We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Why are people so surprised?

The Republican party saw an authoritarian, fiscally profligate, regulation crazy President whose flagship program was ObamaCare and who worked tirelessly to expand the remit of the state… and decided that what they needed to do was run a candidate whose entire political career featured expanding the remit of the state and … RomneyCare. Moreover they choose a candidate whose positions on civil liberties was every bit as odious (if not more so) than the dismal Obama.

So unsurprisingly to anyone thinking clearly, the Republican failed to retake the White House.

Good.

So let me repeat what I said in 2009 in ‘An appeal for disunity‘:

2009 is going to be an interesting year, particularly in the USA. Big State Democrat Barack “The One” Obama crushed Big State Republican John “I Support the Bail Outs” McCain and this means the country is going to have a new president whose politics make him the most committed statist since LBJ. The country was given a choice between statism and statism and it voted for… statism.

Well to quote Mencken, the American electorate are going to get what they voted for good and hard, because this is also the year the global economy is truly going to crash, big time, plunging us into a recession and indeed a depression that will last longer and be driven deeper by the policies being implemented by governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

And this presents friends of liberty with a great many opportunities.

Never has there been a better time for cleaning house. The usual excuses given for pragmatic ‘broad church’ politics no longer apply on the so-called ‘right’… no amount of unity will change the fact that regulatory tax-and-spend politicians will be in charge for the next few years regardless of what people of a classical liberal disposition do. And so I would strongly urge such people to get into politics like never before, not primarily to fight the statist left just yet, but to create opposition parties that are actually worth voting for.

In short, I am calling on anyone who believes in liberty and limited government to reject all thoughts of party unity and work tirelessly to drive the statist right from their parties.

I am not calling for the ‘libertarianisation’ of the Republican party along the lines I would actually like, just for the party’s rationalisation. I am in essence calling for a nominally conservative party to become… conservative. The simple fact is that people can be fellow travellers on a path that leads to liberty without all marching in ideological lock-step. It just boils down to asking the question “do you want the state to have less control over people’s lives or more control?” If a person can honestly answer that they think the state is too powerful and needs to be reduced, that is a fellow traveller.

This is the time to apply that test to Republican politicians, every last one of them… and drive any who fail that simple test out of the party by whatever means necessary. Now is the time for a figurative internal ‘Night of the Long Knives’. This is the opportunity to destroy a great many political careers and remake the Republican Party into the party of constitutionally limited government and to start fighting the culture war that the party should have been fighting since the day Ronald Reagan left office with his job only half done.

It’s like deja vu all over again only this time the global economy is well into melt down and the money printing driven ‘recovery’ in the USA is taking it over a fiscal cliff.

Ok Tea Party, start your engines in earnest this time. Get nasty, really nasty. And all you Republican apparatchiks? Help the Tea Party drive the Big Government Republicans from office and drum them out the party, because not only are they The Enemy, they keep loosing elections and that can negatively impact your precious careers and that, even if you are almost all amoral scum no better than the Democrats you purport to oppose, should get your undivided attention.

40 comments to Why are people so surprised?

  • JadedVoluntaryist

    Toward the end there you could barely slide a razor blade between Romney and Obama policy wise. It makes me wander why so much of the campaigning was so hateful, given that they were basically the same man arguing with himself. I guess it just boils down to “Republicans are eeeeeevil!!”.

    Maybe Obama’s second term will drive a stake through the heart of big government statism once and for all, but I wouldn’t be so sure.

    Ultra-authoritarian states like Sweden manage to keep the ball rolling just fine by inflating away their debt, imposing just bearable taxes and by moving the legislative goalposts by using organisations like the EU. And it is so clean and neat and spiffy the people seem to misakingly believe they are free….

    There are many in America who dream of such a country. This could be the begining of a future where it is always winter, but never Christmas……

  • Paul Marks

    A wee bit over the top – but it is pointless to argue about that now.

    The really scary thing is that a more free market candidate would not have done better than Romney’s 49% of the vote, he (or she) would have done worse (sadly much worse).

    Although “insane” Michele Bachmann (the only true thing the media smear machine says about her is that she reads Ludwig Von Mises ‘Human Action” on the beach – all the rest is lies, and I have no problem with someone who reads this work on the beach) seems to have managed to hold her District.

