I haven’t been reduced to the level of hate you seem to be capable of bearing.

        I put my lightsaber down and didn’t kill daddy. You clearly chopped the fucker’s head off.

        1. He had it coming.

    7. Acceptable to who? If you want to change your laundry, change your laundry. Who’s gonna stop you, cut your pay, or otherwise do anything about it that you care about?

      As a Cowboy fan since childhood, I sympathize. But I just can’t quit the ‘Boys. Wait, that didn’t come out right. . . .

      1. I look at it less as quitting on them, than quitting on their ownership/management.

        When Jerrah comes out and point-blank says that if any other GM in the league had his record, he’d have fired him, but that nevertheless he will never relinquish that role, that was the final straw for me.

        He basically said, “Yes I realize I am terrible and ineffectual, but fuck you anyway.”

        1. If you’re still reading and want something that may give you one last little bit of pro-Cowboys fire, read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. It’s a horrid anti-consumer screed about some Iraq vets going to a Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game and being horrified, horrified, by all the capitalism. I never felt so good about football in all my life.

    8. You should stop watching once you deem there are better activities for your time when the ‘boys play.

      Not that difficult. I do it with the CLE Browns often to quite often.

    9. Lucky you, Jerry Jones is immortal

      1. I certainly hope not. he needs to go. Worst thing to happen to the Cowboys… just ahead of Romo.

    10. At any time, as long as you dont bandwagon jump.

      Which I think means you have to pick a team equal to or worse than the Cowboys at the time you jump.

    11. If they move, for sure. I think a one owner hiatus is also acceptable. Once I can piss on Bud Adams’ grave, I’ll stop hating the Titans, and just root for the Texans without hoping for the Titans to finish 0-16 every year.

      1. No, you won’t. I’ve already pissed on Art Modell’s conman child molester asshole grave, and I’m not about to stop hating the Ravens and the entire state of Maryland. Fuck Baltimore.

        1. This is probably true. I keep telling myself I’ll be reasonable about it, but honestly, no I won’t. Especially since they are a divisional rival.

      2. There can never be too much piss for Bud Adams’ grave. Also, fuck the Cowgirls and fuck Dallas.

        1. Hey buddy, fuck you too. And regarding the Cowgirls, yes please.

    12. I finally gave up on my Marlins after they took a winning team and promptly sold it off after winning a world series. Twice.

    13. Question: at what point (if ever) is it acceptable to stop being a fan of a sports team?

      When they lose to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final, and you realize that they’re just a bunch of fancy boys.

    14. When it comes to the Cowgirls, anyone who didn’t renounce their fandom the minute Jerry Jones’ ego sacked Jimmy Johnson for winning back to back Superbowls has waited far too long in my book.

    15. Great God, but there are a ton of Browns fans on the board. You poor bastards.

    16. F— the Cowboys until Jerry Jones steps down. Just enjoy the Mavs, who have a more than competent front office, coach and owner.

      1. And the beauty of the Mavs is that everybody thinks the ownership and FO is stupid until they continually prove everybody wrong. Being perpetually underrated is fine by me.


    The suckier half of the greatest songwriting partnership in history voices his support for Obama.

    1. Whatever. Who did Ringo endorse?


        The Tide!

        1. Holy cow. When you’ve got Ringo’s endorsement, you’ve got everything.

          The Urkobold regularly refers to him as the greatest Beatle, mumbling something about the spy who loved him. It’s really not terribly clear.

          1. He’s clearly the greatest Beatle. I mean, between Shining Time Station and “Octopus’s Garden,” come on…

    2. Paul McCartney: Overrated musician or most overrated musician EVER?

      1. That’s a tough question. I think the Beatles were great, but even great people can be overrated. Like Shakespeare or Michael Jordan.

      2. Yeah, Paul had a few really great tracks (Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby) but most of his stuff is fruity, mushy, oversentimental crap with pleasant melodies. Only one or two decent albums since the Beatles. Harrison and Lennon are far superior songwriters.

    3. Flowers in the Dirt is the best post-Beatles solo album from the four.

      *pulls pin, runs*

  5. In a sane world, both Obama and Romney would lose.

    1. Instead, no matter who wins, we lose.

      1. Alien vs. Predator, the original Prometheus.

        1. At least the winner of O v. R isn’t likely to give you a face full of alien wing-wong. I think.

        2. Well, there’s a movie I guess I don’t need to see now. THANKS FOR THE SPOILER.

          1. Trust me, you don’t. I nearly goughed out my eyes with rusty spoons for having watched it.

            1. Trust me, you don’t. I nearly goughed out my eyes with rusty spoons for having watched it.

              Wait, AVP or Prometheus?

