Rand Paul is out. As of this writing, his 2016 presidential campaign has been suspended and he is putting all of his focus on staying in the Senate for the coming term. That’s a smart move, and best of luck to him in that endeavor. For those of us who still wish to see the Washington machine properly jostled, however, a big fat question mark has now been left in Dr. Paul’s place. What now? Who next? Unfortunately, nobody is going to serve as the ultimate best answer to those questions.
Some libertarians are now headed toward the Ted Cruz campaign and throwing their lot in with what currently appears to be a viable second-best option after Cruz won the Iowa caucus. Others are looking to the Libertarian Party and plan on voting for Gary Johnson, the man who ran on the LP ticket in 2012 and who recently confirmed is in the running for the LP nomination again. And even more particular types of liberty fans who happen to be pro-life and anti-nonaggression principle are holding out hope that my colleague and former editor, candidate Austin Petersen, will snag that spot instead of Johnson.
But the strangest among all the libertarian voter base in the eyes of most modern members of the movement would have to be those who are actively supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. The reason why this seems such a hard pill to swallow for so many of them is Sanders’ woefully ignorant and unread views on economics and markets. Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” yet arguably promulgates nothing more than social democratic rhetoric with a little bit of Marxist economics thrown on top for good measure. After all, what’s better going to get you that ever-more-important millennial vote than the promise of free college, free healthcare, and free bumper stickers?
For the record, I am not the least bit fooled or fond of Sanders’ proposed economic policies – his tax plan alone is laughable to anyone who actually reads the best literature in the field. It only appeals to people who already want things in society to work that way, so their wish thinking meets the confirmation bias of congregating with nothing but like-minded individuals and results in the perfect storm of blissful ignorance that only the least informed could willingly embrace.
Having said all of this, I am going to present a scenario that may still shock my readers – one in which I could very well see myself voting for Bernie over every other candidate left in the race and feel absolutely morally and intellectually justified in doing so.
Still with me? Okay. Good. You see, we are facing a scenario now where there is a very real possibility of the nation having to choose between either a controversial, politically illiterate, prejudiced media personally or a scandalous, incompetent, warmongering legacy politician, bought and paid for by the status quo as our next president. That is, if we choose to abstain from voting or “write-in” our personal favorites who aren’t still running and therefore could never garner enough votes to win. However, if we decide we still want to rattle Washington’s cage and topple the fixed system that’s currently engulfing us, we have another option: vote for the candidate that threatens to do this the most.
In the case of 2016, I believe wholeheartedly that out of the candidates left, the best figure to fill this position is Bernie Sanders.
Make no mistake, this is not an explicit endorsement of Sanders’ economics. Nor is it my way of saying I just love the guy and think he should be the President in an ideal world. But for one thing, Sanders is likely not going to get most of his crazy market-related ideas turned into legal reality, anyway. He would still have to deal with Congress, after all. But on the other hand, his social views are more libertarian than even Rand Paul’s were, and Sanders is arguably another rare candidate who is not bought and instead fights with integrity for causes he truly believes in (yes, I am aware that Bernie has been a politician his whole life. His campaign has still been largely funded by average voters who are fans of his message). Is he confused on some of them? Yes. Is he malicious? No.
And the most important point worth making about all of this is simply that if we do not help a candidate like Sanders finally break this cycle of elitism and cronyism (which reduces democracy and true representation down to faux elections rigged by the highest bidders), we may very well never get a chance to see a grassroots campaign do something like this again. On principle alone, if not entirely policy, we must do our best to keep the elite candidates like Clinton and Trump out of corporate Washington and put more candidates of the people like Sanders, Paul, and yes, even Cruz to a certain extent, in place of them. To do that, we must focus on both sides, not just the side that currently agrees with us financially in the short term. Sanders is that candidate on the Democratic side. It’s about time we started realistically viewing him as such and help support him in the short term to avoid a long term grander disaster of lost opportunity for the American people to take back their government on their own terms with their own candidates.
Sanders is to Jim Webb what Cruz is to Rand Paul – not nearly as good an option, but now the best one we have. Please don’t let purist stubbornness get in the way of what could still yet amount to one of the most important turning points in American political history.
* Editor: the text above has been reviewed for readability, but not content. The opinion(s) reflected therein are those of the author, and not of the BeingLibertarian.com website or Being Libertarian LLC.
This post was written by Micah J. Fleck.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
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