Welcome to CogentPassion - Official Blog of Tim Gallagher - opinion and commentary on things that I feel passionate about, though I promise not to spout off without a good basis in reality.
Favorite topics for commentary are economics and politics from a Libertarian p.o.v., and notes from a baseball-playing, self-improving, travel-loving Charlottesville resident.
CogentPassion is proudly banned in China (as are all blogs.)
2012 is yet another election where our two party system has
delivered us two lame choices. One candidate was a 1-term governor of
a nothing-special state and his most recent political accomplishment was coming in a
distant second to John McCain in the 2008 Republican primaries. The other
candidate’s performance as President has been so underwhelming that his
campaign ads only come in two flavors: either “I’ve got a plan,” or “the other
candidate is really bad, and he’ll do bad things to you.”
(Sorry, Mr. President. You lose the right to campaign on
your plan for the future when you haven’t even had a budget passed in most of
your term, even when your party controlled both houses of Congress. If you
can’t get a budget passed through a Congress you control, why should I believe
you will get a series of legislative initiatives through a divided Congress?)
We’ve got two really bad choices, making the election a
choice of the lesser of two evils. (Seriously. I can understand if you want to
vote for your candidate because he’s not the other guy, who is way worse. I cannot
understand anyone, though, who thinks their candidate is actually doing a good
job, or going to do a good job. Anyone who thinks Obama is an effective,
positive leader has been asleep the last four years, and anyone who thinks
Romney isn’t a neocon and a repeat of Bush #43 isn’t paying attention.)
But rather than pointing out each candidates’ flaws (which
might take up all of the space on the internet, though I do recommend reading this), I’ll illustrate how I
arrived at my choice by describing my ideal candidate, and picking the one that
In my opinion, the ideal Presidential candidate is:
-Constructive, and practically
principled. My ideal candidate holds clear positions, but is willing to
work with, or to do the deal with the other party that gets 70% of what the
leader wants, rather than viewing any compromise as a loss. My ideal candidate
also doesn’t demonize the other party or any group on the other side of an
-Extremely limited in
the application of the US military.
My perfect candidate would get the US out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and
reduce American military commitments around the globe. Why, for example, are
there still ~100,000 US troops in Europe 23 years after the Cold War and 67
years after the end of WWII?
I’m interested in “hiring” a commander-in-chief to execute the policies to
improve the country, not to be our conscience-in-chief. On most any social
issue our country is split roughly 50/50 (example: abortion). For any President
then, imposing social policies is inherently a losing proposition – half of the
population is likely in violent disagreement to a given policy. Let social
policies work through other channels – state legislatures, for example. (I
realize the concept of the socially quiet candidate is a bit naïve, but a real
leader knows that there are three ways to make change happen, and brute force
(i.e. driving a social change through legislation) is the least effective.)
I still don’t understand why the most prosperous nation on the planet is also
the biggest debtor on the planet. A
balanced budget (or something a few trillion dollars closer) should be a
-Unequivocally for free trade. -Against any internet regulation.
limited. Once – just once – I’d like to hear a candidate say that something
is a problem best addressed by something other than the Federal government. One
great place to start: education.
In short, my ideal candidate is a Jeffersonian Democrat. Too
bad they went out of style in the Democratic party decades ago. (Jeffersonian Democrats might
even be extinct – I can’t think of any Democrats who would qualify.)
Grading both Obama and Romney against my wish list is
depressing. Romney comes out at a slight advantage, largely because in some
dimensions he’s an unknown, whereas we know how bad Obama is in a given
There is one person on the ballot who scores fairly well
versus my criteria: Paul Ryan. He’s demonstrated that he’s practically
principled in his legislative efforts with Sen. Wyden (D) in health care, he’s
certainly fiscally prudent, a free trader, and many of his positions are driven by an interest
in limited government. He also is NOT loud or widely known for his stance on
Unfortunately, though, Ryan is only one the ballot as VP,
but I’ll credit Romney with a bit of Ryan’s halo.
Also on the subject of VP, Joe Biden to me is a walking disaster. I don’t agree with his policies, but I am even more alarmed
by his utter lack of principles (remember his theft of Neil Kinnock’speeches?), impact (he's been a Senator or VP for the last 39 years - can you name one thing he's done?) or frankly brains. Where are the people who slammed Bush #43 for
umm, stupidity, when Joe Biden is a heart beat away from the Presidency, and
IMHO a bigger moron? (And a crook, if the stories I’ve heard are even
So, comparing Obama and Romney gives a slight advantage to
Romney, but mostly because of Paul Ryan. Really, though, the Presidential candidate that I most connect with this
year is Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Unfortunately, he has no
chance of winning.
I’m certainly willing to cast my vote for a lost cause, but
I live in Virginia – a swing state with a very tight race. It's a tight race in Virginia, with the leader changing daily. State polls show
everything from a 5 point Romney lead to a 4 point Obama lead in Virginia, so
the only conclusion that I can reach is that it is a very close race. I
like the notion that I am going to cast the deciding vote.
The last presidential election was a choice between two mediocre
candidates. This election is a contest to decide which Harvard grad will do the
least bad job of running enormous deficits. Neither choice is appealing for
that reason, and I’m not hopeful that much will change.
But it is very likely that the next four years will see
multiple appointments to the Supreme Court, and the next President will have a
chance to significantly alter the demeanor of the Court.
Obama has already appointed two Supreme Court Justices
(Kagan and Sotomayor), neither is considered moderate. I’m not a legal scholar,
but my views are best characterized as a conservative interpretation of
the Constitution, with a limitation on government power and against judicial
activism. (I’m a believer in the now-radical position that the legislative
branch is responsible for writing the law, not the judicial branch.)
So, only because of the Supreme Court impact of this
election and a small Paul Ryan halo, I tepidly endorse Mitt Romney for President.
If he wins, though, I won’t be celebrating. Instead I’ll be laughing about how
the most powerful man on the planet wears magic underwear.
(Polls here in Virginia open in four days, so there’s still
time for you to change my mind – leave me a message to set me straight.)
"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous