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Rebels Without a Candidate

Rebels Without a Candidate

How should a dissident conservative vote?

By Timothy P. Carney,  November 3, 2008
A conservative has at least a dozen reasons to dislike John McCain For McCain's grandfather and father, see John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr., respectively
John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936 in Panama Canal Zone) is an American politician, war veteran, and currently the Republican Senior U.S. Senator from Arizona.
, and to believe he would be a disaster of a president. With Election Day upon us, that raises a question for those of us who really don't want John McCain to be our president: How should we vote?

The Trouble with McCain

McCain displays a worrisome lack of economic understanding and free-market principles. His continued vocal support of federal funding for research on embryos is disheartening dis·heart·en  
tr.v. dis·heart·ened, dis·heart·en·ing, dis·heart·ens
To shake or destroy the courage or resolution of; dispirit. See Synonyms at discourage.
 to many pro-lifers. His leadership role in pushing restrictions on energy use in the name of battling global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.  is indicative of his tendency towards rash judgments and love of grand government projects. His campaign finance reform Campaign finance reform is the common term for the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns.  crusade showed just how likely he was to play to his base — the mainstream media — and how little regard he has for the Constitution.

By no definition is John McCain a conservative.

"He's the lesser of two evils," we're told. More specifically, we grumbling conservatives are told that we need to back McCain because he is more likely to appoint good judges to the Supreme Court — perhaps one who could overturn Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade, case decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. .

But it's also easy to conclude that, over the long term, a McCain administration would be worse than an Obama administration. As the face of the GOP — and, in the eyes of the media, the face of conservatism — McCain could do lasting damage to the pro-life and limited government causes by defining them down. Conservatives who favor the George W. Bush circa-2000 notion of a "humbler foreign policy" have even more reason to be ambivalent about the current presidential race. And thus many conservatives have found themselves considering protest votes.

Why Cast a Protest Vote?

McCain's odds of winning are pretty slim, but he is the only person on this planet besides Barack Obama with a chance of being elected president on Tuesday. No third-party nominee and certainly no write-in candidate Noun 1. write-in candidate - a candidate for public office whose name does not appear on the ballot and so must be written on the ballot by the voters

campaigner, candidate, nominee - a politician who is running for public office
 has even the slightest chance of winning. So why "throw away" your vote? First, unless you live in Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). , Florida, or Nevada, you vote is certainly "thrown away" anyway.

Second, you can hope it "sends a message." Maybe the GOP power-brokers who are studying the numbers in December and trying to figure out what went wrong will notice a few million votes for the Constitution Party or Libertarian Party The Libertarian party was founded in Colorado in 1971 and held its first convention in Denver in 1972. In 1972 it fielded John Hospers for president and Theodora Nathan for vice president in the U.S. general election.  nominees and think to themselves, "Well, for one thing, we need to do something to shore up our conservative and libertarian vote — no more carbon taxers and political-speech-haters." In the same vein, maybe a truly conservative Republican will look at the quantity of protest votes on the Right and be encouraged, thinking, "I could win those voters."

Maybe that's asking a lot. After all, you are casting only one vote. If you spend too much time thinking about the insignificance in·sig·nif·i·cance  
The quality or state of being insignificant.

Noun 1. insignificance - the quality of having little or no significance
unimportance - the quality of not being important or worthy of note
 of one vote, you'll never vote at all — which maybe is the rational course of action. What could you do with the 10 to 90 minutes it takes you to vote? Take your kids for a walk, update your blog, or read some of my old articles.

Your Protest Options

If you do cast a protest vote, you have a couple of options. In most states, but not all, Libertarian nominee Bob Barr
For the Major League Baseball player, see Bob Barr (baseball).

Robert L. (Bob) Barr, Jr. (born November 5, 1948) is an attorney and a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia.
 is on the ballot. As conservative protest votes go, Barr has a lot going his way. Barr had a strong conservative record in Congress (the American Conservative Union The American Conservative Union (ACU) is a large conservative political lobbying group in the United States. They are well-known for their annual ranking of politicians according to how they voted on key issues, providing a numerical indicator of how much the lawmakers  gave him a lifetime score of 98%), and, if you're more conservative than libertarian, it's relieving that Barr has quieted the Libertarian Party's overemphasis o·ver·em·pha·size  
tr. & intr.v. o·ver·em·pha·sized, o·ver·em·pha·siz·ing, o·ver·em·pha·siz·es
To place too much emphasis on or employ too much emphasis.
 on drug legalization LEGALIZATION. The act of making lawful.
     2. By legalization, is also understood the act by which a judge or competent officer authenticates a record, or other matter, in order that the same may be lawfully read in evidence. Vide Authentication.
. Rewarding a pro-life Libertarian nominee with your vote could also be tactically prudent. It's worth considering that among the third-party candidates on the Right, Barr will get the most votes. Voting for Barr would mean joining in a bigger, louder pool of dissenters dissenters: see nonconformists. , and thus sending a clearer message.

Many people find Bob Barr personally distasteful. "He's a jerk," one libertarianish voter told me, explaining why he wouldn't pull the lever for Barr. Others point to his divorces, allegations of infidelity, and worse. On the other hand, this guy isn't going to be president. Does character really matter when casting a protest vote?

