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Pickett’s Vote


From what I hear, the righties are giddy and frothing about their predicted victories tomorrow. I understand that this is the moment for enthusiasm to peak, riding the emotion to help carry all the voters to their polling places. But it strikes me as a perfect example of a flawed political system.

We’re rooting for teams, not ideas. And certainly not policy. Sure, there is value in doing something—anything—to inhibit the lefty steamroller. I think many of the people going to vote righty or TEA Party tomorrow genuinely believe they can stop the national collapse.

I say the battle is already lost. The righties are gearing up for their version of Pickett’s Charge:

Pickett's Charge was an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Its futility was predicted by the charge's commander, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, and it was arguably an avoidable mistake from which the Southern war effort never fully recovered psychologically. The farthest point reached by the attack has been referred to as the high-water mark of the Confederacy.

My metaphor is not perfect. The Rs will break the enemy line and win the battle. Obama’s offensive against the Constitution and the people will be stopped. But Obama is merely the current commander, and this election is but one battle in a war that has endured for seven to ten decades. The machinery of oppression will grind on.

Libertarians seem to have the perspective that matches mine. Vox Day puts it well:

Smaller government sounds good. Saving $100 billion in the first year alone sounds like a lot. Now, what was the federal budget in 2010? According to "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise" which is the Orwellian title for The United States Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2010, the 2010 budget is $3.552 trillion. And according to the most recent estimate in July, the deficit alone is going to be $1.47 trillion instead of the $1.171 trillion originally forecast.

So, Republicans are going to cut 2.8% of the federal budget, or if you prefer, 6.8% of the federal budget deficit. In other words, if the nation were a car speeding towards a canyon at 70 miles per hour, the Republicans master plan for saving the passengers would be to slow the car down to 65.2 MPH!

The rhetoric about stopping Obama and “changing direction” relies on a short focus. I don’t care about stopping Obama, I would prefer adhering to the black letter of the Constitution. The players come and go. All that really matters is the principle. As an example, too many of those who will win tomorrow are promising not just to repeal Obamacare, but to replace it, too. As if they are some better sort of elite to tell us all the best way to provide ourselves with care.

Yes, there are some—plenty?—of genuinely principled limited-government types who will gain office. Super optimistically, let’s say thirty make it. That’s less than seven percent of the House. And three or four Senators represent three or four percent of that club. So, yes, they can slow the car from 70 to 65.

I am not impressed.

Again, each of the individual races may have a great and inspiring story. Angle taking out Reid in Nevada is just awesome (if it happens). If O’Donnell wins in Carolina Delaware, that’s a huge boost to the next division of raw recruits that might charge against Leviathan in 2012. I respect those who would rather die fighting than just lay down.

And Pickett’s men, after suffering 50% casualties, were eager to charge again.

In Minnesota, I was going to vote for Dayton. If we’re heading for collapse, I say let‘s get it over as quickly as we can. But he’s proven to be so psychologically afflicted that I am having trouble with my plan. The Independence Party guy is just a different flavor of more government, without Dayton’s entertaining psychoses. My righty pallys think Emmer is a genuine conservative, with a sensible plan to restrain the growth of government. And there, in that kind of language, is another example of why I say the war is ultimately lost.

Merely restraining government growth is driving to the cliff at 65mph. It prolongs the agony.

I am (un)represented by Keith Ellison in the U.S. House. He’s holding one of the lefty sinecures, a seat safe both by gerrymandering and the hopelessly leftoid population in my urban outpost. His opponents have not reached me with their message, and I am not voting just for (or against) a team. I think I’ll write in SpongeBob SquarePants for that race.

The more local candidates, for the Minnesota Legislature, have disappointed me. The ones I like weren’t going to win anyway. The districts are smaller, and I have personal acquaintance with them. But they, too failed to reach me with their message. The ones I have come to despise are pretty clearly resting on their incumbency, letting the party machine carry their races. Tomorrow I still might toss a vote to one of my friends. It depends on how grumpy I feel when I get to the polling place.

And in Minneapolis, we are entertaining a change to the way legislative boundaries are drawn. Some people think that eliminating direct influence by political parties will lead to more sensible districts with more complete representation. I think they’re nuts. I want partisanship. My enemies fighting with each other keeps them from screwing me so much. And the new system would hand control of the process to the vastly dominant DFL party. There must be a reason everyone on their team is 100% in favor of the change. I don’t believe it is because they want my anarcho-capitalist voice to be heard.

The biggest question left for me this election eve is where to write in Daffy Duck. He has appeared on every ballot I have cast. And that vote is the only one I have never wasted.


Sorry, but even your favoured canidates will not stop the decline of the United States in the medium to long term. The reality is that you have reached a point similar to Britain in the late 1940s- you can maintain your international importance only at the cost of domestic prosperity and stability. Or you can sacrifice international influence in the hope that things at home may stabilise. Your economy has been bled dry by the cost of the wars in the middle east, and lenders in Japan and China have used this in a similar way to more-or-less bankrupt you as the British Empire was by the Lend-Lease Plan. As for anarcho-capitalism? It's a non-starter. Even if they somehow got into power they would still have to deal with courts, opposition parties,state governments and foreign lenders. Unless the anarcho-capitalist took on dictatorial powers, sooner or later they would have to start compromising with groups not too keen on the anarcho side of them. Good Luck! Glen.h

Umm, my point here was that the collapse is unavoidable. So, thanks for agreeing with me. ;-)

I think we could actually afford more war if we stopped subsidizing losers to such a great extent. Defense (really should still be called the Department of War) is a smaller part of the Federal budget than welfare.

The United States is also still sitting on vast natural resources. Britain’s tiny resource base was mined out. But, changing the legal regime to allow use of what exists isn’t going to happen. Nor will we (or Britain) change the legal regime to let innovation and technology overcome the resource problem in time to matter.

And, you’re not telling anything new about the anarcho-capitalism. My libertarian pallys call me a statist, while the lefties call me a neocon, because I realize that any political experiment must defend itself from other political experiments and the inherent evil in men.

I'm glad you see my point too- I was just adding more than criticising :-)