Built on Facts

My Vote

I follow cheerfully; and, did I not,
Wicked and wretched, I must follow still
Whoever yields properly to Fate, is deemed
Wise among men, and knows the laws of heaven.

- Euripides

Wise advice as quoted in the Enchiridion of Epictetus. With that in mind, let those of us to the right of center contemplate the coming abyss with calm composure. Some things are in our control and others not, Epictetus tells us. This election is in the latter category. In the absence of a truly shocking and unexpected surprise, senator Obama is the next president of the United States.

We would like to have prevented this. He’s about as far to the left as it’s possible to be viable US politics, and in fact for the first time in a long time the US will have the farthest left head of government in the G7 nations. Those of us who think the government is the problem rather than the solution are going to have numerous new problems to deal with, exacerbated by what will certainly be a solid Democratic majority in the house and senate. Possibly even a filibuster-proof one. We will certainly see Supreme Court retirements, and their replacements will rule according to their own ideas of what constitutes fairness rather than what the Constitution actually says. C’est la vie.

We cannot prevent any of this. We have brought it on ourselves. From 1994 to about 1998 the Republican Party tried its best to uphold the principles of conservatism, but after that it degenerated into corruption, waste, ballooning government spending, and war. Given a Republican president and a Republican congress, the federal budget grew from $1.9 trillion to $3.1 trillion. Ten thousand dollars from every man, woman, and child. This was unacceptable, and the American people have not accepted it. In 19 days the Republican party will be crushed beyond recognition. We should have seen it coming – if government really is the problem, we shouldn’t have expected power-hungry politicians to be much less susceptible to government’s allure just because of an R by their names. Term limits are probably the only thing that would help, but good luck getting a politician to vote for that. Unfortunately for those who share my ideals, the political fortunes of the small-government movement are currently tied to the Republican party and thus the best-case scenario is a bloody rout as opposed to a unmitigated massacre.

The question posed a day or two ago on ScienceBlogs was “I’m a Scientist and I’m Voting For…” I won’t tell you how to vote, I’ll just give some thoughts. Of course if you’re on the left these thoughts won’t apply to you, and I suggest voting for Obama because he’s pretty much a dream candidate.

For people like me though, voting for Obama is out of the question. Obama is a far-left statist, taxing everything that works and subsidizing everything that doesn’t. There’s no way anyone who seriously appreciates freedom – including those “scary” freedoms like economic freedom and the right to bear arms – can vote for that.

Voting for McCain isn’t much better. The trope that he’s George Bush 2.0 is not without merit. Though he’d probably be marginally better on civil rights, deficit control, and economic freedom than GWB, that’s not saying much. Besides, I don’t think the election is seriously contested at this point. If you’d like, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to vote for McCain especially if you live in a closely contested state. You never know. But even if by some miracle he wins it won’t be anything to celebrate. Scylla is little improvement over Charybdis.

Not voting in protest is an option much beloved of the edges of the spectrum from the libertarians to the greens, but it’s rather counterproductive. Even if you think the system is intrinsically unjust, it will stay that way unless you try to change it. The ballot box is one of the best ways even if you resent the concept of supporting the legitimacy of a too-powerful state.

Voting third party is another option. Obviously there’s no chance of one of the third parties getting elected, but a strong showing can send a real message. People like Perot and Paul may not have won but they did gain real support and cause many people to seriously consider their ideas. As such, I’m probably going to be voting for Bob Barr. Yes, I think some of his ideas are certifiably nuts. But most of his ideas I do agree with, and there’s no chance that he’ll actually get elected and be able to implement the crazy ones. A strong showing for him can’t hurt especially since I’m not in a contested state.

What about local elections? Obviously you should consider each politician and ballot question based on the issues, but I have another suggestion for the borderline cases. When in doubt, vote against the incumbent. When in doubt, vote “no” on propositions and ballot initiatives.

It’s going to be a long four years no matter how you slice it. But I suppose there’s a bright side. If I’m right and the Obama administration turns into an epic meltdown of biblical proportions, it paves the way for a renaissance of limited government. And if I’m wrong and everything works out wonderfully, well, everything worked out wonderfully. Either way, I’m prepared to buckle down and support Obama when he’s right and fight him tooth and nail when he’s wrong. Some fights we’ll win and many others we’ll lose. Four years hence, can we be stronger for what looks to be a crushing defeat of our ideals?

Yes, we can.

[Comment constructively or not at all. There's scores of other ScienceBlogs, hundreds of thousands of political blogs, and numerous free blogs you can own yourselves where you can vituperate about how evil I am. Free speech is sacred, but it doesn't include use of my pulpit.]

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    October 16, 2008

    As a proud leftie, I’m posting your well-written piece on my fb page.

