I recall hearing Bob Barr state a few months ago, on a CNN interview, when asked why anyone should consider him, he said something to the effect of how an Obama presidency would have a federal budget of $3.2 trillion while a McCain budget would be $3.1 trillion. Mr. Barr said he would be an alternative to that.
His statement is an excellent reason why one should consider voting third party. If both parties have essentially the same foreign policy (an interventionist one, albeit with slightly different favorites), very similar energy policies (regulate, tax, and different preferred methods of government spending), and have what I consider minimal differences on things like economic policy and health care, then what’s really the difference between the two?
Philosophical options are to drastically increase government involvement in our lives (kind of a take-the-bull-by-the-horns approach for those much more supportive and optimistic than I about government solutions), i.e. through Ralph Nader or the Green Party, or to drastically decrease government involvement in our lives, i.e. through the Constitution or Libertarian Parties.
With Ron Paul’s relatively high-profile Republican primary run, there is little question that this will probably be the most popular libertarian presidential campaign in history. So Bob Barr is attractive, if for no other reason than to make a statement. But what type of statement would that be?
Having heard quite a bit of Mr. Barr’s rhetoric, I have mixed feelings. On his website, his issues are mostly libertarian and to my liking. But in person, he doesn’t really talk the libertarian talk: rarely have I heard him emphasize personal liberty and freedom as the over-riding concern with government. But to a libertarian like myself, this is the purpose of government: to protect and preserve personal liberty from aggression.
Nor have I been impressed by Mr. Barr’s foreign policy stances. He voted for the Iraq conflict, and though he admits it was a mistake, he justifies it with the ol’ Republican canard: it was based on bad intelligence. In other words, it sounds to me like he would have favored pre-emptive aggressive war under better intelligence. I have a problem with that. Nor does he emphasize the constitutional message of the Founders of neutrality between nations rather than picking favorites. It sure seems like he’d be picking favorites.
On either of these issues, I favor the Constitution Party, which supports the Founders’ policy of non-intervention with respect to foreign entanglements. No NATO. No UN. Etc., etc. We trade with nations, we travel among nations, and we certainly talk with nations. Perhaps my biggest beef with the Constitution Party is their active support of tarriffs, which would certainly limit foreign trade. But compared to what it currently is (especially considering the bureaucratic organizations like the WTO and myriad regulations associated with them), foreign trade would be comparatively free.
Another concern I have with the Constitution Party is the mingling of Christianity with government. That makes me somewhat uncomfortable. Perhaps it shouldn’t.
In summary, if you favor more government intervention, much more than the Democratic candidates are promising, then consider Ralph Nader or the Green Party. (Personally, I have a hard time seeing much difference philosophically between the two. I would think that allied together they would make more of a difference. Same sort of thing for the Constitution and Libertarian Parties. They are about 90% similar. Why not get in together as a small-government party?) If you favor less, then consider the Constitution or Libertarian parties.
In any case, America is choked by the two-party system. We should have taken George Washington’s advice and not had any political parties. In that case, we would be compelled to consider the issues and principles individuals stand for, and not just parties.