Paul Jacob

“The best,” Milton Friedman liked to remind us, “is often the enemy of the good.”

Last week I expected one of my readers to cite the great economist against me. On Wednesday I had offered six (count ’em: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) reasons why conservatives might cheer a Mitt Romney defeat next November. Readers of my Common Sense squib objected.

On Thursday I offered for their consideration former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, whose Republican bid was squelched by media and GOP insiders, and is now seeking the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. Still no great support from my readers. On Friday I took a step back and tried to explain where I was coming from. Accolades from those commenting on the website were few and far between.

The basic point from my readers is that Obama is awful, and must be stopped. Sure, Mitt Romney is a slippery candidate with few principles. Sure, he won’t likely be very good. But at least he’d be better than Obama, who would have another four years at the reins, ruining the country.

They could have quoted Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman at me. My preference for candidates like Gary Johnson and Ron Paul may, indeed, be support of “better” and “best.” But since they cannot win, voting for them — and encouraging others to vote for them — allows a horrible candidate, the current president, to continue to wreck the nation.

The “best” thus becomes the conquistador of the “good” (Mitt Romney).

It’s an arguable point. And my readers ably argued it. My initial counter to their barrage? That this is the usual trap we are all-too familiar with. Conservatives and libertarians are perennially scolded to accept some mediocre-to-bad candidate, like George Herbert Walker Bush, Robert Dole, George Walker Bush, John McCain, and now Romney, and just choke down the bile and realize that with the Democrats in charge, things would be worse.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.