McCain vs. Barr

Here’s why I’m voting for McCain.

I speak here as someone who studied libertarian philosophy under John Hospers, the first ever LP candidate for president, and as someone who voted for the libertarian candidate in both of the last two elections. It was easy in the last two elections because you had a big-government big-spending liberal on the democratic and republican ballot. But this year is different.

For one thing, the LP is not what it used to be. Look at the issues of immigration, and marriage rights. Libertarianism used to be virtual open borders based on free market principles. Now, the Barr website on this issue is all the thinly disguised bigotry that you get from the anti-immigration right wing crazies, with all the hand-wringing about English-only and welfare fraud etc.

Marriage rights is one of the more fundamental tests of basic libertarian principles on the current public agenda. Its a matter of free choice, equal protection of the laws, freedom of religion, and the separation of church and state all rolled into one. But the Barr website will do nothing to promote equal marriage rights. Instead, its the misleading retreat into ‘states rights’ crap that we unfortunately also get in lip service from McCain. Plus on the Barr site, his position essentially amounts to an endorsement of the Defense of Marriage federal legislation position that allows states to ignore the full faith and credit clause.

I’m disappointed in McCain’s stated position on the anti-marriage amendment (Prop 8), but sort of understand where he’s coming from politically. But note that when it counted with the federal DOM Amendment (which, unlike Prop 8, would have been procedurally and substantively sound to actually ban gay marriage), McCain cast a key vote against, when the Senate vote against was only 50-48.

I spent some time on Project Vote Smart and found a couple of key issues that separate the candidates. One was the George W. Bush energy-subsidy give-away big-spending bill under the “SAFE” Act of 2001, then later in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Barr voted in favor of the SAFE Act giveaways, while McCain voted “no.” So Barr is only recently born again on his supposed opposition to energy subsidies, but McCain was there to put his vote in the right place (which he did again in 2005, when Barr was out of office).

Another telling vote was an amendment to an immigration bill in 1998 to increase the number of H-1B visas (professional workers). The H-1B issue is one of the more frustrating aspects to American immigration law. There are a lot of educated professionals ready to legally immigrate who would make excellent, contributing members of our economy. The issue split Republicans, and it is one of the better ways to separate out the anti-immigrant bigots because you lose all pretense over protecting public benefit coffers or the why-don’t-they-wait-in-line b.s. Then-congressman Barr, like our own Dana Rohrabacher, voted against the amendment, while then-Senator McCain voter in favor.

On immigration in general, the best test I could find is a rabid anti-immigration group that with only a slight sinse of irony calls itself “Americans for Better Immigration”, and really means “Americans for No Immigration.” A low number is a good thing if you favor a sane immigration policy that integrates new workers as the blessing that they are. Here are the most recent available scores for the Presidential candidates, with our two local congressional representatives thrown in for the sake of comparison:

Barr – 96
Rohrabacher – 94
Sanchez – 32
Obama – 28
McCain – 18

In other words, Barr is in practice an even bigger anti-immigration hawk than Dana!

For economic and tax policy I took the ratings of the National Taxpayer’s Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. NTU is as follows:

McCain – 88
Rohrabacher – 75
Barr – 74
Obama – 16
Sanchez – 14

And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is:

McCain – 100
Barr – 87
Rohrabacher – 75
Sanchez – 60
Obama – 33

Bottom line, if you care about taxes and spending, McCain is a much better candidate than Obama, and is even a better candidate than the “real” Barr. And if you care about a reasonable immigration policy, then McCain is substantially better than Barr. If you use marriage rights as a socially-liberal litmus test, McCain still beats out Barr.

So why would I vote for Barr?

About Ron St. John