    Still now come the dark times.

    To those of you who will survive (and, I hope, prosper) I salute you.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Of course the “liberals” will argue that Romney lost because he was too extreme. The trouble is, they might well be right (as far as his program, not his record, is concerned) — and even if they aren’t, the Republican apparatchiks might well believe they are.

    JadedVoluntaryist: the Americans who dream of Sweden are the people who drive the country towards Greece and Argentina.

    Paul: I live a few blocks from a beach on a little lake, and find the beach a good place for light reading such as The Road to Serfdom, The Open Society, Machiavelli, and Tacitus.

  • Gene

    Perry, are you implying that there’s a huge pool of “non-statist” voters out there who refused to vote in this election, ready to be harnessed by a true non-statist Republican in future elections and sweep to victory? That’s delusional. The truth is much closer to the idea that huge numbers of US voters want to their country to be France.

    Very hard times will be upon us soon. In one sense I’m kind of relieved that the mega-statists now OWN the ugliness to come. Apparently Americans need to have their noses rubbed in failure. Of course, I also believe that the conclusions they will draw from that failure are not the ones I would prefer, either.

  • Paul Marks

    A good location for reading Snorri – and good choices.

    For once I am more optimistic than you.

    The one thing that even Republican apparatchiks can not get away with saying is that Romney lost because he was too “extreme”.

    Contrary to the lies of the Economist magazine, Romney did not really stress any social issue during the campaign against Comrade Barack.

    And the Romney economic program (which he talked about at every place) was ultra moderate.

  • Paul Marks

    Those who want to make the United States like Sweden – will make it like Greece or Argentina.

    Yes that is about right.

  • Alisa

    Surprised? Who?

  • Wilson

    Given their love of the state in controlling abortion, contraception, marriage, migration, and more tax when it suits their ideology, it’s baffling anyone should mistake the loons of the “tea party” for libertarian – or liberty-seeking in any respect, except for their own narrow social group.

    So come on, tea party – get nasty. Show us your dishonest, theocratic, David Barton-touting colors, so you can be kicked with even more accuracy in future.

  • rfichoke

    I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but this isn’t going to “wake people up.” What this demonstrates is the American people want to be slaves. The Republican Party isn’t going to have some “aha” moment and move back to the right either. They’re going to become even more of a “me too” party.

    I will be optimistic about one thing, however. It’s not impossible to live a prosperous life. The rules for success and prosperity simply changed officially last night. Clever people will still do well–we just have a different way of doing it now. Learn to schmooze public officials and, if possible, become one yourself. Learn to play the system and keep on truckin’.

  • RRS

    It is not the “candidates.”

    To paraphrase the husband of my late wife’s benefactress and supporter, M.M.:

    It’s the electorate, dimwits!

  • the other rob

    I’ve been pondering the reasons that people in my family voted Obama. It’s not very palatable, but they all had rational (if misinformed) reasons for doing so.

    My father in law, who is now retired, has worked his whole life and planned his retirement strategy around a certain amount of free stuff. The Democrats managed to convince him that Romney would take his free shit away, so he voted accordingly.

    My wife is, well, a woman. The Democrats didn’t have to do anything to convince her – there was a sufficiency of bat-shit insane Republicans shooting their mouths off to bring her to the conclusion that a Romney presidency would mean rape victims being denied abortions and being forced to bear rape-babies. She voted accordingly.

    The Republican party fucked this up all by themselves – they could have made clear points to rebut the arguments that led my family members to making rational decisions to vote Obama. But they didn’t.

    How hard would it have been to say “OK, we all know that entitlement spending is unsustainable. We also know that whole generations have made retirement plans that depend upon those entitlements. So we’ll guarantee to maintain them for anybody over (whatever age) but things must change for people who are younger.”

    How hard would it have been to say “Abortion is a divisive issue, but the law is settled. America faces far more pressing challenges, right now, so I pledge not to mess with abortion – there are more immediate matters that demand my attention.”

    Apparently, it was too hard. That’s what happens when a political party becomes nothing more than a cynical, office seeking, machine. It tries to pander to too many special interests and ends up satisfying none sufficiently.

    For me, the biggest disappointment is Johnson’s failure to get 5%. I really believed that we stood a chance of challenging the two party duopoly in 2016. Now that dream is in the shitter, along with the rest of the country.

