Who's Going to Get Your Wasted Vote?

A guide to the wildest Libertarian Party nomination fight in decades

The polls have closed in the East and John McCain is winning the presidency. Florida goes red. Ohio goes red. Iowa flips to Barack Obama, but McCain needs only to lock up 16 electoral votes for victory.

And then things start going pear-shaped. McCain is down by 10,000 votes in New Hampshire with only 5,000 left to be counted—the Libertarians scored 15,000—and the networks call it for Obama. Those sparse Republican New Mexico counties start rolling in, and McCain is falling short of those Bush 2004 margins as the Libertarians rack up 2 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent vote totals. Obama wins the state. It's the same story in Nevada, and McCain can't quite make up the Obama margin out of Las Vegas. The pattern becomes clear as the sun comes up on Wednesday: Just enough Republicans have ditched their party to hand the election over to the Democrats.

When former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) announced he was exploring a run for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, Republicans who'd sent "thank you" cards to Ralph Nader experienced their first flashes of this nightmare. "Sure, it will hurt," said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. "We'll just have to see how much." Republicans haven't forgotten how John McCain won his nomination over a splintered and pathetic field, and how the talk radio right's failure to settle on an anti-McCain gave them a candidate who more than a quarter of the base still refuses to vote for.

Of course, the LP hasn't ever actually swung a presidential election, and right-wing worries that they would in 2004 proved to be overheated. "I'm an LP person," says Libertarian Party chairman Bill Redpath. "Election night is my least favorite night of the year." Yet even Redpath thinks the ground has shifted since 2004. "I don't see how libertarians could vote for John McCain, and I see lot of conservatives who simply won't."

Throughout 2007, the LP watched Ron Paul vaccuum up libertarian money and siphon energy from the low-key field. Gambling guru Wayne Allyn Root, a former Republican, entered the race claiming that he had name recognition no candidate could beat. At the time, he was right. Physics professor George Phillies, a frequent local candidate in Massachusetts and national organizer for the 2004 Michael Badnarik campaign, claimed that he had more electoral experience than anyone else in the race. That was right, too. Party leaders, nervous about the strength of their field, offered the nomination to Ron Paul if he wanted it, a divisive decision lambasted by the candidates in the ring and by the more radical elements of the party. But when Paul spoke at the Free State Project's Liberty Forum, days before the New Hampshire primary, he drew a crowd that dwarfed the turnout for an LP candidates' debate.

As Paul's surprising bid for the GOP nomination winds down, it's clear that it was a boon for the LP after all. Paul's fundraising and gadfly debate performances got national pundits talking about the libertarian vote. "I'm amazed at how often I hear that word in the mainstream media now," says 2004 LP nominee Michael Badnarik. "Four years ago it was a curse word." Paul indirectly drew three high-profile candidates into the race. Bob Barr, an LP leader since 2006, introduced Paul at the Conservative Political Action Conference with a rousing speech that ramped up the movement to draft him. Mary Ruwart, a left-libertarian author as renowned in LP circles as she is obscure outside of them, re-engaged in electoral politics to support Paul, then jumped into the race as Paul withdrew. Mike Gravel, the biggest-name convert to the party since, well, Barr, made the leap in part because Paul was so successful at raising money.

The result of all this manuevering is a wild, unpredictable, and possibly disastrous battle for the LP nod. Every faction of the party is represented in the race, and the 702 delegates and 146 alternates slated to go to the national nominating convention over Memorial Day weekend are up for grabs. They will vote until one candidate scores an absolute majority. Here is a current, rough ranking of the highly fluid race, based on conversations with multiple delegates and campaigns.

1. Bob Barr. Age: 59. Experience: U.S. Attorney 1986-1990, U.S. Congressman from Georgia 1995-2003, author of The Meaning of Is.

The drive-by media view of the LP race—that Barr is all but certain to win—isn't quite wrong. If the delegates convened today, Bob Barr would win most of their votes. But he would not win a majority. While Barr’s entry into the race was greeted with a rush of support, his allies count on a bit less than 30 percent support on the first ballot.

A first-ballot victory isn't much of a prize in the LP. In 2004, Aaron Russo won the first round of balloting, only to watch third-place finisher Gary Nolan endorse Michael Badnarik for the win. Russo, like Barr, faced an intractable bloc of delegates who considered him heretical. The comparison doesn't go far, however, as Barr has spent two years in party leadership and carefully apologized for the stances that offend Libertarians most, like his pro-drug war votes and his initial support of the PATRIOT Act.

It's good enough for a lot of Libertarians, who are desparate for a candidate who can capture some of the Ron Paul mojo and avoid the fringey appearence of the Badnarik campaign. "We need to get back to basics," said Alabama delegate Dr. Jimmy Blake, "rather than discussing mineral rights on Mars and all of that crap." Washington, D.C. delegate Rob Kampia—better known as the head of the Marijuana Policy Project—is planning on voting for Barr, a sign of how much he's been forgiven. The question is how willing Barr's opponents are to accept him, and whether the party risks a fight along the lines of the razor-thin Ron Paul–Russell Means race 20 years ago. "If you nominated a Barr," said a rival candidate, "you’d lose the entire, very large, neo-pagan and non-traditional religious people. You'd lose the entire gay and lesbian groups. It would be a very big problem."

2. Mary Ruwart. Age: 59. Experience: Candidate for multiple local offices, author of Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression and other books.

Like Barr, Ruwart was pushed into the race by Libertarians who were unsatisfied by their choices. Like Barr, she didn’t need to be pushed very hard. Twenty-four years ago, Ruwart, then a scientific researcher and first-time LP delegate, threw her hat into the presidential nomination race and came in third. From there she mounted a series of unsuccessful (but often credible) bids for local offices, supplemented by reams and reams of freelance writing about nonaggression, philosophy, and left-libertarian ideas.

