The Real Philosophical Choice in Government

If you live in America, you must have heard that voters have a clear philosophical choice between John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain represents the Republican Party and Obama represents the Democratic Party. Obama is what Americans describe as a liberal. McCain is… well, he is not a liberal that’s for sure. In the past 25 years, he has voted against everything that could be considered “liberal,” from health care for children to breast cancer projects for women. He used to be a “maverick” but he seems to have given up that role to appeal to conservatives. And he certainly is not a conservative.

Bob Barr is a conservative. Who is Bob Barr? You wouldn’t know it from the media but he is another choice for president of the United States. He represents the Libertarian Party. While McCain is “conservative” on such issues as abortion and welfare (he’s against both of them), Barr is conservative across the board. He’s against everything.

He’s against deficit spending to fund that crazy war in Iraq, for example. He’s against piling up a huge national debt – $9 trillion dollars and growing by the minute. He’s against income tax, and would abolish the IRS in favor of a national sales tax.

Now back to McCain. He’s for tax cuts for the rich. How would he cope with the reduction in revenue? He would cut programs for the rest of us. He is targeting Social Security and Medicare, for example. And yet Social Security (contrary to everything you hear) takes in more money than it dishes out year after year. The government actually siphons off Social Security revenues to shore up the general fund. McCain is not targeting the war in Iraq, which costs American taxpayers about $3 billion a week. In fact he says he will “never surrender” in Iraq, so I guess you can budget that $3 billion for Iraq every week for the foreseeable future if he gets to be president.

The real choice in government is between those who believe the state has a stake in regulating our lives and those who do not. Generally speaking, liberals think a society has an obligation to create an environment in which its members can expect to be safe and reasonably prosperous; conservatives believe in economic Darwinism, in which the fittest survive.

That would mean voters have a philosophical choice between Obama and Barr. With Obama, you get a government that takes responsibility for your welfare. With Barr, you’re on your own. You pay as little as possible in taxes and you get as little as possible in return.

With McCain? Well, you probably won’t get anything. But a lot of others stand to do pretty well. All of those folks who have fattened on the Iraq War will continue to pig out. The 1 percent of Americans who own half of the shares on the New York Stock Exchange will pay even less in taxes and siphon off even more in capital gains.

There’s nothing philosophical about the McCain approach. It’s the kind of cold-blooded opportunism we’ve witnessed under his buddy George W. Bush, the kind of callous disregard that leaves large segments of the population in hunger and misery while “insiders” plunder the public coffers, leaving a huge and growing burden of debt for future generations.

If you’re a liberal, you have a philosophical justification to vote for Obama. If you’re a conservative, you could see your way clear to voting for Barr. But unless you’re one of the lucky few who stand to gain from an economically and philosophically skewed approach to government, you would have to be quite confused to vote for McCain.