Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Voting for the "Lesser of Two Evils"

As we approach this coming Presidential election, I keep hearing from people (mainly conservatives) who dislike both candidates and want to vote third party. While it’s extremely frustrating and even maddening that we are (again) facing a Presidential election where there is no real conservative candidate, voting third party is not a valid option for those of us who really care about our country and protecting the freedoms we have.

Let me tell you why.

In setting the stage for this argument, there are a few facts that we should consider. First of all, keep in mind that there are only two major viewpoints with respect to government and its role. Either you are in favor of limited government that simply protects the inalienable rights of the people (conservatism) or you are in favor of big government that runs your life and distributes “free” stuff (liberalism). Now, the details of what individual policies and laws should be made to further those viewpoints may differ a good deal among individuals, but there are only those two major views.

Another thing to realize is that our country is nearly evenly split between conservatives and liberals. Even if we could come up with a viable third party that was more conservative than either existing party, that would only split the conservative vote. Even if the majority of current conservatives got on board with this new party, it would still not have enough supporters to win elections. Much as I hate to say it, we need the nominal conservatives right now, and they need us.

The third thing to remember is that it is a fact of life in the U.S. (at least for now) that one of the candidates from the two main parties will win. For better or for worse, we have only two main parties. There are valid arguments to be made that we need a different system, and it is good to work toward that goal. However, for now we have to face the reality of our present system. Specifically, in this coming election we have only two real choices for President. We have to choose one of those two. Third party candidates may be on the ballot, but they don't have any real possibility of winning.

With those facts in mind, voting third party has the same effect of sitting the election out. A vote for a third party (for President, anyway) at this point in history is a totally wasted vote. The whole purpose of a vote is to help a candidate win. Presidential candidates who don't win don't make changes, don’t sign laws, don't make new policies, and don't appoint Supreme Court justices. Only the winner gets any political power. So, if the purpose of voting is to help a candidate win, then any vote for someone who can't possibly win is a wasted vote. You might as well stay home as vote third party.

A lot of conservatives say that a third party vote is a protest vote. It’s a way of telling the establishment that you’re unhappy with the current candidate and want them to make changes in the future. That sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, nobody is listening to the "protest votes." How do I know? Well, let's see...people who don't like the chosen candidate (because he isn't perfect) have been going third party for years now. Did anyone in the establishment listen to this protest? No. Look at the current candidates. Are they better or worse than they used to be? Enough said.

A lot of people try to justify voting third party by saying that the "lesser of two evils" is still evil and they won't vote for such. But in every election there is a lesser of two evils. There is no perfect candidate. Last I checked, Jesus wasn't running. So you can look at it as voting for the lesser of two evils or you can think of it as voting for the better of two imperfect options. Either way, we need to stand in the gap to prevent as much evil as possible.

You've heard it said that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Well, not voting or voting third party is "doing nothing" and, consequently, allowing the triumph of evil. Considering the even split in viewpoints in our country, we need every vote we can get in order to win. Every vote that goes third party diminishes the votes that could have gone to a viable candidate. The crux of the issue is this: whether you stay home or vote third party, when you fail to vote for the "lesser of two evils," you enable election of the greater evil. It's as simple as that. Considering what's at stake in this election, this is not the time to let an unattainable ideal become the enemy of a step in the right direction.

Linked up with WLWW and NOBH.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What it Means to Be Conservative - Part 4: Natural Law

So far in this series, we have looked at several aspects of conservative views. I discussed why conservatives believe in limited government and free enterprise, why we abhor elitism, and how we know that wealth can be created through human creativity and work. In this fourth part of the series, we will look at a topic I have already written about: Natural Law.

Natural law is law that is higher and more basic than government. Unlike political law, which is arbitrary and made by humans, natural law proceeds from the nature of things and is thus older than government and cannot rightfully be overturned or violated by any political laws.

One of the major concepts of natural law is the concept of inalienable rights - rights that people have by virtue of their existence that cannot be given up or taken away by anyone (even government). These inalienable rights are granted by God, the Creator. However, even those who do not believe in God can agree that humans have these basic rights.

I have written a 5 part series on inalienable rights so I won't repeat all of that here, but you can read those posts to learn more about inalienable rights:

This concept of natural law explains why conservatives consider some political laws good while others are considered bad. Liberals like to pretend that we conservatives are inconsistent, liking government involvement in some areas and hating it in others without any rhyme or reason (other than our religious beliefs, perhaps). However, there is a consistent and logical basis for the positions we hold (although not all who hold these positions know the logical basis, unfortunately). Political laws that are consistent with natural law and that protect the inalienable rights of the people are good laws. Political laws that are inconsistent with natural law, whether by violating inalienable rights or placing undue restrictions on the liberty of the people, are bad laws. It's really as simple as that.

