Stupid hillbilly…

As a fiscal conservative with mostly libertarian social leanings, I’m regularly amused/annoyed by the classic liberal argument that runs along the lines of “conservatives are stupid hillbillies who have never picked up a book.” I can only assume when I hear that that what they really mean is “Mine is the only opinion that matters and if you disagree with me you are Satan/Hitler and I’m going to put my fingers in my ears so I’m not forced to listen to or attempt to comprehend dissenting opinions so I can go on trying to make myself look big by making others look small.”

Yes, I am a moderately conservative American raised in Appalachia. I suppose that, in and of itself, earns me the “stupid hillbilly” title in some eyes. You should know, thought, that I’ve also read Plato, Locke, and Rousseau. I’ve read the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. I’ve read Aurelius’ Meditations and St. Augustine’s Confessions. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, too, and the Bible, and more biographies of great leaders of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries than I want to list. My economics shelf covers everything from Smith’s Wealth of Nations to Marx’s Capital. History? Yeah, those shelves are groaning under the weight of volumes ranged from ancient Greece and Rome, the religious wars of Europe, to the space race that I’ve read and synthesized to help inform my view of the world. I won’t bother to deep dive the fiction that’s passed through my hands over the years. Suffice to say that Dickens, Twain, and a couple hundred others are on the list.

I say all that to say this: If you want to have a frank discussion on policy or the proper role of government, I’m usually all in. If you come at me with some version on “All Republicans are…”, well you should feel free to immediately go fuck yourself. I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in the social media shitposting that would inevitably follow. It’s enough for me to know that by insisting in dealing in absolutes and arguments that rely on painting “all” of one group or another with a particular brush, you are far bigger part of the problem with the social discourse in this country than this stupid hillbilly could ever be.

Shit sandwich, or The election of 2016…

By this time next week the presidential election of 2016 will theoretically be over. The polls will be closed, anyway. Getting to the final results of the election may well drag out for weeks after that. But at least the coverage will shift from the electoral horserace to an dirty hot mess in the judicial system. Then we can crank the nastiness on both sides all the way up to eleven. Sigh.

Until today I was all set to cast my vote for the Libertarian candidate. I say was because this morning I saw that the Libertarian vice presidential candidate offered up an interview that turned into more than a passing attempt at defending the actions of the Democratic candidate for president for failing to protect sensitive and classified electronic information, going so far as calling her a “person of good moral character.” That leaves me with a very large question mark when it comes to Bill Weld’s judgment and suitability to serve as Vice President. If he really does think mishandling this type of information is no big deal, I can’t in good conscience give him my vote any more than I could give it to Hillary Clinton herself.

My philosophies generally tend to run libertarian. If a man wants to get his jollies with another man, it doesn’t hurt me. If a person wants to snort cocaine on their bathroom floor until their nose falls off, again, it’s no harm to me. This country use to be about maximizing the liberty of the individual and should be again, since we have seen time after time that the solution of adding more government so regularly causes more harm than good.

Although I strongly supported John McCain’s candidacy, his selection of Sarah Palin as his running made cost him my vote in 2008. I simply couldn’t abide her religio-right wing views. If I’m to maintain my intellectual consistency, how can I not then deny Gary Johnson my vote when his running mate proves similarly unsuited to the office in my estimation?

The Johnson-Weld ticket was my refuge of last resort in an election season of discontent. I will not cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Weld’s commentary has made my assumed vote for Gary Johnson nearly untenable. So I’m left with the Republican candidate who I find profoundly objectionable for any number of other reasons.

So does anyone want to remind me how you go about eating a shit sandwich?

What I believe…

The scope and power of all levels of government should be limited and the burden of maintaining that government should be a cost borne by all Americans, from the poorest to the wealthiest. The rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not simple recommendations, but the absolute and highest law of the land and must be aggressively defended against those who seek to deny them. Protecting the territorial integrity of the United States is the single most important obligation of the federal government. The only JW16.pngappropriate legitimate “path to citizenship” involves respecting the following the laws and regulations governing immigration. Government should have no voice in defining love – or even lust – between two consenting adults. Locking people up for smoking marijuana is stupid. A woman’s right to access a relatively safe abortion has been the law of the land for over 40 years and it’s time we accept that. Our head of state is the president, not Jesus Christ, so let’s not pretend we want to live in that world unless we’re also willing to give Odin, Zeus, Mithras, Satan, and Buddha equal billing. The guy next door, or the one in the next county over, doesn’t owe you a damned thing. The only thing you as an individual are owed is the opportunity to be happy and successful, but that depends largely on how hard you’re willing to work and what you’re ready to sacrifice to reach your goals.

