We deserve better than ‘douche and turd’

Harrison Leonard

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Dale Ogden is the Libertarian candidate for governor of California whose political platform includes advocating “individual freedom, personal responsibility, minimum government, minimum taxes, and free minds and free markets.”/ Courtesy of the Dale Ogden for Governor of California Facebook page

One of my favorite episodes of “South Park” revolves around the story of a school election, wherein the children are asked to vote for a new mascot. The two candidates offered up to the students of South Park Elementary are a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

“Voting is great, but if I have to choose between a douche and a turd, I just don’t see the point,” little Stan Marsh confesses. That’s a bit how this year’s gubernatorial election feels to me.

I really don’t want Meg Whitman or Jerry Brown to be my governor. I don’t see how one candidate is much better than the other.

Despite opposite backgrounds and contrasting personalities, the candidates are actually not that different on the big issues of the day. Californians have been asked to choose between a moderate Democrat and a centrist Republican who are not that far apart from each other on the left-right spectrum.

Whitman fancies herself as a fiscal conservative, and Brown has a proven record of frugality in governance.

Both candidates emphasize expenditure reductions over altering tax rates. Whitman has called for spending cuts, while Brown promises to clamp down on audits and close tax loopholes for corporations. Whitman supports “realistic,” “targeted” tax cuts, and Brown has pledged  not to raise any taxes without voter approval.

For those who prefer minimum government, as I do, Jerry Brown isn’t the worst Democrat out there. He has a strong and authentic civil rights record, and has been consistent in opposing the drug war. Brown’s first tenure as governor back in the mid-70s earned him the reputation as a budget hawk, and to his credit, his administration did reduce spending and gave California a budget surplus.

Those positions alone make Brown superior to 98 percent of Democratic politicians, at least to libertarians like myself.

Unfortunately, some of the policies Brown advocated as governor the first time around involved keeping property and corporate taxes outrageously high, and his website indicates his thinking hasn’t changed in 30 years.

Brown talks about slashing the budget and reducing spending, while simultaneously championing infrastructure development, government-subsidized “green” jobs, and greater investment in education.

Even if you support those ideas, you have to admit they don’t appear compatible with Brown’s promises to cut spending, trim the budget, and not raise taxes.

There are a number of things I dislike about Brown, but Whitman pisses me off more. Whitman goes around trumpeting on about “limited government” when she is clearly an activist. At least Brown doesn’t hide he’s kind of a statist.

I don’t trust Whitman. She put out radio ads in English saying she supported Arizona’s immigration law and opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants; she also put out radio ads in Spanish saying she opposed Arizona’s immigration law and supported a reasonable pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

I prefer the message of her Spanish ads, but which plan can I trust her to enact?

I normally reject the tired left-wing diatribe about “Republican tax cuts for the rich,” but in the case of Whitman this argument carries some validity.

Whitman’s website asserts California “simply cannot afford a big, across-the-board tax cut,” which would be true if current spending levels, or anything close to them, are maintained.

Whitman talks a good game about spending cuts, but the dichotomy above reveals she does not intend to cut spending significantly enough to where our state income and sales tax levels can be reduced or eliminated.

There is nothing wrong with Whitman’s “realistic,” “targeted” tax cuts aimed at benefiting California’s businesses. I want tax cuts for the wealthy. I also want tax cuts for the needy, the middle class, large corporations, and small businesses.

Eliminating or drastically reducing our state income and sales taxes would be the best economic stimulus Californians could get; everyone gets an instant pay raise.

Some people may say  they like the idea of their government being “run like a business,” and I understand the attraction. I respect the cost-effective productivity of the marketplace. I’d love to see state services privatized for maximum efficiency, increased quality and taxpayer savings.

However, managing government with the efficiency of private industry is not the same as running government like a business.

Whitman was chief executive officer of eBay. CEO’s often wield sole decision-making power and function with unilateral authority. Other than being responsible to their shareholders, CEO’s can frequently act free of the checks and balances that are a necessary part of democratic government.

As for me, I am endorsing Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dale Ogden. If California’s inexcusable spending binges, impossible debt levels, bloated pensions and overly expansive handouts outrage you, vote Ogden. If you want the State to leave you alone when it comes to what you do with your body, whom you marry, and how you spend your money, Ogden is your man.

Friends tell me I shouldn’t vote Libertarian because doing so will hand the election over to the major party candidate I hate more, but if you can accept the premise that Brown and Whitman aren’t that different, then voting third party won’t really change the outcome of the race.

The way I see it, telling me to vote for Whitman or Brown in the name of pragmatism is telling me to abandon my principles. I’ve voted mainstream my whole adult life thinking I could prevent the greater of two evils from taking office, yet nothing ever changes. To modify the old adage, “I’ve seen the future, and it sucks.”

For the first time, I’ll be voting my conscious this November. How about you?