Top 10 Letters
Libertarians, Karl Rove, Libertarians, James Bond, and Libertarians.
11:00 PM, Nov 24, 2002
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
In his article Bond Forever, Jonathan V. Last writes that part of the secret of James Bond's success was his accent. He states, "If an American were to tell a girl, 'I hope my big end can stand up to this!' he'd be a troglodyte. When a Brit does it, he's dashing."
In fact, it is the woman, Tracey di Vicenzo, portrayed by Diana Rigg in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", who uttered this line, not 007.
Nonetheless, Last's is a point well taken. Imagine, for instance, an American pulling on the dress belt of a Brazilian lovely and saying, "What do you do when you have three hours in Rio and you don't samba?"
--Bruce Scivally, co-author, James Bond: The Legacy (Abrams)
Rachel DiCarlo's article, Spoiling Some of the Fun, fails to address why Libertarian candidates are able to "spoil" the campaigns of Republican candidates. The culprit is the first-past-the-post, winner-take-all electoral system used in most U.S. elections since the country's founding.
Libertarians have had no role in perpetuating the winner-take-all system, which according to Duverger's Law creates two strong political parties and marginalizes the rest. Indeed, Libertarians have advocated the adoption of electoral systems successfully implemented elsewhere, such as "preferential voting" (a.k.a. "instant runoff voting"), that won't break down when more than two candidates compete and would prevent the spoiler problem. But even though they proposed and endorsed the idea, Republicans in Alaska couldn't get together to pass an IRV measure when it came up for a statewide vote earlier this year. Indeed, several Alaska Republicans argued self-servingly that plurality rule was just fine by them, especially when their candidates won.
Understandably, many Republicans and Democrats are content with an electoral system that protects their two-party duopoly from meaningful competition and keeps non-incumbent political parties out of office. Republicans and Democrats have made and maintained this Procrustean electoral bed that they now claim tortures them. Until they put in place electoral systems that accommodate more than two political parties, I won't be very sympathetic to their complaints about being "spoiled."
--Rob Latham, Board Member, Californians for Electoral Reform
As a libertarian smart enough to vote Republican, I see the libertarians squandering a great opportunity by playing spoiler rather than "coalition partner." Today libertarians have the clout to walk into many Republican campaign headquarters and say "I can make or break your victory." They could then proceed to negotiate some policy prescriptions or "cabinet" appointments (in executive races).
While this is the obvious next step, the likelihood of it happening is slim. Too many libertarians are of the "porn & pot" wing of the party to allow their candidates to parley their 1-3 percent for actual power. And the chances are that too few Republicans are willing to listen as well. They seem bent on pushing libertarians out of the ring.
This is a sad state of affairs. By making such deals both parties could easily work together to form a ruling coalition of sorts.
I was surprised that Rachel DiCarlo didn't include the Arizona gubernatorial election. The Republican lost by less than 1 percent and the Libertarian polled 1.7 percent.
The Libertarian was also pro-life which was an interesting wrinkle on the usual dynamic. What was even more interesting was that an independent also ran on no taxes and smaller government--he polled almost 7 percent.
You can access the results here.
Rachel DiCarlo writes: "both Republicans and Libertarians support lower taxes, smaller government, and a free-market economy"
Which Republicans are those? The Republicans who passed the Farm Bill? The Republicans who continue to subsidize corporate interests? The Republicans who enact steel tariffs? The Republicans which plan to use the Homeland Security act to collect and track the personal information, spending habits, movements, finances, and thoughts of every single American citizen? The Republicans who, under George W. Bush have grown the Federal government at a rate surpassing any of his predecessors since World War II?
She is correct in assuming that votes for Libertarian candidates are votes lost by the Republicans. Libertarian voters have realized that the Republicans are fast becoming the party of big government.
As a current registered Libertarian and former registered Republican, I want to comment on a couple points Rachel DiCarlo made in her article.
First, she says that Libertarians believe in an "isolationist" foreign policy. This is absolutely wrong. Libertarians believe in a completely unfettered exchange of goods and ideas between individuals and companies, without regard for where those entities happen to reside. We believe that any country's foreign policy should be based primarily on free trade and open communication. Whatever you might call it, that is certainly not my definition of isolationism. Libertarians also believe in the use of force for self defense, but only when it's absolutely necessary. We certainly don't think that any country should dictate to another country through the use of force or threats of war. It's good to introduce people to the benefits of liberty, but not by putting them at the point of a sword. That is not likely to succeed in many cases.
