Fifty Years of Voting

I cast my first vote in 1964, shortly after turning 21, the legal voting age in those days. I voted for Barry Goldwater who, although he described himself as a conservative, didn’t fit that category by today’s standards. He was for free markets but he was not particularly religious and he held a laissez-faire attitude toward alternate lifestyles. He was, unfortunately, a war hawk, so he wouldn’t fit very well into today’s libertarian category, either.

Four years later I voted for Richard Nixon, sad to say. I somehow thought he was for free markets, being a Republican. I was cured of that delusion by a wakeup call at 8:15 AM on Monday, August 16, 1971. That was the moment I saw the headline in the L.A. Times announcing Nixon’s dastardly Sunday evening perfidy: price controls, closing the gold window, and an import tariff surcharge. All of these statist actions very quickly played out disastrously. Their personal import was to cure me of any notion that Republicans were necessarily friends of liberty. I became a libertarian that Monday morning and never looked back.

Of course that decision meant never again voting for a winner.  I voted for John Hospers in 1972, and he actually got one electoral vote from a renegade Republican elector, Roger MacBride, who was the LP candidate in 1976. Ed Clark’s 1980 campaign on the Libertarian ticket, generously funded by the Koch brothers, gave me brief hope for the new party, which we all know has come to naught. I’ve “wasted” my vote on Libertarian candidates ever since. Thanks to Proposition 14 in California, I can only vote for Libertarians in the primary elections; minor parties are shut out of the general election. In many races the general election is a contest between two Democrats. I resist any urge to vote for the lesser evil of the two so now I just leave most of my ballot blank and vote against all tax measures.

If we must have voting, I offer a couple of common-sense reforms:

  • Raise the voting age to 30. People under that age are clueless.
  • Require voters to pass a stiff qualification exam, something far more rigorous than the simple literacy tests of yore.
  • Institute a stiff poll tax, at least enough to cover election costs. Why force non-voters to pay?

I’m tempted to throw in land ownership as another criterion, but the foregoing should suffice. Of course this reform would leave many people feeling disenfranchised, but so what? Most people are far too ignorant to judge issues and candidates rationally and should be kept away from voting booths at all costs. Anyway, the system would leave a path open for people to earn enfranchisement by working hard to satisfy the above criteria.

Would I apply for enfranchisement under my proposed system?  No way; I have better things to do.  Will I vote this year?  I suppose so. I have no idea what will be on the ballot, but there will doubtless be some lame-brain propositions to vote against.

What the Hell is a “RINO” Anyway???

I have serious problems understanding the definition of the term ‘RINO’. The term is supposed to mean a Moderate Republican, i.e. a Republican that shares views with a Democrat. However, the term is used by so many contradictory parties that it lacks real meaning. Many people hold up President Reagan as the hard definition of a true conservative, with his quote of “the soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.

In the 2012 election, the four Republican candidates each represented a key demographic of the current Republican base. There was Mitt Romney, a Mormon westerner who had become merged with the moderate eastern Money Trust Rockefeller establishment. There was Rick Santorum, a right-wing Catholic obsessed with social issues and ready to wage a Christian jihad. There was Newt Gingrich, a Baptist-turned-Catholic career politicians who’d passed centrist legislation throughout the Clinton administration. And of course, Ron Paul, a libertarian carrying the youth vote, ironically carrying views of a politician born in the 1890s, who would have been a member of the bipartisan anti-Roosevelt Old Right coalition.

The idea of a RINO came into existence around the campaign of Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Senator, who won the 1964 nomination instead of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the grandchild shared by John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil and Senator Nelson Aldrich, who pitched the original idea for the Federal Reserve. Even though he won the nomination, Goldwater was written off as an “extremist” by many, and Rockefeller was considered a “moderate”. But what does this really mean?

As America was still very homogenous in 1964, most regions had a strong local culture. At the time, the Republican base was comprised of Midwestern Lutherans, Western Mormons, wealthy New England Episcopalians, and transient career military families. At the time, most Southern Baptists and Catholics were still largely Democrats. Goldwater winning Southern states in 1964 did not permanently secure the Solid South as red states, despite the widely toted myth. (Third party Wallace of 1968 and Democrat Carter of 1976 prove this.) As a general phenomenon, the lower-middle-class flyover demographics were known as the extremists, while the upper-middle-class city and suburban folk were known as the moderates.

Despite being categorized as a “right-wing extremist” in 1964, Goldwater still had little in common with the heartland evangelicals of today. Goldwater had no connection to fundamentalist Christianity like Governors Perry or Palin. One side of his family was Jewish, and the other side was Yankee Episcopalians, and Goldwater was an Episcopalian his whole life. Goldwater supported no legislation in regards to gay marriage, drugs, or abortion. Goldwater is directly quoted as saying, “Mark my words, if and when these preachers get control of the Republican party, and sure they’re trying to do so, there’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly these people frighten me”.

