Opinion column by Aubrey Herbert (pseudonym for Murray Rothbard), published in Faith and Freedom, Volume VI, Number 2, October 1954, pp. 12-13

Along Pennsylvania Avenue - Aubrey Herbert

Election Day is approaching again, and once more the libertarian is confronted with one of his most difficult decisions: to vote or not to vote, and if so, for whom? In his daily life, a man usually faces pleasant decisions. Shall he go for a drive, or listen to a concert? Shall he spend his money on a new stove or a TV set? In any case, he knows that he will get something he likes; he is choosing the greater of two or more goods.

But in politics, the voter is always confronted with that dreary old litany: the lesser of two evils. Hardly an inspiring choice to make! He is always faced with a great moral dilemma: shall he vote for a candidate who advocates an admitted evil, and endorse all the evil acts which this politician will commit?

This year, the new Republican Administration lays its record on the line for the first time. The press regales us with the happy news that Ike's "batting average" was .830, though some say it was really .844. We are all supposed to be very proud that we have a real slugger for a President, a man whose batting average would have made Babe Ruth turn green with envy. But before we get carried away with enthusiasm for this batting star, let us ask ourselves the question: what has been the "batting average" of the American people? What is the box score of their liberty?

One thing should be clear at the start: this new concept of "batting average," this clever offspring of a deeply public-relations-minded Administration, sinks another nail in the coffin of the Constitution. In the old days, we believed that it was the function of Congress to make legislation, while the Executive enforced the laws and exercised veto power.

Now we find that it is the President and his aides who frame the legislation, and send out orders to the majority leaders in Congress to pass it. If Congress should show signs of balking, great pressure is put upon it for attempting to flout the military chain of command. Congress has now been relegated to the rather timid exercise of the veto.

And now we are all expected to rejoice the higher a president's batting average is. One wonders: why not do away with Congress entirely, and reach nirvana by letting his average rise to 1.000?

The Revolution Was

To grasp the true meaning of this Administration, we must hark back to events since 1933. As Garet Garrett has been telling us since 1938, our conservatives are making a tragic mistake when they man the gates against future revolution. The revolution has already been. It happened in 1933 when Socialists took over the government, and began their long and successful drive toward the subjection of the American people to the total power of the state.

With remarkably careful planning, the Socialist revolutionaries have done their job in every sphere of government operations, foreign and domestic. During the 1930's, the government could proceed rapidly, using frank Socialist rhetoric. But then, after the 1936 elections, when victory had seemed swift and sure, an anti-Socialist opposition began to rise again.

The opposition surged upward in the 1938 congressional elections. Desperate, the Socialist Administration began to move toward foreign war. And in 1940 began the great taming operation that is still in progress: the program to liquidate the conservative opposition to the revolutionary regime. The opposition was centered in the "right wing" of the Republican Party, the wing which predominated in the Republican congressional ranks.

The goal of the Socialists, then, was to capture the Republican Party. The first step was to seize control of the Republican convention, so that in no future presidential election could the American people choose liberty or isolationism. In this plan, the Left was eminently successful. 1940 was the critical year. It was the year when, incredible as it may seem, many elements of big business, particularly "Wall Street" joined the collectivist camp. They captured the convention in a remarkable exhibition. Slick Madison Avenue advertising men whipped up a synthetic storm for a virtual unknown.

This was the turning point for the Republican Party. Now it, like the Democratic Party, was to swing in the direction of socialism. Although the whole Socialist program was not to be immediately recognizable (i.e., ownership and control of the means of production), socialism's mainspring, intervention by the state in economic affairs, was to be the rule.

Many will ask: how is it possible that respectable, clean-cut business men and millionaires should become Socialists? The answer is quite easy. It is because many bankers and businessmen saw that they could make a good thing out of statism; that they could use the state for their own advantage. They could get direct and indirect subsidies galore. And they could place penalties on their business rivals. The millionaires, their money safely in tax-exempt bonds, did not have to worry about high income taxes. So why let farmers and union leaders get all the gravy? You don't have to be poor, or even "intellectual," to be a statist.

Bipartisan Domestic Policy

There was yet one great gap to be closed in the drive to total power; the conservatives in Congress were still in opposition. For a while this didn't matter very much, for the leftists could dominate the House and Senate thoroughly. But in 1946, our Socialist rulers received the nastiest jolt of their career. A dynamic conservative opposition had captured Congress.

Luckily, foreign policy had been sealed off just in time. Former isolationist leader Senator Vandenberg's strange defection swung his colleagues to support the "bipartisan foreign policy." But the great Socialist dream of a bipartisan domestic policy was no closer.

Clearly, conservatives could not be allowed to come to power in 1948. It was time for the second and final phase of the liquidation of the opposition. It was time to elect a left wing Republican president, who would use the lures of power and the pressure of patronage to destroy the opposition by subverting it. To make him palatable to the conservatives, the bold Socialist rhetoric of former days must be washed out and become respectable.

Now socialism must change its cloak and speak softly in terms that would appeal to all classes of men. Statist designs must be camouflaged in honeyed calls for "healing national unity" and the "sensible middle of the road." Thus would the conservative conscience be lulled while principle was abandoned.

Those who expected that Taft would win in 1952 never knew what hit them. They did not realize that, on the presidential level, their party was no longer Republican.

A Nation Freed from Disunity

Hardest for the Socialists to pulverize have been the congressional committees, but they too are now silenced. The last effective power left to Congress is dying. The Reece, Velde, and Jenner Committees have been either silenced or deflected to such harmless topics as proving the wickedness of the Russians. Only Joe McCarthy remains, the most forceful though not the most thoroughgoing of the opposition. He has doggedly insisted on continuing investigation of leftists in government, regardless of the party in power.

McCarthy refused to surrender and join the gravy train. And so we have watched, for the entire year, one of the most obscene spectacles in American history—the continuous persecution of Joe McCarthy. His committee all but gone, he is being drawn and quartered before our very eyes, and none so bold as to cry havoc. His finish, all but certain, will be the signal and warning to any other conservative who would like to lead a battle against the powers that be.

The political fate of the opposition, therefore, is closely linked with the fate of Joe McCarthy, whether we like it or not. Joe's fall may well usher in a new era, a nation freed from disunity, a nation united under the heel of the state. Is this what we are expected to endorse as the "lesser evil"?