By Nathan Barton
L. Neil Smith’s recent column ending his commentary cycle on the recent election and elevation of a new Massa for the FedGov on The Libertarian Enterprise may come as a bit of shock to some people. In particular, the fact that he voted (#1) and voted for Trump (#2) in the State of Colorado, is sure to arouse the anger of many. Not that El Neil cares: it is part of his life and business plan.
And he makes a good, sound argument for voting for Trump and Pence, if not for voting for candidates in general (which he does not address in this article). But it is a contrarian position, indeed.
And one I understand and fully support. Call it defensive voting, together with a strong sense of revulsion at voting for Johnson and what he has become – to say nothing of Weld.
I disagree with Neil, quite often. He knows that, and it does not bother him. Nor do some of his positions bother me in as far as friendship and political philosophy go. His rather militant atheism, for example, and his stand on intellectual rights. Both grate on my nerves and I most sincerely believe him to be dead wrong on both. But he is my brother in liberty.
And we live in an imperfect world, for which we must accept responsibility for our actions. Which he does (unlike too many who CLAIM to be libertarian). Like me, he rejects the argument that “voting just encourages them” any more than giving the hold-up artist your watch “just encourages them” instead of being a necessity to avoid more dire circumstances, even if you misjudged the situation and the hold-up guy blows your brains out for the fun of it. Nor is it “buying into the system” or legitimizing it – any more than giving into the mugger to avoid worse is a way of stating that you support the idea of muggings and armed robbery as a way of making a living or as necessary to society.
And no matter HOW bad Trump is, the alternative was so incredibly evil and threatening to life and liberty and prosperity, that I understand Neil’s logic. Even though his effort failed (Colorado still went for Hillary), one of the few justifications for voting (at least in some people’s eyes) is “self-defense.” Even though both (or all three or four choices) are bad, usually one or two are worse than the others. And usually much more distasteful. Not just in national, but in local elections. Hillary was certainly that, this time around.
At the same time, usually one is at least marginally better – in the past that has usually been the Libertarian team – though that now seems to be just that – a thing of the past.
Indeed, there is a lot that Smith and Trump have in common, isn’t there? (Although El Neil may not think kindly of me for saying so.) They are both big-mouths, no? And both have ideas and philosophies that are very much NOT in the mainstreams of conservatism or liberalism. The big difference between the two of them (brushing aside all that money and their current street addresses) is that Neil’s political philosophy is consistent and coherent. But they BOTH put their money where their mouth is, and are not afraid of taking flack (and slinging it back at the nay-sayers) for what they say and do.
I do not think (my opinion only, here) that El Neil is burning his bridges to either his customers (readers) or his fellow lovers of liberty, although obviously some who claim to be so are so wroth about his confession that they wander away from the paths of righteousness (live and let live). But if it turns out that he IS burning bridges, I am certain it will not stop him from continuing to speak out and write boldly in defense of liberty.
Mama’s Note: What anyone else wants to do with their time and effort is certainly no business of mine. I will never participate in electoral politics for politicians, simply because I consider them all to be thieves, liars and worse. There is NO “lesser evil” available, ever. Not that it would matter in the least if I “voted” or not. I have to satisfy my own conscience.
Nope, Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) and I are really two different persons!
And we don’t always agree on everything, by any means. Any more than I agree on political matters all the time with my wife Debby, or my sons Gareth and Matthias. I am not intending to “espouse” any voting, defensive or otherwise; just pointing out that some people do practice such things. (I’ve done it myself in the past – just as I have in the past known people to run for office in self-defense – not because they wanted to win election to office but because they knew that by doing so, they could keep a really bad’un out of office.) Is that “aggression?” Or “preemptive defense?” I dunno.
I have never bought into the statist/quasi-statist argument made by some people that if you participate in voting, you (a) legitimize the situation and/or (b) thereby are pledged to agree with the outcome – whether that means submitting to an injust and immoral “law” or to a person who claims the power to control you and decide things for you.
I know, it is not a nice simple answer or situation.
You misunderstand me. I thought the author above was advocating defensive voting. “And one I understand and fully support. Call it defensive voting, ….”
I am confused though. Who is responding to my post – Nathan Barton or Mama Liberty? You say in your response that you do not espouse anything. I asked if the author, Nathan Barton, was espousing that. Are you two the same person?
As to the mistakes in Mr. Rose’s book I mentioned, no matter how important the content, conclusions, research, etc. is, the type of mistakes present in the download of his book detract from its message. I would like to ask him why he has allowed these to be published?
Sorry you misunderstood. The response is clearly mine, not Nathan’s. I do not “espouse” any sort of voting, but certainly can’t and won’t speak for Nathan or anyone else. He can respond if he wishes to do so. There are four bloggers now at The Price of Liberty. Most of the others do not respond to comments, but I quite often do so.
And I’m really sorry you are choosing to place more importance on the grammar and technical aspects of Rose’s book than the actual content. YOUR choice, of course. But your choice does not and cannot change my evaluation of his work. If you wonder why Rose allowed it to be published that way, you’ll have to ask him. I have no idea.
I have finished reading the book you recommended to me, The Most Dangerous Superstition. If Mr Rose had had someone read and edit his book for errors, misspellings, and punctuation, etc., it would be a much better book. The errors take away from its effectiveness. That aside, it does not sound to me like Mr Rose would ever vote for anyone in self defense. Is that something you are espousing here?
As an editor, typos and so forth are never pleasant to read, but I consider the content there otherwise to be far more important. As for “voting,” I don’t find it to be in the least defensive, though I have been goaded to participate in the past. If something has no legitimate authority or function, it has no rational purpose or effect. I don’t “espouse” anything, really. I lay out my rationale and expect those who read it to come to their own conclusions, for their own purposes. If it pleases you to vote, and you think it is defensive, that is your choice. I’d be interested to learn why you think it is defensive, and what you believe you are accomplishing by it.