Ruwart's supporters see her as a singular spokesman for Libertarians, a likeable and eloquent activist who'll stay faithful to the party's message. Ruwart's opponents see her as a fringe candidate who'll do nothing to attract wayward conservatives. ”I don’t see us getting anywhere if Ruwart is the nominee,” said delegate Stewart Flood. [ed--This quote was originally misattributed to Aaron Starr.] “She’d be completely ignored by the media, or if she wasn’t ignored their view would be, ‘Boy, she’s got some strange ideas on things.’”

Proving this "strangeness" to delegates has proven tricky. Ruwart's oeuvre has been parsed for controversial statements, and a doozy from Short Answers to the Tough Questions made it sound as if the candidate favored the legalization of child pornography. It shook the campaign, and Ruwart responded, days later, with a tough statement denouncing "divisiveness" in the party. The pro-Ruwart and anti-Ruwart forces saw exactly what they wanted to see. "Mary is family," said a consultant for a rival campaign. "This isn't the Democrats or the Republicans, who'll pile on each other. If you're expecting a reaction against her from this, you're mistaken."

3. Wayne Allyn Root.
Age: 47. Experience: sports handicapper, former sports talk show host, author of five books, including Millionaire Republican and The Joy of Failure!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Hmm, will it be in a steel cage? Or the chain and collar match? Or the coal-miners glove match? Or a bunkhouse brawl?

    Watch out for Gravel. He throws rocks.

  • KingHarvest||

    The question still on everyone's minds: Will Ron Paul come in with a flying elbow drop in the final round to have it out with Barr and Gravel? (post-RNC, of course)

  • ||

    Ron Paul is going to stick with his six-figure government job, if I read him correctly.

  • kinnath||

    Will Ron Paul come in with a flying elbow drop in the final round to have it out with Barr and Gravel?

    Unlikely. As a sitting congressman, he is virtually assured of re-election (incumbants rarely are defeated).

    There isn's much he could accomplish as an LP candidate that he couldn't get by remaining a thorn in the side of the Republican party.

  • David Weigel||

    Also, Paul can't do anything with the LP "post-RNC" because the LP will nominate a candidate on May 25. Paul will be committed to his quixotic "maximize my primary votes and book sales" tour at that point.

    Will he endorse anyone after the Republican convention? Maybe, but the window to have an intra-LP impact will be closed.

  • economist||

    Well, I guess they'll have to Roshambo for it. That means the chick will probably win.

  • economist||

    What exactly does Gravel support? I hear about him being a "left-libertarian", but I'm not exactly sure what that implies. Does it mean he's a Georgist? That he's a leftist in libertarian clothing? Or something else?

  • Peter||

    "I'm a classical liberal."

    --- Mike Gravel

    Hah!

  • ||

    # kinnath | April 29, 2008, 3:35pm | #
    # As a sitting congressman, he {Ron Paul}
    # is virtually assured of re-election
    # incumbants rarely are defeated).

    It's especially hard to defeat an incumbent who has no major opponent. Didn't I read that the Demos aren't running anyone against him in November? As I understand it, once he won the GOP primary, RP was pretty much guaranteed another term in Congress, no matter what.

  • David Weigel||

    As I understand it, once he won the GOP primary, RP was pretty much guaranteed another term in Congress, no matter what.

    The only people running against Paul are two independents and Libertarian Eugene Flynn, who disagrees with Paul on immigration. So, you're right: Unless a meteor crashes into his campaign van, he's coming back to Congress in January.

  • ||

    Still time for Doug Stanhope to swoop in and save the party. (You might think I'm kidding. I'm not.)

  • svf||

    Unless a meteor crashes into his campaign van, he's coming back to Congress in January.

    So why the hell not run for Pres as a Libertarian in the meantime and finish what he started, "forcing" McCain to lose and the GOP to appease the libertarian bloc...?

    oh yeah, Ron Paul doesn't really want to run for president, he just wants to sell books and taunt Bernanke in Congress...

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    It would probably be best to wait for former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) to announce that he's seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for president before writing things like:

    "When former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) announced he was seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for president ..."

    So far, he hasn't announced any such thing. He's announced an "exploratory committee."

  • David Weigel||

    Thomas - You're right, and I state the different later in the piece. I will tweak that first reference.

  • ||

    reason sucks

  • Darius||

    Weigel, you're a douchebag

  • abu hamza||

    let's not use the phrase "drive-by media" because it's a meaningless catchphrase rush limbaugh started doing in 2006, I believe. Ignoring that narcotics-trafficking windbag is essential for dignified magazines like Reason, so don't use his catch phrases either.

    Bob Barr is a total and complete tool for how he acted during the mnica Lewinsky non-scandal and non-nothing impeachment. I never forgive him or even give a shit what he thinks about anything. Those do nohtings in Congress in the 90s in the majority were worried about a blue dress when there was a gathering threat gathering in al Quaeda. And I am a republican who voted for Bush twice.

  • Colin||

    I wish someone from Reason would run. Anyone of them would make a better candidate.

    Even the receptionist.

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    David,

    Thanks for fixing the info on Barr. Now all you have to do is re-rank the candidates correctly (Kubby should be in second behind Ruwart, and the baseless nonsense about a "myopic focus on marijuana" removed), and the article will be perfect ;-)

  • ||

    Christine Smith is hot. I hope she plays Badnarik to Barr's Russo. The only one totally unacceptable is Gravel. Though I'm cooling on Root too.

  • Stanhope for America||

    Given the hysteria over Ruwart's comments, Stanhope would probably elicit even more controversy:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8APlx9btTn8

  • ||

    I wish someone from Reason would run. Anyone of them would make a better candidate.

    Even the receptionist.


    "David Weigle you are seeking the nomination for the Libertarian party...could you please explain why you torpedoed Ron Paul over materials you knew he did not write?"