Everything Barry Goldwater predicted about the Christian fundamentalist hijack eventually came true. Now the term RINO has a whole new meaning than when two socially liberal Episcopalians were vying for the nomination in 1964. Many Republicans referred to John McCain (a career military man with no regional ties) and Mitt Romney (a flip-flopper from the far left state of Massachusetts) as RINOs or moderates. But when Obama ran against them in 2008 and 2012, his campaign spent countless efforts painting the two candidates as right-wing extremists

Since 2008, the mainstream liberal media outlets have generally painted all Republican candidates in the same stereotype: old, uncool, racist, sexist, cranky, corny, money-hoarding, miserly Mr. Scrooges, obstructing Obama’s hip-and-groovy “CHANGE”. It mattered little how moderate McCain’s and Romney’s records were, the media rhetoric implied that anyone running against Obama had a closeted agenda with the same motivations as the Thurmond, Wallace, or Duke campaigns. Vice President Biden shouted out to an audience during a debate with Paul Ryan, “Romney is gonna put you all back in chains”. The MSM saw no problem with this.

So what are the concrete issues that make or break the difference between the RINOs and a non RINO? Is it the military, war, and foreign policy? Is it economics? Is it Christian social issues? (a dead horse, as far as I’m concerned) Are the rants espoused by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Fox News anchors the policies that anyone who runs as a Republican are “supposed” to have? Fox anchor Ann Coulter referred to libertarians as “pussies”, and implied that supporting drug legalization was RINO/moderate, by mashing  different ideologies from left and right. Everyone has different definitions of RINO.

So this brings up the question: Was Ron Paul a “RINO”? Fox News certainly said so in the 2012 election. Were Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater “RINOs”? Many Democrats who hate the Tea Party would say so today. Although one must acknowledge Ron Paul’s ultraconservative personal views, one should realize he would give power back to the fifty state governments, with the intention that each American demographic can carve out a haven. There is no point pretending that Ron Paul is a hip guy with young libertarian social ideas: his views have changed little since he was a medical student in the 1950s.

Despite this, Ron Paul had the potential to represent a purge of many issues that the left hates about the Republicans; policies relating to drugs, gays, abortion, corporate bailouts, but most importantly, the wars in the Middle East. This was only exacerbated by Rick Santorum’s extremist Christian authoritarian rants, and his comment that he wanted to “fight against libertarian influence in the Republican party”. Despite the Obama administration’s continued drone warfare allover the Middle East, the Obama 2012 campaign repeated the same 2008 rhetoric that this was Bush’s personal, Republican, corporate, Islamophobic war. Simultaneously, the other three Republicans called Ron Paul an isolationist coward for his foreign policy. Ron Paul could have been the perfect moderate with ideas compromising from both sides, and yet they trashed and defamed him every possible chance.

Unfortunately, it is the Tea Party, and not moderate Republicans or Democrats, who have been blamed for the government shutdown. Personally, I think the Republicans handling the shutdown is a poorly planned reactionary idea. This kind of political activism only works if the libertarian-leaning Republicans were to shut down the government about the wars in the Middle-East, or the incarcerations of non-violent drug offenders. Otherwise, the MSM will just paint them as quintessential obstructionist right-wing cranks, as they have done so far.

McCain’s machine of moderate Republicans have marched in lockstep behind Obamacare, in an attempt to make Ted Cruz and other libertarian-leaning Republicans look like the “extremists”, Obama-haters, and Confederate secessionists. Despite the fact that libertarians are supposed to share a good bit ground with progressives, Democrats and moderates are together pointing to libertarianism “the far right fringe”. Moderate Republicans need to keep in mind that when is all over, the liberal media outlets will put all Republicans, moderate and conservative, in the same category as tongue-speaking, back-alley-abortion-causing, end-of-times, Limbaugh-hypnotized, warmongering, theocratic neo-confederates no matter what.

If liberal Democrats prefer moderate ‘Rockefeller Republicans’, or big government Republicans, let them have each other. If they think the enemy is small town, small business people, let them feel that way. Democrats can have Republicans like the Bushes, an old New England Money Trust family, long term ally of the Rockefellers, with CIA connections and investments in the baby Standard Oil corporations. After all, when corporate exploitation, global imperialism, and war profiteering makes millions, they can cash in and use the money to look humanitarian later in life. Just don’t dress him up like a Texas good ol’ boy, and then blame flyover folk for him.

Not Reagan, Goldwater, Taft, Coolidge, Eisenhower, or possibly even Bush, Sr. would ever have done what George W. Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, or what Nixon did in Vietnam. (both cited for the claim: “Republicans are warmongers”) Meanwhile, Democrats Wilson, Truman, and Johnson started long wars based on the idealistic grounds of “spreading democracy”. It is the imperialist Republican war machine and CIA added to the liberal Democrat dream of international government that make a poisonous combination together.

Maybe a RINO is what we want. If RINO means secular Republican; with no evangelical Christian dogma influencing government policy, then RINO is good. If RINO means Republican who embraces science and new technology, then RINO is good. If RINO means anti-war Republican, who wants to cut military spending, then RINO is good. If RINO means socially liberal Republican, then RINO is good. If RINO does not recite unoriginal reactionary propaganda from Fox News, then RINO is good. If RINO is opposed to neo-conservative foreign policy, then RINO is good. Maybe RINO is what we need after all.

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