I'm done. I'm a lifelong Republican and I'm done. I've been a Republican since I was 6 and I saw Reagan speak on our old 13" black and white television set about freedom and about the evils of the Soviet Union, where I was born. I grew up listening to Reagan and I kind of always thought that he was what the Republican Party stood for. For individual liberty at home & abroad. "Moderates" like George H. W. Bush seemed like some sort of aberration to me, an exception to the conservative Republican rule. Looking back though, it's pretty clear that Ronald Reagan was the aberration. In 1988, instead of nominating the father of the Reagan tax cuts, Jack Kemp, the GOP nominated the anti-Israel squishy moderate George H. W. Bush. In 1996, instead of nominating the stalwart conservative Phil Gramm (lifetime ACU rating of 95) or the flat tax visionary Steve Forbes, the GOP nominated another squishy moderate, Bob Dole (lifetime ACU rating of only 82). 2000 was a joke as the establishment had pre-decided that W was going to be the nominee and he really didn't have any real opposition. W, the "compassionate conservative". We all know how that ended. Ballooning federal spending and even a new entitlement! It was so bad that even in his home state of Texas I heard of people say that he destroyed the Republican Party by governing the way he did.
Looking back before Reagan, I think the last Republican President I actually would have liked was Calvin Coolidge, who was elected in 1924, a whopping 88 years ago (even Reagan's 1980 election was a hell of along time ago, a whopping 32 years). So in 88 years, there have been a total of 2 Republican Presidents and only 3 nominees (add Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the mix) who believed in small government, free markets and individual liberty. Being a Republican who believes in those things seems to be a great way to torture yourself. You are constantly tempted into thinking "maybe this time" but more often than not they end up giving you someone you despise but feel you have to support as they are the lesser of two evils. Well, I am done supporting any sort of evil, lesser or otherwise. Alternating the Presidency between lesser evils and full-on evils are how we got into the mess we are in. When the Democrats are in charge, the size and scope of government is increased dramatically (except under Clinton, where he tried to nationalize healthcare but was stopped and then a Gingrich-led Republican Congress kept him in check) and when the Republicans are in charge, government also increases, albeit at a slower rate. We're now to the point where even if we cut all discretionary spending to zero, we will just be balancing the budget, thanks to all the promises of entitlements made in prior administrations (Mary Meeker has a great presentation on how screwed we really are).
Romney is just the last straw for me. I can't really say for certain what I agree with him on or exactly how he differs from how Obama has been governing (as George Soros said, "If it's between Obama and Romney, there isn't all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them"). He believes in the individual mandate as a way to reform healthcare despite it being an abrogation of individual liberty. He is going to raise taxes if elected President, he has said as much. I'm not even sure how his foreign policy would be different. So far, all I understand is that he would leave Afghanistan 3 months later than Obama and would only criticize Israel in private. Sure, I'm sure his decisions would be less bad than Obama, his regulations less over-reaching, but that is simply not enough for me. And the worst part of this whole process was that so many conservatives stood on the sidelines, not doing all that they could to keep a progressive from becoming the GOP nominee. Where was Sarah Palin's endorsement? Where was Jim DeMint's? Why weren't they out there campaigning, highlighting Romney's terrible record as Governor? The establishment had clearly decided on a candidate and these so-called iconoclasts didn't want to hurt their own careers. They just wanted to go along to get along. The conservative press was no better. They didn't want to hurt their future access to politicians and/or the White House.
So what now? Ideally, I'd like the Tea Party to get together and form a proper political party and then act somewhat like the Conservative Party of New York. Sometimes they would endorse the Republican, but if they don't agree with the choice, they would field their own candidate. That would act as an incentive for the Republicans to nominate a candidate that is acceptable to conservatives. Having a convention before the Republican primaries even start would probably maximize the Tea Party's impact. Imagine if a conservative nominating convention had come together and endorsed just 1 of the conservatives running for the nomination before Iowa. Instead of the vote being horribly split, allowing the only moderate in the race to win race after race with under 50% of the vote, the story might have been vastly different.
For 2012, I seem to have only two choices. Vote for the Constitution Party candidate or the Libertarian Party candidate. There is clearly a lot of overlap between the two groups (Ron Paul actually endorsed the Constitution Party candidate in 2008) but the Constitution Party is just a bit too anti-immigrant (even legal immigrants) and socially conservative for my taste. Heck, their last nominee, Chuck Baldwin, even said that people "misunderstand Southern slavery". What exactly is there to misunderstand about chattel slavery? Now, it's okay to sympathize with Confederate arguments over states rights, but slavery? That just goes way too far for me. I would find the Confederacy a lot more sympathetic if they had freed the slaves and then fired on Fort Sumter.
