Well we must confront now an obvious favourite in a presidential candidate in the USA – Howard Dean for the Democrats. Today’s Guardian article on Dean is written by an old acquaintance who does not know him as a left-leaning liberal, but instead a pragmatist, who asseses each issue individually and attempts to make a pragmatic political solution.

I have to say I welcome the news that Dean is not a lefty. But a pragmatist? That is worse! Good politics is not pragmatic, good politics is principaled. Politics without principal is like a computer without a mouse, a car without a steering wheel, a river without banks. What makes a decision on any particular issue “good” is not informed by whether it will get a better political score, whether it will bring about more jobs or less jobs or more people immigrating or less; or even whether or not it will WORK! What makes a decision “good” is dictated by whether or not it complies with the moral principal which governs a guy’s politics. In the case of pragmatism in politics, there IS no defining underlying principal to inform the policies of any issue (except that it will achieve some stand-alone goal) – therefore it is destined to accomplish very little of any lasting value, and to frustrate all. It is also, in my opinion (which is derived from a libertarian political philosophy) destined to breach the liberty of the individual, extend the aura of control of government and undermine the rationality of the common man.

As an example; what if Howard Dean thinks it is a good idea to tax everybody at 95%, and then return to the polulation that revenue in equal measure. His justification (as a pragmatist) is that it would create a more fair society, and would ensure that poor people can now survive just like everybody else. Without a principal which limits government control (and would make sure that cannot happen), Dean would be able to do so legitimately under his philsophy of politics which is this: IF IT WORKS, IT IS GOOD.

As a libertarian, I have to disagree; my principal instead would be this: IF IT DOESN’T BREACH THE EQUAL RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL TO FREEDOM FROM COERCION, IT IS GOOD.

And it seems that Michael Howard, Conservative candidate for prime minister (leader of the opposition) in the UK, would largely agree! In contrast to Dean, his politics are clear and principaled – see my previous article on Howard’s recent “I Believe” document. So this would make an interesting political world, were Howard Dean & Michael Howard to be elected by the populations of the USA and the UK. With deep connections to both nations, I would be very interested to observe the landscape change as a result.

It could be Howard & Howard leading the free world by 2005!