Election 2014

Midterm Election Results Are In. Who Cares?

Neither Republicans nor Democrats consistently protect something far more important than either party: individual liberty.


John Boehner/Instagram

I watch election results to gauge whether America has become freer or more tyrannical. It's hard to know whether Tuesday's results will make much difference. Often, individual liberty erodes in ways that neither major political party much cares about.

Last weekend, I suffered through the New York Marathon. I suffered not because I ran 26.2 miles but because I live near Central Park, and at Marathon time, officials turn my neighborhood into a little police state. Four thousand police officers, 20 boats, and four blimps "guarded" the Marathon. Barricades, bomb-sniffing dogs and surveillance cameras were everywhere.

This is new. Marathons used to be fun, people-friendly events. Athletes and spectators mingled freely. No more. New York's authorities now treat marathon spectators as annoyances, if not threats. Even runners must pass through magnetometers before they may race.

This happened, of course, because of the horrible bombing in Boston. That shut down parts of Boston for nine days. But other countries' response to terrorism is less extreme. Fifty-two people were killed in the London Underground bombing of 2005. By 4 p.m. that same day, bus service resumed.

In my neighborhood, concrete blocks and parked garbage trucks (manned by a union driver) prevent civilian vehicles from entering or leaving (in case terrorists drive a car over Central Park's wall and then through the trees to kill runners?). We were allowed to walk home, but only if we showed ID's that proved we lived on that street. The ground was covered in litter, since authorities remove every trash can, lest a terrorist hide a bomb in one.

I can't imagine what all this costs.

Police barricades are everywhere these days. If you want to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in New York City, you may no longer just gather with friends and have a picnic. Police herd spectators into barricaded pens, and if people try to climb out to use a bathroom, cops yell: "Stop! Once you're in, you're in."

I doubt that such "security theater" makes us safer. If terrorists want to make a statement, they will find other locations.

Government always grows. Police departments are no exception. The incentive is always: do more. Politicians reason, "If anything goes wrong, I'll be blamed. Someone else pays for prevention, though, so I'll take every precaution."

I once asked New York City's police commissioner if there was now "too much security." He replied, "people want to feel safe."

Yes, most people will give up liberty for security. But when we change society this way, we let the terrorists win.

That's one reason I fight with Ann Coulter. She wrote,  "If you are considering voting for the Libertarian candidate in any Senate election, please send me your name and address so I can track you down and drown you … (because) nothing matters more to the country than Republicans taking a majority in the Senate."

That mindset distracts us from defending something far more important than either party: individual liberty. Neither Republicans nor Democrats consistently protect it.

When I told Coulter that I often vote Libertarian, she replied: "Influence the Republican Party. … Do not be the spoiler to hand the government over to Democrats, who I promise do not share a single principle with you."

Democrats do want government control of the economy and more regulation of speech, innovation, medicine, school, and all kinds of things that ought to be fun. But I feel threatened by Republicans, too. Some want to control our personal lives and fight constant wars abroad.

I don't want government to regulate every inch of my life. That's why I'm a libertarian.

Most Republicans and Democrats don't love liberty enough to remove those barricades near Central Park, or countless other impediments to doing what we want. They impose a million boring, bureaucratic intrusions on daily life.

It's time America obsessed less about Republicans vs. Democrats and more about liberty, in all its forms.


NEXT: Democrats Turn on the Real Enemy: Each Other

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  1. Liberty is chaos! How can people know what to do without asking permission and obeying orders?

  2. Comments seem to be getting eaten today.

  3. Listen to Ann, John. Vote to be trampled to death by a herd of elephants to avoid giving the power to kick you to death to the donkeys.

  4. Yeah, libertarians lose no matter which party wins. Libertarians are skeptical of all coercive powers, and thus will never ourselves strive to be a part of the governing class. The best we can accomplish is to influence either party enough so that principles of liberty survive. To some extent this means our most important role as voters is that of a spoiler for both Liberal and Conservative candidates. And @ARossP makes some decent arguments that we shouldn’t vote at all: http://www.libertarianism.org/…..feZjk:9Q4.

