Monday, February 04, 2008

Voting Time, Book Review: Why We Whisper

Tomorrow is Stupor Twosday, which means I've got a primary vote to make. My voting choices are being clarified by my free-time reading. For instance, I'm still in the process of reading Why We Whisper, which is all about the cultural issues Republicans fight for and why those of us who care about such issues often shut up rather than fight about it because we don't want to get tarred and feathered in the left-leaning media. You know the old saws: if you don't want your young children to be taught about homosexuality, you're a homophobe. If you don't want single moms to continue having children out of wedlock, you're being discriminatory. If you don't want people from Mexico sneaking into the country illegally, you're a racist. So rather than endure all that bilge, private citizens without the ACLU's deep pockets and fire-breathing lawyers just keep their voices down and let their opinions be known on election day.

I suppose I fall under that category--part of the "Silent Majority," who expects people to act decently, but doesn't feel like shoving it down their throats. Nor do I particularly want someone else's lifestyle shoved down my throat. This is the sort of thinking that leads me to being Libertarian in peacetime.

Conservative libertarians like me deceive themselves on this point: "Live and let live" doesn't work in an environment where the marketplace of ideas has no supervising authority. This is why conservatives are so fond of cultural power of churches and religious authorities. Despite my liberal friends' belief that Bush, et al., are trying to build a theocracy, the truth is something far different. If
many different churches and synagogues are allowed to hold sway in the field of public opinion and the result is a more moralistic citizenry, then the government doesn't have to be as large or intrusive when it comes to regulating behavior. If government does offer any moral guidance by passing laws on personal behavior, like DUI, drug use, sexual behavior, etc., it is still likely to have lower standards than Judeo-Christianity, and people are more likely to fear ostracism or social stigma from poor behavior than they would fear the civil law. Our Founders firmly believed that the United States would only function if its people were moral people of faith. However, America doesn't function that way anymore.

Liberalism doesn't intrude so much on social behavior. In fact, they seem to want as few laws and restraints as possible on personal behavior, as well as an end to religion-based forces like ostracism, shame, and stigma. Moral power, in this view, is not as important as legal power. That is why it is so important for the liberal side to maintain control of the legislature and the courts. If there is no God, as some would have it, there is no God-based morality. If there is no God-based morality, then rule-making is left to the State, and so it becomes very important to have control of the State.

Which brings me back to my conundrum. My political, economic, and moral views are conservative. I prefer limited government, low taxes, and a general moral restraint of the public. The problem is that most of the presidential candidates in the GOP don't fit all of those categories.

Morally, I'd probably vote with Huckabee, but his weak stance on immigration and his willingness to raise taxes don't thrill me. Economically and politically, I like Ron Paul, but he doesn't take the War on Terror seriously and wants to pull out of Iraq, even if we're on the way to military victory there. McCain takes the war in Iraq seriously, but enjoys voting against political and moralistic conservatism to win points with the media and the Beltway people. That leaves Mitt Romney, who's a relative unknown. He has no objection to moralistic rhetoric--his speech on religion was brilliant, in my opinion. I have no idea what his thoughts are on the war, but I can only hope, as a businessman, that he'd favor low taxes, a favorable regulatory environment, and less government spending. If the libertarians could somehow convince me that people would behave better in a less-regulated environment, I might be inclined to buy their arguments. If the moralistic Republicans were more serious about spending less, I might have more faith in their willingness to return to a more restrained State.

Yep--it's gonna be an interesting vote for me tomorrow. When it's all over, my vote will only be a whisper, but it will be cast freely by a man with a clear conscience.

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