In modern times, few would dispute that the contests in 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt secured the first of four national victories, or 1980 when Ronald Reagan’s landslide over incumbent Jimmy Carter heralded the rise of modern conservatism, were watershed events.
Four years ago, Barack Obama’s victory signaled the rise of a new generation of young voters, many holding values and a political outlook far different from those of the man he defeated, John McCain. However, the central question in 2012 — whether America truly can withstand the institutionalization of the policies and values that have been the hallmark of President Obama’s first term — looms so large as to make the importance of that contest four years ago pale in comparison.
The perspective from which I view this election is colored by the lens through which I witnessed the 2008 contest. Four years ago, I was a candidate for the same office to which McCain and Obama then aspired. As the nominee for the Libertarian Party, I supported policies and a philosophy of truly limited government far different from either of these major-party nominees. I argued strenuously for a more open political system; one in which legitimate third-party candidates could participate on a level playing field with their Democratic and Republican counterparts.
My views on smaller government and far more meaningful advocacy in support of individual liberty remain as strong today as four years ago; as does my belief that a more open political process in which legitimate third-party candidates are welcomed rather than shunned.
However, the inescapable and overriding importance of re-charting America’s course away from the Big Government Liberalism of the current administration has prompted me to support the GOP ticket of Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan. The stakes are simply too high to admit any degree of hesitancy in this regard.
The decision I have reached, and in which I ask other libertarian-leaning and conservative-oriented voters to join, is not one based on a serendipitous view that Romney is the perfect candidate. I was not; he is not; in fact, in modern times there has not been a perfect candidate for president — that is, one who truly understands what the government as envisioned by our Founding Fathers was designed to be, and who is fully and honestly committed to significantly reducing the power of the government to match that model. Ronald Reagan came as close to this ideal as any, but his energy to institutionalize his libertarian-conservative ideals lagged in his second term.
We cannot afford a search for perfection. We cannot afford to withhold votes from a candidate we perceive to be imperfect. What we do know beyond any doubt, is that the current course on which our nation already is well-embarked is not sustainable. Decades of over-spending and multi-hundred billion dollar deficits (now surpassing $1.0 trillion per year) have placed us on a fast track to economic disaster. Such profligate spending as we witnessed during the eight years preceding Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, a trend which he accelerated massively these past four years, is embedded with the seeds of bankruptcy.
Especially with Ryan as his vice president, a President Romney will be far, far better and more honestly equipped to begin reining in the federal spending juggernaut, than would a second-term Barack Obama who already has admitted he will continue the fiscal irresponsibility that has highlighted his first four years. Knowing this, there can be no other choice on Nov. 6 than to vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Marietta) is an attorney and was the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.