Another election cycle is over and, much like a night of heavy drinking, it is time with a more sober mind to evaluate what we have laying in the bed next to us. Are we going to shudder, sneak out the door, and hope our friends don’t see us on the walk of shame? Or are we going to grin, give ourselves a mental high five, and start snuggling up hoping for a little morning lovin’? As I libertarian I think a mental high five is in order. I think liberty did pretty well last night given the options and political process that we are forced to deal with.
Let’s start with the President (which I think was the least important thing on the ballot last night). Our realistic options were the pro-war, pro-corporatism, anti-civil liberties, pro-drug war, anti-immigration incumbant Barack Obama for four more years or the pro-war, pro-corporation, etc challenger Mitt Romney for 4-8 years. Obama was the best option for liberty. There is nothing that is going to happen in the next four years under him that would not happen under Mitt and this will give us two new(ish) presidential options in 2016 instead of just one.
Hopefully, this will also spark a civil war in the Republican Party where the neo-cons and/or the theocrats can be ejected from the party. The country now lacks a political party that actually believes in peace, prosperity, and freedom. The Republican Party has an opportunity to fill that void, but in order to do that they need a restructuring along the lines of what Radley Balko suggested:
“Tonight’s lessons for the GOP: Ditch the culture war. Stop hating immigrants. Provide a real fiscal alternative. You should also probably just avoid ever saying the word “rape” again. And finally, math is pretty objective. It does not have a left-wing bias. This advice is free.”
I’m not optimistic enough to think both the theocrats and neo-cons will lose significant strength within the party but I’m sure one will. My bet is the theocrats. The “Religious Right” has both policies that are increasingly out of the mainstream and they are inconsistent with their own pronounced Christian beliefs. While Christian teachings may speak out against homosexuality and talk of having a moral life I cannot find any teachings by Christ that says these should be enforced using the violence of government, particularly when partnered with the pro-war neo-cons. I don’t think Christ would look down at today’s religious right and say “Well done, you fought against gay marriage, that is well worth all the dead children and innocent people across the globe. Gay marriage must be stopped, even if it costs innocent lives, and morality must be enforced with the barrel of a gun.” All-in-all libertarians should be happy with the Presidential results. Johnson and Paul didn’t have a realistic chance, though it would have been nice if Johnson got 5% of the popular vote.
The real victories happened on the state level with a series of liberty advancing measures centered around gay marriage and marijuana. Freedom to associate and self-ownership are foundational issues for libertarians and things are better today than they were yesterday for both issues. While there is much debate about gay marriage within the libertarian circles I think yesterday was a victory. I understand the more purist arguments that the marriage is still defined by the state and we should fight to remove the state from relationships altogether. I agree, but that doesn’t mean we should forsake all advancements because it is not yet utopia. This is akin to saying we should not have freed the slaves because they will need to pay taxes and that isn’t true freedom. More people are able to freely and openly love those they care about, that is a good thing and should be celebrated.
The most exciting issue for me was marijuana legalization. I don’t really smoke weed but I find drug use to be an indicator of someone’s philosophy. If someone (by themselves or filtered through a third party like the government) can tell me what I can or cannot peacefully put in my own body they are claiming ownership over my body. They are in essence telling me that they have a greater claim on my body than I do. Of the six states with marijuana related measures I see four as victories. Colorado and Washington state legalized in some form and Massachusetts legalized medicinal marijuana, these are the obvious victories. I also see Arkansas’ medical marijuana as a victory, though not a perfect one. This is the first time a state in the south has really come close to medicinal legalization (49% to 51%) and it gives me hope that the entire country is slowly changing it’s mind on this issue.
There certainly is a lot of work ahead. Civil liberties are degrading, we are in several wars, immigration policy sucks, and the drug war still mostly continues but things are getting better. Given the realistic options of who we could have ended up in bed with last night libertarians did pretty damn well, and that deserves a moment of congratulations and morning spooning with our new friend.