    "I was crashing at a left wing dudes house and he made me feel icky about it"

  • David Weigel||

    Thomas - Based on conversations with delegates, I don't think Kubby is running that high. I found a lot of people who'd support him as a back-up but prefer Ruwart.

  • svf||

    hot or not, these people are all bush league except MAYBE Barr.

    "We need to get back to basics," said Alabama delegate Dr. Jimmy Blake, "rather than discussing mineral rights on Mars and all of that crap."



    Yes. Barr / Blake 2008!

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...could you please explain why you torpedoed Ron Paul...



    Wow. That was you, Dave? How'd you manage to make Paul a mediocre speaker?
    And how'd you manage to get his campaign to air ads that discussed issues where he had exactly the same positions as the other Republicans?
    And how'd you get him to talk constantly about the Fed, without ever mentioning its role in the biggest real estate crash in thirty years?
    And how'd you...

    Oh, forget it, you're too busy to answer all those questions. Let me just suggest that offer your services to the highest bidder. With your skills in forcing campaigns to make brazenly stupid decisions, McCain or Obama would pay you big bucks to scuttle the other guy's campaign.

  • Yahoo Answerer: Now with Spell||

    "and self-identified "descendent of Emperor Nero," Daniel Imperato"

    Sound like someone spent WAY too much time researching genealogy. Myself, I only care about genealogy to the point I can make sure I don't get married to a close relative. I don't care what my ancestors were up to in 1687.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Did I read the article right? Only 126 of the 700 delegates have made plans to attend so far?

  • ||

    Bob Barr is not an ex-drug warrior. Stop spreading that nonsense. Barr recently said, on Hannity and Colmes, that he is against legalizing drugs and wants enforcement at the state level because he thinks the states would be more efficient at the job. His complaint is with the Federal government not the war on drugs and he wants more "efficient" drug wars which would mean more arrests, more intervention, etc. Add in his bigoted anti-gay views, his desire to have religion in government schools, his anti-abortion views, etc. and what you have is a theocratically inclined conservative not a libertarian.

    Root is changing anything he says to fit what he thinks is necessary for the nomination. But if you figure he puts his money where his mouth is then his $1000 donation to Senator Joe Lieberman shows Root to be a neocon of the worst sort. He even entered the LP race cheering the war in Iraq but claimed a convenient "conversion" when it was clear that position would end his candidacy. Root is a comibination used car salesman, neo conservative, opportunist who wants to raise his profile to sell more morons his "betting" service.

  • David Weigel||

    Only 126 of the 700 delegates have made plans to attend so far?

    No, there are 126 alternates and 700 delegates. The number that actually show up is expected to between 700 and 800.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    clarity -- think about this for a minute: Barr says he's against federal intervention on drugs. He wants state regulation of drugs. Both of those positions are Constitutional. Furthermore, when you think about it, the War on Drugs is a FEDERAL project.

    You may want drugs legalized at the state level, but the federal government cannot force that action. Barr is running for a federal office. His platform would allow for states (Alaska, MA, VT) to decriminalize and legalize.

  • The Democratic republican||

    Thanks!

  • ||

    Wiegel on Steve Kubby: "...concerns about his campaigning skills and his myopic focus on marijuana are keeping him out of the top tier."

    I would say that the people with the concerns may be ones who are myopically focused on marijuana. Did the campaign provide you with (or recommend that you run) that intimidating picture of Kubby and his buds, for example? (If so, that would definitely seem to be evidence of the campaign's incompetence -- use that picture in ads that run in High Times or Cannabis Culture, but not for general campaign purposes.) The thing that radicalized Kubby was certainly his illness and the government's approach to marijuana, which Kubby and his doctors found to be a remarkably effective medicine for his condition. But the issues of the drug war and medical marijuana are simply lenses through which to view and appreciate Kubby's real issue: freedom. He has declared as much, over and over, to anyone who would read or listen.

    Typecasting Kubby as "the pot candidate" simply allows people to dismiss him, but whether or not he's solid presidential timber, he has some important things to say about freedom in America, and can make his points convincingly by virtue of his first-hand experience with the horrors of our current Drug War/Prohibition. It behooves Libertarians to entertain and even encourage his candidacy to the last possible moment -- in the process, evaluating his suitability for office according to the criteria that would be applied to any other candidate. Do you think his health is a concern? Would his use of medicinal marijuana compromise his decision-making or leadership ability? Does he have sufficient understanding of how our government works (or should work) to discharge his duties competently? If he should somehow actually win, does he seriously intend to serve? Let's answer all of those questions and several more, before making a final decision about Steve Kubby.

    In the meantime, listening to him would help educate people about the fact that we won't seriously regain liberty in this country until we end the Drug War. Most (if not all) of the assaults on liberty we have endured during the post-9/11 period were actually pioneered and developed during either the Drug War, or the immediately prior "War Against Organized Crime," which attacked the criminal gangs that flowered during our First Drug War -- alcohol prohibition. Even if the shooting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ended tomorrow (which pretty much everyone, including the front-running major party presidential candidates assures us cannot happen -- we'll be "shooting" for quite a while yet), we would still have the Drug War to maintain a high level of domestic oppression and incubate even more onerous measures. On the other hand, We The People can "just say no" to the Drug War and conceivably end it overnight. This would, at a minimum, free up resources that could help our economy and promote our security. Without the distraction of the Drug War and the restrictions on liberty it inspired, the American people might then be able to focus on ending the "shooting wars," too, as well as avoiding future conflicts in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere. And without the expense of the "wars," we might be able to run the government without recourse to an income tax of any kind, flat or otherwise. The potential benefits are many and profound, but we need a key breakthrough to begin unraveling the knot that currently binds us. In my opinion, Kubby has correctly identified the Drug War as the best potential source of that breakthrough. I came to understand this not by waving him off as "that pot guy," but by listening to what he has to say.

