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Obama is no worse than Clinton or McCain. And the myth of divided government is an illusion that only distracts from a system that inevitably leads to the growth of Orwellian America. It is time to understand that hell has arrived a long time ago and that it is on a good path to thrive further.

The political system is out of control and has been for a long time. This is precisely why Obama, Clinton and McCain are so eager to take a leading position within that system.

Well, from the standpoint of divided government, I would argue that Obama is worse than McCain (Clinton is out of it at this point). Divided government really isn't an illusion here--while the divisions aren't as clear cut as they once might have been, Democrats and Republicans will continue to squabble, not necessarily on principle (although that's what they'll say), but merely from the standpoint of trying to grab power.

For those whom the war issue is the primary concern, then divided government is a bad idea, and Barack Obama is probably the one to elect. For those of us concerned about foreign policy, but even more concerned about civil liberties and the potential for rapid expansion of the state, the John McCain and divided government is the answer. John McCain won't make great libertarian strides, but I do think he would hold the line on increasing statism in most areas of concern, and wouldn't rubber stamp everything that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid send his way.

I made the argument earlier that one of the criticism of Ronald Reagan was that he didn't do enough--but that he couldn't do what he wanted to because of the divided government. Think about when the WORST abuses of power in the Bush administration were initiated: during the time when the Republicans also held control of the House (and part of the time the Senate). The last 1 1/2 years, while not spotless, sees the Bush Administration being questioned far more by the Democrats about their proposals.

Also consider the WORST expansions of government power in our history--arguably the Lincoln, F. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson Administrations. Those fellows' parties controlled both houses of Congress during their entire terms of office (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidents_and_control_of_congress). Coincidence?

All signs indicate that the Democrats will hold dominant majorities in both Houses of Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is even in a tight re-election campaign in Kentucky--if the Republican leader can't get re-elected, that spells deep problems for the Republicans. And if that's the case, I'd rather have John McCain (or Bob Barr) or anyone who is even a little likely to resist state solutions in the Oval Office that Obama, or Clinton or any other Democrat. Strategic voting may be the rule of the day. I think we'll find in the coming months that Barack Obama has big plans for expanding the role of the government in just about everything.

McCain's approach to foreign policy and domestic entitlements is not at all different to the one Obama subscribes to. I have made loads of contributions to RSE to produce evidence of this. For a very generic explanation of my position look at my comment on "Differing Views on the Budget."

The fundamental and terrible lies of our political system are not only ignored by McCain and Obama (which should disqualify them for the nomination process, to begin with) but pleasurably taken advantage of.

When will people begin to understand that we are not facing problems in need of fine-tuning?

We are dealing with two parties running the people (my "Bulgarian Consumers of the United States".) Correction: tiny elites inside these parties.

Americans seem to overlook two things: their political system has been out of control for a long time, the establishment is doing their own thing and laughing all the way back home about those believing in the "will of the people." In this way, we already have a situation not dissimilar to European reality, where an unelected Big Brother (European Commission) is exercising a dictatorship over 400 million people, who don't not mind. Hitler had a harder time to defend his usurpation of (initially democratically acquired) power than the EU had, even though anyone who cares to learn about the EU-fraud can easily do so.

It is a question of (not much) time that the political establishment in the US will take similar steps to further increase its effective independence from its American "constituency."

Obama and McCain know that the American public is equally incapable of meaningful reaction. What do you think, which lessons do they learn from Bush's eight years of proving the irrelevance of the people?

Prediction. Obama (I still think Clinton will make a surprising comeback) or McCain will be the first President to bring the internet "under control."

And then people will still argue if things would have turned out somewhat better if one would have had divided government, or if the long needed control over the internet would have been less efficient.

Also - but that's for another post - what exactly do we mean by divided government? What and how good are our standards of judging a meaningful separation of powers?

This election is depressing. Let's conquer a new territory and make Ron Paul president.


I am the first, after you, to apply for citizenship in a country that I propose to be called "Marko Paulo". And we will conquer it - with better ideas.

