The Best News of the Election: It's Over

Welcome to the first day in two years in which vast amounts of wealth stop being squandered on the big battle for what gang of thugs will gain some small portion of control over the leviathan state that has been swelling out of control for a century. The result is: the same gang of thugs that ran things for the last four years.

What a waste.

Among people who believe in liberty as a first principle, there is a great deal of sadness about the results. Few libertarians really supported Romney, except perhaps with extreme qualification, but, even so, it is very difficult to be happy or even relieved with an Obama victory. The smug glee on the part of the mainstream media elite is hard to take. And it is hard to shake the perception that the wrong gang gained secured a victory last night.

That perception is correct. The real problem is that this would have been true regardless of the winner. Either way, there would have been reason to be shaken.

John Stossel likes to characterize the great American political fight as the takers vs. the makers. This is another way of presenting the deeper struggle that Murray Rothbard characterized as power vs. the market, or Albert Jay Nock and Garet Garrett said was the state vs. society. The problem is that each party represents some class of takers.

So, yes, the takers have won the day. So we need to remember that the GOP represents a different set of takers: financial elites on the dole, the military industrial complex, monopolistic corporations who live on patents, tariffs, and state privileges. There are no angels in control of a two-party system. The parties exist to serve the special interests, not the general interest. That’s because the state itself manages the apparatus that brings people to power.

This is why, once the primaries were over, there was no more talk of any real issue that actually matters: the central bank, the military empire, the swelling prison state, the astonishing long-term liabilities of the social-assistance state, the catastrophic response of the macroeconomic managers to the 2008 recession, and so on.

Looking for a silver lining in the election, it is a great thing that Washington State and Colorado struck a blow against the preposterous war on pot. The ballot initiatives are not perfect. They tax and license the marijuana industry. but, regardless, voters stood up against Washington, D.C., in a bold way. It is surely a sign of things to come. The war on drugs can’t last. Maybe it also signals the beginning of the end of the endless expansion of the prison state. For those who don’t care about drugs, remember that all of liberty is linked: a blow for freedom for one group is a blow for freedom for everyone.

Everyone says that this election is going to inspire deep soul searching on the part of the GOP. That’s another way of saying that the GOP needs a better marketing pitch to better trick voters into given them instead of Democrats power. It’s not too complicated. The GOP needs to cut the warmongering, get on the side of civil liberties, and come out against its own cronies who live off central-bank welfare and financial subsidies. Will the party get the message? Probably not.

As for the future, people think they know what this or that party is going to do in power. The truth is that we never know. The greatest blows for liberty in the second half of the 20th century were arguably the dramatic and beneficial deregulations of airlines, energy, and trucking — and all occurred under Jimmy Carter with the sponsorship and support of Teddy Kennedy in the Senate. Liberty comes when one least expects it and through paths that hardly anyone anticipates. In our time, it is growing networks of global communication, technological innovation, and digital economics that define progress and shape the experiences of the current generation. This is the world of orderly anarchy, creating spectacular things for us every day. This is a new world that largely evades centralized management.

The big picture is that the trend line of history is not on the side of the state. Technology has done more for the cause of human liberty than all the politicians, and that is not just true in our time but in all times.

In the end, the struggle for liberty is all about how you choose to live, how you use the opportunities you have. It takes place in one mind at a time, starting with yours.