I wish Bionic Mosquito would do a post about the pragmatist vs. purist debate currently being waged among libertarians. "To vote Trump or not to vote," if you will.
Your wish is my command, but I suspect my response won’t be tremendously satisfying.
I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of principles.
Principles or pragmatism? A choice that libertarians face numerous times every single day in life. I am certain that every libertarian chooses pragmatism – not every time they face a choice, but enough times to matter. We each individually choose when and for what reason we are willing to compromise. We each decide every day what lines we are willing to cross.
Those who consider themselves the most principled are never shy about abusing those whom they self-righteously judge to be less so – all the while ignoring the planks in their own eyes.
Define a violation of the non-aggression principle. Murder and robbery are easy. We disagree on many other issues – are they violations or not?
Define self-defense. Define aggression. Define punishment. All subjective terms. (This is where that pesky thing known as “culture” comes in – a real difficult subject for some self-labeled purists to grasp). Given this…what is principled? One libertarian’s “principled” might be another libertarian’s “pragmatic,” and neither be “wrong.”
Is voting a violation of the NAP? The voter has shot no one, robbed no one. He has voted. Yet, he votes for someone who will shoot someone and rob someone…. So I understand fully why a principled libertarian would not vote. But this doesn’t automatically lead to the conclusion that voting is a violation of the NAP.
There are those who found no problem with supporting or even voting for Ron Paul four or eight (or twenty-six) years ago, but find trouble doing the same with Trump. The difference between voting for Ron Paul and voting for Donald Trump is…what exactly? The levels of violation of the NAP between these two once in office is one of degree, not type (as are the definitions of aggression, etc.); further, the power for any president to change much of anything is limited. Keep these thoughts in mind when you reply to my query.
Because with these thoughts in mind, all you will be left with is…
There is pragmatism in the idea about not voting at all because one vote doesn’t matter. There is pragmatism in the idea of sending a message – the fewer the votes, the less legitimate the government. While I agree with these, I do not intend to cover these aspects. I only cover the choice: Trump or Hillary or don’t vote at all?
I have not been shy about offering my opinion on Trump vs. Hillary. I offer my thoughts for those libertarians who feel that supporting or even voting for a candidate is a reasonable action to take.
While I am certain Hillary will continue to push the US into further confrontations – and most dangerous for the world, further confrontations with Russia – I believe that Trump at least offers the possibility of being something less belligerent.
I might be wrong about Trump being less belligerent, but I am certain that he will not be more belligerent – only because the threshold with Hillary is so low (high?).
Of course, you might disagree with my opinion of the relatively less-neocon desires of Trump as opposed to Hillary – but that is a different subject.
This distinction between Trump and Hillary is not trivial; it is important for two reasons that I see: first, regardless of what damage either candidate might do to those living within the US (and even on domestic issues I see Hillary as more dangerous), it seems a not-trivial issue as to what the US government does to destroy the lives of millions of people around the world.
Second, nuclear war won’t be survived by many, and those who survive won’t enjoy the lifestyle.
To the first point, one might consider that a vote for Trump is akin to coming to the defense of others – not a requirement in libertarianism, yet not prohibited either. But even on domestic issues, I can see a vote for Trump as opposed to Hillary as one of self-defense (albeit, I haven’t developed this thought much either in my brain or on the screen) – via the only legal means available to most of us.
To the second, I would include “coming to the defense of others” and also add the concept of self-defense (regarding doing whatever one can to avoid nuclear annihilation) – self-defense being a fully libertarian idea. When it comes to self-defense…I can think of many situations involving me or those I love where minor (or even major) inconvenience to some innocent third party will not stop me from considering applying even deadly force against an aggressor.
In other words, don’t talk to me about all of the NAP violations that come with voting for Trump when the alternative is continuation of neocon policies that will bring the world further into destruction to the point of Armageddon.
Self-defense and aggression – define these subjective terms in a very objective world. It can’t be done with certainty in every circumstance.
I do not plan to vote for any candidate. Yet I do not fault those like Walter Block who call for supporting the lesser of two evils when it comes to slave-master (to use his terminology).