  2. #2 Andrew
    October 16, 2008

    From what I can see (from another country…) you won’t be suffering a crushing defeat of your ideals whoever wins. Simply because as far as I can tell no one is actually standing for your ideals. The Republican party over the last decade or so certainly hasn’t been standing for smaller government or (genuine) financial conservatism, it has been expanding the government any way it can see how and spending money like it’s going out of fashion. Sure, they *talk* a lot about that but the proof of a pudding is in the eating.

    Admittedly this might not be much consolation, having your ideals avoid defeat by avoiding the battle in the first place….but better than having them destroyed, I reckon. :)

  3. #3 DVR
    October 16, 2008

    “and in fact for the first time in a long time the US will have the farthest left head of government in the G7 nations.”

    Does someone seriously believe this? With Obama as president, the US will still be far, far to the right of any of the other G7 countries (well, I don’t know about Japan). In Europe, the US is known as the country with two right-wing parties, and there’s a reason for that. Even the Democratic party is, measured along all reasonable parameters, safely to the right of any European party that would have a serious chance of running for government.

  4. #4 Jim C
    October 16, 2008

    Obama is at best a socialist and at worse a true communist. He will divide the nation as has not been done in a hundred years. I fear the country is entering a period of civil unrest that will make the 1960′s seem tranquil.

  5. #5 kevin
    October 16, 2008

    As an independent Obama supporter who wishes there were someday candidate that spoke up for freedom and justice and privacy and rationality and the good things about America, without also being a loon, I do feel your pain.

    But I also think that the best thing that can happen at this point is for the Republican party to be utterly demolished, splintered into a dozen little pieces. Then the crazies and fundamentalists and racists and bigots can go create some never-to-be-hear-from-again 3rd parties, and a party of honest and reasonable people can take the place of the Republicans, and bring some new ideas to the table. Some kind of amalgam of the greens, the libertarians, and the fiscal conservatives. A party that will say no to domestic spying, wiretapping, bailouts for wall st, industrial takeover of national assets, etc. One that admits global warming and evolution exist. Or at the very least, a party of thinking people who can argue instead of just lie.

    -kevin

  6. #6 Zifnab
    October 16, 2008

    We would like to have prevented this. He’s about as far to the left as it’s possible to be viable US politics, and in fact for the first time in a long time the US will have the farthest left head of government in the G7 nations.

    I don’t know how to say this, but you’re just completely wrong here. Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, and Nicolas Sarkozy all preside over countries that operate well to the left of the United States. They all support and condone policies that would make even moderate Democrats nervous. This notion that Barack Obama is some sort of fringe leftist radical is absurd.

    I hear people call him “socialist” and “communist” and “statist” and my suspicions grow that people just don’t know what those words mean. Is it “socialist” to demand people making 99% of their income from capital gains (see: Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, everyone at what used to be Bear Sterns) pay a smaller percentage in taxes than their salary earning counterparts? Is it “communist” to properly fund highway and infrastructure projects so that heavily used bridges in Minnesota don’t collapse while bridges to nowhere in Alaska are built brand spanking new? Is it more “statist” to be anti-war, pro-trial by jury (re: habeaus corpus), and respectful of subpoena powers of other branches of government? Unitary Executive – how “small government” is that?

    What bothers me about your post is that you recognize how the Republican Party has so completely failed conservative principles, but you fail to notice how the Democratic Party has embraced them.

    The Blue Dog coalition in the US House doggedly – sometimes irrationally – fights for balanced budgets. The DLC – lead by would-be Senator Harold Ford – persistently demands lower corporate and individual taxes. The conservative wing of the Democratic Party happily embraced Bush’s faith based initiatives and pro-life agenda until they realized it was all a cold farce designed to funnel tax dollars to GOP operatives.

    It’s all there, embodied by individuals and completely removed from their party affiliations. It is sad that you’re so dead set into the Republican mindset that you can’t see the small government, free market, individualistic, heavily moderate agenda of the rising Democratic Government because someone shouted “liberal! liberal! liberal!” too many times in your ears.

    One thing I hope the next 4 years will teach you is exactly how far away from ‘radical’ the modern Democratic Party has grown.

  7. #7 Paul Merda
    October 16, 2008

    I truly see your point. I have been pointing out the fact that the GOP is not Conservative (in the classical sense) for over 5 years now. The only truly conservative thing they did was to cut taxes and allow the deregulation of the banks….oh yeah how did that work out anyway? But anyhow, I have to think that it is impossible to goevern as a conservative, because of you do, and take away all of the social programs and regulatory items, your constituents would vote you out of office since most folks see some benefit (if not to themselves, but to society in general) of these programs.

    How many people got sick from tainted food over the past 8 years since “W” cut back on USDA inspectors (ya know trying to be a good conservative)? What happened to the banks?? In any case I don’t think true conservatism could ever work, because the regulations hat conservatives abhor have all been put into place as a reaction to human greed. Its not like the SEC was formed because there was no problem, it was formed because the Depression layed us low and they hoped that having some oversight of the benevelent ::snark:: American businessmen might help prevent future disasters.