  • Given their love of the state in controlling abortion, contraception, marriage, migration, and more tax when it suits their ideology, it’s baffling anyone should mistake the loons of the “tea party” for libertarian – or liberty-seeking in any respect, except for their own narrow social group.

    I do not think the Tea Party is libertarian at all, and I am not even calling for them to become libertarian. You obviously never followed the link to the earlier article and so you really don’t know what you are talking about.

    I just think that most of the Tea Party want a somewhat smaller state for all manner of different reason. That is why they are the only useful political movement in the USA at the moment.

  • the other rob

    Smited. Just when I thought that things couldn’t get any worse.

  • I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but this isn’t going to “wake people up.” What this demonstrates is the American people want to be slaves. The Republican Party isn’t going to have some “aha” moment and move back to the right either. They’re going to become even more of a “me too” party.

    Quite possibly, and a vote for Romney would have still meant the same thing. At least this way the Republicans has a small chance of experiencing a ‘night of the long knives’ that would be impossible if Romney won.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Wilson, I don’t think you’re being entirely fair toward the tea party. Obviously they are not your ideological clones, but that isn’t the point. They are an alliance of libertarians and constitutionalists, so they differ on several points.

    They both want a smaller government though. Just because they don’t sell your preferred flavour of politics does not make them evil or anti liberty.

  • Perry, are you implying that there’s a huge pool of “non-statist” voters out there who refused to vote in this election, ready to be harnessed by a true non-statist Republican in future elections and sweep to victory? That’s delusional

    Not at all. I also do not care what the majority think because they think whatever a critical mass of activists tell them to think and vote accordingly. ‘We’ just don’t have that critical mass of activists yet but if ‘we’ ever do, I suspect it will be called The Tea Party.

    The truth is much closer to the idea that huge numbers of US voters want to their country to be France.

    Possibly true.

    Very hard times will be upon us soon. In one sense I’m kind of relieved that the mega-statists now OWN the ugliness to come. Apparently Americans need to have their noses rubbed in failure.

    This has always been the core of my argument. The system will bankrupt itself and sooner rather than later, so better to leave that steaming pile under their arses. And that opens up all manner of opportunities for ‘us’ as well as ‘them’.

    Of course, I also believe that the conclusions they will draw from that failure are not the ones I would prefer, either.

    That bit is where the whole ‘critical mass of activists’ comes in.

  • Wilson

    “I just think that most of the Tea Party want a somewhat smaller state”

    Only for themselves. For the groups they hate, they want a big well-funded state with solid jackboots. Take a close look at the platforms of their most-loved candidates.

    “I do not think the Tea Party is libertarian at all”

    Some don’t – hence my use of term “or liberty-seeking in any respect”. These authoritarian, religionist loons have no part to play in building a more free society – and neither do politicians that pander to them.

  • I very much doubt there is a mass of potential voters who would endorse a truly libertarian candidate in the US, but there is certainly a huge number who would vote for somebody who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I know a gay doctor in Wisconsin who votes Democrat because of the Republican stance on gay issues, but really wishes the Democrats were fiscally responsible. But neither party is going to put forward such a candidate, you either get a complete idiot on economic issues or a raving loon on social issues. Or a candidate who is both.

    Actually, one of the reasons I lost interest in British politics was because I realised I will never see my preferred candidate elected, i.e. one who is socially very liberal but also endorses sensible economic policies. Just ain’t gonna happen, and one you realise that the country just doesn’t share your views, you lose interest. And emigrate. And make sure your money is earned and taxed in Switzerland. :)

  • Russ in Texas

    Quite happy with the results here.
    Sooner or later the Stupid Party will have to learn that “we hate that Other Guy(tm)” is *not* enough to sway the electorate.

    Until then, the real money is on the Blue Civil War, and the fun of watching Democratic politicians with their backs against a financial wall slowly but surely coming to the point where they throw the unions under the bus, with the full approval of Blue Team Zombie Voter Army.

  • I very much doubt there is a mass of potential voters who would endorse a truly libertarian candidate in the US, but there is certainly a huge number who would vote for somebody who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

    Exactly! This is the point I have been making since 2009.

