However, it's not all bleak. A lot of people today are very happy, because they view Obama as a very good man and an inspiration for the future. And I think they are right: Obama is a good man. So is Romney, for that matter. I think it's overly cynical to view all politicians as bad people. I'm guessing that both candidates for president really want to serve their country well, that they're both good to their families, and that they both can be nice people to be around if you get to know them.
It isn't because I think all politicians are bad people that I am against big government. It's because I think that big government has a way of causing good people to do bad things. Many people seem to have trouble accepting that evil can result from intellectual mistakes and/or systemic problems, but it can. I do not think that it was out of hatred for truth or justice that George W. Bush dragged us into two never-ending wars, or that Barack Obama started a secret "kill list" outside the bounds of the rule of law. On the contrary, these men believe in their country, and they will do "everything it takes" to defend it.
That "everything it takes" part can be really scary. Even, and perhaps especially, in the hands of good people.
Indeed, sometimes libertarianism comes across as a political philosophy which celebrates poor traits in humanity, such as greed and selfishness. On the contrary, I don't celebrate these things at all; I just don't have the same irrational fear of them that others do. In fact our great mistake as a society is to celebrate our own optimism and idealism.
Why fear greed and selfishness? They will forever be unpopular. On the other hand, idealistic politicians with a heart of gold and a vision for the country--they really frighten me. Why? Because people actually put their hopes in them!
A common objection I hear is that libertarians are as utopian as socialists. Socialists believe that we should try to organize society in such a way that all of her efforts are directed toward the common good by means of a democratic state. Clearly utopian--no state worked or ever will work like that. On the other hand, the libertarian view of the state is that it ought simply to enforce the basic rules of justice, not play favorites, and not intervene in the lives of citizens when no injustice has been committed. And that, unfortunately, has never happened either!
But the two kinds of utopianism are not equivalent in spirit. While socialism rests on a belief in a kind of society that has never existed, libertarianism merely rests on the hope for a government that has, unfortunately, never existed. Indeed, all libertarianism demands is that government help, rather than hinder, those natural forces which in fact make society work. Its demands may be too much for any real government, but they are not too much for society. What actually makes society work is not the politicians we elect, but the fact that each of us as individuals respect the life and property of other individuals.
It is an absurd mischaracterization of libertarianism to say that libertarians are against working together for the common good. Au contraire ! The amazing thing about this global civilization we live in is that we already do work together for the common good, whether we appreciate that fact or not. The system of global capitalism that is in place is mostly not our doing. It is rather the unforeseen result of billions of decisions along history's long and complicated path.
And I think that civilization is remarkably resilient. I am hardly a fan of the belief that progress is inevitable. What feels like progress often isn't, and often the path that actually leads to progress is not ideal. But freedom is ultimately difficult to destroy. It arises from the moral traditions we have inherited, and whether we realize it or not we will mostly continue to persist on those traditions: respect for human life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Democracy often blinds us to these simple truths. We place our hopes in the amazing gift of being able to choose our government--and it is an amazing gift--while forgetting that government does not make us free or prosperous. And you know what, that's okay. You may have voted for all the wrong reasons, but the free world will not collapse because of it.
So I remain content, not because I think government as it exists is acceptable or that I think everything is just going to be alright without any effort on anyone's part. Rather, I remain content because I know that no political election, no matter the outcome, can ever take away from humanity that which it really needs to fight for justice, truth, and peace.
Things could get bleak in the short run. I don't know. I fear the results of Obama's executive power grab, and now that he has a second term it could get worse. I fear what the Republicans will do, given that they may be even more angry after this election than before. Yes, there are lots of worries.
But in the long run, freedom is not really in the hands of these elites, elected or not. And that is why I remain a happy libertarian...
...who will cheerfully continue to blast America's current political policies, mostly because it's just so darn fun!