e’re guessing that by now most Americans, if they haven’t already voted, know for whom they are going to cast their vote.
It’s difficult to imagine in this charged-up atmosphere there are still some of you undecided and weighing which of the presidential candidates, if elected, will be best for you, your family and the nation at large.
If you are on the fence and still evaluating, good for you. At least, presumably, that shows you are putting serious thought into the meaning of your vote and not choosing merely on the basis of personalities.
Indeed, if possible, we’d urge you to put aside the personalities of the two presidential candidates and their running mates. For that matter, extend that thought — block out the personalities — down the ballot.
Instead, think about the greater context and for what you will be voting. In the end, it’s not the who that matters; it’s the what they will do.
Oh, for sure, we all make judgments on candidates’ competence, messages, promises and records. But from the beginning of the nation’s founding through 2020, if you strip away the campaign rhetoric, the tearing down of candidates’ personalities, the name calling, the negative mailers and commercials, the truth is your vote, ultimately, comes down to choosing one of two philosophies:
Either the belief that you have an inalienable right to your own life, to your own liberty, to exist for your own sake and to pursue your own happiness; or that the collective group is superior to you and you are subservient to the group, a slave of the state that holds all power over your life.
Freedom or dictatorship.
Capitalism or statism.
The peaceful and voluntary exchange of goods and services or government mandates and coercion at the tip of a gun.
Acceptance of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Or their rejection.
When you make your choices, you are choosing the philosophies and ambitions of the political parties. You might think you are voting for the person, the candidate. But when that candidate chooses a political party, he or she is declaring an acceptance of that party’s philosophical beliefs and tenets.
Historically, conventional acceptance is that those with the “R” behind their names believe the individual is above the group — though, over time, particularly in Washington, that distinction has shrunk. Too often in Washington, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the Republicans and Democrats, so beholden they are to the entrenched D.C. establishments.
In contrast, those with the “D” behind their names historically put the group ahead of the individual. And in this cycle, many of those in leadership and most outspoken in the Democratic Party have shifted so far left they are boldly claiming allegiance to socialism, enslavement of the individual to a ruling elite.
Look at the preambles to the two major parties’ platforms — one favors liberty and the individual; the other favors coerced equality for the group. To wit:
Republican Party Platform: “We believe America is exceptional because of our historic role … as exemplar of liberty for the world to see. We affirm, as did the Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal, endowed by their creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“We believe political freedom and economic freedom are indivisible.
“This means returning to the people and states the control that belongs to them. It is the control and power to make their own decisions about what’s best for themselves and their families and communities.”
Democrat Party Platform: “Americans believe that diversity is our greatest strength. That protest is among the highest forms of patriotism. That our fates and fortunes are bound to rise and fall together. … Democrats will forge a new social and economic contract with the American people — a contract that creates millions of new jobs and promotes shared prosperity, closes racial gaps in income and wealth, guarantees the right to join or form a union, raises wages and ensures equal pay for women and paid family leave for all, and safeguards a secure and dignified retirement. We must guarantee health care not as a privilege for some but as a right for every single American.”
That all sounds utopian. But how will all that be accomplished? By fiat? You cannot have it both ways: To force by fiat more equal outcomes (e.g. ,“shared prosperity,” closing gaps in income and wealth) is in conflict with the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law.
You cannot achieve both at the same time. When government gives to one, it must take and confiscate from another. Both parties do this, but the Democratic Party left wants to do it far more than ever before.
If there was ever a time that demonstrates the difference in philosophies and the realities of freedom versus dictatorship, we have been living through it with the COVID-19 pandemic. Look at the economic, mental, physical and emotional carnage and destruction inflicted across the U.S. as a result of government-ordered lockdowns. Look at the results of governors and mayors picking winners (e.g., Walmart) and losers (e.g. small independent retailers).
The elected leaders ordered these measures with the good intention of protecting the many at the expense of individual liberty and reason. The results have been devastating.
This is the philosophical and real choice in this election — manifested in the personas of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, flawed characters to be sure. Trump, who stands on the side individual liberty, capitalism and the Constitution. Biden, who stands on the side of the ever-expanding government Leviathan, enslaving Americans to how the elites want and demand you to live.
This brings to mind Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s summation of individual liberty and democracy in his book “The Constitution of Liberty”:
“If democracy is a means of preserving liberty, then individual liberty is no less an essential condition for the working of democracy. Though democracy is probably the best form of limited government, it becomes an absurdity if it turns into unlimited government. Those who profess that democracy is all-competent and support all that the majority wants at any given moment are working for its fall.
“If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.”