  8. #8 Uncle Al
    October 16, 2008

    Productive Baby Boomers’ wallets were raped by the Welfare State to comfort the reproductive. Boomers hugged Robert Welch. 70 million Boomer wallets are now slamming shut in retirement, replaced by outstretched palms screaming “ubi est mea!” They are now to the left of Leon Trotsky.

    epic meltdown of biblical proportions Biblical? That would be the Republicans,


    straight

    fluffy

  9. #9 Davis
    October 16, 2008

    the US will have the farthest left head of government in the G7 nations.

    Let me join in the chorus of people who are a bit put off by the wrongness of this statement. We do currently have the farthest right head of government in the G7, though.

  10. #10 Scott Belyea
    October 16, 2008

    how evil I am

    Naaaah. You’re just an American who apparently has no knowledge of (or interest in) anything that happens outside the boundaries of your country …

    Editor’s note: This is a) not even remotely true, and b) an ad hominem. Comments like this are a good example of what’s going to get deleted regardless of if they’re aimed at me, the right, or the left.

  11. #11 Chris P
    October 16, 2008

    All I can suggest in the way of constructiveness is to suggest you stop listening to Rush, Savage and the rest of those bozo’s and get yourself and education.

    Obama can in no way be defined as extreme left wing because he believes in a God. It’s like saying American media is liberal. No way is American media liberal – it’s mostly biased towards the Republican and Libertarian view point.

    The rest of the educated countries don’t give religion such a free hand and have real health care.

    Nope – you need to realize that the US is behind the times.

  12. #12 Chris P
    October 16, 2008

    I forgot – you are in Texas. Didn’t the creationist dentist idiot in charge of education there appoint three ID/creationist idiots to set the course of science education there?

    What a laugh.

  13. #13 Matt Springer
    October 16, 2008

    Let me clarify the G7 comment. I made sure to say I was talking about specifically the head of government – the single man or woman at the top of the organizaitonal chart. In my opinion, Obama is comfortably to the left of Sarkozy, Merkel, and Berlusconi. Gordon Brown I’m less certain of, but odds are he’s not going to be in office much longer. Taro Aso is probably a special case – he heads a party which is roughly on the right, but by US standards much closer to Bill Clinton than Ronald Reagan. Of course the overall government of the US will still be largely to the right of the G7.

    ChrisP – I consider this is a feature, not a bug. Freedom is more important than security.

    Edit: I forgot to mention Canada. Even though it’s not in the G7, I think it’s funny that their prime minister will be way to the right of our president. Maybe this time the right will threaten to move!

    Edit update: Sorry, Canada wasn’t in the G6. It is in the G7!

  14. #14 Brandon Reese
    October 16, 2008

    Matt- Just wanted to say that I am much the same situation as you, and have decided to vote in the same way. I think that it is sad that America has been infected by the entitlement mentality that seems to be widespread in Europe, as it has been historically the rugged, self-sufficient people here that have made America great. I can only hope that someday a significant majority of the people will recognize that, before it is too late. I don’t think that the president should be our mommy and pick us up and kiss our boo boos, humans learn from our mistakes by the consequences of our actions, and if there are no consequences of failure, it becomes okay to BE a failure (failure itself isn’t bad, it is the complacency with failure that is the problem). Sorry about the comma splices, I hope there aren’t too many grammar nazis out there! Anyway, those of us that are socially liberal, fiscally conservative small government advocates have a long uphill battle ahead of us, but it is struggle and adversity that makes us strong!

    Brandon

  15. #15 Chris P
    October 16, 2008

    “Fiscally conservative small government advocates” = libertarians that don’t understand that there are now too many people on the planet. Way back when in American history when there were plenty of resources to go around things were fine but with the number of people around now that is NOT going to work. Resources are limited.

    The USA already has an entitlement mentality but it is different from Europe. The rich are the entitled ones.

    Presumably Brandon and Matt think that, for example, the mentally retarded should just pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes.

    No, you both need more education about reality.

    Libertarianism is just a euphemism for anarchy.

  16. #16 Nomen Nescio
    October 16, 2008

    Obama is at best a socialist and at worse a true communist.

    speaking as an avowed and proud socialist, that kind of comment clearly marks a speaker who has not the faintest clue what they are on about.

    oh, and what Andrew said in comment #2. the set of values and principles which look like they might actually suffer a defeat this coming election not only sincerely deserve to be defeated, but have nothing much in common with what a reasonable person might label conservatism. i’d like to see actual conservatism return to the GOP; the republicans would be easier to talk politics with if they had that much sense and reason. the current bunch, however…

  17. #17 Russ
    October 16, 2008

    Er, um, which countries are part of the G7 Matt? You might want to a little googling on this little factoid…

  18. #18 Brandon Reese
    October 16, 2008

    Chris P- Of course I don’t (and I assume Matt doesn’t) advocate leaving mentally handicapped people in the street. However, there are many people (and organizations…*cough* banks *cough*) out there that are NOT handicapped that need to learn from failure rather than have the government there to tell them “Its okay, you TRIED your hardest and that is all that matters.” You subsidize bad behavior and failures, and you get more bad behavior and failures. I agree that there are many of the “rich” that have an entitlement mentality, such as the Paris Hiltons and other spoiled brats of the world, but there are many many other “rich” people out there that earned what they have by hard work and learning from their failures (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc.). I believe that I know a pretty good amount about reality, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the desire to change aspects of it with which I am not happy.