  • Rhukat ah

    Second terms tend to disappoint their supporters. I look for Obama’s second term “agenda” to be drown in scandal. Just like Clinton’s & Bush 43′s. Between Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and who knows what else, things look good for the Republicans in 2014.

    And I’m actually pleased that Ryan is back in the house. I’d like to see the House go back to work on the Path to Prosperity.

    Still would have liked to have seen the country spare itself the pain of having to fix Obama’s mess in the future, but Romney probably wouldn’t have done that.

  • llamas

    The Other Rob wrote:

    “How hard would it have been to say “OK, we all know that entitlement spending is unsustainable. We also know that whole generations have made retirement plans that depend upon those entitlements. So we’ll guarantee to maintain them for anybody over (whatever age) but things must change for people who are younger.”

    You mean, like Romney and Ryan did repeatedly, and Ryan did explicitly in his primetime debate with Idiot Joe Biden?

    And all President Obama and his half-wit deputy had to say was ‘They’re going to make your Medicare into an Eeeevil Voucher Program!’ and that was enough for all the wrinklies to just fall into a zombie line, mumbling ‘Vouchers. Vouchers Bad. Messin’ with my Free Sh*t.”

    Like I said below – the harsh realities were pointed out, in the mildest-possible candy-coated form – and the electorate said ‘Meh. Whatever.’ It’s not that the majority doesn’t know, or doesn’t understand (although some do not) – it’s that they just don’t care.

    A-Number-One post, by the way.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Laird

    I think rfichoke has it right. The rules for success in this country have changed. Those who want to prosper will have to figure out the new rules and use them to their own advantage. The ship is sinking and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Might as well drink all the champagne and eat all the caviar while you can.

    Everyone, snouts into the trough!

  • You mean, like Romney and Ryan did repeatedly, and Ryan did explicitly in his primetime debate with Idiot Joe Biden?

    But then you would have to also conclude they really meant it, whereas looking at Romney’s career as a politician who had generally expanded the scope of the state, the chances of him actually working to do this seems remote.

    I would suggest that the problem was not what Romney said but rather who he was. Mitt “RomneyCare” Romney (aka White Bush III) could not credibly have ever been represented as an alternative to Barack “Obamacare” Obama (aka Black Bush III) given his authoritarian tax-and-regulate record.

    American was give the choice between statism and statism and it chose… statism.

    HL Mencken, please call your office.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Perry, I think the general perception for the moderates and independents is that Romney was indeed going to take away their goodies. I doubt they were knowledgeable enough or motivated enough to dig into his past and relied mostly on the MSM for what they knew. And the MSM painted him, strangely enough, in a particular light that shied away from Romneycare.

    Obama certainly didn’t try to draw any parallels between his own Obamacare and Romneycare in the debates. Oh, what a slugfest it would have been if Obama had decided to line up that attack.

    So in the minds of the voters, it was ‘less state’ vs ‘more state’. Guess who won?

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    In 1996 then president Bill Clinton said: “The era of big government is over.”

    He was right, but not in the way he meant. The era of big government is indeed over, while the era of truly gigantic government is upon us.

  • So in the minds of the voters, it was ‘less state’ vs ‘more state’. Guess who won?

    The minds of the voters can be moved when there are enough activist voices to move them, so I am really not all that worried.

    Moreover as the system will probably be bankrupt before the next election, it hardly matters if people think their goodies are going to be taken way as they are going to lose them regardless. Another reason to be happy Obama won.

  • lucklucky

    “Given their love of the state in controlling abortion…”

    As far as i know state controls murder.

  • I’ve concluded the vast majority are natural serfs. They just want to be looked after, fed, given some not too arduous work to do and be able the bitch about the poverty of their circumstances. Not that they’d ever think about doing anything about it.

    We’re about to have a run of “bad luck”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    After the cartoon jihad of 2006, I have become wary of anglo-american libertarians.
    If the Tea Party is not libertarian at all, more power to them!

  • Brad

    Obama winning is good news.

    It means a faster headlong rush into the future instead of a slightly slower one. The lack of any splash by libertarians shows that the consequence of that headlong rush will be hard line, left or right. A minority will be triangulated to persecute, most likely illegal immigrants because either way they will be portrayed as at fault by which ever hard liners ascend. They will be rounded up, put into “temporary” camps, where diseases will be incubated and unleashed, and with the types of resistant diseases we’ve seen lately, I’m sure they’ll be doozies. The hard liners will make a foolish attempt to seize guns, and there’ll be a fracturing of the military caste. Civil war will blossom.

