The debate distraction

September 17, 2008

OK, libertarians; get ready to beat me up.

I’ve written frequently, both here and on the editorial page, about the need to give third-party candidates their share of exposure during political campaigns. It’s both fair to them and beneficial to the voters.

But after watching the gubernatorial debate last night, I have to say that Libertarian candidate Andy Horning was an annoying distraction. This was his answer to the very first question, “What do you expect to be the most important issue during the next four years?”

“The corollary to ‘In God We Trust’ is that ‘In politicians we do not.’ And I’m afraid that what we have done is, kind of, we’ve entrusted politicians with everything.”

And almost every single answer he gave was a variation on that. Now, I bow to noboby in my love of liberty, my desire for smaller and less intrusive government, my belief in the individual over the collective, my distaste for rule-obsessed bureaucrats. But I don’t want to be hectored on the points over and over and over while I’m trying to listen to one candidate defend his record and another candidate challenge it and tell my why she could do the job better. Mitch Daniels and Jill Long Thompson were running for governor. Horning was conducting a philosophy seminar.

It so often seems the case that third-party candidates — and Libertarians in particular —  are far more interested in being right than getting elected, and that was obvious last night. Being governor requires someone actually interested in running the government, and that whole concept seems distasteful to Libertarians. I know this is not a new observation, but a Libertarian seeking political office is like an atheist wanting to be pope.

I’d like to see at least one debate with just Daniels and Long-Thompson. The state will face big challenges and have big opportunities over the next four years; whichever one wins will have a tough job to do. I want to hear, without distraction, why they think they’re up to the task.

I promise not to start putting all my trust in politicians or stop believing in the Constitution. Government bad. I get it, OK?

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3 Responses to “The debate distraction”

  1. Doug Says:

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good” comes to mind when I hear Libertarians. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a warm place in my heart. I used to vote pretty consistently for Libertarians. But, as I grow older, I find that messy compromise and workable, if imperfect, solutions aren’t awful things.

    Holden Caulfield would be appalled.


  2. I didn’t see the debate, so I can’t say anything about that.

    But taking your comments at face value: I don’t think this speaks to whether one should have Libs in debates, but instead, the need for all candidates to be “well-rounded”– in the sense of being able to speak from a variety of angles to a variety of important topics.

    The other thing I would caution here is that we should hold major-party candidates to the same standard. For example, if a candidate only says various forms of blah-blah-blah over and over again, then they should be trashed for being predictable and adding little to the debate.


  3. I certainly hope I do not fall into that classification. As a candidate for Congress, the single largest issue is the economy. There are many factors influencing the economy; energy, budget deficit, trade deficit, illegal immigration, taxes.

    When the government sent stimulus checks out, where did the money come from? It was borrowed and will add $6 billion to 2009’s deficit. This borrowing puts pressure on the dollar and oil rises.

    When government does not enforce immigration laws, U.S. citizens looking for work are displaced by illegals who send dollars out of the country, putting pressure on the dollar. It also tends to cost us more to care for unemployed as a society.

    When government subsidizes a particular industry/product, it creates an artificial price for it. This can cause demand for a raw material to increase causing its price to increase. A prime example is corn. In 2003, corn was less than $2 a bushel. In 2008, it hit over $8 a bushel. Farmers switched to corn, resulting in higher demand for fertilizer, lower supply of wheat and beans. 92% of the corn is used for feed and other products. The result is significant price increases in beef, pork, poultry and dairy.

    We have had numerous unintended consequences over the decades that have led us to the place we are at now. As Leo stated so eloquently earlier, do nothing and get out of the way.


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