By Nathan Barton
Chris, over at Laissez Faire Books reposted (with his own comments) an article by Josh Guckert at The Libertarian Republic, entitled “Trump and Sanders may have more in common than most [people] think.” He proceeds to list and provide proof of seven items of commonality: all death from a libertarian point of view – even a minarchist’s. Josh (and Chris) make very good points.
But are they really important? Or even accurate? At best, taking information from public sources, Josh is telling us what the two SEEM to have in common based on what they have said (and, admittedly in Sanders’ case, how he has voted). But some of this stuff goes back almost a decade. And obviously, everything they have said is and was intended to be self-serving, and not necessarily an insight into their real positions – or how they would rule. In fact, let us go even further. Name one American president in the last CENTURY that kept even 10% of his campaign promises, or even remained faithful to what he said was his position on even major issues.
Frankly, most of their “campaign promises” are not something we as free people WANT, whether they keep 5% or 10% or 100%. That is not the point: the point is, whatever they say has nothing to do with what they will actually do in office. Not just “slightly different” but totally different most (if not all) of the time.
At best, Josh’s examples show how their tactics to get elected, to “win friends [voters] and influence people,” are similar. It is catch as catch can whether what they say is truly what they believe (now, much less after January 2017) or what they will do in office. Consider Wilson. Consider Nixon. Consider FDR and JFK and LBJ. What these candidates (and NOT just Sanders and Trump) are saying and doing, especially in 2014, 2015, and now 2016, is just what they figure that they need to get elected to office: nothing more. It has as little to do with what they will really do in office as any campaign promise made by their opponents.
It has to do with the voters: say what the voters that you think might vote for you want to hear, and what the voters who will vote for you (or your party) anyway want to hear. And DO NOT say anything that will chase away your voters, if at all possible. Be against war (like Wilson) in the election campaign (1916 slogan “He kept us out of the war.”). Be anti-communist just like Dick Nixon. Wilson, of course, went on to let the Forty-eight States get sucked into the Great War: the “War to end all Wars.” Nixon pulled out of ‘Nam abandoning it to the Communists, and made nicey-nicey with the Communists in Peking.
For all we know, either (or both) The Donald and Bernie are Manchurian candidates: Bernie could be a closet free-market guy that has masqueraded as a Socialist for fifty years. The Donald could be the guy that REALLY opens the borders and truly tears down the walls that prevent REAL free trade. And Hillary could be a frighteningly-sane and expert manager of people and resources. And pigs could fly and you WILL win that 100 gazillion lottery prize if you use these magic numbers.
In other words, voters are blind. When you are voting for anyone for political office except (maybe) your husband, wife, or best friend, you are buying a pig in a poke: you have NO idea what they will do until they do it. Which makes voting for someone a gamble with as little chance as winning as slapping down that dollar for the lottery ticket at Safeway. Voting against someone? Maybe. But don’t get too excited about it.
In the 21st Century, in the Fifty States, we’d be better off if we had an (honest) lottery and had those little balls pop out of the cage to spell out someone’s social security number and make them king (or queen) for four years. Why? Because one in a million (or two million) of us might have the morals (including courage) and wisdom to do a marginally-okay job. With the system we have today, that is flat out impossible.
The real solution: make government as “real” and as powerful as reality television: take away all the power and let people decide their own lives. Even if 90 out of a 100 fail, it would still be more hopeful that the mess we have because of mandatory government today.
Meanwhile, recognize that when you vote, if you do, that there really isn’t a lesser or greater evil: all the choices are bad and you are totally blind to see what form that evil will take.
Mama’s Note: Nathan and I agree completely on this one. Why would keeping campaign promises be a plus for anyone who loves liberty? Most campaign promises are geared to impose something on one segment of the population for the benefit of another, or pretend to solve problems that only individuals and their voluntary associations have any hope of solving. The most important factor, totally ignored by almost everyone, is that there are more than 300 million different problems and solutions, and no political action would ever be right for everyone, no matter how wonderful the intention of the politician. And we all know they have no pure intentions to start with. Their goal is power and control, and very little else.
“Democracy” – and a “republic” – is the insane notion that people are too evil and stupid to control their own lives, but are good and wise enough to elect others to do it for them.