    1. Yeah, libertarians lose no matter which party wins. Libertarians are skeptical of all coercive powers, and thus will never ourselves strive to be a part of the governing class.

      The libertarian conundrum.

      1. The “libertarian self-defeating philosophy” seems more apt.

        1. If this “self-defeating” philosophy were common currency, the moral legitimacy of statist institutions would diminish to nothing. Philosophy isn’t about replicating it’s ideas in the heads of others, it’s about the pursuit of truth.

    2. I don’t know how much gets spoiled. Vote for a vampire, you get a werewolf, vote for a werewolf, you get a vampire. All we can do is lay in a supply of stakes and silver bullets in case one side wins out.

  5. Stossel is asking for a drowning.

    1. Maybe just a waterboarding. Why does he need to leave his house during a public event?

  6. It’s a tradeoff. Sometimes you make a principled stand against *all* the duopoly candidate, sometimes you vote for the bad candidate in preference to the worse candidate.

    Far be it from me to tell you how to handle such delicate situations!

    But it *is* a tradeoff. From my point of view, the reps are generally less bad than the ds. Of course, the life issue influences my position here.

    voting for the bad candidate has bad side effects. So does being neutral between bad and worse.

    pick your poison.

    1. Voting for the LP candidate may eventually get the third party to the 10% threshold that will break the stranglehold of TEAM red and blue on the voting booth.

      that said R’s like Rand Paul and a few others are worth a look, sometimes

  7. What Ann Coulter says is “Influence the Republican Party. … Do not be the spoiler to hand the government over to Democrats, who I promise do not share a single principle with you.”

    What Ann Coulter means is “Stay over here where I can safely ignore you.”

    I’m all for influencing the Republican party. I’d be ecstatic if they became a true alternative for libertarians. There is more than way to go about doing that. Voting for non-libertarian-leaning Republicans isn’t one of them.

    1. Using Obamacare as a perfect example, this abortion of a law was passed without one single Republican vote. The progressives have taken over the Democrat party.

      Vote Republican in the General Elections and fight them tooth and nail in the primaries is my choice. That they cannot ignore. Seek purity of a candidate in the Primaries. Vote the Republican ticket in the General in order to keep the communists and hard core socialists out of the government. This ain’t your Daddy’s Democrat Party these days.

      We can’t influence anything in the modern day Democrat party when a Democrat President appoints openly communist czars like Van Jones and others like Holder who have such a grudge against a capitalist Republic that is the USA. We don’t need any President who will make the likes of a race baiter rabble rouser like Al Sharpton to be a regular visiter and counselor to the office of the President.

  8. Vote libertarian if you want a clear conscience. Vote Ruling Party if you want to make an infinitesimal difference in what kind of bullshit they feed you.


  9. “I doubt that such “security theater” makes us safer. If terrorists want to make a statement, they will find other locations.”

    of course it does not make us safer. These barriers “protecting” us create queues with lots of people. Now alls a terrorist has to do is set off a bomb in the huge queue of people waiting to be strip searched to see fireworks.

  10. Let me add that if Ann Coulter wants to try to drown me, she’d better show up better armed than me.


    1. You could take that skinny bitch methinks

  11. I just get soooooo tired of this attitude. No, one election isn’t going to magically fix everything, or even make that much of an impression. The fastest turn around ever seen in American Politics was Prohibition, and it took 13 years of abject failure for us top shitcan that. It. Aint. Gonna. Be. Fast.

    Are the Republicans an ideal vehicle? No. Can the Libertarians replace one of the two major parties? Not yet, though it’s worth working on. Should there be more than two parties? There are arguments both ways. The history of representative systems with more than two substantial parties is so-so. France. Post war governments in the rest of Western Europe, to one degree or another. People seems o naturally think in terms of two sides. Maybe stupid, but we don’t want to create a system that needs people to change how they think in order to work. That’ at the root, is what makes Socialism/Communism such a miserable clusterfuck.