    Brandon

  19. #19 Carl Brannen
    October 16, 2008

    It appears that the man caused global warming hysteria will die a cold death due to the reduction in sun spot activity. This should make the left look less competent regarding science issues.

    Financially, the only way Obama can fund the kind of stuff he wants is by cutting back severely on US military budgets. Frankly, I don’t see how we can afford what we’re doing right now and I think cutting back would be a good idea. The Republican party has a long history of being against foreign entanglements. Before the rise of Communisim, it was the party of isolationism (which is a short word for keeping your nose out of other people’s business). With the fall of Communism, it is natural for the Republican party to revert to isolationism. (The business of the US is business.)

    The worst part of the Democratic party is their inclination to see everything in terms of a war between rich and poor. Their solution for stopping a recession is good, they will give money to poor people who will spend it and start the ball rolling again. This is probably why people worried about the economy are voting Democratic.

    But the original source of our economic problems is a banking crisis. Democrats are unable to formulate a rational policy to deal with a banking crisis because a banking crisis is a crisis of the confidence of rich people and the Democrats find it impossible to pass laws that make rich people more comfortable. With the Democrats in control of House, Senate, and Presidency, they are likely to fail miserably.

  20. #20 Brandon Reese
    October 16, 2008

    Just wanted to quickly point out that there is a big difference between isolationism and non-intervention… I don’t think that isolationism is the answer, but I am all for non-intervention. Isolationism created Hitler, intervention caused Pearl Harbor.

  21. #21 Becca
    October 16, 2008

    Yeah, as someone who actually pals around with Communists, I gotta say, parts of this post make no sense whatsoever.
    Obama is way too far right for my tastes.

    That said, I’m a young’un; Republicans (at least conspicious ones on the national stage) haven’t actually been responsible for small government in my memory. And given the last time the budget was balanced (under Clinton), I’m kind of inclined to think that current ‘fiscally-conservative’ Republicans are generally defending their identity (in the form of party-affilitation) above upholding their own principles.

    But thanks for the post, Matt. At least now I have a better idea what my friend probably means when he says he’s currently independent but was raised with Republican values. I’ve asked which Republican party platform positions he agrees with and he can’t name any. The closest he can come up with are “lower taxes”.

    Also, thanks to Carl- the isolationism is also something that friend tends to be a proponant of- it’s good to keep in mind that was probably historically ideologically linked to the “lower taxes” flavor of smaller government.
    I also agree with you that I haven’t seen a rational policy about the banking crisis from the Democrats. On the other hand, I haven’t seen a rational policy for dealing with it from anybody (although a lot of good minds are working on it; so some reasonable ideas are undoubtably out there. I earnestly hope partisian bickering doesn’t keep us from adopting good plans).
    I don’t agree that the Democratic party sees everything as a war between the rich and the poor. Although there is some rhetoric that skirts that (which tends to annoy me, but that’s another story), I think the basic difference is ideological between independence as the ideal vs. interdependence as the ideal.

    @Brandon Reese- of course, there’s always the subset of the population (including Senator Obama, for the record) who believe social programs are important not because we want a handout, but because we are disgraced that anyone should go hungry in a land of plenty.
    The folks that believe “I am my brother’s keeper” is morally superior to a self-sufficient philosophy.
    From my vantage “go suffer the consequences of your failure” really is sometimes just another way for misanthropes to say “fuck off” or “go die in the streets” to disabled people.

  22. #22 Matt Springer
    October 16, 2008

    Sorry, of course Canada is part of the G7! Somehow I still had just the G6 in mind.

    One more note for Chris, about population. Right now the US total fertility rate is right at the replacement rate. In the absence of immigration the population would be stagnant and probably declining in not too many decades. Much of Europe is already there, and Japan’s even farther ahead of the curve. In any event central planning doesn’t exactly have a great track record of distributing finite resources, to put it mildly.

  23. #23 Nyxator
    October 16, 2008

    Truly, it’s important to oppose socialist ideals at every turn. Our freedoms depend upon it.

    I would like to see all federal money going towards education eliminated. What a waste of taxpayer dollars! Parents are already perfectly capable of teaching their children everything they need to know.

