Election 2014

Vote Democrat in 2014: An Election About Nothing

If you don't, the terrorists win and the Ebola warriors lose.

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This article is part of a series on the libertarian vote in the 2014 midterm election. Read the alternative perspectives from other parties here and here.

Vote for inertia. Vote Democrat November 4.

As a libertarian Democrat (maybe six of us) I would be expected to counsel balloting for the party to which I have a nearly religious attachment. Wearing my "Madly for Adlai button," as a 9-year-old I rode shotgun in our Model T Ford (I am not making that up) with my mother and grandmother, taking neighbors to the polls in 1956.

The precinct committeeman in our little southern Illinois town paid Mom and Grandma $10 to haul Depression era aging ladies, their pregnant daughters, their unemployed husbands, and their World War II veteran sons to the polls, to vote a straight Democratic ticket. It was much needed cash. We were on county-run welfare, and party functionaries were still dispensing a lot of it. It was a time before the big public benefits programs of Johnson (Medicare and Medicaid) and Nixon (indexing Social Security to inflation.) Republican welfare was doled out to tax revenue rent-seekers in the highway construction business and the Cold War defense industrial complex, the former of which Eisenhower assisted and the latter he warned us about in his 1961 Farewell Address.

But back to my premise. Vote Democratic November 4, to keep bad public policy from getting worse. Because, like Seinfeld, made-for-cable Decision 2014 is a political show about nothing.

Short of a coup d'etat assault on The Homeland (├╝ber alles!) by The Terrorists or collapse of Western Civilization from failure to fully fund the "we're all gonna die" Ebola Fighters at the CDC/CNN (same thing), we will have a Democratic president and a Republican House of Representatives from January 3, 2015 until the next presidential inauguration day, January 20, 2017. All the smart congressional election prognosticators at the Cook Political Report, Rothenberg Political Report, and the University of Virginia Sabato's Crystal Ball agree with that midterm forecast.

The only question is the U.S. Senate. I would argue that believers in free markets and free minds would be served best by keeping the upper house under modest Democratic control. Republican majorities in both chambers would produce little public policy heartening to libertarians, given the veto power of a Democratic president and the continued intra-party blood-letting in a divided GOP. (See my analysis of the state of our two parties, Democratic Political Mush Vs. GOP's Three Branches and a Twig.)

Democrats won the culture policy war in the first decades of the 21st Century. True, "the future is widely misunderstood" (Ray Kurzweil, "The Singularity is Near"), but recent warp-speed change in support of gay marriage and marijuana legalization suggest the clock won't be turned back on questions of individual choice.

Republicans won the economic policy war in the 1980s and 1990s, with deregulation of some business activity and marginal tax rates far lower than when I helped shuttle Democrats to the polls in the 1950s. It was something of a pyrrhic victory for free market libertarian Republicans, given the GOP's crony capitalist friends at Big Pharma, Big Banking, and Big Defense.

Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill can claim victory, at least for their corporate and labor union campaign donors, in the interventionist foreign policy war, waged by George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. In that regard, non-interventionist libertarians will gain little voting Democratic and less supporting Republicans for Congress.

Eisenhower's military-industrial complex owns both parties on Capitol Hill. Republicans support our troops as welfare to war profiteers. Democrats see defense spending as a jobs program.

But there is a caveat, with which I can make a plausible libertarian argument for continuing Democratic control of the Senate. And I include even the four Democratic candidates in the militaristic Deep South, whose contests comprise over a third of the toss-up races that will decide party control of the upper body: Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Michelle Nunn in Georgia, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and Mark Pryor in Arkansas.

A much bigger anti-war faction exists among Democrats in the electorate, which was proved in 2006 when Iraq War-weary Democrat left-liberals and many Democratic-leaning independents turned out to throw out Republicans in the House, which led to more disengagement in Iraq. That is not to say a Democratic Senate could be counted on to thwart allowing more war power to either President Obama or his successor. But the Senate votes against the Bush-Cheney Iraq adventure and Obama's second war in Afghanistan were cast by Democrats.

Of course, I would be foolish to argue strongly for voting Democratic on the basis of foreign policy, because lots of lefties have turned a blind eye to Barack Obama's failure to deliver as a 2008 "anti-war" candidate. And the saber-rattling Hillary Clinton enjoys the same cognitive dissonance from Hollywood and campus liberals, who swoon over the warrior princess, despite her "America as indispensable nation" Neo-Con Lite "liberal internationalism."

I would fault no libertarian for refusing to "just encourage them" by showing up at the polls, unless you have a marijuana legalization initiative on your state ballot, in which case it would be nearly criminal to stay at home on November 4.

For the more pragmatic rest of us, it comes down to what it almost always does. Which is the least bad option? For this aging former 9-year-old political junkie, it's a vote for the Democrats. But, hey. I'm a glass-half-full, D-Reaming believer that things can only get better.