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Election horror! I’m moving to (fill in the blank)

Why is is that, after every disappointing election, libertarians generally just grin and bear it (and tunnel a little deeper into the underground economy and counter-culture), conservatives vow to try harder next time (and win back their country for Jeezis), but lefties are forever vowing to toss their Patagonia gear into their hybrid put-puts and flee to Canada or France or some other mythical social-democratic paradise? My Facebook feed is currently speckled with progressive chums contemplating the good life in Toronto, Paris or Lilliput, about all of which they seem equally well mis-informed. This isn’t the first time, either.

Gawker captured the situation nicely with a round-up of five potential cities to which refugees from the recent dastardly Tea Party coup could consider fleeing. Kudos to Gawker for mentioning the uncomfortable truth that much of the world is a tad less lollipops-and-unicorns social-democraticky than progressives might like — less so than the U.S. in many cases. As Gawker points out of our neighbor to the north, “Well, it’s not that liberal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a conservative leader, after all,” and even “[t]ax-heavy, expensive Sweden is also moving into a more American style of limited-ish federal government, privatizing many formerly state-owned business to stave off economic woes.”

In fact, deprived of the huge line of credit possessed by the United States, many countries to which trendy lefties might flee have long-since started slashing state spending, freeing their economies (a bit, anyway) and turning toward Tea Party-ish smaller-government solutions.

Canada, for instance, is no longer so much the big-government contrast to the United States. Canadian federal spending topped out at over 50% of GDP back in the ’90s, after which somebody went to tap the piggy bank yet again and found nothing but moths and good wishes. Out of necessity, the old Liberal government began cutting spending well before the Conservatives came to power.

Likewise, Britain is only one of the European countries that have explicitly rejected the Obama administration’s hoary Keynesianism in favor of some sort of fiscal discipline. Sweden really is deregulating and privatizing its economy — to the point that the Christian Science Monitor says, “some believe it should be held up as a bastion of market capitalism.”

On a less-encouraging note, the French have their own problems with nativism and immigration fights. There’s no escaping the border warriors in Paris.

I’m not entirely sure what sort of Erewhon the folks on the losing side of the latest election think they’re going to find once they disembark in the imagined promised land, but it’s probably going to leave them a bit disappointed.

It’s not that the latest crop of elected officials won’t be as bad as everybody fears; the last few batches have certainly lived down to expectations, and why should things change now? But, if progressives insist on fleeing the latest electoral catastrophe (after the previous one, which they themselves brought on us) they might trouble themselves to do a little research to make sure that they won’t be greeted in their new homes by poutine-munching, Gauloises-puffing clones of the scary villains they left behind.

Post-election …

… I just feel … dirty.

Irrational exuberance over the mid-term election

I admit to a certain degree of pre-election, hysterical jackassery.

The things is, while I know that virtually nothing is likely to change for the better in the wake of tomorrow’s mid-term election, I’m compulsively checking the political news sites and the online prognosticators — Nate Silver’s 538 in particular. It’s all Politico to Daily Caller to 538, then a little CNN.com and a taste of MSNBC.com, and back to …

But it’s all bullshit. There may be some tweaks after tomorrow’s results, but I highly doubt that much of substance will change. We’ll still be saddled with an ever-expanding state, shrinking realms of life in which we can make our own decisions, and an economic debacle looming ever-closer as office-holders play hot potato with the job of explaining to the American people that both Social Security and Medicare have always been both incredibly stupid and unsustainable ideas, and Obamacare is just a double-down on idiocy.

It’s not that everybody running for office or participating in the process is a scam artist; in fact, I expect that the Tea Party activists of the moment’s headlines are overwhelmingly sincere (if occasionally unhinged). It’s just that the United States has some of the most astoundingly well-stage-managed elections in “democratic” history. Idealists come and go, but the same political parties, dynasties and even policies endure for decade after decade. Sea changes do come from time to time, but with almost geological slowness compared to the forces that have swept away Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party, every major Italian political party of the post-war period, New Zealand’s old first-past-the-post system and even several French constitutions.

Elections happen in the U.S., but change doesn’t necessarily follow. The same shit just gets done to us by a slightly re-shuffled arrangement of oh-so-concerned faces.