    I would also like to put an end to socialized police forces and firefighters. The free market is perfectly capable of handling these problems. You should pay a monthly fee to the police force of your choosing. If you can’t pay the premiums… tough. Work harder. Also fire coverage would have to be determined property by property. If your neighbor didn’t pay up, at least you can call your fire company to set up a firewall to ensure that your house doesn’t catch.

    We need to eliminate our socialist military. Talk about a money sink! I would prefer a group of companies like Blackwater contracted by the government to do our dirty work in foreign countries. They will be much more efficient since they won’t have to worry about that silly Geneva Convention.

  24. #24 RTotale
    October 16, 2008

    Nyxator,

    Congrats on obliterating arguments nobody is making. I’ll sleep soundly tonight knowing you’re taking care of the vast hordes of straw men wandering about.

  25. #25 R. Totale
    October 16, 2008

    Presumably Brandon and Matt think that, for example, the mentally retarded should just pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes.

    It’s a strange mindset that assumes that if the government isn’t providing help to someone, then that person won’t be helped.

  26. #26 Zifnab
    October 16, 2008

    It’s a strange mindset that assumes that if the government isn’t providing help to someone, then that person won’t be helped.

    Strange mindsets tend to come from experience. We make it a point to execute as many mentally retarded people as possible down here in the Lone Star State. On account of being so Christian-like an’ all.

  27. #27 DrugMonkey
    October 16, 2008

    The question is why an alleged scientist is so fearful of trying the experiment. Not “fight him tooth and nail when he’s wrong” but rather support his way whole heartedly. Then, at the end of four years you can see how you feel about the results of what he wants to do, done the way he wants to do it.

    We did the test of the bushrovian spend-and-cut-taxes way and the Reaganism trickle-down way and I think we can all see that is a complete failure.

    The Clinton way was a stunning success even with the constant and underhanded opposition of the antagonistic right and you libertarian types.

    Why do you fear a test of the hypothesis that counters yours? wouldn’t a fully enthusiastic test of the leftie position, if it fails, be the best way to show the validity of your small-gov ways?

    How does one best falsify a hypothesis? By setting up the best test? Or by setting up a test that has fundamental flaws and cannot possible result in clean data– just because you cannot countenance the possibility that you might be wrong?

  28. #28 Carl Brannen
    October 16, 2008

    Banking crises are easy to solve and some of the steps have already been taken. The banking crisis was caused by medium sized businesses, along with mutual funds, insurance companies and city and state governments, panicing and pulling their money out of banks. When they do this, the banks have to get money to pay them. They typically have to sell their assets, which consist of loans that people owe the bank. When a bunch of banks do this at the same time, the value of these loans temporarily decreases, and the banks can end up owing more money than they own.

    We had a $7.5 million wire from Switzerland delayed Tuesday because the sender wanted to be sure that Citibank wasn’t about to go under (so that his money would get tied up). A stable banking system doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you don’t have one. And $7.5 million is a lot of money to Joe voter, but it isn’t much money to even a medium sized business and much less to a state pension fund accountant.

    So first, we should raise the FDIC guarantee from $100,000 to infinity and keep it that way forever. It has already been raised to $250,000 until the end of 2009. The Europeans are in the process of running it up to infinity for forever and it’s at least possible we’ll follow suit. But this is a guarantee for rich people and it will not play well to the Democrats.

    Second, you make it easier for the stable banks to take over the failing ones. This amounts to an absence of regulations that does not play well to the Democrats. And finally, you inject some equity into banks that are getting stretched. Again, this looks a little too much like giving money to rich people for the Democrats to wholeheartedly support it.

    And the banking crisis is a little worse than just the runs on banks. The basic problem is that if rich people decide that they don’t want to invest in things, we will have a 3rd world economy very quickly. In order for a country to prosper, its rich folk absolutely must be kept happy and optimistic. Otherwise working class people will lose their jobs and eventually the government will run out of money to pay them unemployment insurance and welfare.

    Our economy depends on both poor and rich to survive. If everyone was rich there wouldn’t be anyone available to do the jobs that have to get done. At a time when the population is graying, and fewer workers are paying the social security of more and more old folks, it is imperative that as many people stay employed at useful jobs to as late in life as possible. This means businesses must be healthy enough to employ them.

  29. #29 MPL
    October 16, 2008

    It might be cold consolation, but the “ruling party’s” ideology has less influence in the US than we want to admit. In the end what happens has more to do with compromises in Congress than platforms and theories anyway.

    The big difference is competence, not ideology. Bush and his administration, whatever you think of their ideas, have been grossly incompetent in their execution. Better a competent leader from the wrong side of the aisle than an incompetent one from your own.

  30. #30 Zifnab
    October 16, 2008

    Cheers to that MPL.

  31. #31 Prof. Bleen
    October 16, 2008

    One more note for Chris, about population. Right now the US total fertility rate is right at the replacement rate. In the absence of immigration the population would be stagnant and probably declining in not too many decades.

