by Harry Browne

Originally Published November 7, 2002 at WorldNetDaily

John Adams: “The favorites of parties, although they have always some virtues, have always many imperfections. Many of the ablest tongues and pens have, in every age, been employed in the foolish, deluded, and pernicious flattery of one set of partisans, and in furious, prostitute invectives against another; but such kinds of oratory never had any charms for me; and if I must do one or the other, I would quarrel with both parties and with every individual of each, before I would subjugate my understanding, or prostitute my tongue or pen to either.”

As a result of Tuesday’s elections, we can expect the growth in government to continue unabated and probably to accelerate.

We can be reasonably sure that the new Congress will pass a flood of bills that intrude government ever-more-deeply into our lives, as well as make government more costly (and even more inefficient).

How can I be so sure?

Because the winners in the congressional races are virtually all advocates of big government. The winning incumbents have never bothered to introduce a single bill to reduce government in any significant way, while they have been reliable supporters of all sorts of new big-government schemes.

The few new congressmen and senators come from the same mold. In their campaigns, they told us about their grand plans to “fix” the nation’s schools, get government involved in prescription drugs, and use your money to take care of anyone who says he needs it.

Big government, big government, big government.

Mea culpa

And now I must offer a confession.

I wrote this article Monday evening, before the elections.

And yet, I stand by every word of it.

It doesn’t matter whether the Republicans or the Democrats won control of the Senate. Government will get bigger, more intrusive, more expensive, and less efficient.

It doesn’t matter whether the Democrats or the Republicans won control of the House. Government will get bigger, more intrusive, more expensive, and less efficient.

Nothing has changed in the past 75 years.

  • We elect a Republican Congress and government gets bigger.
  • We elect a Democratic Congress and government gets bigger.
  • We elect a Republican president and government gets bigger.
  • We elect a Democratic president and government gets bigger.
  • Congress passes a “tax cut” and government gets bigger.
  • Congress makes “tough budget cuts” and government gets bigger.

Despite what they tell you, there really is no significant difference between the two major parties. They are both devoted to power, to big government, and to rewarding those with the most political influence.

Your culpa

If you voted for a Democrat or a Republican, you didn’t waste your vote.

You used it to congratulate your candidate for all his big-spending schemes. So you can take part of the credit for the coming increases in government.

You may have thought you were voting to limit the damage to prevent the “greater of two evils” from being elected. But that isn’t the way your vote will be interpreted.

Your candidate will look at his victory and say, in effect, “The public has endorsed my plan to ‘fix’ government schools with a new government program. The voters have said they like my ideas to involve government in prescription drugs. The people have spoken, and they have endorsed every vote I’ve made in Congress and/or every new government program I outlined in my campaign.”

Oh sure, your candidate may have said that government is too big or too intrusive. But that doesn’t mean he’ll do anything to stop it.

Republicans complain loudly about Democratic spending programs and then vote for them.

Democrats complain loudly about invasions of civil liberties and a reckless foreign policy and then vote for them.

And your vote has told them that you endorse what they’re doing. Whatever you thought your motivation was, nothing says ‘I love big government’ like your vote for someone who is supporting big government in Congress.

In other words, when you vote for the “lesser of two evils,” you shouldn’t be shocked when what you get is evil.

No, a vote for a Republican or Democrat isn’t a wasted vote. It’s a self-destructive vote, a vote for the very things you’ve spent the past two years complaining about.

No culpa

If you voted Libertarian, you at least know you didn’t endorse big government. Since Libertarian vote totals usually aren’t announced on election night, you may not have been able to make any kind of “statement.”

But at least you don’t have to blame yourself for endorsing big government.

The future

It may seem that you have to vote for the lesser of evils among the major-party candidates.

But since government grew just as rapidly with Ronald Reagan as president as with Bill Clinton in the White House, and since the Republican Congress expanded government at the same speed as the Democratic Congress, it’s obvious that your vote doesn’t change anything.

There is no lesser of evils between the two major parties.

Your vote achieves only one thing: It tells the people you voted for that you love big government – that there’s no program they can support that’s so bad that you won’t vote for them anymore.

Your vote provided a big boost for big government.

Is that what you wanted?

Harry Browne (RIP 1933-2006), the author of Why Government Doesn’t Work and many other books, was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, a co-founder of DownsizeDC, and the Director of Public Policy for the American Liberty Foundation.  See his website.

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