  • ||

    could you please explain why you torpedoed Ron Paul over materials you knew he did not write?

    you know what? Given that the alleged "ghostwriter" never came forward, and Paul's name was on the masthead of every letter, I'm inclined to believe he did write them, until someone else owns up to it.

  • ||

    SW: Sorry about spelling your name wrong. I'd fix it if I could. :-)

  • ||

    SW = DW. Jeez. And I'm on nothing stronger than Advil, though that doesn't seem to be doing much for my splitting sinus headache. I'll come back whenever, as they say in the ads, "the pain is gone."

  • Neil||

    Sounds almost chaotic as the Democrat Party primary. Almost!

  • Fluffy||

    So why the hell not run for Pres as a Libertarian in the meantime and finish what he started, "forcing" McCain to lose and the GOP to appease the libertarian bloc...?

    Um...because he can't legally do that in Texas?

  • svf||

    Um...because he can't legally do that in Texas?

    not that it matters, but I think this has been hashed out before and essentially the whole "sore loser law" thing would not actually be an issue in TX (or anywhere else)...

    see:

    Sore Loser Laws Don't Apply To Presidential Candidates

  • ||

    Christine Smith is hot.

    Maybe it would be easier if we just assume you think that all libertarian women are hot and you can post when one comes along you don't find attractive.

  • BakedPenguin||

    AR - the thing that kept me from that conclusion was that the excerpts I read from the newsletters really don't sound like anything else he's written. Even apart from the racism, there's a jocularity, a low-rent attempt at irreverence, that is not present with anything Paul's written.

    However, if the newsletters were no big deal, my question is - why didn't the ghostwriter come forward? If they're just some "un-PC" good times, why didn't he own up? The only answer I can think of is that the writer is now in some position of (relative) prominence, and recognizes that they were racist, and they damn well would have f'd up his current career.

  • ||

    "I am not a Constitutionalist," Gravel said last week. "I'm a classical liberal."

    Gravel has no understanding of what it means to be a classical liberal, and no respect from me if he ignores the constitution.

  • ||

    If the LP wants a good candidate for President, it will have to show a good ground game in the Congress first.

    *Pick some Districts in key states that have some real A**holes in both D & R parties.

    *Get the party behind them and aggressively promote their candidacy.

    The success of these candidates will lead to a stronger party, stronger candidates and maybe some coverage from the pathetic mainstream media that the rest of the sheeple watch.

  • Mad Max||

    What a rogues' gallery!

    The scary thing is that these guys seem preferable to John Barack Hillcain Obinton.

  • ||

    wait, the Presidency has been decided?

  • ||

    I've been a delegate to several LP nominating conventions and seen some pretty strange fringe-y candidates, one who had trouble finding a single person to make a nominating speech. If a candidate is too weird for Starchild, he must be Waaaaay Out There.

  • B||

    "He is the most ridiculous candidate I have ever seen," says Starchild.

    LOL! What a great last line. My hat's off to you, Mr. Weigel...

  • ||

    Sad to see Reason and its "associates" have also fallen victim to the "wasted vote" mentality, thereby perpetuating the "lesser of two evils" dilemma.

    Vote your conscience!

  • Brandybuck||

    "If you nominated a Barr," said a rival candidate, "you'd lose the entire, very large, neo-pagan and non-traditional religious people. You'd lose the entire gay and lesbian groups. It would be a very big problem."



    It's said that only a black woman can win the Democratic nomination. Perhaps it's true that only a gay neo-pagan can get the LP nomination. Whatever. The people criticizing Bob Barr for daring to have a morality aren't the ones who will be doing the nominating. People said the same thing about Ron Paul (white male heterosexual Christian in a fifty year monogamous marriage) yet he still got the support of nearly every gay and lesbian on the libertarian side of the fence (and even grudging admiration from Weigel).

  • Jeff Wartman||

    Dave Weigel writes: "Based on conversations with delegates..."

    Translation: Steve Gordon told me...

  • Travis||

    "The thing that radicalized Kubby was certainly his illness and the government's approach to marijuana, which Kubby and his doctors found to be a remarkably effective medicine for his condition."

    A presidental canidate that smokes marijuana for medicinal purposes. Only in the Libertarian Party could that happen.

  • ||

    The Massachusetts LP was the greatest I had ever seen before George Phillies showed up and started to acquire his "more electoral experience than anyone else in the race".

    We had hundreds attend our conventions, and the LPMA had record numbers of campaigns, the most high-profile of which resonated around the country. We rocked!

    Now in the Phillies era, the attendance at state conventions is in the teens, and he has recruited only one candidate in the entire state, in addition to himself.

    The reason for this is simple. George used his unreadable newsletters (Let Freedom Ring! and Libertarian Strategy Gazette) to bad-mouth the fine candidates we had - the more active they were, the viler was his innuendo.

    He destroyed a vibrant state party - don't let him do the same at the national level. He is a hypocrite and a silly crank. He will diminish our party.

    Dunno where he is at on the neo-pagan thing, but you can trust him to find a massively stupid position.

  • Lajaw||

    *abu hamza*
    "narcotics-trafficking windbag"

    With name calling like that, I'd say you have some very left-leaning credentials. Most libertarians support legalizing most drugs, yet you chastise the windbag for using a *legal* and prescribed drug. I have no respect for your opinion now.

  • ||

    Imperato: Goofy, inconsistent policy positions and wild claims that have no logical connection to one another, let along the people of the party he seeks to "lead."

    Reading the policy "ideas" on his website led me to wonder if anyone else has noticed that his name is an anagram for "I Am Perot."

  • ||

    "If you nominated a Barr," said a rival candidate, "you'd lose the entire, very large, neo-pagan and non-traditional religious people. You'd lose the entire gay and lesbian groups. It would be a very big problem."

    Is (s)he referring to obese neo-pagans?

    I would think this had to be that pompous ass Philles, but I've read some stuff he wrote and it appears he speaks in coherent sentences with number agreement between adjectives and nouns. This is probably the pot guy.