    Take a few deep breaths. look to the long term. Small victories. The Intellectual Twit Left started with small victories, and kept on going. It took them a long time to make things this bad.

    1. The problem I see with part of your argument is that it delays ad infinitum the onset of the third party.

      Are the Republicans an ideal vehicle?

      No. They are not. The more energy we put into them – votes – the longer it will take for the Libertarian Party to reach some sort of parity with TEAM stupid and TEAM evil.

      Not saying that blue is better than red, just that the difference is small enough to not warrant keeping red on live support with votes that could be used to get the LP full access.

      The last election was a shellacking of blue. The problem is that blue has strongholds that will never go away. TEAM red is going to die eventually. We need to get a market oriented replacement up and running as soon as possible.

      1. Well, we could try taking over the Democrats; that is, after all, what the Proggies did.

        All I’m saying is, this is gonna take a while. Team red may die. Team red may shift. We need to examin each election to determin whether it’s the time to vote red or the time to vote L. I happen to think this was a year to vote red, but it won’t be next election. Except for the Prez. Time to vote for an L prez when there is a body of L in Comgress.

        1. “Well, we could try taking over the Democrats; that is, after all, what the Proggies did.”

          Except the Progs rule now, and the average Democrat is happy with a Nanny state.

          Many Republican’s are relatively open to Libertarian ideas. Even ones they don’t support. But Progs are hostile to them and it seems over the last 20 years that’s become the default Democratic POV.

    2. Of course everything is relative.

      The European political spectrum tends to stretch from “Leninism” to “Socialist Democracy”, regardless of what they call it.

      My favorite example is The Danish Libertarian Party’s (“Liberal Alliance”) political platform, which states they desire a 40% income tax limit, and a 12.5% corporate tax limit.

      This is considered the extreme political right in Denmark, everything else (including the Classically Liberal Party and the Conservative Party) is way left of that..

      1. “My favorite example is The Danish Libertarian Party’s (“Liberal Alliance”) political platform, which states they desire a 40% income tax limit, and a 12.5% corporate tax limit.

        This is considered the extreme political right in Denmark,..”

        It’s actually to the right of the Democratic party for that matter. Particularly the corporate tax rate.

  12. I vote Libertarian, not because I expect them to win, but because I’m hoping that the two other parties will shift towards more liberty (or at least slow down the erosion of liberty) in hopes of getting my vote, because I hope that seeing a Libertarian candidate with a enough votes will influence others to do their own research to learn what it’s all about and lastly because I know resources from the other parties are wasted trying to fight against third parties getting on the ballot and the more money they waste, the better.

    It also is possible to make a difference, at least at the local level. In New Hampshire, for example, as many as 20 members of the Free State Project were elected in the state legislature yesterday. People can be elected who serve for the sole goal of reducing the size of government and as long as those are the people you’re choosing, voting can make a difference.

    1. Except that a lifetime’s worth of activism in reducing the size of government can be undone with one single electoral result to the contrary. Democracy is a cold bitch and she won’t be offing herself.

      1. Well, I see it like a cancer treatment. This is just chemotherapy. If that doesn’t work, surgery may be necessary.

  13. The problem is that so many keep their TEAM-colored glasses so firmly welded to their heads.

    TEAM is irrelevent.

    If you support liberty, then you should vote in such a way that someone committed to destroying liberty never gets into office.

    In the best situations this means that your vote goes to a candidate that supports liberty as much as you do. This would advance your cause.

    In less ideal situations you may vote to prevent a complete enemy of liberty from gaining power by voting for a candidate whose commitment to liberty is not as solid as yours. This is not ideal, but it is better than losing ground.

    And those two things should be the limit–advance where you can, and defend what you have–never do something that allows a person who wants to destroy liberty to gain power.

    Stop thinking TEAM, start thinking liberty.

    And again, I say this as someone who voted for every Libertarian and libertarian on my ballot. Massie won, Patterson and Robinson didn’t.

    And liberty lost nothing from my vote choices.

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