Thursday, September 22, 2005

Concerning Al

In a recent post, I suggested that Al Gore might be what the Democrats are looking for in a 2008 presidential nominee. For obvious reasons (and for non-obviously incorrect reasons), several readers took issue with that suggestion, both here and at Free Market News Network.

Herewith are some excerpted comments, followed at the end by my response

Kevin Russell writes at FMNN:

... Al Gore?? He's much closer to being a communist than a libertarian, couldn't win his own state against George Bush, would make a stiff, annoying president (even worse than George), loves the UN and global governance (even more than George), and surely is as much an advocate of sound money as George. If you can't think of anyone better than good old Al, the country really has gone to hell.

From Kn@ppster's own comments section:

Al Newberry -- Okay, Tom. I don't always agree with you, but this time I actually think you've flipped your lid. Gore? You've gotta be kidding or crazy.

Anthony Gregory -- Jeez, it is a sad state of affairs when libertarians are stuck hoping for Al Gore to win the presidency.

I should probably start off with the fact that I'm not backing Al Gore (yet), or "hoping" for Al Gore to win the presidency. I'm "hoping" for the state to collapse and be replaced by an anarchist paradise; or, failing that, for some political party to nominate a libertarian candidate who can win the election.

Now I propose an experiment for your edification: Find a private place. Hope in one hand, defecate in the other. Then come back and tell me which hand got full first.

Done? Good. You should be able to repeat after me three times, with complete belief that what you are saying is true:

The state is not going to collapse and be replaced by an anarchist paradise between now and January, 2008; nor will any political party nominate a libertarian presidential candidate who has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the 2008 election.

This means that in November, 2008, Americans will be left with certain choices. They can vote Republican, they can vote Democrat, they can vote Libertarian, they can vote for an independent candidate or the candidate of another third party, or they can simply choose not to vote.

I'm a libertarian, but I'm also a) still convinced that positive change can still be achieved within the political system and b) a political junkie. That means I'll be voting.

I'm a libertarian, but I'm also convinced that neither the Libertarian Party nor any third party or independent movement will have the horsepower to elect a president in 2008. That leaves the Republicans and the Democrats.

I've chosen -- for reasons I've detailed elsewhere on Kn@ppster -- to cast my lot with the Democratic Party and with the Democratic Freedom Caucus.

As a politically involved libertarian and as a partisan Democrat, my alignment creates tension between two goals -- to "libertarianize" my party and to help my party win elections. In looking at the 2008 presidential election, I conclude that the best prospects for my party to win include having either Russ Feingold or a western governor (New Mexico's Bill Richardson, Arizona's Janet Napolitano or Montana's Brian Schweitzer) on the ticket, and the nominee not being Hillary Clinton.

The question then becomes whether or not Feingold, Richardson, Napolitano or Schweitzer, if any of them choose to run, can beat Hillary for the presidential nomination. I don't know if either of them can. If I had to guess, I'd say not.

To my mind, this means accepting a presidential nominee who's not especially libertarian-leaning, but who can win the general election, and accepting a vice-presidential nominee who's more libertarian-leaning but can't get the top slot.

I have suggested that Al Gore would be such a nominee. Here's why:

No, Al Gore didn't carry Tennessee in 2000. But he can carry Tennessee against George W. Bush's heir apparent in 2008. He can also carry several other states he lost in 2000. With a western governor on the ticket, he would have especially good chances of taking Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. With Feingold on the ticket, he'd almost certainly switch Ohio, probably take Florida, make the Democratic hold on Michigan and Wisconsin more secure, and tie down Iowa and possibly Missouri.

We don't know who the 2008 Democratic nominee will be running against in 2008 ... but really, we do. The Democratic nominee will be running against George W. Bush. Yes, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush eight years ago. But he lost by a few hundred votes in one state, and now Bush has a record to run against that, as I suggested, would make John Lennon's "(Feels Just Like) Starting Over" an apt campaign theme song.

I don't have to like Al Gore to believe that he would be a winning presidential candidate. I don't have to agree with Al Gore on everything to find him preferable to Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, et al. I'm looking for a Democratic victory with libertarian coattails into the VP slot, and I'm looking for a presidential candidate who, on balance, would be better than George W. Bush, better than whomever the Republicans nominate to succeed George W. Bush, and better, more nominatable, and more electable than the other Democratic aspirants.

There are prospective Democratic presidential tickets which I could support, and prospective Democratic presidential tickets which I couldn't support. I could support a ticket with Gore on top and a libertarian-leaning Democrat in the backup spot. I'm not sure I could say the same about a ticket with Hillary anywhere on it. If I can't support the Democratic ticket, then I'll either see what the Libertarian Party is up to or else eschew voting at all.

It is a far cry from saying that I could support a Gore-(insert libertarian-leaning Democrat here) ticket to saying that I am hoping that's the ticket I'll get. Right now, I think it's probably the best ticket that I'm likely to get, though.

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