"Two years ago, I suggested that the Democrats ought to be trying to pull libertarian voters, broadly defined, out of the Republican party--which hasn't provided much for them in recent years. I don't know whether Barack Obama is thinking in those terms or not, but it does look as though he is trying to change the current coalition structure that defines the parties, which could be interesting. How might he do it?
My original suggestion was for the Democrats to come out in favor of medical marijuana, at least to the extent of making it clear that federal law enforcement would be instructed not to target people who were using marijuana in conformity with state law. That not only sends a signal to voters unhappy with the current war on drugs, it also suggests a greater willingness than either party has shown to respect state sovereignty, at least on that issue.
A second possibility that occurs to me is to take advantage of the budgetary implications of Obama's opposition to the Iraq War. If the U.S. pulls out, we will get a "peace dividend"--a whole lot of money now being spent on the war will be available for other purposes. No doubt lots of people, in both parties, will have ideas for ways of spending it.
Suppose Obama commits himself not to let the peace dividend be spent on new projects, or at least not all of it. Suppose, for instance, that he promises that at least half of the saving will be used to reduce the budget deficit. That puts him in the position of the fiscally responsible candidate, which should appeal to conservatives as well as libertarians. And it is a pledge that McCain cannot match, since he supports the war and so is not going to have any peace dividend to allocate.
What other things can he do along these lines? He can't come out for school vouchers without alienating the teachers' unions, which are a major power in his party--although I can barely imagine his doing it when running for a second term, if his position then is strong enough. What about coming out against overreaching by the criminal justice system--no knock raids on the homes of defenseless grandmothers, rogue prosecutors, and the like? Is there some way he could do that without opening himself up to the "soft on crime" charge?
How about property rights? Kelo seems to have been massively unpopular, resulting in a lot of state laws purporting to restrict seizures of private property by eminent domain. Is there some way he could get on that bandwagon? It would pull in libertarians--whom would it offend?
Friday, February 15, 2008
Gedanken zu Obama
Von David D. Friedman: