By Tibor Machan: Freedom New Mexico columnist
I have always had problems voting.
Not only have I been influenced by the likes of professor Gordon Tullock about how ineffectual one’s vote tends to be, but I have very rarely found any candidate who articulates clear and unambiguous principles of liberty to which he or she is fully committed, which in my view is the only way to gain justified trust from voters.
Recently I expressed my dismay about Sarah Palin, based mainly on my inability to find any sound political principles articulated by her. I simply wasn’t able to discover anything like a genuine American political philosophy or even ideology coming from the former Alaskan governor.
When I pointed this out to a friend who considers Palin very promising, he listed for me a number of Palin’s achievements which, he believes, should lead me to change my mind. Here is what he identified as indications of Palin’s desirability for those who champion a fully free society:
• She sued the EPA for misusing the Endangered Species Act (no other governor has had the guts to do that).
• Advocated building nuclear power plants, clean coal and pipelines (all of them essential for energy independence and basic economic rationality).
• Came out against the punitive windfall tax on oil companies as a tax on investment.
• Approved of government subsidies only for market-proven alternative energies.
• Said publicly that global warming, even if true, is not anthropogenic.
• Spoke out forcefully and repeatedly in favor of free trade.
• Achieved 7 percent spending reduction as governor and instituted a hiring freeze.
• Supported giving parents the right to opt out of school books they found offensive.
• Passed the most innovative energy bill of any state called the Alaska Gas Inducement Act including a 1,715-mile gas pipeline to make available North Slope natural gas (currently being burnt) to the rest of the country.
• Advocated forcefully for drilling in ANWR and offshore waters.
Admittedly, this is an impressive record of going against the current tide of relentless political correctness and bad piecemeal public policy. However, from the viewpoint of someone who believes in a very strict adherence to the principles of the American founding, those that restrict government to central tasks, namely the securing of our basic (and derivative) individual rights, these achievements do not qualify someone as a dependable political candidate.
To whit, there should be no EPA at all. Nuclear plants should be a private sector project, not something for government to mess with. Not only should there be no windfall taxes on oil companies and any tax on investments, but the entire policy of extortion by taxation should be scrapped.
And so on and so forth.
Every one of the policies listed above as Palin’s achievements is, as far as someone who is committed to a fully free society is concerned, but a small and uncertain step in the right direction with no full commitment to the free society in sight.
Of course, we live in a world in which advocating the kind of society that is built on the principles of the Declaration of Independence is hardly going to open the door to a political career. Instead it will not even get one on Fox-TV, let alone any other mainstream media outfit from which one might champion one’s cause.
But then so what? I have decided many moons ago to fight for a fully free society and not some compromise and halfway measure. At least some citizens must insist on the whole shebang, even if it be unrealistic and quite contrary to realpolitik.