With Mitt Romney more or less wrapping up the Republican nomination, I have been thinking about what I will do when I walk into the voting booth this November. I basically have two choices: I can vote for someone other than the Republican nominee or, in an effort to elect the supposed lesser of two evils, I can sell out and vote for a man who in no way represents my values and principles.
This decision comes down to how important it is for me to stand on principle versus how important it is to vote for Romney because he’s at least better than Barack Obama (so goes the argument).
From the time I really started to investigate what I believed, beginning around 2006, I have become less convinced that Republicans actually stand for what they say they do. I have, however, always been swayed by the argument that it was not the right time to stand on principle, that a bad Republican was better than a good Democrat.
But I recently came across this video by Tom Woods who countered this argument while filling in for Peter Schiff on Schiff’s radio show. In the video Woods is responding to Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney and discusses if Ron Paul should also endorse him:
I was immediately struck by Woods’ statement that conservatives and libertarians are constantly told by the Republican establishment that it is not the right time to stick to principles, that the time to require a Republican candidate to hold to conservative values is at some undefined point in the future. Furthermore, I completely agree with Woods’ assessment of the current political situation in which he says that the real problem is the entire establishment, and voting for either Obama or Romney is “toxic”.
As Woods states, “If we keep having the choice between Obama and Romney it is going to destroy the country.” I concur with Dr. Woods that if we keep choosing between two people who represent ideas that are antithetical to our principles then we will never see the rise of those principles. At some point we must take a stand.
However, I continue to hear the vociferous opining from the right that conservatives must vote for any Republican in November. The argument that I should cast a vote for Romney “to save the country from four more years of the worst President ever” is actually one that I have considered.
To process this argument and come to a decision, I have tried to segment where Romney is better than Obama and where Obama is better than Romney (pause here for an audible gasp from Republicans).
Looking only at the rhetoric, Romney would appear to be better for the economy than Obama. This is based primarily on his nominal embrace of the free market and lower government intervention in the economy. Again looking only at rhetoric, Obama would appear to be less likely to wage undeclared, unconstitutional wars and would be less likely to approve of laws that would impact citizens’ rights to due process.
The problem with looking at the rhetoric is that it ignores both candidates’ records, which run counter to what they claim to believe. Romney, the alleged free market advocate, has historically supported bailouts and government-run healthcare (and then predictably changed his mind) and Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has expanded American intervention in foreign countries and has signed into law legislation that seriously harms Americans’ civil rights.
The conclusion I have come to on this “elect the less dangerous big-government politician” argument is that I have no idea which of these two men is more dangerous to the country, the economy and the liberty of the people. I therefore cannot justify voting for Mitt Romney based on the lesser of two evils test.
As these questions have been rattling around in my head, I came across this excellent post on the Tenth Amendment Center’s site. The author, Timothy Reeves, asks “Where is the small government party?”. Reeves goes on to say that most Americans and nearly all conservatives would say that the Republicans are the party of limited government. He then goes on to make several points which I am going to quote directly because they are stated too perfectly for me to summarize:
“Who here thinks Romney is the candidate of small government? PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS!!!”
“I have contended, and continue to maintain, that no single election is worth delaying the arrival of that small government party! To bring about that event, the party of small government needs to lose -and lose badly- whenever they put forward a ‘huge government’ candidate, such as Mitt Romney.”
“Your vote does not belong to a party, it belongs to you! And when you vote for somebody, you’re giving them permission to continue the policies of the past! Only a political novice would expect Romney to do anything differently than Obama, and only a fool would expect Obama to change.”
“When should we make our stand? When will we be in a better position to do it? Will we be better prepared to repel the liberals in the small government movement in the next election, after we have endured another 4 years of oppression? Come November, I hope you will ask yourself what you are accomplishing by giving the Republicrat party another term of office, and ask yourself if the questions you are asking yourself right now will be easier to answer in 2016?”
Where does all this leave me? What will I do in November? I can say with absolute certainty that I will not vote for Barack Obama. I can also say with certainty that I will not vote for Mitt Romney. I am sure that there are people who will tell me that a vote for a third party or write-in candidate is a wasted vote. To those people I will say that a wasted vote was the one I cast in 2008 when I voted for John McCain, knowing all the while that I was voting for a man who stood against everything I believe in politically.
I don’t expect anyone who might read this to follow my example. I don’t really even expect most people to understand it. I am well aware of the grip that the political duopoly has on the minds of voters, and how voting outside of the two-party system is mostly seen as insanity or buffoonery. Regardless of how it may be perceived, this blog post chronicles the end of the line for me voting against my principles. I can no longer justify it in my own mind. I can no longer ignore my conscience.
The Obama-Romney choice may be toxic for the country, but it doesn’t have to be poison to my soul.