    By “replacement rate,” do you mean the commonly quoted figure of 2.1 or so children per family? That number assumes that the life expectancy is stable, whereas the median life expectancy in the USA has climbed from 48 y in 1900 to ca. 78 y today. Accurate, representative numbers on birth and death rates are hard to come by, but one analysis I read a while back put the current true replacement rate at somewhere between 1.3 and 1.7.

    Also, I found your implication that Obama is a socialist, or worse, utterly hilarious. A quick glance at his major campaign contributors ought to clear up that misconception pretty quickly.

  32. #32 Hamsterpoop
    October 16, 2008

    Matt: I like your blog a lot, but you honestly have no idea what a left wing politician is. Obama is just another capitalist of the bunch, just not as nuts as McCain. I mean, how can you pretend to be oblivious of the consequences of total deregulation in our economy? Your post-cold-war paranoia towards communism is almost worrying. No wonder the Republicans campaign by labeling the opponents and associating them all to the same little key words: terrorism, socialism, flip-flopping, etc. Obama is smarter than McCain. You have to admit that. And a smart person admits when he or she doesn’t know what to do. I would never expect that from McCain.

  33. #33 Matt Springer
    October 17, 2008

    “The Clinton way was a stunning success even with the constant and underhanded opposition of the antagonistic right and you libertarian types.

    Why do you fear a test of the hypothesis that counters yours? wouldn’t a fully enthusiastic test of the leftie position, if it fails, be the best way to show the validity of your small-gov ways? ”

    I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Clinton governed from the middle, had one of the most conservative congresses ever, and that split government results in government not actually being able to do much.

    And I don’t fear the coming test. I’m just saying that it is coming. The left is about to have an experimental opportunity to do almost whatever it wants. And we will see what happens.

  34. #34 CanadianChick
    October 17, 2008

    Matt, with all due respect, you truly have NO idea what “Conservative” means in Canada. As much as I dislike the man’s politics, being a Liberal (the party), even our Conservative party is more left wing than the US Democratic party.

    Saying that Harper is “way to the right” of Obama just shows that you really, truly don’t understand politics in Canada, and I suspect, in any of the other G7 countries.

  35. #35 Tercel
    October 17, 2008

    Matt, there are few people as conservative as you whom I’d trust to actually revisit this issue 4 years from now, and talk about whether they were right or wrong. Please don’t disappoint me.

  36. #36 Matt Springer
    October 17, 2008

    I realize Harper is not exactly Newt Gingrich, but I think you underestimate just how far to the left Obama is. Heck, I had a guy from a Canadian family as a college roommate and we talked politics all the time. Trust me, we’re talking about a guy who said “We must aim to make Canada a lower tax jurisdiction than the United States” compared to a guy who explicitly wants to raise corporate, capital gains, and high-income tax from what they already are in the US.

    I mean good lord, compare and see in their own words.

    Tercel, I’ll do my best. I would like nothing more than to eat my words four years from now in an America which is the best it’s ever been. We’ll see!

  37. #37 ppnl
    October 17, 2008

    I have been complaining about the damage Bush was doing to the party for most of eight years now. I truly believe we could have elected Edward Kennedy and both the nation and the republican party would be in better shape. We created Obama. His career is founded on Republican fail. Whatever damage he does is our responsibility. When we abandon all of our principles we are responsible for the results.

    I don’t know how far left Obama is but it cannot help that he will have a large democratic majority in congress. The only bright spot is that it is hard to see how he could be as big a disaster as Bush.

  38. #38 DrugMonkey
    October 17, 2008

    ppnl- it was hard to imagine how anyone could have been worse than Nixon…until Reagan, worse than St Ronnie…until HW, surely nobody could have been worse than Recession-contra-poppy…until dubbaya

    It is a fools errand to assume things can’t get worse under, say, McCain

  39. #39 ponderingfool
    October 17, 2008

    Lets face it Obama is not that of a leftist. He is against gay marriage. His health care proposal is centrist, especially when you look at what other Democrats are for let alone what socialists, members of the Green Party, and Nader have proposed. He at the end of the day ended up voting for the Patriot Act. Obama voted in favor of the Class Action Fairness Act in 2005. He over his career has favored limiting damages for malpractice. Obama was also against reforming the Mining Law of 1872, siding with the mining industry. Senator Obama is not a socialist, he is not a leftist. Heck he is not a progressive. He is a centrist. Compared to the GOP, yes he is to the left but on the whole the man is not a leftist. The reality of Senator Obama is very different than what a number of his supporters think they hear from him. Pelosi is a liberal but she is not a darling of the left. The country will be run in a centrist/liberal fashion over the next couple of years most likely but it will not be a leftist government in any stretch of the imagination.

  40. #40 Bexley
    October 17, 2008

    What im surprised nobody has picked up on is this comment:

    “We will certainly see Supreme Court retirements, and their replacements will rule according to their own ideas of what constitutes fairness rather than what the Constitution actually says.”

