Could an Objectivist Win?

Could an Objectivist win the Presidency? Or, could a Libertarian win? How about a Christian? Or maybe a moderate Republican? Each of us has a view of what the IDEAL candidate would be like and each of us thinks that his or her ideal candidate would win the day.

Here’s what Ari Armstrong said, writing for The Objectivist Standard Blog.

“… Republicans lose votes and elections because and to the degree that they advocate the violation of individual rights. Regarding abortion, the Republican establishment seeks to violate the rights of women for the sake of the undeveloped embryo inside her. Regarding immigration, many Republicans seek to violate the rights of peaceable people to move to America, and the rights of U.S. business owners to hire employees of their choice. Regarding gays, many Republicans seek to legally deny the rights of gay couples to marry; some even seek to deny the rights of gay couples to engage in sex.”

I agree that Republicans should stand for individual rights. I am, if any label is accurate, an Objectivist. But I’ve been one long enough that I know how Ari’s argument will be received by the general population.

Even I have problems with the argument Ari is making. For instance, I don’t know where in Objectivism we can derive the principle  that countries should have no borders or that any one or all of the several billion people in the world should just be able to move here without complying with any sort of requirements or that immigration policy is not a proper function of government.

But, for the moment, take for granted that we choose an Objectivist candidate and that our candidate advocates for open borders, marriage as a right and unlimited abortion. How would that candidate do? Well, she might pick up gay, hispanic and female votes.

Or maybe not. Heather Mac Donald in National Review documents how Hispanics vote. The breakdown was 25% Romney and 75% Obama. The overarching issue was the public safety net, not immigration policy. In California, US born Hispanics use welfare benefits at twice the rate of non Hispanics.

So when our Objectivist candidate is interviewed what will she say about the individual right to welfare benefits? Will her view of immigration trump her view of welfare as a right? Yeah. That’s what I thought too.

In 2008, California voters passed proposition 8, a measure to ban gay marriage. Black Californians voted overwhelmingly to pass proposition 8 and against gay marriage.  So, when our Objectivist candidate is asked about gay marriage, how will her answer fly with African Americans? Yeah. I hear ya.  Hispanics are not big fans of gay marriage either, I’m told.

Hispanics are mostly all Catholic. Many black Americans are devoutly religious. When a reporter asks our Objectivist candidate her views on abortion, how will blacks and Hispanics react? You got it. Abortion may be less of an issue, overall, with blacks but not with Hispanics. Although social services may be most important to both groups.

So much for the identity groups we are trying to attract. What about our own base? We know how the right to lifers will react. Many of them, if not most, are strict Constitutionalists who believe strongly in individual rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Given that, it will be hard to explain to the anti-abortionist that a baby with a heart beat, especially a full-term baby, does not share those rights and that “women’s issues” trump them. I can argue the Objectivist doctrine on abortion but it would be easier to win the argument that physicians should not be licensed. I say our Objectivist looses the pro life vote.

Self described conservatives believe in individual rights and small government also. But they typically believe in more government than libertarians and Objectivists. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ll debate that issue after we’ve reduced government to 1910 levels. What happens, though, if our Objectivist is asked about gay marriage? The conservative knows that both abortion and gay marriage have been illegal until recently. So now our Objectivist candidate is trampling tradition.

What happens if the Objectivist candidate is asked some logical questions, such as: If gay marriage is a right, is polygamy, marrying a cousin, a child, a sister or brother a right? The state has inserted itself in marriage  for a very long time for a number of reasons, especially heath reasons. Maybe the state should not have anything to say about who marries who. Try winning that debate with most on our side, including the evangelicals, Catholics, blacks and Hispanics who support us.

Many of us on the Right are both Constitutionalists as well as law and order types. Many on our side believe that the law is the law and it must be enforced equally for everyone or be changed. They also believe that it is particularly unfair to those immigrants who play by the rules to let people flood through the back door. As a practical matter, border towns and communities are being devastated by illegals. Those border-town Americans are not open to academic arguments about crossing our border being a right. So how does our side react after hearing our Objectivist candidate explain that immigration is an individual right? You got it. Not well.

By the way, I am very annoyed that defenders of illegal immigration pretend they are defending immigration in general. No prominent Republican or conservative is against immigration. On the other hand, both Republicans and Democrats benefit from illegal immigration. Democrats get votes and Republicans flout oppressive labor laws.

Empirically, the raft of Republicans who have supported amnesty and other illegal-friendly programs have not fared so well at the polls. Thus, we have experimental evidence that appealing to illegals is a political non-starter. Moreover, maybe illegals were not a problem before 9/11, but now, can’t we at least have a guest book at the border to keep the terrorists out?

I’ve been picking on fellow Objectivists. But even if our perfect candidate could be the unalloyed conservative that Rush Limbaugh keeps talking about or the perfect Christian that evangelicals promote, my claim is that none of our proposed candidates can win.

Why? Again, as I said in a previous post, the root cause problem isn’t the candidate or the platform, as important as these are. Our root cause problem is that the Republican Party and Republican candidates do not define their brand. The media and the Democrats define the Republican brand.

Because the media control the debate our Objectivist would be demonized. Our Christian would be demonized. Our Atheist, former Muslim cross-gender candidate would be demonized. It’s not the product. It’s the brand and the other side controls our brand. If Mitt Romney can’t sell a platform of jobs and economic growth during the worst recession since WWII, why does anyone think changing candidates or appealing to identity groups would make a difference. It was the economy versus condoms and condoms won.

I claim, if we owned the media the way Barack Obama and Democrats own the media we could elect an Objectivist, a Christian, a Mormon a radical conservative or a moderate one. Hell, the Democrats elected a guy with no executive experience, no private sector work experience and a track record of mega economic and foreign policy failure. QED. It’s not the product. It’s the marketing. We don’t control our own marketing.

More on how to control the media and marketing next time, and I want suggestions on that. But one final thought. There is another hypothesis out there that contradicts mine. That hypothesis  says the media is not the problem. The problem is demographics. If the number of Social Security/Medicare recipients plus the number of welfare recipients plus the number of government workers plus the number of people who have government as a principal customer exceeds the number of tax payers, we are doomed. If that’s true, and even if it’s already not too late, we are mighty close to a tipping point where this country is irredeemable either as a free country or an opportunity society.


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