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Guest Contributor
J. Neil Schulman

J. Neil Schulman's novels have twice won the Prometheus Award for libertarian science fiction, and one of his Los Angeles Times opinion articles was awarded the James Madison Award from the Second Amendment Foundation. On Saturday's he's the West Coast Co-Host of Cybercity Radio. His full bio is at and his personal website is at

Why This Libertarian Is Voting to Re-elect George W. Bush
Choosing the more libertarian...

[J. Neil Schulman] 10/28/04

"If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong."
-- Robert A. Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

I've called myself a libertarian since January 10, 1971, when my mother, a diehard New York Sunday Times crossword-doer, said to me, "Hey your favorite author's picture is in the Times Magazine."

I rushed over and sure enough there was Robert A. Heinlein's picture illustrating an article entitled "The New Right Credo--Libertarianism" by Stan Lehr and Louis Rossetto, Jr., and I said to myself, "So that's what the set-up in Heinlein's short story 'Coventry' is all about." I already agreed with the libertarian philosophy. I just needed a label for it.

Ten months later, in my first semester of college, I started a campus libertarian group. A few months later I began writing for libertarian publications. I've never stopped being a libertarian activist or writer over the subsequent 33 years.

I was one of the first to join the Libertarian Party in New York when it was organized in 1973, and I was one of the first to quit the Libertarian Party and oppose all participation in politics in 1974. I was a non-voter from 1975 to 1990, registering to vote in 1991 after years of political abstinence on the proposition that if voting was participating in State violence, and I could carry a gun to use in violent self-defense if necessary, then I could cast a ballot in self-defense if necessary.

From 1990 forwards I've registered either Libertarian or Republican, depending on whether there was anyone in Republican primaries I needed to vote for (or against), and I've cast my votes either for Libertarian or Republican candidates, except in the 1992 presidential election in which I voted for Ross Perot.

In the 2004 presidential election I will not be voting for the Libertarian Party candidate, Michael Badnarik. I will be voting to re-elect the Republican Party candidate, President George W. Bush.

I regard both Michael Badnarik and George W. Bush as decent men. I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Badnarik on Cybercity Radio, August 28, 2004, and you can listen to that interview here. [The Badnarik interview is in Hour Two of that show.]

Nevertheless, there are two reasons I will be casting my ballot for George W. Bush and not for Michael Badnarik. The first reason is simple reality: Michael Badnarik's prospect for being elected president is effectively zero. The second reason is that George W. Bush is qualified to exercise the executive authority of the presidency and Michael Badnarik isn't.

I realize that most libertarians vote for president not with the intent of electing a man suitable to execute that authority, but as an act of symbolic protest against a government we have considered malevolent and intrusive into our private lives.

When I believed in symbolic protests I refrained from voting entirely, investing my energy in efforts such as the 1976 Vote for Nobody campaign. If publicity was the goal, CounterCampaign '76 was far more cost-efficient in spreading libertarian philosophy than the Libertarian Party. For less than $300 invested we achieved national exposure for our print and radio ads, as opposed to the tens of thousands of dollars the Libertarian Party spent for equivalent exposure that year.

When I became a voter I gave up casting my ballot symbolically in any race in which I believed my ballot stood any chance whatsoever in effecting a preferable outcome. Purists have told me for years that "the lesser of two evils is still evil." I have learned to counter that argument with one taught to me by libertarian author Brad Linaweaver: "the lesser of two evils is less evil."

Let me make a better argument than even Brad Linaweaver's clever response to this libertarian duckspeak.

Good and evil do not exist as Platonic ideals. The tendency of idealists to reject the good alternative, because it is not perfect, is destructive of the achievable good. To the extent that libertarians adopt the Platonic ideal of absolute recognition of all our individual rights, rejecting any good that does not meet this standard even if it's the best existing choice, libertarianism reduces itself to just one more of the many utopian cults that have appeared and disappeared throughout history.