    First, sitting in the UK (and therefore find Supreme court rulings in the US only of academic interest) I heard a similar type of complaint from the Dems whenever a Bush nominee came up. In that case they would complain that the nominee was highly partisan and likely to pick and choose bits of the constitution that supports a right wing viewpoint. It just sounds like Republicans are going to be singing this tune now that there is likely to be a Dem president.

    Secondly to back up your comment you linked to an article about the views of voters on each side of the fence. Surely what matters is what any future Obama nominees do – not what voters want them to do.

    In all likelihood a clever justice will probably find something in the constitution that justifies what they want to do (if they are so inclined) rather than ignore the constitution entirely.

    On the other hand maybe nobody commented on this because your comment on the G7 stood out so much. Obama more left wing than Brown? Not so much.

  41. #41 Bexley
    October 17, 2008

    “if government really is the problem”

    As an afterthought I’m curious as to what parts of government people think are part of the problem and what parts people dont and their reasons. While I sometimes hear what parts of the government are bad – I almost never hear why. Or at least no reasons beyond “aren’t free markets great” but fail to consider/fix market failures like monopolies and information asymmetry.

    For example I certainly see no reason for many subsidies (eg EU farm subsidies) or for nationilised industires. On the other hand there are things I think should be government run because a free market cant operate in those areas.

    For example in the UK the Rail network is privatised (sorta) and is a mess. In this case there is a monopoly in private hands and a massive barrier to entry (its very expensive to build a new rail network in order to compete). Therefore the benefits from a free market dont materialise due to reduced competition (although there is indirect competition in the form of other modes of transport – this is less than ideal).

    I could also go on about why I think things like regulation of drugs is good while tariffs are bad.

  42. #42 Joseph Hertzlinger
    October 17, 2008

    In 19 days the Republican party will be crushed beyond recognition.

    Didn’t we hear the same thing in 1974 and 1992?

  43. #43 Zifnab
    October 17, 2008

    “– In 19 days the Republican party will be crushed beyond recognition. –”

    No.

    Seriously, not even close. Clinton won in a complete upset in ’92. He came out of nowhere to take the nomination and actually ran to the right of Bush Sr with his rhetoric. Clinton rode into office on a tide of conservative defectors. No one in their right minds would believe that was a “bad thing” for the GOP as a whole.

    And after ’74? I don’t think you realize how much support Nixon had. People across the country were more than ready to forgive and forget a little harmless wiretapping. I mean, he was going after Democrats after all. And in 1974 they were tarred up as liberal fifth column socialist rats no less than they are today. Carter won that race in an absolute squeaker.

    If Obama wins a landslide victory in ’08 after a landslide victory for Dems in ’06… Take a look at the Northeastern states. Count the number of Republican Congressmen – House or Senate. It’s in the signal digits. Even Alabama and Mississippi have functional Democratic Parties. This is a massive route. Northern Republicans have been knocked completely on their asses. We’re talking Reagen-Era realignment here. The Republican Party of 2009 is going to look absolutely nothing like the Republican Party of 1999. It’s a total geographic shift.

  44. #44 Bill Butler
    October 17, 2008

    If you favor small, limited, fiscally-conservative government, the Built on Facts approach does not favor the Republican party as your choice (see for example http://zfacts.com/p/318.html).
    Nor, if you favor pro-economic growth policies, does the Built on Facts approach necessarily favor the Republican party as your choice. For example use this (http://blog.wolfram.com/2008/10/16/stock-market-returns-by-presidential-party/) to model stock market returns after around World War II and you’ll see that under most assumptions returns are cumulatively between a little and a lot less under Republican administrations–all the more impressive since Republicans have controlled the Presidency more often than not and so benefit from the bias of more opportunity for returns to compound.

  45. #45 CanadianChick
    October 17, 2008

    sorry Matt – out of context wikiquotes do not an argument make.

  46. #46 Carl Brannen
    October 17, 2008

    “returns are cumulatively between a little and a lot less under Republican administrations”

    When the country is prosperous, it votes Republican. When it’s got problems it votes Democratic. The better returns when the Democrats are in office is simply because stocks were cheap when they went into office.

    Neither party created the business cycle. The business cycle is most of a thousand years old. It exists in every prosperous country and always had. Blaming one party or the other for it is like blaming a party for the weather (which is also done).

    “sorry Matt – out of context wikiquotes do not an argument make.”

    The wikiquotes are quite adequate. And since you’re not providing any alternative arguments, you lose.

    I’m reminded of the complaint that the man caused global warming folks have when they get regularly beaten in debates with the “climate deniers”.

  47. #47 CCPhysicist
    October 17, 2008

    Four years ago I could have written:
    If I’m right and the [Bush] administration turns into an epic meltdown of biblical proportions, it paves the way for a renaissance of limited government.