So, here is the 4th part of the video series. In it, Bill Whittle explains natural law and how it forms the basis for our American laws. He also explains how bad laws (i.e. those inconsistent with natural law) have led to the current economic problems. The one area on which I would disagree with this video (and it's probably more a disagreement with his wording than his actual viewpoint) is where he says that the Bill of Rights "protects freedoms given to us at birth." The truth is, those freedoms and rights are bestowed on us by our Creator, which means they begin at our creation - the very beginning of our existence. Since each human being begins to exist at fertilization, these rights are ours even before birth. Other than that issue, I find this video very informative and useful.


Here are all the parts of this series on What it Means to Be Conservative:

Part 1: Limited Government and Free Enterprise
Part 2: Anti-Elitism
Part 3: Wealth Creation
Part 4: Natural Law
Part 5: The Right to Bear Arms
Part 6: Legal Immigration
Part 7: American Exeptionalism

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What it Means to Be Conservative - Part 3: Wealth Creation

So far, I've talked about how conservatives believe in limited government and free trade and how we are against the concept of elitism. The next fundamental difference between conservatism and liberalism is our view of how wealth is created.

Liberals behave as if wealth is limited and cannot increase. Thus, liberals see those with wealth as having taken precious resources from the poor. If there is only so much wealth to go around, those who have a lot must have accumulated their possessions at the expense of someone else.

However, we know that this is not the case. While at any one point in time there is a finite amount of wealth, the total amount of wealth on earth is not a constant. Wealth can be created out of thin air simply through human creativity, hard work, and free trade. A brief look at history will confirm that wealth has increased enormously over time (and often in great leaps as new technologies are developed). Thus, wealth is not constant and those who have a lot of wealth have not necessarily taken it from others.

So, while liberals view the rich as villains, stealing the bread from the mouths of the poverty-stricken, conservatives know that the wealthy (in most cases) are really heroes (from an economics standpoint, anyway). Those who have created wealth through their creativity and hard work have not only increased their own wealth, but the wealth of many others who have benefited from their actions. These individuals create businesses that not only make a profit for their owners, but employ many workers, who then have their needs met and have money in their pockets (making them wealthier). These people then spend money (giving it to other businesses) to obtain the things they want and need. That money is then used by those other businesses to pay their workers and develop new technologies that increase wealth. Thus, an increase in wealth by one business owner is not only helping that person and their employees, but business owners and employees of thousands of other businesses as well.

So here we see one of the biggest differences in views on how to grow an economy. Liberals see wealth as limited and thus want to punish the evil rich by taking more of their money to give to the poor. This seems, at first glance, to be a perfect solution. The poor need money and the rich have more than they need. Why not take a little from the wealthy to give to the poor? Problem solved, right?

However, there are two major economic problems with this redistribution of wealth (to say nothing of the ethical problems). First of all, taking money from the wealthy (business owners and investors) leaves less money for them to pay their workers, and less money is injected into the economy to help it grow. Thus you have less wealth created and everyone is worse off than they could have been.

The second problem with wealth redistribution is that, human nature being what it is (as I mentioned in Part 1 of this series), when you give people money for nothing, you discourage creativity and hard work. If a person can get money without working for it, why work? We humans are a naturally lazy bunch. Not only do those receiving this "help" have little inclination to work to create wealth themselves, but those who do work hard to create wealth, seeing the return on their hard work stripped away, often feel far less motivated to continue their efforts. In the end, everyone loses as the economy stagnates and less and less wealth is created.

The conservative plan for wealth creation is quite different. Conservatives know that wealth can be instantly created when people are allowed to create wealth through creativity, hard work, and free trade. They know that wealth creation helps everyone because there are more resources available - more money, more jobs, more technology, and more goods and services. Thus, conservatives want to reduce government intervention in the economy and lessen the regulations that stifle businesses. Conservatives want to make free trade freer (to encourage more people to trade), to protect the creativity of those who develop new ideas (by making sure they get a return for their hard work), and to reduce taxes (so that people keep more of their hard-earned money and can invest it back into the economy). These things do help business owners and investors, but they also help the workers. These plans also help create more jobs so that all people can earn the money they need. Everyone wins when there is more wealth.