I have many ideological and policy disagreements with George W. Bush. I find his "compassionate conservatism" far too compromising with the institutionalized socialism in our public policy. I vastly prefer the libertarian conservatism of Barry Goldwater or even the National Review conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

But while I find George W. Bush not libertarian enough in his domestic agenda, I find him a strong defender of American values of freedom against the most serious threat against our civilization since the Cold War: organized Islamic crusaders who are willing to engage in systematic attacks on innocent civilians and private property in a hegemonic attempt to prevent free markets from carrying futuristic cultures into their fanatically preservationist societies. The War on Terror is a real war. It's a war against those who wish to make their past our future. It's a war against those who, in a competition between our culture and theirs, have decided to use violence, terror, and brain-numbing propaganda to prevent people - particularly their own people -- from freely choosing our culture over their own.

George W. Bush has correctly concluded that this war can't be won by even the most draconian assaults on our personal liberties in an attempt to create an impregnable "Fortress America," and he has instead decided to remove the war from New York City and Washington DC back to the region that spawned and supports the Islamic crusaders. In the long run, the only way to win is to go on the offensive, because no static territorial defense is ever perfect or permanent.

The only serious opposition candidate to George W. Bush is not Michael Badnarik but John F. Kerry, a man whose entire career has been devoted -- in every possible variant -- to eliminating the independence of the United States of America in favor of the global hegemony of the United Nations, two-thirds of which are one-party-rule dictatorships, theocracies, or kleptocracies.

If John F. Kerry is elected, he will work relentlessly to further damage the independence of the United States with submission to international courts, drawing their power over us from treaties that give foreign totalitarians power to control every aspect of our lives.

Consequently, the most important difference between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry is that George W. Bush will not compromise with those international voices for compromise and appeasement with Islamic terrorists in the defense of American values of free trade and free expression and John. F. Kerry has spent his life doing so and can be counted on to continue doing so.

Any American libertarians who don't think they would be made less free by the United States submitting to the World Court and the Kyoto Treaty are not worth arguing with.

That's not enough? George W. Bush has shown himself to be a man of his word. Contrary to spin, Bush didn't lie about Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The 500 tons of yellowcake uranium and 1.8 tons of refined uranium that Saddam was holding onto showed that he was ready to resume a nuclear-weapons' program as soon as he'd bribed enough UN officials to get sanctions lifted. I'm happy that George W. Bush was farsighted enough to spoil Saddam Hussein's desires to upgrade from paying homicide bombers to blow up school buses in Israel to paying a nuclear homicide bomber to blow up Times Square.

And the last time I checked my notebook on libertarian morality, it's not imperialism when you remove a totalitarian dictator and turn the country over to its people. It's liberation. George W. Bush is the liberator of Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Saddam Hussein. That also should be enough reason for libertarians to give him another four years.

In his twenty years in the Senate, John F. Kerry never met a gun-control bill he didn't eagerly support. George W. Bush, in his first term as governor of Texas, legalized civilian carrying of concealed firearms and as president not a single law harmful to gun owners has received his signature.

And whatever you think of George W. Bush's economic policies, is there anyone who's looked at John F. Kerry's voting record as a United States Senator who believes he will give us less government controls - less taxes and regulations -- than George W. Bush?

Libertarians may continue to cast their vote symbolically, by voting for a candidate with no chance of winning. Or, if you're a conscientious objector to politics, you can continue not to vote at all. Admittedly, George W. Bush is not a libertarian by any absolute standard, and if you're afraid that registering to vote will just put you above the radar, you can continue trying to slip between the cracks, if that's your idea of freedom.

But if you think the President of the United States just might have power that could affect your life sometime in the next four years - if you take the State seriously as a threat to your freedom -- you might want to consider shooting off a ballot on November 2nd and voting for the president likely to injure you less.

George W. Bush is vastly more protective of libertarian values than the other guy who might be elected to sit in the Oval Office for the next four years.  

President Bush is not the best of all libertarian candidates in some theoretical contest where actually having to be president doesn't count, but compared to John F. Kerry, George W. Bush is without question the more libertarian of the two presidents we will end up with.

That's why I'll be voting for him, and I urge you to do so as well. CRO





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