Second, she says that Republicans believe in "smaller government." Back when I was in the Republican party, when President Reagan was setting the agenda, that statement may have had some truth. It certainly is not true now that Bush and his gang are in charge. The last couple of years have seen a tremendous, really unprecedented increase in the size and scope of the federal government. Not only has it grown larger, it has become vastly more intrusive. Particularly grating to those of us who believe in the worth of the individual are the statements and actions of John Ashcroft, whose persistent attacks on almost every aspect of the Constitution's Bill of Rights (with the notable exception of gun ownership) are the very antithesis of the Libertarian position.
One might argue that the Democrats are even more authoritarian than the Republicans, and it is therefore a mistake for Libertarians to "spoil" Republican victories. But I say, at least we know the Democrats for what they are: outright authoritarians. They, unlike many of the Republicans, aren't lying about their intrusive agenda. So I personally will be more than pleased to "waste my vote" to help Republican victories to be "spoiled" whenever it suits me to do so.
Fred Barnes should also realize that George W. Bush and Karl Rove are triangulating (A Simple Plan). (1) Bush supports strict constructionist judges to keep the right on board while making an appeal to the center, which prefers elected representatives making laws instead of judges. (2) Bush supports education reform with Ted Kennedy and backs a major federal expansion in education. (3) Bush plays easy on immigration and affirmative action to keep the Democratic base in play or at home. Brilliant work Mr. Rove.
Jonathan V Last identifies the basic flaw in the Bond franchise: The movies are superhero flicks, not spy films. And they're not very good superhero flicks at that. But Last, perhaps feeling the effects of the retro-style affectation from which most men of our generation suffer, fails to recognize that this has been true almost from the beginning of the franchise. Only a few of the Bond films--"Dr. No" "Never Say Never Again," for example--even try to be spy movies, and they mostly fail.
Which is too bad. There aren't enough spy flicks, and very few good ones. As John Le Carre has shown, espionage is a genre well suited to exploring Western morality in extremis. And, in fact, many of the best spy movies have been based on Le Carre's work. "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" and the recent "The Tailor of Panama" stand out as good movies with crowd-pleasing suspense that manage to make important moral points. The latter even starred James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan, as exactly the kind of British secret agent Bond would be in real life. (Never mind that the producers undercut the author's story by altering the ending so that the United States did not, after all, land its invasion force. Cowards.)
If only the studio execs behind the Bond franchise would attempt to make a spy movie. The recent films have attracted some of Hollywood's best technicians and some of Britain's best character actors--Sean Bean, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Judi Dench--and even non-Brits like Michelle Yeoh and Sophie Marceau. Given the Bond franchise's ability to attract some of the world's most talented moviemakers, and the fact that any given Bond film will make obscene amounts of money irrespective of its quality, a little courage is all that's needed to turn James Bond into a real spy.
I've thought about the issue of election spoilers a lot. And yes it burns both ways to the Republicans Rachel DiCarlo mentions, and obviously to Democrats.
Maybe we need a run-off system. In the first election, you can vote for who you really want. It might even propel Libertarians, Greens, and other third party candidates to 2nd place finishes, and into the run-off. Then in the run-off election, you simply vote for the one that you dislike the least.
Of course this approach might help Republicans, who would probably do better in run-offs than most Democratic candidates. This happened with the late Georgia senator Paul Coverdell. He won his seat in the early 90s in a run-off when he failed to get 50 percent in the general election. We'll see if this pattern hold up in Louisiana on Dec 7.
Stephen F. Hayes need only look to the CFL for terrific championship games in real weather Weather or Not: The Super Bowl, Outside, in the Cold). Our annual Grey Cup is almost always a thriller, despite the cold. Sad to say, but the same can hardly be said for the Super Bowl.
By the way, the NFL would also benefit from our huge field, unlimited motion in the backfield, 12 men a side, and no wussy fair catches. I don't think you are ready for three downs, though.