Early voting in Nevada started this Saturday (October 22, 2016). I just went to my local shopping mall and voted. I want to go over the choices that I made as a sort of endorsement and analysis.
President of the United States
I have already addressed my reasons for endorsing Gary Johnson and choosing a third-party candidate over one of the “real” candidates, in particular Hillary Clinton. As of October 23, fivethirtyeight.com is projecting at least a 72 percent chance for Clinton to win Nevada, with initial turnout giving the Democrats a substantial edge. Basically, things have gotten to the point with Donald Trump’s repulsive campaign that if Hillary Clinton somehow loses the presidential race, it’s because she deserves to. And up until fairly recently, that could not be ruled out. Because until Trump, there were no other candidates more incompetent at campaigning than Hillary Clinton and more unappealing to the voting public, and I didn’t think that was possible. The difference is that Clinton doesn’t GO OUT OF HER WAY to piss people off. The question is whether someone who doesn’t endorse Hillary Clinton should officially approve her coronation especially when the result is pretty much determined already.
And given that Trump is not really an outlier in the GOP but merely the most honest expression of the ideology they’ve been building for some time, it gets to my long term assessment of why I would rather be in a third party than one of the majors. I would rather work to refine something that doesn’t have an institutional presence than an institution that doesn’t think it needs to reform. (As anyone who voted for Sanders and then went to a Democratic state convention might testify.) And after this election, anyone who’s still registered Republican needs to consider what the future of that party is and whether it is going to turn around when it has rather clearly declared that Trumpism is what it wants. As it stands, I think a lot of the people voting for Democrats this year will be in the same mind as Will McAvoy in The Newsroom when he said, “I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I think hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure, and not gay marriage.”
I’ve also been willing to say that as a candidate in general and as an advocate for libertarianism, Johnson has screwed up. The thing that most pissed me off about Johnson’s Aleppo moment(s) was the realization that there IS NO good choice for president this year- not even on the sentimental, hypothetical level of “Gee, if only my vote was the only one that counted and it wasn’t gonna be drowned out by 65 million other people.” Because the Republican Party is that much more blatant in abandoning its public responsibility to present a serious candidate, and however qualified Hillary Clinton is, much of her resume is built on creating the stagnant economy and shaky foreign policy situation that Americans are objecting to in the first place.
I don’t think Gary Johnson is a good candidate for President. But at least he doesn’t disgust me.
United States Senate
The real problem with being a third-party voter in the short term is that your party is usually too small to run candidates in the “down-ballot” races. Take Nevada. I would like to vote for Libertarians in other offices, but the LP is not running anybody in the other federal races. The only third party that is is the Constitution/Independent American Party, which is basically where you go when you think that the Republicans are a bunch of godless pinkos. The two main candidates are Republican Joe Heck (currently a US Congressman) and Catherine Cortez Masto (formerly Nevada’s Attorney General). I don’t have anything against either candidate personally and think each did reasonably well in their prior jobs, but if the main issue other than the presidency is control of Congress and the Senate, the Republicans as a whole are sufficiently rotten and incompetent that where I didn’t get a chance to vote Libertarian, I went Democrat.
United States House of Representatives
Similarly I voted Dina Titus (Democrat) for the Congressional race for my district, since I know and like her well enough and didn’t think the other candidates matched up.
The main issues that are up for vote in this state are the ballot questions, and these require examination in a certain level of detail. Because when you into detail it becomes clear that in many cases the question is worded in such a way as to convince people to vote for the opposite of what the ballot measure would actually do.
Question 1: Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to prohibit, except in certain circumstances, a person from selling or transferring a firearm to another person unless a federally-licensed dealer first conducts a federal background check on the potential buyer or transferee ?
