November 8, 2006

Election Results

Well, the two Libertarian candidates I was watching most closely (Bruce Guthrie for senate from Washington and Michael Badnarik for congress from Texas) did not do nearly as well as I had hoped they might, but the election results are, in my opinion, far from being a total loss.

Firstly, we have a Democratic house and an evenly split or Democratic senate, with a Republican president. This is good in two ways: (1) the Democrats have enough power to stop Bush from pushing his terrible ideas through the legislature, but not enough power to push their own terrible ideas through (i.e., we have gridlock), and (2) in the past few election cycles the Democrats have been better than Republicans from a Libertarian perspective, even on issues of size and spending of the government. Now, this is sad, because the Democrats are definitely a "big government" party, and want it to be the government's job to fix all sorts of social problems which libertarians think it shouldn't touch, but it remains that at this point most (not all) Democratic politicians probably represent the 'lesser evil' from a libertarian perspective, compared to the upper-level Republicans (but make no mistake - voting for the lesser evil is still supporting evil, and I won't do it).

Secondly, several Libertarian candidates I wasn't watching did quite astoundingly well in elections for federal offices. Here is a quick list of all the candidates that got better than 10%:

  • Steve Osborn (U.S. Senate, Indiana, 12.6%)

  • Jason Blair (U.S. House, Arizona District 6, 26%)

  • Gordon R. Strickland (U.S. House, Texas District 16, 21.3%)

  • Camden McConnell (U.S. House, California District 7, 16.9%)

  • Paul Ard (U.S. House, Kentucky District 6, 13.8%)

  • Michael Adrogo (U.S. House, Texas District 20, 12.6%)

A complete list is available from the Libertarian Party web-site here.

Further investigation shows that Osborn and Blair were running in races with no Democrats and Strickland, Adrogo, McConnell, and Ard were running in races with no Republicans, so this makes the results perhaps a little less exciting than they might otherwise be, and they may not make the news. Hopefully, however, the candidates who won the races with high percentages of Libertarian votes will be concerned to appease the libertarians in their constituencies, which could translate into at least some influence on politics. Some of the news agencies have also recently talked about the rise of "independent" voters, especially in the southwest, and these are generally considered to be mostly (small l) libertarians. Some analysts suggested before the election that the Republicans had lost this block of voters, and that it would cost them the House. We'll see how seriously the Republicans and Demcorats take the need to win this constituency in the next election cycle.

In addition to national performance, Libertarians won a variety of minor offices, as usual. They are mostly city council, county commissioner, and conservation district positions, but every time a Libertarian is elected to a position, however minor, it works to increase party recognition and legitimacy, at least in that local constituency.

In short, let me say that I am guardedly optimistic about the political direction we are going. In general, we must stop moving the wrong direction before we can start doing the right direction, so right now gridlock is the best that can be hoped for.

Posted by Kenny at November 8, 2006 2:27 PM
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Comments

I'm not sure which measure you're using to get Democrats coming out better, but there's at least one measure by which Republicans still come out better by libertarian standards, and that's the proposed budgets by candidates in the 2004 election. Bush's budget may have been pretty large compared to Republicans of a couple decades ago, but it was much smaller than those of Kerry, Dean, Edwards, and company.

I'm a bit skeptical that a Democratic House is going to put together a budget that gives any appearance of cutting funding to social programs, and there's no way they can use the strategy they used in the 90s of cutting defense. Getting rid of tax cuts is only going to help in the short run, because it will lead to smaller profits to be taxed, which will ultimately lower revenue.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at November 8, 2006 7:55 PM

There's also this.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at November 8, 2006 7:58 PM

No, I don't think the Democrats will cut funding to social programs. But I don't think they can possibly spend as fast as Bush, I think they will get out of Iraq sooner than the Republicans (which WILL save defense money), and I think they have a much better civil liberties record. When the PATRIOT Act first came out everyone voted for it and many Demcrats supported its renewal as well, but it was MANY Democrats, as opposed to ALL Republicans. (As I said, they are probably, at this point, the lesser evil, but they are still decidedly evil.) The Democrats also mostly voted against the ridiculous flag burning amendment. Furthermore, the Democrats will doubtless oppose Bush's constant power grabs and subject him to more serious congressional scrutiny.

Posted by: Kenny at November 9, 2006 12:45 AM

Mort Zuckermann, the editor-in-chief of US News, described the election as "the evil of two lessers."

On a similar note, what would you do if the libertarians, greens, and everyone else also turned out to be evil? At a certain level, particularly a theological one, everybody is evil, so I'm not trying to be a smarty-pants. I just think there might be some validity in a least-of-the-evils argument, at least as far as voting is concerned.

Posted by: Paul Ferree at November 16, 2006 1:42 PM

I think that there is a moral duty to help the best candidates possible to be on the ballot, and to vote for the best candidate on the ballot. However, at some level either there is nothing to recommend one candidate over the other, or both candidates are bad. At this point I would not vote (in that race). In fact, I do the "none of the above" vote with some frequency in cases such as these.

Posted by: Kenny at November 16, 2006 1:55 PM

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