Thursday, 26 October 2006

US Elections: A House divided?

One of the beauties of the American system of government is the check on power created by enabling the executive and both houses of the legislature to be controlled by different parties. Which lovers of small government, for example, cannot recall with a smile the shut-down of government due that happened under a Clinton Administration and a Republican House?

This is just a prelude really to saying that all things being equal I prefer to see power divided, rather than having all elected arms of government in the hands of the same party, and so just on that basis alone would not be unhappy to see the Democrats take control of either the Senate or the House of Representatives. On top of that, and given the disgraceful statism in recent years of the conservative side of the aisle (examined in some detail in this series here), it's hard to see that the Democrats could do a worse job.

Objectivists are divided on the question of whom to vote for in the forthcoming mid-term elections. Given the theocratic thrust of so much of recent Republicanism, philosopher Leonard Peikoff argues that not to vote Democrat for both Houses is immoral:
How you cast your vote in the coming election is important, even if the two parties are both rotten. In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.

Socialism—a fad of the last few centuries—has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades... Religion, by contrast—the destroyer of man since time immemorial—is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.

Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”

[...] What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor.

The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican.
Writer Robert Tracinski disagrees. Unsatisfied as he is (and I am) with the Republican Congress, he still suggest the best result is a "humiliating defeat" for the Democrats. "The best thing we can do in this election is to crush the left," he says, "because the Democratic Party adds nothing of value to the American political debate." All the important debates are now happening on the right, he argues, and so "the more the left fades from the scene, the more the national political debate will be a debate within the right."

It sounds a little Pollyann-ish to me. He does however allow:
In the American system, of course, we don't vote for parties but for individual candidates. So if your local congressional candidate has championed a particularly evil political agenda, is under indictment, or is named "Katherine Harris," then by all means vote for the other guy.
Good advice in any election.

UPDATE: Even as I was writing this Mike Mazza was writing an almost identical post with even the same linked articles over at SOLO, where a healthy debate has ensued: Election '06 - SOLO

LINKS: Peikoff on the coming election - Leonard Peikoff, Capitalism Magazine
The Democratic Party adds nothing to the national debate - Robert Tracinski, Real Clear Politics
CONSERVATISM - A NEW OBITUARY: Part 5: The Neocons in practice - Not PC
Cartoons by Cox and Forkum

Politics-US, Objectivism

1 comment:

  1. Yes, either keep the democrats out and hope they change and are less socialist, or boot out the republicans in the hope they change from being evangelicals. Which is more likely to succeed, which party has a better chance of moving towards freedom? Do you have a better chance with freedom of speech in North Korea or Turkmenistan?


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