I don’t think it’s all futile, though. No would-be omnipotent puppet-master is half as invulnerable as he or she thinks. But we won’t actually know that the real change is coming until we wake up some morning to find that the White House is in flames and a revolutionary junta of iPad app programmers has seized the airwaves and is locked in a death struggle with Android-powered counter-revolutionaries.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend purely on the entertainment value.

If I was completely sane, I’d remember the revelation I first had when I was about … oh crap … five. That’s when I realized that a decent life depends on living the way you wish no matter what the folks in charge say, not on waiting for the rules to change.

But I still find myself getting that irrational thrill, waiting for the early returns …

I’ve already broken my campaign promise

Now you know to never vote for me. I’ve already broken the one campaign promise I made this year — and the election hasn’t formally occurred, yet. That’s right, I voted in the congressional election on my early ballot. Specifically, I voted for the Republican douchebag over the Democrat harpy. I’m not enamored of Paul Gosar, who has positioned himself as a social conservative in addition to his au courant, Tea Partyish support for free markets and smaller government, but incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick voted for the porculus bill and Obamacare, and that’s really all I need to know about her. Basically, I voted for divided government that will occupy its time entertaining us with angry gridlock rather than hurrying us over the brink and into the abyss.

Getting it in the front from Democrats and from behind by Republicans -- it's like being trapped between a Kennedy and Larry Craig!And no, I’m not one of those deluded fools who believes that “every vote counts.” I’m well aware that for any individual, voting is an essentially pointless activity that papers over irrelevance with a warm-and-fuzzy illusion of participation. But it’s a low-cost means of expressing an opinion and relieving a bit of my political angst.

Gosar, by the way, was the only Republican I marked on the ballot.

Arizona has a long list of ballot measures to choose from, this time around, and several are especially attention-worthy. In particular, I voted for Prop. 106 which would bar any rules or regulations that might force people into a health-care system. Basically, it would outlaw mandatory socialized medicine. Whether the measure could actually stand as a barrier to some federal decree is an open question, but I think it’s worth a try. It’s a giant “fuck you” to the folks who would herd us into for-your-own-good government systems, anyway.

And Prop. 203 would, once again, legalize marijuana for medical use. Arizonans have voted for medical marijuana before, only to be overruled by the state legislature, so this is a sort of “yes, we really mean it,” reminder to the state’s office-holding control freaks. The measure isn’t perfect, since it would turn marijuana users into a protected class that can’t be fired by pot-hating employers (a violation of free-association rights). But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

And yes, oh social authoritarians who stumble across this site (did your preacher let you out of the basement for the day?), I do support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, or any other use to which people may wish to put it. Heroin and cocaine, too. So there’s no “stealth” aspect to my support for the measure.

Boy, I feel so civically responsible, today! It’s giving me a tingly feeling.

Or maybe that’s the bronchitis.

Christine O’Donnell may well represent America

Granted that newly minted Republican candidate for one of Delaware’s U.S. Senate seats, Christine O’Donnell, dwells at the intersection of crazy and stupid, but you have to wonder whether it was such a good tactic for GOP hierarchy to essentially forbid voters to support her in a decade in which they’ve pissed away their credibility, and whether it’s wise for her opponents to continue to emphasize her mortgage default and her creative accounting during an era when Americans have demonstrated themselves to possess the financial acumen of your average crack whore with a stolen credit card.

Crazy, stupid, financially irresponsible and despised by the establishment? Americans may decide to send somebody just like themselves to the Senate.

And no, I’m not suggesting that a smarmy control freak like Chris Coons is better. I’m just intrigued by how closely we’re approaching menckenesque perfection.

I’m sitting out the congressional election

Here in Arizona’s first congressional district — a monstrosity of 58,608 miles into which you could drop New York State with room to rattle around — the incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick appears likely to join the tide of congressional Democrats polishing up their resumes after November. Should that happen, her successor will be Paul Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist who won the favor of both Sarah Palin and Joe Arpaio — the Arizona equivalent of having an image of the madonna appear in the steam on your bathroom window.