  • thoreau||

    I was beaten to the punch on the Starchild quote. But this one is also pretty good:

    "I clearly got the impression he's not lucid very often," one delegate said. "He didn't seem...with it."



    That could probably be in reference to any of the candidates.

  • ||

    It does not matter.
    I will vote for "the party", even if "the party" nominates a paedophile.

  • ||

    Shouldn't Imperato be running for the Silly Party? I might vote for him if he runs there.

    I'm seriously considering writing in "ball of lint."

  • ||

    If Hillary doesn't get the democratic nomination, Ms. Ruwart may be able to get a few of the people wanting to vote for a somewhat left-leaning woman.

    I can see Barr running into the same problem Russo did in 2004. There is just a large group of libertarians that aren't ready yet to vote for Barr. Ruwart is most likely the one to benefit from this. She seems to be well liked within the party and doesn't bring out the haters as some of the other candidates do. She may not be the conservative leaning wing of the party's ideal candidate, but is likely someone who they could tolerate. The left can't tolerate Barr or Root and the right can't tolerate Gravel, which leaves us pretty much with Ruwart.

    While she might get slammed for a few of the things she has said or written, however, given a chance I think she could probably respond to these things pretty well through the course of a campaign. I think she would do very well given a chance to debate Obama and McCain, if the announcers didn't "Ron Paul" her and let her talk about the issues. The problem is she or any LP candidate will likely never get a chance to debate them.

  • ||

    Give up on the right-wing already, it didn't work for Paul, it didn't work for Rothbard or Rockwell, and it makes us look bad.

    If you want libertarians to be taken seriously, especially in academia, it's time to ease up on the economic issues a bit.

    Big L on social issues, small L on economic issues.

    Gravel '08

  • Less Antman||

    > If the delegates convened today, Bob Barr would win most of their votes. But he would not win a majority.

    That would be some trick, to win most of the votes and not have a majority. ;)

    Barr will have to deal with his support of the Fair Tax, his Hannity & Colmes denial that he supports drug legalization (only having it illegal at the state level instead of federal, which may be more constitutional but isn't remotely libertarian), his call for intervention in Central America and support for the Columbian president on the drug war, not to mention his support of a law to REQUIRE private property business owners to permit guns on their premises and his opposition to the reduction of the 10-year prison sentence of a Georgia black who at 17 gave oral sex to his white 15-year-old girl friend, even though the Georgia legislature has actually changed the law because of public outrage at the length of the sentence.

    Ruwart's sole legitimate negative is the argument that she doesn't have the celebrity of Barr and Gravel, but she is so much better at explaining libertarianism (not to mention at agreeing with the views of most libertarians) that it ought to more than compensate. Ron Paul also wrote a letter of recommendation to Bush to select Ruwart as the FDA Commissioner in 2002, and gave a rave review of her libertarian primer that is on the book's back cover. The attempt to smear her by misrepresenting her position on children's rights, using a comment written 10 years ago that was based primarily on the LP PLATFORM at the time and that is actually quite supportable if described accurately, has backfired, and may be the catalyst for her victory (Root, who has tried to make the most of this smear, will be sunk by the attempt).

    I agree that a first ballot victory for anyone is unlikely, and what will determine the nomination is turnout. Low attendance favors Barr, and high attendance Ruwart. Nobody else has a chance (unless Ron Paul has a last minute change of heart).

    Interesting note: although Barr and Ruwart have opposite positions on abortion, it seems clear that delegates on both sides of the issue respect the sincerity of their opposites so much that they do not think it is the key to their decision. Contrast this with the Republicans and Constitutionalists, who would NEVER support a pro-choice candidate, and the Democrats and Greens, who would NEVER support a pro-life candidate. Libertarians are the only non-radicals in the bunch!

  • Eric Dondero||

    Correction:

    The race for the 1988 LP Presidential nomination in Seattle was not "close" as Weigal describes it. Ron Paul soundly beat Russell Means on the first ballot 195 - 132.

    It's a common mistake, and Weigal shouldn't feel too ashamed about it.

    It is viewed as "close" because in one sense it was: Ron Paul won on the first ballot by a mere 2 delegate votes. If it had been 193 versus 195 the vote would have gone to a second ballot.

    Thus today, people still mistakenly say that the race for the 1988 LP Nomination was "razor thin" when in reality it was 195 to 132.

    Eric Dondero, 1988
    Libertarian National Convention Delegate
    Travel Aide/Advance Man, US Presidential
    candidate Ron Paul 1987/88

  • Eric Dondero||

    BTW, interesting side note. For a few minutes immediately after the vote was taken in Seattle nobody realized that Ron Paul had indeed won on the first ballot. The convention hall was hushed. Whispers abounded all over the hall, "is that enough for him to win..." Finally, the LP Secretary came to the podium and announced that he had indeed won, and the room roared, balloons fell, confetti, a band played the Texas anthem. It was pandomonium.

  • Eric Dondero||

    As a diehard Root supporter, I gotta admit, this nomination is Bob Barr's for the asking.

    He's polling 4% in the latest Zogby. That's even 1% above Nader. That's incredibly impressive.

    We're in for the greatest LP Presidential election year ever. I'd predict as high as 3 to 4 million votes with Barr or Wayne Root or Gravel (more around the 500,000 range with anyone else).

    I'm hearing from tons of fellow Republicans who'd support Barr. But the LP could blow it with a Ruwart, Phillies, or other 2nd tier nominee. They've blown it in the past. So, one shouldn't be surprised with anything that happens out of that convention.

  • ||

    The key element of Barr's fiscal policy is to reduce Federal government spending. If (or after) that is accomplished, he favors moving to something like the "Fair Tax." In other words, he favors moving to a national sales tax, but has not endorsed every detail of the specific "Fair Tax" proposal.

