August 11, 2004

Why I am Voting for Bush

Not that this will come as a shocker for anybody, but I plan on voting for Bush in the fall. I am not a hardcore Republican. In fact, if there was a real choice, I would say I am closer to the Libertarian Party than I am to the Republican Party. I almost ran as a Libertarian for Congress, but the state I live in has pretty high hurdles for getting third-party candidates on the ballot.

There are many key areas which I disagree with the Republican Party on. (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition... sue me). Read the extended entry if this really interests you.

If not, then let me just remind you that today is Wictory Wednesday. Yup, I'm on board.

Remember, give til it hurts!

Other Wictory Wednesday Bloggers

The War on Drugs: I am against it. Drugs should be legal. I am also not in agreement with liberal Democrats on this one. Drugs should be legal, period. I don't want public funding for rehabilitation. People who take drugs are stupid. Let them deal with the consequences of their actions.

Prostitution: Let the sluts and the pervs get together. Also, when they get the clap or worse, let them live with it. Idiots.

Abortion: State issue exclusively. No Constitutional Amendment (with the exception to one that would take this out of Federal Courts). Having said that, I will also say I hate abortion and that most abortions ought to be outlawed. There is a serious epistemological problem for me in knowing exactly when a fetus becomes a human being. However, in order to avoid a Type II error, I would ban (except for the normal disclaimable reasons: e.g., life of mother) all abortions after the first trimester, possibly earlier in that trimester--but only at the state level. I would also ban all public funding of abortions. This isn't saying much, though, since I would ban most public funding of most things.

Other things: A lot of the other problems I have with the R's is that they are too willing to be like Democrats. So, in sum, most of the problems I have with the R's are that they often do not live up to the evil stereotype that the D's give them. If they did, I might actually join the party.

So, why will I vote for Bush? Well, because he is not John Kerry. That's it. I use an economic model when thinking about who to vote for.

The first assumption my own perverted version of the real model (yeah, I know, but this is a Blog, do I really need to cite sources here?) is that I have preferences. I've already told you some of them, but needless to say my preferences are aggregated into an overall political preference matrix--something akin to ideology. Ideologically speaking, I am a libertarian. My ideal preference would be to elect the libertarian candidate for Pres.

The second assumption is that my preferences are ordered. Remember, just because I prefer steak doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good burger now and then. Using this system you cannot order your preferences on a nominal scale, only on an ordinal scale. Here is my preference order:

1) Libertarians
2) A number of other weird third parties with no chance of winning
3) Republicans
4) A number of even more obscure third parties with no chance
5) Democrats
6) Greens
7) Nutty third parties, like Natural Law and Peace and Freedom
8) Commies/Nazis (6 of one, half dozen of the other)

Ok, so why not just vote Libertarian? Easy, the Libertarian candidate for Pres. will not appear on the ballot in this state. The same rule applies to #2. But even if they did appear on the ballot, I would not vote for them. There are other rational reasons to vote for Bush.

Let's face it, in a winner take all system there can only be two candidates with even the remotest chance of winning. And when we speak of remote here, we are not talking about come-from-behind-victory remote; we are speaking of remote as nearly impossible. In fact, the only reason I use nearly as a qualifier is because on a metaphysical level, all things are possible. But that is just philosophy. In reality, none of the third parties have any chance. None.

Hence, voting third party is akin to not voting at all. It may have some therapeutic value or serve some quasi-religious value of personal morality (for people who see voting for a candidate as a moral act--they don't want to be 'unclean' and vote for someone who isn't in near perfect agreement with them--they also tend to like to look down their noses at the rest of us. For a good read on why politics is not the realm of the moral, see Augustine's City of God) but it is a waste if voting is about electing somebody.

The state I live in is competitive. It leans Bush, but it went Clinton twice. I think Bush has it wrapped up here, and odds are pretty good he will, but there is a chance Kerry could pull it off. Chance here is a real chance. I say there is a 70% chance that Bush will win (he is polling at something like 49 to 43 for Kerry here). Hence, however miniscule my vote is, it does have some marginal impact on the outcome of the race.

So, the result of all this is that since my first preference has no chance, and my second preference has no chance, why not just stay home and not vote? Again, I like steak--preferably a nice aged ribeye--but I also like burgers.

I don't hate Bush. In fact, I quite like him. The thing I like best about him is we share a similar philosophy of acting in the face of uncertainty. We also share the same notion of which is the greater risk error. Type II, of course. John Kerry, on the other hand does not seem to understand that we must sometimes act, even in the face of uncertainty. Also, that even when information later disproves an assumption, that the initial act was still rational. Why? Because in risk analysis, under conditions of uncertainty, you should always choose to avoid the costlier risk of being wrong!

This is just a long-winded way of saying that even though no major (yes, there are WMD in Iraq, but nothing like I expected them to find) caches of WMD were found in Iraq, going to war was still the right thing to do. Why? Because both going to war and not going to war were made on assumptions. Assumptions ALWAYS must be made when information is not perfect (and information is almost never perfect). Hence, one side assumed that Saddam had WMD-unless he proved otherwise. The other side assumed that Saddam had no WMD-unless WE proved otherwise. Since the UN inspectors were no longer in Iraq, one assumption had to be made over the other. But which is the better assumption? Laying aside the logical reasons to choose one over the other, there are reasons of risk aversion that bring me to the unavoidable conclusion that the former assumption was the only rational response.

If that assumption turns out to be wrong, what is the worst case scenario? Saddam is ousted, a few thousand American soldiers die (worst case), and American troops are no longer needed in Saudi Arabia. Oops, we were wrong.

If the second assumption turns out to be wrong, though, what is the worst case scenario? WMD deployed by allies of convenience (al Qaeda) on US soil. Hundreds of thousands of American civilians killed. Oops, we were wrong.

This is why I will vote for George Bush. Because he understands the risk of terrorism is real. Terrorism kills people. Frances arrogance and spite does not.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:27 AM | Comments |