I hate to be put in the position of defending John McCain, because there are many problems that I have with him. Still, I think there is a fundamental difference in approach to government between him and Barack Obama. From the American Conservative Union: http://www.conservative.org/archive2/2008potus.asp.
From Americans for Democratic Action (liberal/statist perspective): http://www.adaction.org/pages/media/candidate-guides.php.
From the National Taxpayers Union--Obama: http://www.ntu.org/main/components/ratescongress/details_all_years.php3?senate_id=180; McCain: http://www.ntu.org/main/components/ratescongress/details_all_years.php3?senate_id=11;

Is McCain my choice? Not yet, and maybe not at all. But from the standpoint of divided government, I think the pressure by Republican members of Congress on him--to help in distinguishing the GOP from the Dems could be beneficial. Not great, but given the choices, probably better than a White House and both houses of Congress being occupied by Democrats. There would be no counterweight to what the Dems could do at that point.

As to the new territory, Mark--that may be our best option. Find it, and a lot of us will be there. :-)

Grrrrr, Laura. I can't do justice to you, right now. Must go to bed. But....just wait, at this very moment...I am being handed an important dispatch by the "department of ideological purity at RSE:"

"Dearest Director and Great Chairman,

We have run all facts through our computers, as you requested. The result is overwhelming: 45R%rtztwrwr3582.

Translation: You, dearest director, are totally right, in every respect, while Laura Ebke is wrong."

Laura, I am sorry, but such are the facts.

Unfortunately, Georg, there seems to be a disagreement between the Department of Ideological Purity (DIP) at RSE and the Department of Political Reality. Ideological purity doesn't and never has, worked in American politics. Compromise started with the Constitution. In order to get most of what you want, sometimes you have to give up a little.

For you Georg, I am putting together a rather long discussion for the think tank on the power of Partisanship and the value of divided government. I'll be sure to call it to your attention when I've completed it--maybe tomorrow, but sometime over the weekend.

Laura, compromises have to make sense. Our disagreement is about what makes sense, not about the utility of compromise.

As for standards of political governance, McCain is fighting so as to "not make the entitlement mentality any worse..." Aha, trillions are right - squeazed out in the same manner as lower amounts previously, with the bipartisan assistance of Republicans and Democrats and Mr.McCain, the political machinery's bureaucrat's bureaucrat for decades. Quadrillions would be worse, and that is what McCain is sparing us - great man! What exactly does his farm bill look like - anyone looked into that, aside from "ridiculous" niceties, like principles adhered to? Where would his billions end up? In the military budget? Stupidly assuming that his farm "bill" (to the tax payer) would be significantly smaller, under the name of a farm bill, while the "savings" go to other "fiscally conservative necessities".) Are we that dumb? Are we? Are we really?

Entitlement mentality. That tiny little appetite. Not to be made worse. Uninformed question: what or whose "mentality?"

Terrible these electing beings, with their awful mentality. Poor political system, has to bow to that arbitrary mentality. See, what happens when the people have their will!

Ferociously opposed by McCain: "government transfers of wealth and market micromanagement."

There are two things that are bad as far as markets are concerned: micro management (by politicians, which McCain is eager to conduct, if it seems opportune, as in the summer petrol "subsidy" which was apparently so "micro" as to venture the nonsense) and macro management, the grandiose pursuit of which McCain is promising us on becoming President (like the other central planners of economic improvement in the race), while sometimes claiming to know a lot about the economy and sometimes insisting on rather opposite qualifications - but excellent advisers - and from there go to square one of my comment..


A comment for you to sleep on, Georg. It's January 21, 2009. The new President has just been inaugurated. Both Houses of Congress are now firmly in the hands of the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi is still the Speaker of the House. Harry Reid has been joined in the leadership ranks in the Senate by Hillary Clinton, who has decided to look to the ailing Ted Kennedy as her model, and make a name for herself as a great liberal "lion" in the Senate.

Understandably, neither of the choices are great (but assuming that Bob Barr does work some sort of remarkable magic to allow him to be the first 3rd Party Candidate to be elected President), who would you rather have sitting in the Oval Office? Democrat Barack Obama, who with a Democratic Congress will claim a popular mandate to do whatever it is that he wants; or Republican John McCain, who will seek at least some of the time to distinguish himself as the "protector" of liberty, individuals, small taxes and small government. He will go out and seek to elect Republicans to Congress who are the antithesis of the "liberal Democrats." He may even campaign for some Ron Paul Republicans, if he thinks they can be elected and do him some good. The choices stink, but those are the choices we have--Obama or McCain. Not as individuals, but as politicians in the larger system, which promises to be the lesser of two evils until such time as we are positioned to elect someone somewhat purer?

