Viewpoint: Using your vote wisely 

By Stephen Costo

The California Air Resources Board recently moved to ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035. California has the unique authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards, with other states allowed only, if they so choose, to follow suit. The decision of one state’s board of appointed – not elected – individuals thus has national implications. Regardless of how you feel about the electrification of cars, you should be very concerned about this outcome. As the poet Baltasar Gracian pointed out in the 17th century, “freedom is more valuable than the gift that causes you to lose it.” 

Come 2035, there’s going to be a whole lot more the government is going to be dictating to you than merely what type of car you can buy if you don’t use your vote now to make them stop.  

Even those who support this particular outcome must recognize that the government’s increasing interference in our day-to-day lives represents an increasing threat to our core freedoms, and that such a threat is of the highest importance. Even when those in power are giving you exactly what you want, you should be no less concerned that the institution has been granted the power to give you so much, because eventually someone else will take charge and will have the power to give you what you very much do not want.  

Too much government centralization/authority is a negative asymmetry – the upside of whatever an overly empowered government will giveth (or, more likely, merely appear to giveth) is not nearly worth the downside of what it will taketh away (your freedom). 

It is crucial never to create a degree of systematic authority beyond that which you can trust not in the hands of those politicians you do support, but in the hands of those you do not support – because, inevitably, those you do not support will be in charge at some point in time. 

Preserving the systematic integrity of our government – one of limitations and constraints on centralized power, of an integral Constitution, of a design in which federal authority over its constituent states is limited – is far more important than any specific policy outcome. Policy is merely a product of a system; allow the system to break, and policy will inevitably break. 

I will never, regardless of who is in charge, support the types of decisions that create or expand systems that erode your personal freedoms. Government and politicians presently have far too much involvement in our day-to-day lives, and the situation naturally tends towards an unsatisfiable desire for ever more involvement. I believe less government involvement in our day-to-day lives will produce better outcomes, and thus my focus will be systematic more so than it will be on any specific issue. My aim is simply to best serve your most fundamental interest: the preservation of your freedom. 

Stephen Coston lives in Bar Harbor. He is a candidate for Maine State House District 14, which represents Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Lamoine and Cranberry Isles. 

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