If you're a traditional conservative, the third-party nominee closest to your views may be Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin Charles O. "Chuck" Baldwin (born May 3, 1952) is an American political figure, activist within the Constitution Party, and pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He hosts a weekly radio show.

Baldwin was born in La Porte, Indiana, to Mr. and Mrs. Edwin J.
. Thoroughly dedicated to limited-government, opposed to foreign adventures, with a pro-life plank in their platform, the Constitution Party may be the most genuinely conservative party in this country. Of course, for many voters, there are reasons not to be excited about Baldwin: he doesn't drink, he calls Teddy Roosevelt a hero, and he displays a frankly freaky freak·y  
adj. freak·i·er, freak·i·est
1. Strange or unusual; freakish.

2. Slang Frightening.

 emphasis on battling "the new world order."

Then there's the unimaginable: vote for Barack Obama. For an anti-interventionist conservative, Obama might look slightly better on foreign policy, while McCain looks about as bad on everything else — especially when you consider McCain's limitations dealing with a Democratic Congress. For a Christian pro-lifer, however, there's always the worry that you will be called to account for supporting a man so radically dedicated to keeping abortion legal and available.

Then there's the write-in. If you're not going to vote for a guy who could win, why not vote for the guy you would most like to have as your president. Write in Ron Paul. Write in Pat Buchanan This article may be too long.
Please discuss this issue on the talk page and help summarize or split the content into subarticles of an article series.
. Write in Jim DeMint. Heck, why not His Excellency HIS EXCELLENCY. A title given by the constitution of Massachusetts to the governor of that commonwealth. Const. part 2, c. 2, s. 1, art. 1. This title is customarily given to the governors of the other states, whether it be the official designation in their constitutions and laws or not. , Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver — or Tom Seaver? Or your mom?

In many municipalities, however, write-ins simply don't count. Nowhere can you find record of my 2004 D.C. ballot — probably Bob Novak's only vote for Vice President ever — or my 2002 ballot picking Human Events editor-in-chief Tom Winter for D.C. mayor. This reporter, feeling a bit lost himself, cast about for answers, asking other anti-McCain conservatives whom they would be voting for.

Canvassing the Anti-McCain Conservatives

Below are the responses I got from a handful of conservatives I knew were not voting for McCain. I know others who are voting for Obama, writing in Pat Buchanan, or writing in their own father, and in the comments of this piece, I, as an undecided conservative voter, welcome the responses from readers.

Jim Antle, The American Spectator: Libertarian Nominee Bob Barr.

Among the non-McCain, non-Obama candidates, Antle argues, "Barr is the candidate with the greatest likelihood of getting a noticeable number of votes, so that a limited-government, anti-intervention voice can be heard in this election."

Tom Woods, author of the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, and co-author of Who Killed the Constitution?: Constitution Party Nominee Chuck Baldwin.

"John McCain wants to spend trillions on bad mortgages, and criticizes Obama for funding a $3 million planetarium planetarium, optical device used to project a representation of the heavens onto a domed ceiling; the term also designates the building that houses such a device. A modern planetarium consists of as many as 150 motor-driven projectors mounted on an axis. . How dumb does he think we are? What kind of 'fiscal conservative' is this? How many more times will we be duped by people as transparent as McCain? If you must vote, the best candidate is Chuck Baldwin: anti-welfare state, anti-warfare state, anti-Fed, pro-republic. Conservatives would have recognized a platform like that in the years before the sloganeering slo·gan·eer  
A person who invents or uses slogans.

intr.v. slo·gan·eered, slo·gan·eer·ing, slo·gan·eers
To invent or use slogans.

Noun 1.
 zombies Zombies

Companies that continue to operate even though they are insolvent. Also known as living dead.

It's advisable to avoid investing in zombies at all costs their life expectancies are highly unpredictable.
 took over."

Michael Brendan Dougherty, The American Conservative: Don't Vote.

Dougherty plans to save his time on Election Day, motivated to forgo his franchise not out of laziness, he tells me, but out of "disgust with the two major candidates, and either hatred, or contempt for the third party candidates."

Daniel McCarthy, The American Conservative: Write-in Ron Paul.

McCarthy, who in 2004 tried to convince my wife that voting for George W. Bush was a sin, argues for a write-in. McCarthy writes in the election issue of The American Conservative, "I'm writing in Ron Paul for president and Barry Goldwater Jr. for vice president. Why agonize over whether Barr or Baldwin is the better constitutionalist con·sti·tu·tion·al·ism  
1. Government in which power is distributed and limited by a system of laws that must be obeyed by the rulers.

a. A constitutional system of government.

, when you can cast your ballot for the very best? A vote for Paul is an endorsement of all he has accomplished (and might yet achieve) and a rejection of the often honorable but never effective course of the third parties."

Jim Kalb, conservative scholar: Constitution Party Nominee Chuck Baldwin.

"Traditional conservatives need to put the permanent government in question and promote discussion of perspectives outside the closed circle of respectable opinion. Otherwise, we're doomed. The major parties offer us nothing. A write-in vote for a non-candidate like Ron Paul won't be tabulated, and Bob Barr has shaded his positions to please the Libertarian Party. Baldwin has retained his principles, and a vote for him will do all a vote can do to give conservative positions a public presence."

Timothy P. Carney, a contributing editor for Culture11, is the author of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money. He writes the Heckonomics column every other Monday.

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Author:Timothy P. Carney,
Date:Oct 3, 2008
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