Tuesday, September 9, 2014
I, like many libertarians, have little interest in the statewide California races this year. The only exception is the David vs. Goliath race of Kamala Harris (D, incumbant) versus Ron Gold (R) for Attorney General. Harris is the darling of the Democratic establishment, a career government functionary and a heavy favorite to win. Gold is the unexpected second-place winner of the open primary against three other Republicans, a non-affiliated candidate, and a Libertarian (myself). Nobody knew who would come in second in that primary, and nobody really cared. Harris was assumed to have a lock on winning in November. Gold was the most libertarian-leaning of the Republican candidates. I was happy to see him edge out the other three, for that.
Although I preferred Harris over Cooley in 2010, I prefer Gold over Harris in 2014. Here's why:
1. Harris is a power politics insider and heavy favorite. Gold is an outsider and underdog. Gold is more likely to shake things up and challenge corruption in state government, compared to Harris.
2. It's hard to escape the perception that Harris is being groomed for political positions beyond the AG's office. She just doesn't take many political risks, and more or less follows the politically correct liberal Democrat line. Gold is nobody's darling and he has no apparent ambitions beyond AG. He is more likely to take risks opposing powerful interests that are doing injustice, and more likely to act independently. That's an important attribute for an AG.
3. Gold has expressly favored legalizing cannabis and understands the problem with imprisoning people for victimless crimes. Is Ron the first California statewide non-primary Republican candidate to expressly favor legalization? Perhaps so. Harris is no anti-cannabis warrior, but as a former DA and member of the political establishment, she is not going to take any risks on that front. If Gold were to somehow win in November, you had better believe that this will greatly encourage both Republicans and Democrats to (at long last) embrace cannabis legalization as a more standard campaign position. Better late than never. If Harris wins? Meh. Business as usual.
4. Gold is pro-second amendment and supports the individual right to self-defense as enshrined in the California Consitution. Harris is very anti-gun. Clear advantage for Gold on this issue.
5. Gold has criticized Harris's settlement with Wells Fargo as being to favorable to the bank and not fair to home owners. Although he cannot be considered anti-corporate, he exhibits signs of having a populist streak. It's that independence thing. He is at least as likely to stand up for the little people as Harris, and in some areas, probably more so.
6. Gold has proven himself willing to engage libertarians in reasoned discussion. Back in May 2014, he joined myself and the hosts of Libertarian Counterpoint to answer questions, on a very hot Sacramento day, for an obscure public-access program. No other AG candidates attended. You can view the video here. Ron impressed me as a humble and charming person who is able and unafraid of a civil discussion on the issues with a bunch of libertarians. I can't say the same for Harris. If he wins, he'll remember how engaging libertarians helped him beat out three other Republicans in June, and overcome the Democrat in November.
7. I want an AG who understands what it's like to deal with government from the outside. Gold has spent most of his career in the private sector. Although he did a stint in the AG's office many years ago, most of his experience is informed by working outside of government. Harris has spent most of her career in government. She lacks experience dealing with government from the outside.
8. If we must have a state government, or for so long as we do, it will in no sense be representative unless it is also diversified. Meaning, that people within it represent differences of opinion as found in the electorate. Gold brings at least some contrast with the traditional mainstream of the Republican Party and is positioned to operate independently of the Democrats, while Harris blends in and disappears against the Democratic Party-dominated fabric of California politics.
Ron Gold is no Ron Paul, studied in libertarian literature and Austrian economic theory. But he is also no Steve Cooley, and represents a refreshing and rare contrast to the DA-dominated candidates usually put forth by the Republican Party for AG. Harris is a little better on the death penalty, but there is no other reason to support her this year. Libertarians, liberty caucus Republicans, and other libertarian-leaning voters should support an upset in the AG race, and vote for Gold.