As it turns out, there isn’t a candidate in the 2016 presidential election who hits all those check boxes. I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because I’ll never be convinced by equivocating investigators that she’s not an unindicted felon. I fundamentally disagree with her positions on so many issues of importance to me and deep down I just don’t trust her. Plaudits from the current administration that labeled her “the best qualified candidate in the history of the republic ever,” surprisingly did nothing to assuage my distrust. Representing the party I find myself most often aligned with, I have Donald Trump… the candidate who started off as an interesting outsider who seems to become more unhinged with every passing afternoon. Despite agreeing that we need to build one big ass wall on the southern border, I can’t seem to find a way in good conscience to vote for a man who condemns prisoners of war and gold star families.

With all that said, I believe one more thing. I believe that the best candidate for the Presidency of the United States in 2016 doesn’t come cloaked as a Democrat or a Republican. Like the others, he doesn’t hit all of my sweet spots. In fact his draconian proposals for defense spending are directly opposed to my own self interest in continuing to be paid out of that big pot of money. This election can’t be about my paycheck. It has to be a matter of principle… and even though we disagree on a few issues I believe Gary Johnson is far more qualified to sit behind the Resolute desk than either huckster the major parties have presented to us.

On Tuesday, November 8th I’ll cast my vote for Gary Johnson for President and Bill Weld for Vice President. I hope you’ll consider doing the same. I believe it’s the only reasonable and responsible option left to us.

From the Mailbag…

Thanks to everyone you sent questions last night and today. I’ll work on coming up with some answers over the next few days. Churning up a few hundred words on a topic you hadn’t even thought of until someone asks the question is harder work than you’d think, so before anyone decides to hop on the “you haven’t answered my question” train, try to remember that patience is a virtue. If anyone still has any topic burning to be set free, it’s not to lait to get in on the fun…. But without further delay, here is the answer to the first question from ye olde mailbag.

The Question: Jeff, as I remember you have always been an outspoken republican supporter. What are your thoughts on Gary Johnson, as he was a republican who has joined the Libertarian movement?

The Response: Well, to be completely up front about it, the name Gary Johnson barely caused a twitch when you brought it up. I’ve been purposely ignoring politics other than the occasional glimpse of the story of the day on CNN and Fox. I probably should be embarrassed to admit that, but the caliber of candidates, their hinky positions, and the general tone of political debate over the last decade just don’t appeal to me in the least. With that being said, at first blush there seems to be a lot to like about Governor Johnson.

I like the fact that in two terms as governor he didn’t raise taxes in New Mexico. I can really get behind is basic idea about simplifying the tax code, too. In the same vein, I’m a fan of his idea to hand back some federal entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid back to the states. I need to do some more reading on exactly how he proposes dealing with Social Security.

I’m a little less in love with a few of his civil liberties issues. He appears to be completely opposed to airport screenings, long-term detention of terrorist prisoners, and the Patriot Act. I tend to think all of those things have at least a nugget of value and take legitimate steps towards improving national security. Of course they could all use a little bit of tweaking in how they’re implemented. In the area of drug decriminalization and same sec marriage, he’s very close to belief in maximum individual freedom consistent with public safety.

The one area where the opinion of governor and I make an extreme and rapid departure is in his position on the role of the Defense Department and more generally defense related spending. He wants to cut 43% of defense spending in his first budget, which for obvious reasons is an idea I just can’t get behind. Worse yet, he calls for the deepest cuts in overseas basing, intelligence, personnel, R&D, and the nuclear program – all areas that I’d argue should be getting more funding rather than less. I’m even more discouraged by his opposition to the war in Afghanistan and stated belief that Iran doesn’t represent a national security threat to the United States.

Could I vote for Governor Johnson for president? Sure I could. He’s definitely not the worse candidate I’ve ever seen. Hell, he’s not even the worst candidate I’ve ever voted for. I’d still have an awfully hard time pulling the lever for a guy I know wants to put me out of a job, though. The more important question might be, would I vote for him. In this case, the answer is “well, maybe.” That would largely depend on who the other options are and, as always, if I believe him to be the lesser of the available evils.