That leaves the Libertarian Party. I don't agree with parts of the platform, that's for sure. After watching the towers go down from my midtown office on 9/11, I can't agree with their dovish foreign policy. But on just about everything else, they are right on. Small government and individual liberty permeate every fiber of their being. As long as you aren't directly harming someone else or violation there own rights, you can run your business the way you want. And if you want to smoke or eat a plant in the privacy of your own home, what right does anybody have to say you can't? They even are likely to nominate a pretty good candidate this time around in the former two term Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Check out what the Club for Growth wrote about him:
Overall, Governor Johnson has an excellent record on taxes and consistently pushed for tax cuts despite having to deal with the liberal New Mexico Legislature. Late in his second term, the Cato Institute found that Johnson was one of "four governors proposing or enacting the largest income tax rate cuts during their tenures."
In his first term, Governor Johnson proposed reducing the top rate of the state personal income tax from 8.5% to 8%, along with other tax cuts, but was rebuffed by the Legislature. He signed a repeal of a 1993 6-cent-a-gallon tax hike. In 1997, Governor Johnson again proposed to cut the top rate, this time to 8.3%. The legislature proposed to cut it to 8.2%, but offset some of the revenue losses from this and other tax cuts with a cigarette tax increase. According to Cato, Johnson signed the income tax cut, and "vetoed the cigarette tax hike."
Unlike some of the other Republican candidates for President this year and in past election cycles, Gary Johnson never raised the cigarette tax. While the tax on cigarettes has little relevance to economic growth, the fact that he held the line on such taxes demonstrates how strongly he opposes tax hikes. In 1999, he vetoed a 12-cent-a-pack cigarette tax hike —"not because he liked smoking, he says, but because he opposes all tax hikes." New Mexico's cigarette tax rate stayed the same from 1995 to 2003.
In 2001, Governor Johnson vetoed a bill to cut the top income tax rate from 8.2% to 7.7% because it also lowered the dollar amount that the top rate kicked in. His proposal would have cut the income tax by $72 million while the legislature wanted just a $32 million cut and a $30.5 million one-time rebate. Johnson later said he regretted vetoing the legislature's version. Over the course of his two terms, Governor Johnson "cut the state income tax, the gasoline tax, the state capital gains tax, and the unemployment tax."
As a candidate for President, Governor Johnson has indicated his support for a flat tax. He also supports eliminating the corporate income tax. He called the 2010 deal to temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts for two years "not a good one" because it didn't make them permanent.
Governor Johnson was one of the most anti-spending governors in New Mexico history.
Governor Johnson set a state record for vetoes as Governor, earning the title "Governor No" after 742 total vetoes of bills over two terms. In an interview with John Stossel on Fox News, Governor Johnson bragged that one of his veto messages was "I'm vetoing this piece of legislation because it's just way too long and we don't understand what it says."
Governor Johnson looked for private alternatives to the infrastructure spending that too often busts state budgets. For example, Highway 44 between Albuquerque and Farmington was "designed, financed, built, and guaranteed by a private company."
In 2000, he refused to sign a budget and forced a special session with the legislature over funding priorities, a battle which ended with Johnson signing a $3.5 billion dollar budget but vetoing several small spending priorities such as $5 million on expanded Medicaid. He threatened to shut down state government when the legislature fought him and even threatened to let prisoners out of jail if the state couldn't afford to house them.
On federal issues, Governor Johnson says he would have opposed TARP. "Government should not have been involved in this…Why should Goldman and AIG be saved but not Lehman?" He also wants to eliminate government subsidies for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He says he would have voted against the stimulus.
He has said that he would cut the federal budget by 43%, "Start out with the big four - Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and defense," Johnson said in New Hampshire in early 2011.
In 1999, Johnson vetoed a bill which would have raised the minimum wage from $4.25 per hour to $5.65. He also signed a law deregulating New Mexico's electricity market that allowed residential, small-business customers and schools to start shopping for their electricity supplier. He's argued that when a Democrat negotiates with labor unions through collective bargaining it's a "giveaway" instead of a negotiation. He says he doesn't believe in cap-and-trade legislation, saying that "I do not believe that taxing carbon emissions is the way to go forward." Governor Johnson also opposes so-called "Net Neutrality" regulations that would lead to a larger government role in the use of Internet bandwidth.
Pretty good stuff. Gary Johnson will govern this country, the way it should be governed. I know some people will say that I am throwing away my vote or voting for Obama. I am voting FOR small government and individual liberty, how can that be a waste? If the Republicans had really been interested in my vote (as well as the votes of other Republicans like me) they would not have nominated someone who believes that government knows best.
Cross posted from libertarian neocon's blog.