    I am a critic of the "Fair Tax" proposal, and not especially a fan of any national sales tax, but I think it is a good thing to have an LP Presidential candidate who will reach out to the Fair Tax movement. In my view, the worst thing about the specific Fair Tax proposal is the sky-high rate resulting from an attempt to maintain federal spending at current levels. Barr's emphasis on cutting spending goes to the heart of that problem.

    Barr did not support the drug war on the state level. After being badgered, he said that he wouldn't vote to legalize heroin or crack. I would have said the same. In my case, along with an unsaid, "marijuana now and I am pretty sure the others should be legalized later." Of course, Barr may not agree with the Gary Becker approach. But, he made no blanket statements about drug legalization.

    I read his statements about Latin America. He did not call for intervention there. I thought his views were a bit alarmist. And, he certainly left open the possiblity of intervention, but he didn't call of it.

    Barr is by far the best candidate for the LP.

  • Less Antman||

    This is what Barr wrote:

    "While Washington's current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security. There may not be weapons of mass destruction lurking in the jungles of Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador (there weren't in Iraq either, of course), but arms are flowing into the area. Venezuela, for example, is buying billions of dollars worth of Russian military equipment. Leftist guerrillas and narco-terrorists remain firmly entrenched in the region, and evidence that other terrorist groups are using the area for problematic purposes is mounting."

    Maybe you're referring to other statements of his, but I interpret the "resources" that would be shifted from Iraq and Afghanistan to Latin America because it is "critical to our security" as being military resources.

    There IS, of course, an interventionist element in the LP that supports that, but I do think I fairly characterized this statement as indicating that he is one of them.

  • ||

    I'd vote for Barr, but I won't contribute or campaign for him.

  • Susan Hogarth||


    Barr will have to deal with his support of the Fair Tax, his Hannity & Colmes denial that he supports drug legalization (only having it illegal at the state level instead of federal, which may be more constitutional but isn't remotely libertarian), his call for intervention in Central America and support for the Columbian president on the drug war, not to mention his support of a law to REQUIRE private property business owners to permit guns on their premises and his opposition to the reduction of the 10-year prison sentence of a Georgia black who at 17 gave oral sex to his white 15-year-old girl friend, even though the Georgia legislature has actually changed the law because of public outrage at the length of the sentence.



    Barr will also have to explain why he has continued to operate a fundraising PAC that overwhelmingly funds Republican candidates - even in races where a Libertarian could run or is running - while he has been serving as a member of the Libertarian National Committee, the LP's governing board.

  • Mr. X||

    Dave,
    Under his qualifications, you neglected to mention that George Phillies also ran for Congress in 1998.

  • ||

    Antman interprets "shifting resources," to mean a military invasion of where, Venezuela?

    I wouldn't even count that as a certain proposal in favor of expanded military aid.

    For example,resources devoted to intelligence gathering should be focused on Latin America.

    Or, more state department employees should be allocated to mediating between Latin American countries involved in conflict.

    While I don't know that the U.S. can really do much useful to discourage war between Columbia and Venezuela, avoiding the likely disruption in oil would be a good thing.

    One reason I strongly opposed invading and then occupying Iraq is that I believe that the U.S. should be prepared to intervene in Pakistan. I doubt it would actually be a good idea, but tying up the U.S. military in Iraq (or Iran) is crazy when the most likely way that Al Quaeda could become a serious threat is through Pakistan. Accomplishing a pipe dream in Iraq is insane when there is a nuclear armed state with a substantial minority that openly admires Osama Bin Laden.

    The history of U.S. intervervention in Latin America has been a distaster. However, it is close to the U.S. And I suppose it is possible that a threat could develop from that front.

    Anyway, the argument that the U.S. shouldn't tie itself down in pointless wars because some intervention might be necessary elsewhere is a sound argument.

    It doesn't require that one commit to intervention elsewhere immediately. Or even to commit to intervention if something bad happens. It does involve the judgement that intervention might be sometimes the least bad option. And, so, of course, it is inconsistent with "principled" isolationism.

    Anyway, Barr appears willing to take on the problem of today, which is the neo-con foreign policy. Preventative war to nation-build a regime that will be no threat to the U.S. He has rejected both preventative war and nation building. (One of these latin american countries might be a threat, so we should invade and make them in the democratic capitalist regime whose citizens will then love the U.S. forever.)

    I don't need to have a candidate who will insist that if Venezuala invades Colombia, the U.S. will stay neutral. I would rather not have one who insists that the U.S. would take sides either. Thankfully, Barr didn't say that the U.S. should take sides.

  • Less Antman||

    Susan, in that case I'll have to explain why I gave $1,000 to the Ron Paul for President campaign last year. Personally, I'm only concerned about whether a 2008 Barr candidacy would be good for the advancement of libertarian ideas (for the reasons I indicated, I have serious doubts, and think he needs to be more persuaded that libertarianism works before he ought to become the de facto primary spokesman for the entire LP).

    But your point is well taken in that his fund-raising for Republicans while serving as an LNC member WILL be a deal-breaker for some other people in the LP.

  • kiss of death||

    Eric Dondero | April 30, 2008, 7:50am | #

    As a diehard Root supporter, I gotta admit, this nomination is Bob Barr's for the asking.



    And now Bob Barr is officially doomed...

  • Less Antman||

    I said intervention, not invasion. I think my interpretation is more plausible than yours, Bill, given the alarmist tone, as well as a separate piece Barr wrote praising the president of Columbia as a crucial ally of the US who deserves our support, so that Barr HAS clearly said which side he's on in any conflict.

    Maybe the resources in Iraq and Afghanistan he thinks it is CRITICAL TO OUR SECURITY to shift is just a few intelligence officers, but that sounds silly to me. In any event, we're just predicting how the LP delegates will respond, and I think the non-interventionists will see his statement as interventionist, and that the current state of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan has strenghtened the non-interventionist view (and explains Ron Paul's meteoric rise last year). Those who DO favor intervention are more inclined to take your view, and I doubt that sabre-rattling about Hispanofascism will do Barr any good in the LP nomination battle. But we'll know soon enough.