    Sound like a fantasy? That is what your dream sounds like to me. You see, there was nothing limited about the neo-conservative Bush administration, which was run by the same people who are running McCain’s campaign. It is all much bigger than it was 8 years ago, including the biggest increase in Medicare since Nixon.

    Similarly, there is nothing limited about Palin’s government in Alaska, which spends several times more per capita than a “liberal” state in the lower 48, nor any indication that McCain plans to limit anything except taxes and the “discretionary” part of the budget that pays for your physics research. Who would run in 4 years with a plan to cut 25% out of the budget?

  48. #48 CanadianChick
    October 17, 2008

    OK Carl – tell me how out of context wikiquotes show that Matt is correct in saying that Stephen Harper is “way to the right” of Barack Obama.

    Please – I’m dying to know.

    I mean, all I’ve got to go on is his actual record and platform…oh, and living here in Canada. And the context for some of those quotes…

  49. #49 Matt Springer
    October 18, 2008

    CC, hence the extreme tepidness of my vaguely pro-McCain statement. At best his expansion of government would be somewhat less maniacal. I am nothing short of horrified by the explosion of government we’ve had under Bush and 6 years of a Republican congress. There is no excuse for it.

    CanadianChick, what metric would you prefer? Taxes, gun control, Iraq, Kyoto, missile defense, free trade and NAFTA, health care, take your pick. I don’t think I could name any issue on which Harper is to Obama’s left.

  50. #50 bexley
    October 18, 2008

    @ carl

    “I’m reminded of the complaint that the man caused global warming folks have when they get regularly beaten in debates with the “climate deniers”.”

    What do debates have to do with this? If a creationist/IDer wins a debate over a biologist due to superior rhetorical skills that doesn’t mean that evolution is wrong and the bible is right!

    On to the facts – the cosmic rays and cloud cover thing looks as if its a dead end:

    http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1748-9326/3/2/024001/

    http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/h844264320314105/

    I dont expect people to stop flogging this dead horse though.

  51. #51 Donalbain
    October 20, 2008

    The idea that Obama is some sort of extreme leftist is a very amusing one for those of us outside the USA. In the UK, he would fit into our system somewhere towards the right hand side of the Conservative Party. And even then, with his healthcare proposal, he would not stand a chance of getting elected since anything that does not include universal healthcare, free at the point of use is simply unacceptable here.

    Interesting graph:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008

  52. #52 razib
    October 21, 2008

    He’s about as far to the left as it’s possible to be viable US politics, and in fact for the first time in a long time the US will have the farthest left head of government in the G7 nations.

    i think this is wrong too. did you get this from mark steyn? as a point of fact for example the american democratic party has long had observer status in the *christian democratic international* (now called the centrist democratic international), which includes of the christian democratic parties of the europe. since germany has a CDU/CSU – SDU grand coalition, it’s obviously to the left of the USA even after the dems take full control since the dems are the equivalent of the CDU/CSU (the dems on more conservative on many welfarist an fiscal issues than the CDU/CSU, but more liberal on social issues like abortion and immigration).

  53. #53 Bob W.
    October 23, 2008

    “Obama is a far-left statist, taxing everything that works and subsidizing everything that doesn’t. There’s no way anyone who seriously appreciates freedom – including those “scary” freedoms like economic freedom and the right to bear arms – can vote for that.”

    And how would you pick what to tax and what to subsidize?

    Democrats want to tax and spend. Republicans want to spend and raise the deficit? What’s worse, less money in my pocket or money in my pocket that is worth less? It’s the same thing. We need to tax less AND spend less. The Republican ads only talk about taxing less.

  54. #54 Tom D
    October 24, 2008

    “From 1994 to about 1998 the Republican Party tried its best to uphold the principles of conservatism, but after that it degenerated into corruption, waste, ballooning government spending, and war.” Amazing? Republicans say the damnedest things.

    Reagan was as far from conservative as G.W. Reagan left the country in economic ruins, over-inflated the military budget, cranked trillions into the pockets of his mobster S&L buddies’ pockets, absolved the electronic media of all all social responsiblity in exchange for his “Teflon” coating, and he ends up with a reputation of “conservative.” Bush I followed those same formulas and drove the country further into recession and is still included in the “conservative” category.

    Lincoln was right, you can “fool some of the people all of the time.”

  55. #55 mc2
    November 13, 2008

    Ok I know this is old hat and really dead and completely past it given now that this is almost two weeks post election. But If you look at where the political leaders stand on issues and compare them. When one looks at the political spectrum (or even one of those natty social/fiscal squares) Obama is to the right of center (at least on a global scale). I remember seeing a line up of all the candidates for the primaries and only ONE candidate was on the LEFT. It was not Obama, it was not Hilary. It was Dennis Kucinich, and all the others were well to the right. Sure compared to Harper, and to the rest of the US he may be leftish but not compared to most.