Here is the third video in the series. In this clip, Bill Whittle explains how wealth can be created and debunks the myth that people only get ahead by taking from others.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What it Means to Be Conservative - Part 2: Anti-Elitism

One of the major things that we conservatives are against is the concept of elitism, the idea that some people - those who are highly intelligent, educated, or wealthy - should be able to run the lives of others. The idea that these elites know more about how we should run our lives and should therefore make decisions for us is an idea that we find revolting and insulting. We do not and will not submit to having our lives dictated for us by those who consider themselves smarter or more qualified.

What conservatives also know is that the idea of a country run by elites is completely counter to the government that was set up by our Founding Fathers. While all other countries had elites to run things, whether a single king (monarchy) or a small group (oligarchy), the radical idea of the Founding Fathers was that the power belongs to the people. Each individual is the monarch of his own life, endowed by his Creator with the power and responsibility to make his own choices and to decide for himself how he will live. In this view, all men are equal under the law because each man or woman has this innate sovereignty. No one has been born to rule over others, nor can anyone attain the right to rule through any amount of achievement or capability. All people are inherently equal - subject only to God (their Creator), not to each other. This is the radical idea from which this country was born.

While we conservatives recognize that men are equal, we also realize that government is needed for the protection of the people. However, our government, unlike other governments, does not consist of elites making decisions for the people. Our government was set up as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The power that is wielded by government officials is lent to them by the people. The people have the power, and they have delegated some of that power to certain individuals who are selected by the people to represent them. For a more detailed discussion of this concept of delegated power, see my post on Inalienable Rights - Part 4: Government by Consent of the Governed.

Unfortunately, in this country we have allowed the concept of elitism to creep back in. Both parties are guilty of this. Too many politicians see themselves as the smart ones who must take care of the rest of us by giving us what we need and telling us how we should live our lives. Those of us who hold to the vision of our Founding Fathers want to take back our country from those who believe they have a right to rule over us.

In this second video of the series, Bill Whittle explains why elitism is morally repugnant as well as being unworkable on a practical level.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What it Means to Be Conservative - Part 1: Limited Government and Free Enterprise

I've discovered some excellent videos that present a concise, rational, and easy-to-understand explanation for the conservative position. I'll be posting them over the next couple weeks with a little bit of commentary.


The first video deals with two of the most important things conservatives stand for: limited government and free enterprise. I like the way Bill Whittle points out in the video that both of these positions grow from our view of human nature as being imperfect and non-perfectable. We conservatives have a healthy skepticism of human motivation. We believe that people have a natural tendency to look out for their own self-interest first. It's not that no one ever acts altruistically (we know that there are many cases of people helping others with no benefit to themselves), but we don't simply trust people to always act for the good of others. Thus, we wish to limit the power that any person (or any group of people) has over others.

It is this desire that leads to a position of limited government. While we recognize the need for government to make laws and protect the people in society, we also realize that the people in society need protection from those in government. We conservatives know that government, like individual people, tends to look out for its own interest. Having limitations in place to protect the citizens from abuse by government is wise.

The preference for free enterprise also comes from this same view of human nature. We realize that people engage in transactions that are of benefit to themselves. The good thing about free enterprise is that it uses this fact of human selfishness to mutual advantage. Unlike government, businesses must convince you to voluntarily give them money for their goods and services. Thus, they have good reason (for the sake of their own interests) to ensure that they have quality products and service and that every one of their customers is happy with their experience. When people have the option to choose whom they will do business with and each transaction is voluntary, the experience is far more pleasant and satisfying for everyone.

Most of what I just wrote is covered, more or less, in the video. However, there is one other thing I'll point out that was not in the video. This view of inherent human imperfection and selfishness is consistent with a Biblical worldview. The Bible tells us that man is fallen from the perfect state in which God made him and has a natural tendency to do wrong. Obviously, one doesn't have to have a Biblical worldview in order to agree that humans are inherently selfish (you need only look around you), but it is consistent with what the Bible says.

So, without further ado, here is the first video. I hope you will find it enlightening, affirming, or at least educational.


Here are all the parts of this series on What it Means to Be Conservative:

Part 1: Limited Government and Free Enterprise
Part 2: Anti-Elitism
Part 3: Wealth Creation
Part 4: Natural Law
Part 5: The Right to Bear Arms
Part 6: Legal Immigration
Part 7: American Exeptionalism