“Both parties have their good times and bad times at different times. Good when they are out. Bad when they are in.” Will Rogers
With the midterm elections almost over, there are many issues that arose over this past biennial event, one being why it takes so long in the US, supposedly the most advanced democracy, to actually determine who wins an election? Brazil’s recent election was called within hours after the polls closed, yet here in the US it took nearly a week to get many results, and we still have the runoff in Georgia for the Senate on December 6th. Perhaps there’s some truth to playwright Tom Stoppard’s quip that “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.”
I was recently asked what I thought libertarians would do in the upcoming Georgia runoff. That is a complex issue to address, as it takes some consideration of both where the LP Georgia is at and what most libertarians think about that issue. Nationally in 20 polls on the topic of party affiliation spanning the last 13 years, Gallup found that voters who claim to be libertarian ranged from 17 to 23% of the American electorate; of that polls found that 22% were Democratic voters, 19% were independent voters and 12% were Republican voters. However, the poll also found that those who identified as libertarian voted variously at any given time depending on the issues involved in an election.
On average, about 40% of the US electorate now claims to be independent, with the balance about split between the two major parties. These statistics account for why elections are becoming increasingly difficult to forecast as they become more closely contested. Republicans and Democrats are increasing upset about this phenomenon, a fact that contributed to NYS revising ballot requirements to restrict third parties, as have some other states. Many on the news this past election day reported races “too-close-to-call”, even days after the polls closed.
As the largest third party in the US, libertarians are often blamed by both parties as the culprits for such things, especially the Georgia runoff. Raphael Warnock got 49.4% of the vote, Herschel Walker 48.5% and Chase Oliver 2.1%; as Georgia requires the winner to have at least 50% of the vote, a runoff is required. Considering that in the runoff libertarians are considered the deciding vote, alienating them with the blame game seems counterproductive for either major party.
The LP Georgia has decided not to endorse either candidate; the official stand is that if the Republican and Democratic parties want to court libertarian voters, they should do so by becoming more libertarian, as opposed to saying “We aren’t as bad as Democrats” or “We aren’t as bad as Republicans”; that just doesn’t cut it because libertarians traditionally don’t subscribe to the lesser of two evils, although that doesn’t necessarily mean none will participate.
The outcome will likely be inconsequential given that the current count is 49 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 2 Independents; however, the independents have so far caucused with the Democrats, so even if Walker wins the runoff the Senate will be split. In the event of a tied vote in the Senate we have the constitutional anomaly of legislative action by the executive branch as the Vice President gets to vote. As this has been the case for the last two years, nothing will have changed with this midterm election should Walker win as Harris is the VP; should Warnock win, there will be a true majority with the Democratic Party in the Senate, so either way it will make no difference.
The issues in Georgia are reported to be abortion, economy, health care, guns, voting rights and veterans, but unclear the order of priorities. Libertarians are pro-choice, free market, anti-war and constitutionalist; neither of the two candidates are very appealing to libertarians on either their principles or personalities so the choice between Warnock and Walker is therefore ambiguous for them. Republicans aren’t very pro-life when it comes to wars, the death penalty, and the state’s murderous drug war. Democrats aren’t exactly pro-choice when it comes to healthcare, education, and guns.
After generations of voting for the lesser of two evils the only difference is how fast we get to the inevitable results. The reality is that there is no such thing as the lesser of two evils, but there is definitely a constant conflict between good and evil. People are imperfect, but that doesn’t mean you don’t strive to defeat evil. One never throws away their vote by voting their conscience; such a position is the hobgoblin propaganda of both major parties and to combat that they will, as they have, strive to eliminate the conscience of people.
In the Georgia Senate campaigns, both parties strove to place their candidate on higher moral ground, when in fact neither one belonged there; for one thing they both lied, Warnock about evicting parishioners from the church he is minister of who don’t agree with him and Walker about his personal relationships. Neither should be a political concern except for the fact that you can’t trust a liar, which would describe many politicians. When it comes to our two major parties, we can see why Will Rogers once observed that “A flock of Democrats will replace a mess of Republicans. It won’t mean a thing. They will go in like all the rest of ’em. Go in on promises and come out on alibis.”