Keep in mind one of the comments I heard the other day: "The Republicans have become Democrats; The Democrats have become Socialists." There is a certain truism to that at this point, but some of us are working to turn things around.

Briefly, picking out one "minor" issue: The President's decision to kill more than 4 000 (and maim and destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of the young and poor)of his subjects (largely looked upon as mercenaries by their own fellow men, rather than human beings protecting AND protected by the "God damned piece of paper" called the Constitution) was equally and consistently supported by the Republicans and Democrats, the latter having fooled the people to act as an anti-war option (in November 2006, to name one occasion [did one hear Obama's anti-war voice?], while patiently waiting for mounting carnage to improve electoral chances), the former relying on those Republican Nebraskans (pars pro toto) that you suggested should not have been disturbed by Ron Paul's insistence on debunking and ending America's shameful aggression against Iraq.

Georg, we're just going to have to disagree on this one, I think. You're not going to convince me that the question is either black or white, and I'm not going to convince you that there are shades of gray to be discerned.

After enjoying this heated debate I am now placing my search for the new territory into warp speed. Both scenarios scare the bajeebers out of me!

I wish I could find the source, but some time ago I read about the different makeups of the legislative and executive branches and its affect on government growth.

Naturally, when either major party was in control of both branches spending was rampant and government growth accelerated. The better scenarios were when each party controlled one branch - the best of the four scenarios being when the Republicans controlled congress and a Democrat was president.

When considering the constitution, the intent of the founding fathers was to muck up the process of government as much as possible. Only the most pressing changes would then be made while everything else was tied up in red tape. Many of those circuit breakers have been removed. The vice president is no longer elected independently, the senators no longer represent the states, executive orders are prevalent and quite scary to read, and signing statements concentrate governmental power in the executive as the president decides which laws he or she will now follow.

One of the few checks left as government grows ever larger is the ability of the hapless citizenry to balance the power lust and spendthrift desires of the politicians by dividing the political ideals between the branches. Unfortunately, the ideals of the two parties have more in common than they used to. The ideals of one of the parties must change or one of the parties must atrophy and allow a new party to take its place - one that embraces liberty.

It was interesting that while President Bush has been in office he has embraced Senator Kennedy on some major issues which allowed government spending to grow. Why would he do this when, at the time, the Republicans controlled both houses of congress? I think this proves that the Republicans have changed and, as Laura said, become Democrats. It is sad but it seems the rules have changed and even dividing the branches might no longer have much of an effect.

We are certainly in a pickle.

Eric, you've touched on many of the arguments that I hope to make in the longer piece I'm trying to work on. In essence, the ideal of divided government is to muck it up as much as possible. That's not perfect, as you point out--and at some level, McCain's bipartisan nature in the Senate poses some concern about the possibility of him being a counterweight to the Democratic Congress. However, I think he'd be at least a little counterweight, whereas Obama will be right there with the Democrats in Congress. Likewise, if he plans on running for re-election, he'll need to look like a Republican, or face a challenge from within, ala Jimmy Carter v. Ted Kennedy in 1980.

What a great discussion. I just have to poke in my nose.
I will take the fence position and say that both Laura's land shrounded in subtle grays is as true as Georg's land of light and shadows.

I would like to offer that although something has been true in the past does not necessarily mean that it will be true in the future.

For instance, if McCain almost caucused with the Democrats what prevents him from working with them to get things 'accomplished'? Recently our worst legislation was bipartisan (NCLB, PATRIOT Act, Medicare drugs, Iraqi occupation/invasion)

And in a uniform house the nationalization of health care failed in the early Clinton administration.

Ultimately it is probably best that there is a division but if you vote for the lesser of two evils you continue getting the same. The 2 parties don't care why you vote for them. They merely take your vote (whether it was cast in fear of the 'other guy' or out of slightly less nausea or hope that your worst fears won't be realized) and declare it a mandate for more govt here or abroad.

Thought question: putting aside your past partisan emotions do you believe goverment power and intrusiveness would shrink under Obama, McCain, Barr, Nader? If you can answer that honestly then the choice is clear.

