Sunday, April 13, 2008

Black Leaders Survey: Obama, MLK, Paterson, and Ayittey

seven-of-nine.jpg + alan-keyes.jpg=obama-flag.jpg

At the outset, let’s just take a moment to remember that this year’s presidential race would not have been possible without Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. Remember, Obama’s original opponent in his Senate race, Republican Jack Ryan, only dropped out of the race when it became known that he’d pressured his ex-wife Jeri Ryan (the actress who played Seven) to have sex in public at sex clubs during their marriage. This of course made him a god — and de facto libertarian — in my eyes but apparently didn’t go over well with his Illinois Republican constituents for some reason, so he was replaced in the race by the deranged and easily-defeated Alan Keyes. And so here we are.

•I could never vote for Obama, since he wants to add numerous things to the budget as well as some intrusive, 70s-style regulations, including government rules about how much women can make relative to men in a firm, not to mention how much the CEO can make relative to lower-level workers. Then, too, he is beholden to the unions and other protectionists, as is Hillary Clinton, and so talks of revisiting NAFTA (which always means adding new regulations that further restrict trade, inevitably impoverishing people on either side of a given border).

At the same time, he has a more-Clinton-than-Clinton knack for throwing in at least one line in every speech that makes you think he’s on your side: Even in that solidly left-wing comment he made about resentful, backwards hicks in Pennsylvania, he listed resistance to trade as one form of retrograde bitterness — that kind of sticking-it-to-the-paleos I like. Would that it were the dominant theme of his campaign — and would that more on the left shared his contempt for trade-bashers.

•Transcend racial and political divides as he may, Obama is still riding, in part, on the retrospective wish of Democrats that they could have elected Martin Luther King president — even though Democrats in Congress were more opposed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act than Republicans, so we shouldn’t be too passive about letting the Dems rewrite history again to make themselves the heroes (some rewrites are good, though: I was impressed to hear, in the concert film U2 3D, that in concert Bono corrects the historical inaccuracy in their song “Pride” to describe MLK being shot “early evening, April 4” instead of “early morning, April 4″ as it says on the single — nice to see a rock singer care about such a detail).

And speaking of rewriting history, I was a bit surprised to see Christopher Hitchens praising MLK as superior to today’s black leaders, not because he’s wrong but because when I saw Hitchens debate the existence of God a couple months ago, he complained at length about MLK being overrated — specifically because exaggerating MLK’s religiosity and downplaying the secular-left motivations of many of his activist contemporaries gave too much credit to religion for the victories of the 60s (this will all have to be sorted out by Omar Wasow, an early MSNBC commentator, who last I knew was at Harvard researching parallels between the traditional Civil Rights movement and libertarianism and said he hopes to get those often-alienated political factions to work together).

•Eliot Spitzer’s replacement as New York governor — a political upset so delightful that my friend Scott Nybakken called it “a fountain of political ambrosia peeing joy into our very souls” — by David Paterson continues to yield benefits. I mentioned before that Paterson opposes eminent domain — though not, tragically, soon enough to stop the Atlantic Yards seizure in Brooklyn, which will displace residents and businesses — and now he proposes solving Albany’s notorious governmental inefficiency with…budget cuts! Budget cuts! Practically the only thing I ask from politicians. Fingers crossed.

•Of course, even if all the leaders mentioned above behaved like very left-wing Democrats, these Western politicians would not do nearly as much damage to society and property rights as is done by the dictatorial thugs of Africa, such as Mugabe (now that he’s destroying Zimbabwe instead of receiving awards from Massachusetts academics for being “anti-colonial,” as he was twenty years ago). But there are people on that troubled continent who give one hope, they just don’t tend to run the governments: Witness this amazing speech by economist George Ayittey of Ghana (pointed out to me by L.B. Deyo), likening socialistic African regimes to “hippos” who will fall behind deregulated, free-market “cheetah” regimes — and no, he is not calling the free-market regimes predators.

But for good or ill, I predict libertarianism’s big impact back here in the U.S. this year will be to get Obama elected president, for reasons I’ll explain over the next two days.

UPDATE: Ah, and now, by sheer coincidence, I’m off to Harlem with a swing-dancing libertarian to visit the Savoy Ballroom commemorative plaque there. Always building bridges.

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