              1. Wait, AVP or Prometheus?

                I thought the same thing.

      2. I’d enjoy this a lot more if we could put them both in a cage and have a battle to the death. We’d still be stuck with the winner, but I could at least enjoy this farce if I got to see the loser beaten to bloody pulp. Thunderdome!

    2. In a sane world, neither would even be considered for high office. Nor would “high office” be worth spending a lot of time and money on.

      1. In a sane world. no one could make a living as a “Anarcho-libertarian law and economics and political philosophy thinker “

        1. Wrong Tim, in a sane world anyone could make a living doing anything someone is willing to pay for.

          1. “Honors and benefits already at the age of nine! “

      2. In a sane world, Gary Johnson would be the Democrat and Ron Paul would be the Republican.

        1. In a sane world, Gary Johnson would be the Democrat and Ron Paul would be the Republican.


        2. Exactly.

      3. “Aww, man, I got elected President again?! This sucks. I’ve got to remember to get my name off the ballot next time.”

        1. President should be a mostly ceremonial position, you know, opening movie theaters, dating supermodels, signing autographs, that sort of thing.

          1. No, they should all be required to marry Barbara Bush.

          2. Like the President of the Galaxy, you mean.

        2. This is how being department chair in most academic departments is.

          However, you really want to call that sane?

          1. We’re within sight of having to bow to presidents, so making president equivalent to an academic position sounds just groovy to me.

            1. Within sight? Most of their supporters would kiss their feet without the tiniest prodding if given the chance.

              1. I meant mandatory bowing, not the spontaneous acclamation of which you refer.

                Serious question: If Obama loses and refuses to relinquish office, how many Democrats would support him? It’s not zero, I’m (sadly) sure of that.

      4. In a sane world, we wouldn’t feel the need to qualify statements with the phrase “in a sane world”.

        1. You know that’s not true. If we were in Libertopia, someone would be complaining.

    3. In a sane world, both Obama and Romney would lose.

      Every four years, the same question: “Is this the best we could do? Really?”

  6. Friedman is as sloppy a thinker as ever. The “spectacle” (I assume he means “spectre”) of the Obama administration is even worse than that of the Bush administration, but he wants to repeat it?

    I actually kind of liked The Machinery of Freedom, and he does make a lot of good points in that work, but there’s a lot of question begging when he gets to the hardcore an-cap stuff like privatizing police work. Assuming that something that’s never happened in the past is going to suddenly spontaneously happen when the govt disappears is a bit too rosy for me.

    1. For anarchy to actually happen and work, it’s going to need years and years of conscious work. It’s no more likely to spontaneously spring into being than the Communist delusions about a stateless society.

      And that goes for miniarchist delusions as well.

      1. True on both counts. Though minarchy at least provides some basis for collective work to bring it about. An-capism needs things to go right from day one, because if you don’t, say hello to the new boss.

        It’s likely that either one is just an unreachable asymptote that we should strive to make reality similar as possible to, rather than a system that’s likely to actually be implemented whole hog.

    2. Spectacle (n.) (Idiom)
      to make a spectacle of oneself: to call attention to one’s unseemly behavior; behave foolishly or badly in public: They tell me I made a spectacle of myself at the party last night

      1. Yes, it’s possible that’s what he meant, but in the context it seems much more likely (to me) that he meant “spectre”, which as you probably know is a common metaphor for something bad from the past, partially forgotten but still haunting one’s psyche. That would be a much more elegant phrase to use to communicate what Friedman is trying to communicate: he doesn’t want to see another Bush administration.

        It’s a minor quibble either way, as the meaning of his argument doesn’t change at all.

    3. Finally a question on which I can comment with clear authority:

      I meant “spectacle.”

      Why do you think privatizing police work has never happened before? England did not have a police force until well into the 19th century. Prior to that, both catching and prosecuting criminals were private activities.

      The modern system of police as public employees is not all that common historically.

      1. If only we could break people of the idea that government “owns” certain activities. Surely a truly educational system or police force couldn’t operate any worse than the public varieties do today.

  7. I’d enjoy this a lot more if we could put them both in a cage and have a battle to the death. We’d still be stuck with the winner, but I could at least enjoy this farce if I got to see the loser beaten to bloody pulp. Thunderdome!

    In the past I have suggested putting the loser to death as part of the inauguration festivities. I still believe it to be an idea of no little merit.

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