March 26, 2004

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

A Decent Presidential Candidate?

Ever hear me talk about politics? I generally answer questions about my political leanings one of two ways, both of which are rather vague and obscure. The first is "I hate the Republican Party slightly less than I hate the Democratic Party." The second is "I am a right-leaning minarchist." The meaning of the first statement is obvious, it just doesn't say anything about what I like, only what I hate less, which is a very different thing. The second term is confusing, because these terms are not often used in this way. To explain this, I understand the right-left distinction to refer to the government's use of power, and to be completely independent of how much power the government has. A leftist thinks the government should use it's power to create equality. Note that this is equality in actuality, not just equality of opportunity, hence the extreme left being Marx who wanted to ultimately abolish all currency and all class distinctions, so that everyone would truly be on equal footing. Rightists want the government to use its power to establish order, justice, security, etc. Wanting equality of opportunity is not inconsistent with rightism, but neither is it required by it. Thus the extreme authoritarian right is fascism in which class distinctions are preserved and the wealthy and powerful ruthlessly dominate the poor and weak for the alleged benefit of society at the expense of the individual.

The "minarchist" distinction, however, throws a wrench in the works. A minarchist is one who wants the smallest government possible without complete anarchy (hence min, as in minimum). That's me. So what is my political view overall? The government's power should be almost completely non-existent, but what power it does have should be used for order, justice, and security, and not social programs. Now, don't get me wrong, social programs are great. Someone should feed the poor, and absolutely everyone should have access to education and health care, and the arts should be supported, and universities should be funded (after all, someone has to foot the bill so we philosophers can philosophize instead of ... well ... actually working), it's just that the government does a terrible job of all of these things. Think of how much more efficient the Red Cross is as compared to government disaster relief. The Red Cross is great. The government sucks. What would happen if the Red Cross had all the money the government spends on disaster relief? The same goes for education. Education in particular is extremely important to me, and that's exactly why I say the government can't be trusted with it.

That said, there are practical issues with eliminating government social programs. We ought not to do it rashly. We have to make sure that the private organizations who are supposed to pick up the slack exist and have the resources to do it.

So I've been looking for a presidential candidate who fits these kinds of political ideas. I was very discouraged. I can't possibly cast a vote to keep Ashcroft in office (and were it not for all of his civil liberties issues, Bush would still be just the lesser evil, and not actually a good), and I can't possibly vote for a Democrat, and the independents are mostly crackpots (not to insinuate that I'm not, but ...), and the Constitution Party is full of crackpots and they propagate (and embody) that "Religious Right" stereotype I hate so much, but I guess they are better than the Republicans or Democrats. Did I mention that I really don't like our two party system?

So anyway, the first time I was looking, I missed the Libertarian candidates, because they haven't finished their primaries yet and they still have three candidates to choose from. All are better than the other parties, and, in particular, Michael Badnarik looks like an excellent presidential candidate. Badnarik said something particularly cool when he was talking about education on his web-site. He said that the separation of church and state doesn't mean that we have to get Got out of schools - on the contrary it means that of God and government schools can have at most one. Now, even if you are an atheist, why on earth would you choose schools run by bureaucrats over schools that teach about God?

Anyway, just remember, if you vote for a third-party you are not throwing your vote away. The only way you are throwing your vote away is if you are voting for the lesser of two evils.

Posted by Kenny at March 26, 2004 8:34 PM
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