SCENE: Mitch BERG is biking in the southwest suburbs. He pulls over into a coffee shop.
As he sits down, he notices Stephanie Marie ANNAN, Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party. She is wearing capri pants and a t-shirt with “He Gave His Only Begotten Son”, and a picture of Ron Paul walking across the water toward the camera.
ANNAN: Hey, Mitch.
BERG: Hey, Stephanie Marie. Ready for the election.
ANNAN: Yep. I’m voting Libertarian.
BERG: Kinda figured. So – why?
ANNAN: Because big changes need to happen.
BERG: Yeah, that’s true. That’s why I’m voting for Jeff Johnson as many times as Mark Richie will let me get away with it.
ANNAN: He won’t bring any changes. The GOP is just as big a part of the problem as the DFL is.
BERG: Er…why do you say that?
ANNAN: When people put the GOP in power, they were just as bad as the Democrats. There is no difference between the parties.
BERG: Yeah, the GOP can be frustrating. Although you’re oversimplifying. Bobby Jindal has made a huge difference in Louisiana; under his leadership, the New Orleans Public Schools went all charter. Other GOP governors – Pence, Haley, Walker, Martinez – have made inroads in reducing the size and power of government. The GOP – and GOP candidates – have made a difference at limiting government and its impact over the years. Reagan’s tax cuts were a huge help…
ANNAN: Reagan grew the deficit! He raised taxes!
BERG: Bingo. You’re making my point for me. Reagan, being a Republican president dealing with a Democrat Congress run by a big-government ward heeler like Tip O’Neill, had to make compromises. One of those compromises was that he had to trust O’Neill to keep up his end of the bargain on cutting spending – which, of course, he didn’t. And for all of that, his “tax hikes” were a fraction of his tax cuts, and they happened at a time when the economy was humming along. If you don’t think Reagan’s tax cuts in the early eighties helped immensely with the recession, you’re dreaming.
Anyway – the GOP in 1994 made a huge difference in paring back Bill Clinton’s megalomania. Remember “Hillary Care?” Either does anyone else. And the Tea Party class of the GOP, the people elected in 2010, have largely kept their promises.
ANNAN: But the Minnesota GOP had the governor’s office from 2002 to 2010, and the House until 2008, and both chambers in 2011 and 2011, and nothing changed.
BERG: Plenty changed. “Republican” used to mean Arne Carlson. It used to mean “go along with the DFL in turning surpluses into more permanent spending”.
ANNAN: The GOP raised the budget in 2011, and built the stadium.
BERG: Yep. And both were wrong. And in neither case did the Tea Party class of 2010 go along, at least without a fight.
ANNAN: Bla bla bla. The GOP always compromises.
BERG: Parts of the GOP – the older, “Moderate” wing of the party, especially, which still exerts way too much control over the party at the Capitol – certainly does. Parties don’t change overnight. The GOP still caves in on way too much. It’s improving, as conservatives slowly replace moderates.
And let’s be honest; Minnesota is a blueish purple state at best. Minnesota is split between various shades of red and hard, deep blue. When a conservative goes to Saint Paul, and wants to get anything done, compromise is inevitable. There is no way anyone who gets elected to office as a conservative in Minnesota doesn’t have to defile the purity of their principles at some point or another.
ANNAN: Yeah, well, I’m sick of voting for the lesser of two evils all the time. I’m going to vote my absolute, pure principles and vote Libertarian.
BERG: And that way, you’ll promote liberty.
BERG: So let me get this straight; you won’t vote for Republicans because previous generations of Republicans have had to compromise the purity of their principles when they actually got into a room with the other side and had to actually try to get things done, to say nothing of having to stop the other side from getting worse things, like daycare unionization and gun control, done.
BERG: And you’ll vote for someone who’s never had to test the purity of his precious principles by trying to enact any kind of policy at all, much less over the votes of a legislature that is at least 50% completely hostile to everything your candidate says.
Don’t get me wrong. I could see myself supporting Rand Paul for President.
ANNAN: Ew. He’s abandoned his principles. Not like Doctor Paul.
BERG: You’re proving my point. “Doctor” Paul never got elected to anything outside of a House district in Texas. And for all his big talk about policy – auditing the fed, disengaging abroad, yadda yadda – he admits, albeit quietly, that he never could have done it. He had no support in Congress.
ANNAN: Why do you hate liberty?
BERG: Actually, I clearly respect liberty more than you do.
ANNAN: Hah! How can you say that?
BERG: Because the only way you’re going to get your agenda passed is to elect a libertarian monarch who takes office, sweeps away a century of noxious policy by decree, and then steps down. Hopefully. And that’s fine, if “magical thinking” is good enough for you. But that’s really all voting for a third party gets you. A third party vote is a wasted vote.
ANNAN: It wasn’t with Jesse Ventura! He had principles and he stuck with them!
BERG: No, he didn’t. He ran on a promise of returning the entire plus to the people. And once he got elected, he had to deal with the fact that was a governor with no caucus in the legislature – two Democrats flipped over to the Independence Party over the next year, and that was it. So we had to run with his hat in hand to Roger Moe, the DFLSenate majority leader, and cut deals like a madman. Meaning that about a third of the surplus got paid back. And the rest of it got turned into permanent spending, the way the DFL wanted.
So where was the principal?
ANNAN: He sent a message!
BERG: Yep. And that message was “voting for a third-party candidate is of nothing but symbolic value”.
ANNAN: (Plugs ears, turns, starts running). Bla bla blaaaaa can’t year youuuuuuu bla bla bla bla bla).