No Yabuts: Notes from the Campaign Trail

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

No Yabuts: Notes from the Campaign Trail

by Sandra Davies Johnson, January 1999
1998 Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of Colorado

"YES, I believe in a free market, BUT we really need a new (tax-supported) stadium."
"YES, I believe in a free market, BUT we really need to educate our children (in government schools)."
"YES, I believe in freedom, BUT we need to keep drugs off the streets (through government force)."
"YES, I believe in free speech, BUT who (except government) will look out for children on the internet?"
"YES, I believe in freedom of opportunity, BUT who will care for the old and the poor (if not the government)?"
"YES, I believe in free trade and prosperity, BUT my business needs (government) protection from competitors."

During my campaign I heard many variations of the "yabut." People were very attracted to the words "freedom" and "limited government" but seemed shocked by the real-world application of these ideas. What is this elusive "freedom" that most people claim to support, but few seem to want in reality?

The generally accepted (and false) assumption is, "if we need it," then the government must use force to provide it (and we hope the next guy pays). In a civil society, things that we need, AND we are willing to pay, trade, or persuade for, will be provided through voluntary exchange (i.e., the free market). The free market is the best way for people to get the goods and services they want, with the quality and quantity they want. The many experiments in socialism during this century have been dismal failures, and have caused great suffering.

Why do we have this behemoth socialistic government? Because we've fallen for the idea that government force is the answer for every social problem. The unintended result is that government force takes from those with the least political power and gives to those with the most political power. Each special interest group pressures the ruling elite, who are too often more than willing to provide goodies in exchange for being re-elected to their positions of power.

Libertarians support the American heritage of individual liberty, very small government, and a free market. The libertarian philosophy stands alone in opposing all elements of socialism. Today's welfare-liberals offer more statism, while conservatives defend the status quo. We will not achieve liberty or full prosperity until those who say they want freedom are willing to consistently apply the principles of freedom to EVERY issue, and not fall for the "Yes, buts."

Some say I took votes away from Gail Schoettler, while others say I took votes from Bill Owens. Many of those who voted for me believe that it made no significant difference whether the Republican or Democrat won, since both those parties have consistently voted to erode our freedoms through bigger government.

Libertarianism has attracted former Republicans and Democrats who realize that government cannot solve all our problems and should not have the power to try. During the gubernatorial race I pledged to veto any budget that was bigger than last year's, and I challenged my opponents to pledge the same. None did. "YES, I should have voted Libertarian, BUT in this close race I'd prefer that Schoettler (or Owens) win." Will you be surprised if Colorado state government grows even larger now that we have a Republican governor and retain a Republican majority in the state house?

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com