Good News: The 2020 Election Shows Americans Value Individual Liberty and Left Economics
The election this year has been a doozy. On the one hand, many realize that there are no good options and whatever happens it won’t make a tremendous difference. On the other hand, many are convinced that it will make all the difference in the world. I’m in the not-much-difference, they’re-all-neoliberal-mafia-collaborators camp.
However, what I find a lot more interesting these days than the presidential race is the motions, amendments, and referendums on the ballots, which are a form of direct democracy, and also what they indicate about the American public’s collective stance on various matters. What people voted for or against can tell us a lot about where the values of America are shifting, at the moment.
Recently, I wrote an article advocating for a hybrid of libertarianism and socialism which I’m calling State Libertarian Socialism. To me, the election results this year are good news for the prospect of State Libertarian Socialism’s success, because they seem to indicate that Americans want to uphold both individual and economic rights, which is the fundamental idea behind State Libertarian Socialism.
To me, this indicates that Americans are slowly shifting their focus to what is most important, which is moving our economic policies left, and abandoning the faulty and contentious “blue bait and switch” bait of “cultural Marxism” and obsession with identity politics, which has ensnared the American left’s mind for so long, and created a radical right backlash.
Is America waking up to where their political priorities truly belong?
Victories for the Economic Left
One of the biggest surprises for me this round was of course the decision by the people of Florida to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, a huge victory for economic progressivism in such a Southern, pro-business state. To me, this has to be some kind of mile-marker, or indication of a sea change.
Nebraska, also voted for tighter regulation on payday loans, which are often used to parasitically ensnare poor and working class people. They moved to lower the interest rate to 36%, from the insane 404% it previously was. Can you imagine allowing loans with a 404% interest rate?
Utah also overwhelmingly passed a motion to remove slavery as a punishment, which many people don’t realize is part of the justification for prison labor and the private prison industrial complex, a loophole for slavery, basically.
Colorado also voted to establish 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, a great victory for labor rights, which will force businesses to provide paid leave for family and medical needs.
Victories for Libertarian Individual Rights
It would be absurd if I didn’t bring up the numerous victories in the cannabis and drug law domain, which I regard as an individual rights issue, and an expression of libertarian values. People should be able to do what they like with their brain, an idea sometimes referred to as cognitive liberty. Rather than spell them all out in prose, here is a simple chart:
Most notable is, Oregon’s decriminalization of (small amounts of) all drugs, a great step towards a more health-centered approach to the problem of drug addiction, and away from a prohibition and criminalization approach.
Beyond drugs, California also rejected proposition 16, which would have allowed government and universities to prioritize certain races over others. Personally, I regard this as a victory, because it upholds the idea that individual merit should be what determines who gets hired, or admitted to university, not group identity or race.
Individual privacy also had big wins this election, as measures in both Michigan and California passed, which make laws to protect individual data privacy rights from the surveilance police state. California’s proposition 20 would have even required the collection of DNA for some misdemeanors, and was voted down, another victory for privacy.
Of course, not every result was a victory for either of these values, but I think we saw enough this year to offer a glimmer of hope for the idea that individual liberties can be combined with economic rights. Perhaps someday, a State Libertarian Socialist party could be a recognized third party in the U.S.