I have no particular fondness for guns, but I am fond of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. I also know that with the rate of civilian shootings in the last few years that many people have become concerned about “loopholes” to existing laws allowing people to get access to guns. The specific text of the measure says that it is intended to address the discrepancy allowing unlicensed sellers to transfer ownership of a firearm without a background check (which is now required for licensed sellers). Section 6 of the measure specifically exempts sale to law enforcement officers, sale of antique weapons, transfer to immediate family members, to trustees or executives of the owner’s estate, or temporary transfer at recognized shooting ranges and competitions. This basically covers most of the situations that “No” voters raise on the grounds of increasing bureaucracy. Arguably it doesn’t go far enough for “gun safety” advocates who say that many acts of gun violence occur within the home.
With some difficulty, I voted for Question 1, though I could have just as easily voted No. My main skepticism was whether any gun control law is actually going to accomplish its stated purpose. On balance I decided Question 1 actually accomplished the stated purpose of reducing the loophole of unregistered gun sales without creating an undue burden on private gun owners.
Question 2: Shall the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to allow a person, 21 years old or older, to purchase, cultivate, possess, or consume a certain amount of marijuana or concentrated marijuana, as well as manufacture, possess, use, transport, purchase, distribute, or sell marijuana paraphernalia; impose a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale sales of marijuana; require the regulation and licensing of marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, distributors, suppliers, and retailers; and provide for certain criminal penalties?
This is a prime example of where what seems to be plain language on the ballot is something entirely different in the actual legal text. In this case the text states in Section 10 that a certified “marijuana establishment” cannot be located within 1000 feet of a public or private school, or 300 feet of a community facility, and to a limit of 80 licenses in a county with a population greater than 700,000. The provisions of legalization would render the possession of more than token amounts of marijuana, or the startup of a marijuana business, all but impossible to already wealthy interests. In all, the measure would be much like the 2014 measure in Ohio that failed because even legalization advocates saw it as a vehicle of established interests rather than protection of individual rights. And of course, until the Federal government re-classifies marijuana, a lot of this is technicality. I voted No on Question 2.
Question 3: Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?
Most of the state is under an official energy monopoly called NV Energy, which is ostensibly regulated by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to protect consumers. However, this same PUC decided last year to remove credits that were previously given to customers of private solar energy producers by allowing them to sell power back to the main grid, a practice called “net metering.” The irony being that such a subsidy is supposed to be how liberalism ought to work, using the power of the state to protect the consumer while promoting more progressive policies (in this case, a cleaner energy system). In practice, the power of the state is more likely to be used to protect those who already have wealth and power. Removing NV Energy’s monopoly would if nothing else remove the question of whether competitor energy providers are taking “their” energy.
I voted Yes on Question 3, with the reservation that while both Questions 1 and 2 are very detailed in their provisions, Question 3 merely states that after passage, the state legislature shall pass legislation to provide for an open energy market. Ay, there’s the rub.
Question 4: Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?
The ballot measure would add a Section 7 to the Article 10 of the state Constitution: “The legislature shall provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for human use by a licensed provider of health care acting within his or her scope of practice from any tax upon the sale, storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property. ” So similar to Question 3, the matter is left up to the legislature. Still, this is pretty straightforward: People using durable medical equipment (DME) would not have to pay state taxes on what are often lifesaving devices and usually keep a person’s living standard from being debilitated. The main objection to Question 4 seems to be the concern that not having these taxes would create a budget shortfall, but anyone familiar with this state’s politics knows that it strains credulity to think that Nevada politicians won’t create some new consumption tax on the middle class when they want more money for something, as opposed to a tax on mining or income. I voted Yes on Question 4.
Question 5: Shall Clark County continue indexing fuel taxes to the rate of inflation, through December 31, 2026, the proceeds of which will be used solely for the purpose of improving public safety for roadway users and reducing traffic congestion by constructing and maintaining streets and highways in Clark County?
This is a Clark County (Southern Nevada) measure as opposed to a statewide measure. This simply allows the current practice of funding road construction and maintenance to be financed through fuel taxes through the next ten years. Since this is not really changing anything for the worse, I voted Yes on Question 5. Still, Las Vegas is a great rebuttal to the people who question libertarianism saying, “Without government, who would build the roads?” My response is, “We have government and taxes, and I don’t know if the roads are being built now or just ripped up.”