Saturday, November 21, 2015

Block, Edelstein, Wenzel on Who to Support in the Presidential Race

The following email exchange took place, between Walter Block, Michael EdelsteinRobert Wenzel and one other party, MJ:

Michael Edelstein: Walter, You, me, and Lew thought Trump was the least bad of the front runners. Do you still believe it's so? M

Walter Block: I assume that Rand is now better than Donald on foreign policy.

Michael Edelstein  I was asking about the front runners: Clinton, Carson, Rubio, Cruz.

Robert Wenzel I believe they are all terrible, but Clinton will be least effective, given strong opposition from those who oppose her, including Republicans in Congress who will attempt to delay any programs she wants implemented.

So, to the tiny degree it matters, I support her on the grounds she will be least effective.

I think Trump is most unpredictable and dangerous and Cruz is terrible on war and wants a VAT.

There is nothing good here.

Michael Edelstein Bob makes sense to me. Walter, and [MJ] do you agree?

[MJ] I agree that Hillary is preferable because she will almost certainly face a Republican house.  Divided government is our best friend.

Walter Block:I support the most libertarian candidate, and eschew such Machiavelian considerations.

Robert Wenzel So of the candidates that appear to have a chance to win, who is most libertarian?

Michael EdelsteinWalter, Using your criteria, who do you support among the front runners?

Walter BlockRand Paul

Michael Edelstein:“You cannot be serious.” —John McEnroe

Rand is weighing in at 3%. How does this qualify for the front runner category?

Walter Block oh. I'm indifferent. I don't see much of a difference. well, maybe, Trump, as I hold my nose. Nah, I'm scared of him. he's a loose cannon.

Robert WenzelDear Walter,

It seems you are implying sinister intentions when you state, "[I] eschew such Machiavelian considerations."

But Machiavelian methods are just that. methods, which can be used for good or evil. I grant you that Machiavelian methods are most often used by power players seeking power, but that doesn't mean there are circumstances where such methods can not be used in moving toward liberty (or limiting the advance of coercion)----just as machine guns are generally used for evil by governments, but may in some circumstances be used by libertarians for good.

I simply see no significant difference between any of the candidates. This includes Rand, who only speaks out against past wars and is in favor of the horrific VAT. Thus, my view is that the only option libertarians have, to the degree it will make any difference in the first place, is to support the candidate that will be most hated and most ineffectual in office. That is clearly Hillary---and on top of it, she isn't calling for a VAT! 

Walter BlockDear Bob:

I agree with your analysis of the merits, from a libertarian point of view, of Hillary. Where we disagree is on Rand. You think he is way worse from a libertarian point of view than I do. I don't know how to settle this disagreement. I guess it is a matter of prudential judgment, where solid libertarians, such as you and I, can diverge.


  1. Who do you want to be captain of the Titanic? I think we've gotten too cozy with conservatives and having a Republican president to criticize might pull the Left our way a bit.

    1. Very good point, Wags. My journey toward libertarianism of the Rothbardian variety started with the bailouts, which led me to discovering Schiff and then Ron Paul. Before that I would have said Ralph Naderism lined up with my sliver of the ever-narrowing political spectrum. If I had been exposed to the anti-Bush/Cheney bent at LRC during his presidency, perhaps I would have come around earlier. RW's analysis makes sense in the short term, but LRC, EPJ and bashing the crap out of a Republican president on a daily basis has the potential to bring anti-war, civil liberty lefties in our direction (however few remain after their widespread evaporation due to the Obama sleight of hand). Bernie's popularity indicates that this is a huge demographic, and there are some well-intentioned, albeit horrifyingly ignorant of basic economics (as I was), Naderist-type lefties in that crowd who might make good libertarians some day. As for Dr. Block, whom I consider an intellectual hero of mine, I consider his support of Rand has 100% to do with his surname alone. His father brought myself and millions of others into the austro-libertarian movement that Dr Block has toiled in since the days when the entire movement could fit into a cozy apartment. The name makes him blind to logic and sober analysis. I live in a country with a VAT and I can tell you second to war it is the most vile threat to liberty and prosperity there is.

  2. We have a divided house right now with Republicans in charge and Obama in the White House. Obama Care is still funded, the debt ceiling keeps getting raised, the government keeps growing. How can divided government our best friend? Republicans are a disaster.