Kirkpatrick clearly anticipated a few speed bumps on the way to reelection — she spent the better part of the last year wandering the district and collaring people to assure them that she had no intention of kicking in their doors and grabbing their gun collections. Nobody ever really suspected otherwise, of course. This is the southwest; if anybody had ever suspected her of gun-controller-ish leanings, her political career would have required a change not just of area codes, but of driver’s licenses. That put her repeated pro-gun reassurances in the same camp as the cheating ex-girlfriend who tries to smooth things over by saying, “well, at least I never slept with your brother.”

Well, yeah, babe, you answer — but my brother is gay!

Who she did tryst with was Obamacare, and that’s not going down too well in CD-1 — especially with a medical type gunning for her under the Republican banner.

Frankly, though, I’m sitting this one out. In years past, I’ve dragged myself, unenthusiastically, to the polls to register my opposition to the candidates who most disgusted me. That usually involved voting for a few Libertarians, and whoever sucked less on the Republican and Democrat lines and then going home to lick my wounds. But this year there’s no Libertarian running for Congress in the district. And the Democrats up and down the ticket are competing with Republicans primarily by arguing that they hate Mexicans every bit as much as their opponents.

Yes, Ann Kirkpatrick also promises us that it makes her so mad when the feds throw taxpayer money around — except for the porculus bill, of course, which throws a deep, dark shadow over all other federal check-writing efforts.

But lest we think that fiscal sanity may dwell elsewhere, Paul Gosar chimes in to assure us that he wants to keep Social Security as bloated, ill-conceived and disastrously unsustainable as Kirkpatrick (all we have to to to save it is let Republicans spend money instead of Democrats).

And Gosar likes throwing young American bodies into overseas adventures just as much as does the current congresscritter.

Oh yeah. And Kirkpatrick wants to outlaw burning the American flag as a form of political protest.

Gag.

These aren’t stupid people, but they are craven, nasty thugs who show no obvious interest in reining-in government, promoting peace or expanding freedom. They spin their presentations slightly so that one candidate is a bit more in line with one party and the other candidate favors the line for the opposition, but it’s a race to the bottom to see who can wave the flag in the most disgusting way. I can’t see much there to motivate me to get out of bed on election day.

So I won’t.

GQ profile seems like an endorsement for Rand Paul

Social conservatives are apparently muy upset about GQ‘s profile of Rand Paul’s college days. I take the tempest over the rather humanizing article on the candidate as further evidence of how fucking humorless the god-botherers are — as are people in general, these days, really, considering that Paul’s opponents are trying to make hay over the article, too. Frankly, details about Rand Paul’s history of hanging out with an underground, free-thinking, prankster-ish secret society at Baylor University, and his “kidnapping” of an entirely willing female friend in order to (unsuccessfully) persuade her to smoke grass, after which he and his buddy required her to “worship” Aqua Buddha (you see what grass does to you, kids?) before returning her safely and soberly home make him more likeable to me, not less.

Underlining the harmless nature of the whole matter, the woman in the Aqua Buddha incident told GQ “they never did anything wrong” and clarified the matter to the Washington Post by emphasizing her willing role:

“I went along because they were my friends,” she said. “There was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing. I felt like I was being hazed.”

Apparently the woman in question wasn’t entirely pleased by the affair, but this was at a very religious college where Rand Paul was an outlier by being not uber-conservative and she seemed freaked out by the sacrilege inherent in the Aqua Buddha worship as well as the pot-smoking.

Would anybody really be more comfortable if Paul had fit in better at Baylor?

Candidate Kristin Davis puts the good kind of prostitution in politics

The candidacy of Kristin Davis, the former madam who supplied then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer with his playmates (and before that she was vice president of a hedge-fund) for Spitzer’s old office is almost enough to make me consider moving back to my old stomping grounds just so I can cast a vote. An outspoken libertarian who cites Hayek, von Mises and Rand, she’s running on a platform of legalizing marijuana, prostitution and gay marriage — the first two, in part, to bring profitable industries into the above-ground economy, the third as a simple matter of equality.

Alas, if I moved back to New York to support Davis, I’d actually have to live there. Been there, done that, ain’t doing it again.

Anyway, enjoy Kristin Davis’s excellent campaign video, below.