  • Less Antman||

    My 8th grade spelling teacher just called, and somehow managed to rap my knuckles with a ruler over the phone:

    COLOMBIA, not COLUMBIA.

  • ChanceH||

    Paul will be committed to his quixotic "maximize my primary votes and book sales" tour at that point

    what are Ron Pauls "non-quixotic" options at this point in time? Are you claiming becoming the LP candidate is somehow "non-quixotic"? (thats just plain funny).

    Do you just want him to sit down and shut up?

    Or is not the qixoticality of his actions that bother you, but the fact that he is trying (a) get votes and (b) trying to maintain some of the intellectual momentum of the movement that has risen around him?

    Why man? Why?

  • Susan Hogarth||

    Less writes:


    Susan, in that case I'll have to explain why I gave $1,000 to the Ron Paul for President campaign last year. ...

    But your point is well taken in that his fund-raising for Republicans while serving as an LNC member WILL be a deal-breaker for some other people in the LP.



    I think there is a substantive difference between a rank-and-file party member donating to a previous LP presidential candidate who is running as a Republican and a sitting LNC member actively fundraising for the likes of Barry "We must defend the sanctity of marriage as being between one man and one woman" Loudermilk and Ileana "I recently voted in favor of HR 6-The Energy Independence and Security Act. This legislation includes a historic level of funding for clean, alternative fuels..." Ros-Lehtinen.

  • Susan Hogarth||

    For example,resources devoted to intelligence gathering should be focused on Latin America.

    Here's a wild idea: Resources devoted to intelligence gathering should be focused on where the people who created those resources (that would be individual taxpayers) WANT them to be focused.

    But perhaps Bill Woolsey thinks he knows better than the person making the money where it should go.

    What a bold new 'libertarian' concept:

    The Libertarian Party: We'll still take your money, but we'll spend it better; 'cause we're smarter than you!

    Sorta lacks punch, I think.

  • ||

    Mary Ruwart is 58 years of age, not 59, and she IS NOT a left-libertarian. Yes, she appeals to leftists more than Barr, W.A.R. and others, but Mary is correctly characterized as "Libertarian".

    Would Dave Weigel have characterized Harry Browne as right-libertarian"? Browne was thoroughly "Libertarian".

    Also, the characterization of W.A.R. as "a savvy and quick-witted speaker", isn't true. All one needs to do is challenge W.A.R. on any of his so-called positions, and he folds like a tent. This is proof that W.A.R. is a lightweight "libertarian". He has no depth . . . just rhetoric which he can't sustain upon questioning.

  • ||

    Less Antman posts: Ruwart's sole legitimate negative is the argument that she doesn't have the celebrity of Barr and Gravel, but she is so much better at explaining libertarianism (not to mention at agreeing with the views of most libertarians.

    AND, Less, she is SO MUCH BETTER AT EXPLAINING LIBERTARIANISM TO NON LIBS, and in ways which most non-libertarians can assimilate with.

    So, I don't see her alleged "lack of star power" lacking at all!

  • ||

    I hope Bob Barr will lose that ugly mustache and have new pictures taken.
    I know looks really shouldn't matter, but for some reason to me, it's creepy to the point of almost perverse.

  • ||

    Of course, the constitution party has nominated Chuck Baldwin, sort of a churchy Ron Paul. While he won't appeal to the lefty libertarians, he will be just dandy for most Right - libertarians, as well as many of the Huckabee crowd. If the vast majority of the RP supporters go for Baldwin, the LP will be left with 0.02% next election.

    Personally, I distrust religious guys, and I'm sure we will see the lefty libertarians pull the race card, like they did against Paul, because of his Vdare connections, but the idea of a Libertarian / Constitutional coalition may just convince me to vote, and maybe even work, for Baldwin. I see him being able to get as high as 15 %, noteing that in PA Paul and Huckabee together received over 25 % of the republican vote. Add the Ron Paul independents and democrats, and the organizational push of the RP revolution, and you have a force to be reckoned with.

    sadly the people that refused to get behind Ron Paul because some of his followers were icky, and because of the out of context news letters, and the $500 dollar donation from a white separatist will be marginalized and will probably vote for Nader.

    Funny how ridiculous that all looks when compared to the statements of Jerimiah Wright.

  • ||

    I favor tax-financed national defense for the foreseeable future.

    One of the aspects of national defense is gathering intelligence on threats.

    I do not favor a dictatorship, even where I am the dictator, so it isn't exactly true that I am making judgements about the best way for other people to spend their money. (And, for that matter, I don't favor devoting more resources to Latin America.)

    Should I take it that Ruwart will be explaining the "libertarian" position in favor of the immediate privatization of national defense?

    I'm sure that will help promote a rapid withdrawal from Iraq. We should withdrawal from Iraq because Iraq is being occuplied by the U.S. armed forces, and the U.S. armed forces should be abolished so that taxpayers can spend their money as they choose. Perhaps they will purchase private national defense. Hold high the banner of pure principle.. anarchism now!

    If that is not the plan, then I would suggest comming up with better arguments.

  • ||

    Woolsey posts: "Should I take it that Ruwart will be explaining the "libertarian" position in favor of the immediate privatization of national defense?"

    As "extremist" as you would like to paint Mary Ruwart, she has the common sense to know that until the federal government becomes properly constitutional again, privatizing the military is not the option to consider. Like Harry Browne believed and promoted, I think that Mary's view of constitutional vs. libertarian is that the "law of the land" (constitution) is the shorter term target, and once reached, we could then focus on how to proceed to go further.

