Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Jeff Flake or Marc Victor?

I was a member of the Libertarian Party for about 13 years, active for about 10 of those.  This 'blog began as a side project while I was still writing copy (and paid far too little for it--usually $0) for LP candidates and the local Party.  If you want to know why to vote for third-party candidates, I'm the man to tell you.  Vote not for this year but for ten years from now--vote to help to build the party.  Vote to signal to the major-party candidates that they need to do more to earn your vote.

That's all very nice, and if you think that the Libertarian Party has potential to overcome its internal culture and history and become a force for positive change in Arizona, take my old advice.

But please, please, please, don't vote for Marc Victor.  And think very hard before casting a vote for Gary Johnson.

It's nothing personal.  Gary Johnson is the best Presidential candidate from any party since Reagan.  And Victor, who I never met, is by most accounts--from LP types and from ACLU lawyers--a genuinely genial person, a good defense lawyer, and a good man.  He's not qualified for the Senate.  The LP doesn't have many candidates to draw from ;the only Arizona LP regular who has the kind of public policy or high-level business experience that would qualify him is former Congressional economist Joe Cobb.

Joe Cobb, by the way, is running for Congress in the 4th District against Ed Pastor.  I cannot endorse anyone more strongly for Congress than I can endorse Joe Cobb.  He is the rare challenger with prior experience in shaping Federal policy and drafting legislation.  On a more personal level, he's a man of unimpeachable character and tremendous warmth.  We need both in Washington.

Of the qualified potential recruits for Senate candidate from outside the Libertarian Party, Sam Steiger retired a decade ago and is now deceased (!), and "independent" libertarian-leaning former Democrat Ted Downing seems to have backed out of politics following his defeat by cookie-cutter leftist Paula Aboud in 2010.  The LP needs to fill the ballot line, otherwise a Yuri Downing-like joker or worse, a lunatic bigot like Russ Dove or Roy Warden might run and permanently embarrass the organization.  Since parties cannot legally control their ballot lines in AZ, unqualified candidates are better than none at all, and unqualified candidates with the dignity of Marc Victor--a great improvement over the 2000, 2004, and 2006 candidates--are better still.

Victor does have a strike against him. It isn't mentioned on his campaign website, but it's no secret, either:  for a few days, Marc Victor was a Superior Court judge pro tempore.  For reasons of "principle"--the word Libertarians use when saying "it's my opinion" isn't enough--he recused himself from all drug cases on his calendar, and was fired from the job.  If an anarchist like Randy Barnett could be a prosecutor, Victor could probably have found a way to be a judge and keep a clean conscience.  (And if he couldn't, he should not have applied for the position in the first place.) He may not actually serve as Senator were he elected Senator.  He may decide to collaborate with nobody, "on principle", and never to compromise.  I do not vote for people who will not meet the duties of their office.  But that's no reason for people who cast protest votes to not vote for Victor.

The real reason is that Jeff Flake is a very libertarian Republican--until Justin Amash came along, easily the most libertarian member of Congress--making Victor the irrelevant alternative.  His primary-season reversal on immigration was a genuine disappointment to me and other longtime supporters.  The typical Arizona Republican stance, "border security first, then reform" is inhumane and idiotic.  (Why spend billions enforcing a bad and difficult-to-enforce policy before adopting something better and easier to enforce?)  But the number one rule in politics is that to do good, you must actually be in office.  A reformer like Flake has to fight both the Democrats and his own party.  During his time in Congress he's fought the good fight on government reform, on civil liberties, on the budget.  It's easy to demand perfect agreement as someone who doesn't work to advance an agenda in a legislature, easier still as a member of a political party with no intent to actually elect someone to Federal office in the near future.  For working policymakers, prioritization is necessary.  Cut him some slack.

The race with Carmona is far too close.  If you're thinking of voting for Victor, ask yourself if your policy agenda is best served by electing a run-of-the-mill big-government Democrat to the Senate or by electing a Republican who was for small government and comprehensive reform before the Tea Party made it cool to be fore small government and comprehensive reform.  Given what's at stake, ask yourself whether you want another Democrat in the Senate at all.  Democrats are committed to blocking meaningful health care reform and for ideological reasons won't join the conversation on, let alone debate House bills proposing to, reform Federal spending.  They'll balance the budget by raising already usurious tax rates, but cutting the scope of the Federal government is off the table.  And sending another Democrat to the Senate will make it difficult to block Obama judicial nominees hostile to freedom of the press or the right to keep and bear arms.  If Democrats attain a supermajority, use one hand to defend your civil liberties and keep another on your wallet.  Flake has consistently defended both.

Consider also that Carmona recently released an advertisement faking endorsements from John McCain and Jon Kyl.  Even in the election season that brought us the fake "war on women" and Mitt Romney the evil "vulture capitalist" scamster, fake endorsements are too bold a lie.  Carmona is not of good moral character.  And a vote for Victor will help send Carmona to the senate.

Regarding Gary Johnson:  He'd make a great president.  Vote for him with pride.  Unless you live in a swing state.  The stakes are far too high.  President Obama will block market-oriented health-care reforms.  He's refused to "play ball" on the budget.  And he may get to nominate two Supreme Court justices in his second term.  Picture Citizens United, McDonnell vs Chicago,  or Ricci vs DeStefano (the firefighters' discrimination case) going the other way.  And then vote Romney in Arizona unless the polls show a clear Romney victory.  And then support adoption of Condorcet voting in Arizona, so you never have to make that kind of choice again.


B. Kalafut said...

I do see where you're coming from on this. You may be right, from a And it would have made a good independent post here!

What I mean when I say "he's not qualified" is that he doesn't have the experience in public life that usually comes with the job. Before casting my vote I like to have an idea of how someone would actually conduct himself in an "entry-level" office. A bad senator on "my side" can be worse than none at all. I can think of a couple of representatives in the Arizona state house who were great activists but who have embarrassed themselves since their election.

B. Kalafut said...

I wish more people spelled it out instead of using verbal shorthand. I am perfectly sympathetic to voters who aren't comfortable with a virgin candidate and would prefer that they have been through a lower office to prove their ability not to be a dang fool.