    But enough optimism…

  • PeterT

    An American ex-pat friend of my parents in Sweden claimed to feel more free in Sweden than she had ever done in the US. Freedom is not something you feel but is something that is factually observable; absence of coercion. The mass of people are never going to understand this and if the socialists fall it will be because of economics and their corruption.

    Anyhow, good luck to our American friends with the secessionist movement. Would be nice to have somewhere to move to if you’d let us in.

    p.s. Paul will be happy to know that I finally got round to cancelling my FT subscription after their utterly predictable endorsement of Obama. I can get my socialist news for free from the BBC thank you very much.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    The minds of the voters can be moved when there are enough activist voices to move them, so I am really not all that worried.

    This naivete astounds me. How many activist voices would you need to convince, say, the blacks, to support less government? To not go straight Dem almost all the time?

    Stop living in a fantasy world Perry.

  • How many activist voices would you need to convince, say, the blacks, to support less government? To not go straight Dem almost all the time?

    I doubt may can be convinced, but there are a great many other groups who can.

    Stop living in a fantasy world Perry.

    Really? Well keep voting for the Romney’s of this world then, you wise old man, it seems to be working out so well for you.

  • I think what killed Romney was the actions of idiots like Mourdock & Akin. Those morons managed to make Republicans look like science-denying neanderthals. In those states Christianists took over the tea party movement & drove out anyone not like them. The reason those two fools got the nomination was a combination of Democrat money & social conservative drive.

    We tried an alliance between Constiutionalists & libertarians this time round and it failed badly. They ran Virgil Goode & would not back Johnson. The tea party is more libertarian in some places & more authoritarian in others. There is a libertarian wing of the tea party movement, I should know I am in it.

  • Deep Lurker

    I think what killed Romney was the actions of idiots like Mourdock & Akin.

    Yes, along with the fact that the Dems (including the MSM) played that card well: The “War on Women” and painting the GOP as being a bunch of crazed theocratic bigots out to persecute non-whites and unbelievers. And with Santorum, Akin, and Mourdock lurking in the background, the smear had enough truth in it to make the mud stick.

    That boogeyman had more effect than the “they’re gonna take away your free stuff!” cry.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    [i]Really? Well keep voting for the Romney’s of this world then, you wise old man, it seems to be work]ing out so well for you.[/i]

    Lol, keep hitting that strawman. Did I at any point advocate voting for the moderates? No, my point is more fundamental – a culture of liberty is extremely difficult to achieve.

    It requires a very specific set of conditions for it to appear. Conditions that obviously no longer exist in sufficient places in the US. Or the UK, for that matter. Hell, generally around the whole wide world.

    What we should be worrying about is what those conditions are, and how we can go about creating them. Your solution – ‘more activists!’, just make me shake my head in despair.

  • What we should be worrying about is what those conditions are, and how we can go about creating them. Your solution – ‘more activists!’, just make me shake my head in despair.

    Good luck creating the conditions for liberty without motivated activists willing to say the un-sayable over and over again. An Obama victory = motivation. The entire system going broke will be nice too and an Obama victory brings that a whole lot closer too.

    Or you could just sit there shaking your head, that could work too.

  • Paul Marks

    “Wilson” (Woodrow or Harold?) you are a scumbag.

    The vast majority of Tea Party groups the vast majority of the time campaign for less government spending – the other stuff that you mention are side issues (if they are present at all).

    You pretend the opposite because you are – see above.

    The Other Rob.

    I have replied to some of what you wrote above (when the comment is unsmited).

    However, you thought Gary Johnson had a get a chance of getting 5%?

    He had no chance of getting 1%.

    If you did not know that…….

    Well it is hard to know what to say (whilst still being polite).

    Third party politics is not an option.

    You want better Republican candidates – then get active in Primary and caucus events.

    But the United States (like Britain) is a “First Part the Post” election system.

    Why do so many intelligent people have trouble understanding this?

  • Paul Marks

    Rand Paul in 2016.

    If there still is a United States in 2016.