    Once again, Woolsey and others just want to paint real Libertarians as "all or nothing" and shove EVERYTHING down the voters throats! Maybe this is what Woolsey would do if he was properly libertarian, but libertarians understand that the goal is not reached in a day, or year or decade. This does not mean however, that the ultimate goal of liberty should be abandoned or hidden.

  • Susan Hogarth||

    Should I take it that Ruwart will be explaining the "libertarian" position in favor of the immediate privatization of national defense?

    Why do you put 'libertarian' in quotes? Would you not find such a position libertarian?

    But more essentially, you are conflating what I said with what you imagine might be Mary Ruwart's position. Ruwart hasn't (so far as I know) called for "the immediate privatization of national defense".

    Most essentially, you seem to have a confused understanding of incrementalism. Calling for a spending *shift* is not going to reduce government *one bit*. Libertarians should be fighting as hard as possible for *any* decrease in spending in *any and every* government program. So instead of whining about the abolitionist stances of some libertarians, don't you think you could do more if you fought for the *actual shrinking* of government? And by 'government' I do not mean 'parts of the government you don't like'. I mean 'government'.

    I favor tax-financed national defense for the foreseeable future.

    Let's strike a bargain: I will talk about cutting government at each and every level at each and every chance and you can talk about cutting government at each and every level at each and every chance. Then we'll sound like we're from the same political party, and neither one of us should find such a statement philosophically difficult to swallow. That is, it shouldn't be difficult unless you *don't* want to cut government at each and every level at each and every chance.

  • Less Antman||

    No, Bill, she won't, because she has always campaigned in the past on those positions represented by the LP Platform. It is one reason she supports Restore '04. Her campaign statement on this subject was:

    ----
    Commerce, not coercion, should be the touchstone of our foreign policy. The best way to prevent attack is to create as few enemies -- and as many trading partners -- as possible. The best way to repel an attack is to have our troops at home where they can readily defend our shores
    ----

    Privatization is one of those words that can be mean too many different things to be useful as a concept. It is effectively true, of course, that the LP opposes tax-supported national defense because it opposes the use of taxes to fund government activities. That would be like saying the LP opposes tax subsidies to African-American farmers (or tax-supported purchases of striped canes for blind, crippled children).

    For my own part, I put together a blog post on defense without taxes at http://www.ruwarchy.com/topic/377 which is purely my own opinion on the subject. It also has a link to some of Ruwart's past writings on the subject.

  • ||

    If Wiegel talked to delegates, then let's see the names beside Starr and Starchild (who are admittedly almost polar opposites!), Kampia, and Flood. I know you didn't talk to *this* delegate.

    That, and your bias shows in you writing and photos. Making Kubby look like Jonathan Brewster from "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1941, Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, directed by Frank Capra for all you movie buffs) is just bad. Terms such as calling the Paul campaign "quixotic" when Reason led the charge against him, calling Phillies "the least offensive" candidate in a backhanded slap at the entire slate, and in general the anonymous delegate negative comments that for all we know were made up.

    In journalistic terms, this one gets a B-. List all of your sources, cut the biased adjectives and editorializing, and report the facts.

  • ||

    I find it interesting that Weigel lists W.A.R. as third, behind Barr and Ruwart. The candidate himself continues to tout himself as the "frontrunner", time and time again. Interesting but not surprising.

    Time to check your premise W.A.R. But then, W.A.R. has always seen himself as a king anyway, over-inflated ego and all.

  • ||

    "He is the most ridiculous candidate I have ever seen," says Starchild.

    That was a brilliant way to end the article.

  • ||

    I have never spoken to this reporter.

    I've e-mailed him to request he correct his story and he promised he would do so.

    Can someone please verify the accuracy of these quotes? Are these quotes are based on real interviews?

  • Brian||

    One of Ron Paul's money-bomb organizers needs to get a website going for a July 4th "Get Out the Write-in Vote" for his campaign...now while the book sales are hot.

  • David F. Nolan||

    Interesting article. I don't agree with every word, but it's not a bad quick overview of the field, for people who are only mildly interested in the LP contest. And while I would not attempt to rank the contenders, I will say that the final choice is very likely to be one "conservative" candidate (either Barr or Root) vs. one "left-leaning" candidate (probably Ruwart). I hate to use those terms, but as a quick shorthand for the two camps they do the job.

    Personally, I'm not 100% enthusiastic about any of the choices. The ones who are well-known deviate significantly from libertarian principles in one area or another, and the ones who are consistently libertarian are not well-known. But I will almost certainly vote for the LP nominee, whoever he or she turns out to be, because the alternatives are so awful!

  • ||

    Wow, how in the world did Bob Barr even get in the LP? What is wrong with that picture? Time to send back my lifetime memebership I guess. The LP ain't what it used to be. Sad.

  • Roger Maltz||

    They need to get that colloidal silver guy from Montana to enter the race and we'll have a splendid freakshow this year indeed.

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    Roger,

    "That colloidal silver guy" -- Stan Jones -- was one of two Libertarians (along with Frank Gilmour of Missouri) who arguably took the US Senate away from the Republicans in 2006. Not a bad day's work, and more than I'm aware of any LP presidential candidate, ever, accomplishing.

  • ||

    So, I have mail from the LP about how the LP ought to sweep up Ron Paul supporters. Have any of the candidates asserted their ability to accomplish this?

  • ||

    I know Bob Barr personally for many years, since he was a U.S. Attorney. As a federal prosecutor, Barr zealously arrested, indicted and convicted numerous people for possessing marijuana and other drugs. Barr was far more aggressive in prosecuting drug cases than the other federal prosecutors. And even after securing convictions in drug cases, Barr would try to convince judges to impose the most severe sentences possible.

    If Barr wins the Libertarian nomination, he will betray the party as soon as he can. Just as he has betrayed everyone else he ever worked with in politics.

    And Barr will switch his positions once again as soon as it becomes politically feasible.

  • Jordan 6 Rings||

    perfect

  • Nike Dunk SB High||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement