[ExI] What Makes People Vote Republican

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Sep 18 00:04:14 UTC 2008

Jonathan Haidt's article is quite an amazingly good step in the write
direction, but of course, it's only aimed at fellow travelers who wouldn't
dream of voting Republican in the first place.

>> By Jonathan Haidt
>> http://edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html

But there are other reasons why libertarians, for example, might find
themselves voting more often for the Republican rather than the
Democrat candidate. Of course, I am necessarily restricting my remarks
to those living in the U.S., since although it does stand to reason that
people in other nations would favor Obama, domestically a huge number
of those favoring leftwing candidates already believe that the U.S. is the
number one aggressor nation in the world, the greatest threat to peace,
a culturally aggrandizing, wicked power of globalization, etc.. My remarks
also can't address those whose deepest emotional sentiments are and
have been for years very anti-U.S.

So let me address myself to domestic libertarians, who have since time
immemorial (well, 1971, wasn't that it?) been drawn towards Republicans
on economic issues and repelled from them on social issues. (See the
Nolan Chart, and try taking the World's Smallest Political Quiz:
http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html )

For me, economic issues dwarf almost everything else. It's simply been
a race between those draining the strength of the economic beast, and
those creating the technological and material wealth that keep it going.
All in all, of course, modern economies do grow exponentially, and
every effort to let government provide more, every increase in taxex,
every reduction of incentive, all naturally reduce that exponent and
bring about incalculable harm over the decades. Harm for all the causes
we hold dear, including life extension and other medical research.

At least the Republicans *talk* a good game, but it seems very seldom 
that they're able to put in place the fiscally conservative policies that
I imagine most of the readers of this list would support. I'm not sure
what explains their failure, and that is the question I would most like
to ask Newt Gingrich, who along with his friends did control both
houses of congress beginning in 1994. I imagine that simple politics,
i.e., who can bring home the most federal bacon to his district, prevailed
and that was that. Another earmark here, another boondoggle there.

Whether or not the government passes lots of ridiculous laws about
abortion, or who can sleep with whom, or whether the kiddies must
or must not pray in school---all these seem trivial to me in comparison.

But the Democrats make few pretensions on economic restraint. It's
perfectly clear from any Democrat platform that ever more socialization
of almost everything and ever more government spending are positive
goods that serve to reform society towards higher ideals. So who do
you trust more to have a *chance* of exercising economic common
sense?  Those who dismiss it entirely, or those who sound as though
they mean it, despite their track record? Not a very good choice, I'll admit.

However, two other areas are important, and at times make it seem as
if economics weren't everything. One is foreign policy, which is important
in the long run to Americans, because it cannot be taken for granted that
the sole superpower status will last forever. A revitalized Russia and an
emergent China suggest that it's only a question of time before the 5000
year history of power politics as usual resumes. And the last people we
want in the White House are those who would exhibit the least naivety
here, one-worlders who really cannot understand the reality of "us vs. them".

Another is stem-cell research. What exactly would happen if Palin became
president? I'm not familiar enough with her views, but it seems to me that
the chances are good that she'd follow the same prescription Bush has
endorsed, namely to remove as much as possible government funding for
the very techniques that look most promising for life extension. Here is
one place where I'll candidly make an unprincipled exception: some issues,
among them defending your country or modest efforts towards space
exploration, are so important that the traditional libertarian views should
be put on hold.

So whether I'll vote Republican is based on "for" 75 percent economics,
"for" 30 percent international relations, and "against" 30 percent stem-cell
and related research.


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