Sunday, January 1, 2012


New Year's Resolution Number One: revive the blog. When I started it, I swore I would never post just to be posting something; I would only write when I had something worthwhile to say. I still think that’s a healthy attitude, but unfortunately it reacts too easily with laziness to produce long blank stretches. So my resolution now is: exert yourself a little, find something worthwhile to say a little more often.

Just to ease into things, here’s a wild swipe at the topic that will dominate 2012:

I only have ten months to decide whom to vote for. I’d love to vote for one of the two major candidates in the fall, but it may be too much to ask, yet again. If pressed, I describe myself as a pragmatic, non-ideological libertarian. This means, roughly, that I think a light touch with taxes and regulation and minimal interference in our private conduct, with appropriate qualifications, is the way to go. And I think that most Americans are instinctively more or less libertarian, even if they don’t call it that. I could be wrong about that, but whatever the case, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels dismayed at the spectacle presented by our two major parties.

Neither of the major parties represents people like me. The Republicans are bellicose and nativist and the Democrats believe that problems are solved by creating entitlements. I usually vote Libertarian, but I’ve given up on the Libertarians making a surge into the mainstream. So offer me something, fellas. My expectations are low. I know I will never get a perfect candidate. Voting is usually about damage control.

I have a feeling that an adequate candidate is more likely to emerge from the Republican Party, just because I’m not sure there’s anybody among the Democrats who really has a clear idea of the limits to government. The only constraints that Democrats recognize are budgetary, and they can always fiddle those. What you need is philosophical constraints on government. Without those, there’s no way to keep government from metastasizing.

Republicans claim to have those philosophical constraints, but too many of them also think that the government ought to subsidize their businesses, protect them from competition and keep them from going under when the market turns thumbs down on them. They think the market ought to be free except in their case. And then there are the Republicans who want to send all the immigrants home and put even more people in jail for using drugs. There is also a hair-raising anti-intellectual strain among Republicans. I don’t think that a rough-hewn country manner disqualifies anyone from high office, but I don’t think it qualifies anyone in and of itself, either.

So which major party represents me? The problem is that there are a lot more than two political camps in any country, but we seem to have decided that two parties awkwardly jamming diverse camps into one big tent best provides stability. And the distribution of camps that has evolved has led to two huge messy coalitions, neither of which fully represents any substantial portion of the electorate.

I’d love to see it all get shaken up somehow. But I doubt it’s going to happen before November. So there I’ll be, outside the booth, wishing I could vote for somebody who had a chance to win.

Sam Reaves

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