There are many strategies for voting, and each person has his or her own priorities in life, so two otherwise rational people can and will disagree on who to vote for in any given election.
Given the mixed premises (or downright evil) of most politicians, it may seem somewhat irrelevant who one votes for in an election. However, small differences may have large effects, both in the course of history and the well-being of citizens.
I like to point to the presidency of Ronald Reagan. During his presidency, I was usually in high dudgeon about something Reagan did (agree to tax increases, fail to cut spending, meet with the Soviet leader). I was constantly disappointed with Reagan as I lived through his presidency. In my estimation, I thought he did or said the right thing maybe a third of the time. And yet, looking back over thirty years and the disastrous presidencies of four other men, I realize now that Reagan was a giant among leaders, and that my frustrations and disagreements during his presidency masked in an emotional way the elements he got right, from both a rhetorical perspective and a policy perspective.
No, he was very far from perfect–my annoyances at the time were accurate–but on a few very important issues, he both held firm to the right principles and implemented the right policies, and thus saved the United States in a time of great peril. His moral leadership on lowering taxes, reducing regulation (started in the Carter administration but accelerated under Reagan), and his ruthless alliance with Paul Volcker to wring inflation (and thus enormous economic malinvestments) out of the economy led to the strong basis for 20 years of capital accumulation, and thus huge living-standard enhancements and the new industries we saw in the 90s and 00s.
Without Reagan’s commitment to economic freedom, would we have seen the rise of the internet-based economy we have today? With the high taxes, high regulations, and high inflation that marked the 70s, I doubt it.
Similarly, in foreign policy, a number of Reagan errors (the disaster in Lebanon and the “rescue” of the PLO) were overshadowed by two enormous achievements: the rebuilding of the American military into the most powerful force on the planet, and the subsequent dissolution and collapse of the Soviet Union caused in my view by the Soviet reaction to Reagan. In just this area, Reagan did more to protect and defend individual rights than any president since World War II, and he should rightly be admired as the giant he is.
Now the preceding discussion is about a president who got it right roughly 33% of the time. Imagine if we had a president who got it right 40%, 50%, or even 75% of the time? Imagine the heights to which America could soar in untold industries, discoveries, and prosperity, given a president with a moral conviction in, and rhetorical skill in communicating about, individual freedom even better than Reagan? Our own rational self-interest would necessarily dictate that we support such a politician, even if he was of mixed premises, and even if he held some viewpoints that were not completely consistent with individual rights. There are political leaders emerging today such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (with the possible inclusion of Rand Paul) who could be the next Reagan, but at 75% correct, rather than 33% correct.
They need help, however, especially in the statehouses, where Governors wield subtle but important influence over the political course of the nation. It therefore matters, both morally and practically, that we elect governors that are simpatico with the emerging leaders of a reinvigorated pro-individual-rights right wing of the Republican Party.
One of the most promising new candidates for a governorship is Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia. Ken has been my state senator for 4 years, then attorney general for four years. I have met him, and he is not only a man of integrity, but he is another potential Ted Cruz or Mike Lee on the national political scene if he were given a chance as Virginia governor.
Let me be clear, I do not agree everything Ken stands for. He is a conservative and is thus anti-abortion (as was Reagan, and as is Cruz, Lee, and Paul). While Governors have the ability to affect abortion rights in small ways in the third trimester, the current legal climate makes it simply impossible for governors to have any effect on the core abortion right in the first trimester and up to at least the end of the fifth month of pregnancy. No matter how much a politician at the state level strives to ban abortion, there is simply no legal mechanism in place that will allow him to succeed. Therefore Ken’s views on abortion are irrelevant to his performance as governor. In addition, Ken has pledged not to use his position as governor to change the abortion laws of Virginia during his term, and I have no reason to disbelieve him.
Ken’s campaign has focused on lowering Virginia’s income taxes for both individuals and corporations. The income tax is the worst tax imposed by government since it directly prevents capital accumulation and thus the purchase and use of new capital equipment. The income tax is a direct attack against the productivity and thus the wages of workers. Ken is the only candidate for governor in my 20 year residency in Virginia who has campaigned on lowering this destructive tax on businesses, and has even mentioned the possibility of repeal. For that alone he deserves a vote.
Ken has devoted a lot of time to championing the exploitation of Virginia’s fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. The Obama administration is working overtime fighting a war on coal, on which much of Western Virginia depends for its livelihood. Ken has promised to fight vigorously for the right to exploit fossil fuels in Virginia and on Virginia’s continental shelf. A strong energy sector would, though modest leasing fees, allow the reduction or possibly the elimination of the income tax, which would be a triumph.
What makes me think Ken can stand up to Obama’s War on Coal? Because Ken was the first attorney general in the nation to legally fight Obamacare and win in federal court. This was immensely important because without any legal victories against Obamacare, the law would never have gotten to the Supreme Court. We on the right correctly assess the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision as a loss. This is true. But it was not an unqualified loss.
There were two aspects of the case that were big wins. First, the court ruled that the commerce clause could not be used to force individuals to buy a commercial product, and also ruled that the Obamacare “penalty” (now interpreted as a tax) was so low as to not be onerous, but if it were higher it would be unconstitutional. This limits the amount of “penalty tax” Congress can impose. Second and most importantly, the Supreme Court ruled that states did not have to take on the Medicaid expansion offered in Obamacare. Medicaid is the single most destructive government program on the budgets of the states.
Virginia is poised to consider accepting the Medicaid expansion, but Ken has stated that he would not allow it in no uncertain terms. Ken’s repudiation of the midnight tax increase passed by the most recent Virginia legislature gives hope that both the taxes that were passed could be lowered, and that the Medicaid expansion (and thus the ruination of Virginia’s balanced budget) could be avoided. None of this could have happened unless Ken challenged Obamacare and was a good enough lawyer to win his case.
Ken’s opponent in the race, Terry McAuliffe, the confidant and bagman of the Clintons, has stated that he would oppose cutting taxes (and indeed has backhandedly indicated he would look to raise them), he would fight for more boondoggle “green” energy programs while sentencing Virginia’s coal miners and energy entrepreneurs to poverty or forced migration to other states. He has pledged to accept and expand the Medicaid expansion and thus destroy Virginia’s balanced budget. And he has shown that he would infect Richmond with a class of moochers and fellow looters the likes of which even the moderately corrupt Richmond political class is aghast at. In addition, Virginia is one of only five states that have so far rejected the “Common Core” statist educational standards. McAuliffe pledges to implement them and thus sentence our children to 12 years of mindless indoctrination and helplessness in math. He is a carpetbagger and a slimeball. He is Wesley Mouch in spirit and Floyd Ferris in action. He must be opposed by all freedom-loving Virginians.
So we all have a choice. A vote for Ken is a vote for a better Virginia economically, a better tax climate, and an educational system that while not the best, at least will not be flushed down the toilet. A vote for McAuliffe is a vote for Obamaist nihilism applied at the state level; it’s a vote for corruption on a scale not seen in Virginia since Reconstruction. It’s a vote for our own destruction.
A vote for anyone other than Ken Cuccinelli, no matter how good those people are or how wonderful they would be in some fantasy world where Objectivists can be elected to office, is a vote for McAuliffe and thus for destruction. A vote for Ken is a vote for someone good–not perfect, but good. A vote for Ken is also a vote against McAuliffe, against Obamacare, against higher taxes, against corruption, against green boondoggles, and a vote against President Obama and his reign of tyranny.
The only way to vote with integrity in the upcoming Virginia election for governor is a proud vote in favor of Ken Cuccinelli.