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My Turn: Two good reasons to vote for third party candidate

  • Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention on May 27 in Orlando, Fla. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 8/10/2016 12:10:09 AM

You might think this article is about a certain reality-show star, and his calls for cutting off the American economy from foreign markets, immigrant workers and reality. And of course it is. Giving Trump the unrestricted powers of the 21st-century imperial presidency would be an economic disaster.

But it’s also about Hillary and her reckless pro-war record. Hillary has supported every war from the bombing of Serbia, to the Iraq War, to the unprovoked invasion of Libya and its descent into civil war. The results of this unnecessary quagmire include the catastrophic distribution of Cold War armories to terrorists from Boko Haram to ISIS. Making Hillary the CEO of the military-industrial complex is a guarantee of more American troops overseas, more support for terrorist “rebel” groups like those in Syria and Libya, and more blowback attacks on Americans.

Neither of these irresponsible power-seekers should be in a position where they can unilaterally launch wars, subsidize foreign dictators and “rebel” groups, or order secret drone assassinations.

The Constitution of the United States copied some ideas from the Swiss Confederation. One of those ideas was checks and balances, which the Swiss still take seriously. To this day, the Swiss president can’t order a war on Libya, or give secret foreign aid to a dictator. The result is that the Swiss have been at peace for 200 years. (And thus, as Hillary knows, you don’t know Simonetta Sommaruga, or Doris Leuthard, or the two other female Swiss presidents from the last 10 years because they didn’t launch any CNN-worthy wars.)

All major political disasters in history stemmed from the centralization of power. One person cannot make rational decisions for hundreds of millions of other people. They can’t have the information, the processing power, or the right incentives. Whether it’s Hatshepsut or Hillary, top-down control doesn’t work.

Perhaps you want the Trump administration to “fix the economy”? Will he tell Apple what features to put in the next iPhone? Perhaps he’ll use his “dealmaking” skills to decide which countries are allowed to buy your products?

Economic problems aren’t solved by presidents. They’re solved by individuals. Sometimes by thousands of individuals working together in nonprofits or companies, sometimes by one guy in a garage with a soldering iron or PCR machine.

Even political problems are better solved at the lowest possible level. If a state or city adopts a policy, it can be tested and evaluated against other policies in different places. And if it turns out to be ruinous, then it becomes a cautionary lesson, instead of wrecking the whole nation’s economy.

We already have the solution in the U.S. Constitution, if we dust it off and use it. The Constitution does not say that presidents can launch wars on their own; in fact it is quite clear that they cannot. The 9th and 10th Amendments are also quite clear that the president is not in charge of education, or health care, or subsidizing some companies at the expense of others.

Instead of fighting each other over which narcissist should be named Pharaoh, we should be working to ensure that neither is. The problem is not who has unlimited power, the problem is unlimited power itself. The U.S. is not North Korea, and we don’t need a god-king.

What we need is transparency, decentralization and restraints on power. Instead of wars and stagnation, we can have peace and prosperity.

As a signal of support for restraints on presidential power, I’m voting for Gary Johnson this year. Given the choices, it’s a good bet that more Americans than ever before will be ignoring TV ads and voting third party, to really “make America great again.”

(Bill Walker works for M2S in West Lebanon.)

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