The only way to stop getting shafted by big govt is to stop picking it in November. The hard part is convincing others but there is no need for 'strategy' in choosing what's right in the ballot box.

A couple of (maybe) last comments. First, Eric L.'s point that just because something has been true in the past doesn't mean it will be true in the future is well taken. Indeed, McCain poses a special problem as a "counterweight" to the Democrats given his propensity to be bi-partisan. However, if he's elected as a Republican, he'll run into some political heat if he plays with the Dems ALL of the time (whereas I think Obama is less likely to play nice with Republican views at all). Given the choice between McCain or Obama, in the current political climate, McCain is probably a bit more preferable. That being said, a Bob Barr would probably be a MORE effective counterweight to the Democrats--and could serve to jolt at least some Republicans back to their roots. I'm not overly optimistic about Barr's chances of sitting in the Oval Office though--but I'm willing to change my mind (and probably vote for him here in Nebraska if he makes it on the ballot) and reassess the divided government theory. Actually, if Barr somehow made it into the presidency, everything would change.

That being said, given the political climate and the way that the Congress is likely to look, I don't think any of the potential presidents--Obama, McCain, Barr, Nader, Baldwin, etc.--would likely be able to dramatically decrease the size and scope of government. The President doesn't have that much authority, and I suspect that had Ron Paul been able to find a way to get elected, he would have found himself not able to make much real headway in moving the other way, either (although one might argue that if he had been able to get elected, it would have sent a signal to both Republicans and Democrats that there was a sea change taking place, and he might have been able to affect some change for a while).

The question, though, unfortunately, is what is the "least bad" option (or lesser of evils) until we have the chance to educate more people and run more liberty minded candidates to Congress. My view--and I may be wrong-headed about this--is that if Democrats control BOTH elected branches (and have the opportunity to confirm (probably) at least a couple of "the Constitution is a living document that means whatever we say it does" Supreme Court justices without concern for whether those nominees will be able to pass without national controversy--that the chances are much greater that we will sink further into a Socialist state. For instance--Obama plans a nationalized health care (http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/); McCain's plan seems (on the surface, at least) a bit more privately based (http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/19ba2f1c-c03f-4ac2-8cd5-5cf2edb527cf.htm).

The choices are distasteful, no doubt about it. I just can't bring myself to "drop out" and not vote at all. As I think you pointed out once, Eric, here in Nebraska, whether I (or all of the Ron Paul supporters) vote for John McCain or Bob Barr or someone else is probably not going to change the results of our state's electoral votes. But there are some states where the voting could be close--and in those states (if I were in one of them) I'd probably have to give some serious thought about whether the votes of my circle of compatriots could make a difference in the results. We'll know a lot more in a few months when the polling is a little more extensive, and the primary aura has lifted.

I am not trying to make the argument that there is not a point to change the system and engage in the process. I believe you need to do whatever you can to push things in the direction of freedom. Whether that is in the GOP, Libertarian Party, or RLC is great.

But when you are there on election day and have to choose who YOU vote for it is a binary choice. Either I feel that person would be a good president or not. Why would I pick someone whom I didn't want?

The only message you can send is "I support your policies or I don't." If you continue to pick someone slightly less odorous who will still get someone odorous. And the parties will have NO incentive to improve your choices next time. If all they have to say is that they offer a slower slide into a pure socialist state that is hardly encouraging. It's not like there are ever any mainstream freedom candidates who are ever put out there.

Finally I disagree that the president is powerless to shrink government. I think most of us would agree that executive power is too great and dangerous to a free society. If elected, a president Paul or Barr could eliminate executive orders and signing statements with relatively no political fight or most Americans noticing.

He could radically change foreign policy and pull troops away from all over the world (political capital spent there).

Reagan (and I will cut him slack because the USSR was a superpower and not as weak as we now know) was still a party man and was more concerned with small changes than with the radical and preferred to use the bully pulpit instead.

The president has the bully pulpit which is a powerful tool. Any administration able to come to power would have the ability to set the tone of debate and rhetoric throughout the country.

This is obviously the case, otherwise why the hell would we be solely fixated on the Iraq war and a backwater country like Iran - subjects chosen by the current administration at the almost complete exclusion of everything else?

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