How Barr Brought It

Dispatches from the Libertarian Party's 2008 Convention

reason Associate Editor David Weigel traveled to Denver over the Memorial Day weekend to cover the Libertarian Party's national convention, which culminated in former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root being selected as the presidential and vice-presidential standardbearers for the nation's third-largest party in the 2008 presidential election.

Read all of Weigel's coverage in sequence:

"Who Isn't Trying to Take Over the Libertarian Party?: Scenes from the LP's most newsworthy convention in years" (May 23)

"Anarchists of the World, Unite!: The Libertarian Party's radical candidates aren't conceding anything to the media-appointed frontrunners" (May 24)

"Three Hits and a Miss: The Libertarian Party debate elevates Barr, Kubby, and Root, while Ruwart underperforms" (May 25)

"Citizen Bob: How Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root took over the Libertarian Party" (May 26)

And don't miss his blog entries during the convention, which can be read here.

reason.tv interviewed Barr before the convention. Watch the 15-minute video by clicking here.

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  • ||

    I just wanna say kudos to David Weigel for his LP convention reportage. I attended the convention for a couple days and I still got a lot from reading David's reports and analyses. His political reporting is always strong but his LP convention coverage has been stellar.

  • Kolohe||

    A clip show? What a gyp! :)

    Seriously, ditto on rick barton's comment.

  • ||

    Dave,
    I'd really like an article about Root's delegates. Who are these people that fell in line behind that cartoon? If I wouldn't sit still to listen to that guy tell me how to beat the house in Vegas, how much freedom can he talk before I reflexively change the channel? I can't for the life of me figure out how he got his support.

    Maybe Vegas is like LA where everyone stays in character until the person inside fades away altogether.

  • Colin||

    What's interesting is that I believe Root didn't get any votes from Nevada (at least, not on the first ballot.)

    I figure his supporters are the same type people who are into informercials. Someone must watch them.

    BANG!

  • Gutterbrain||

    Who will win the 2008 Golden Godwin by being the first to use the word "putsch" with regards to Barr?

  • Orange Line Special||

    Let me give some more of those kudos to Weigel! He must especially be proud of the fact that both MattYglesias and EzraKlein said he's cool!

    Next up: an invitation to a SallyQuinn dinner party!

    Maybe one day even an invite to BohemianGrove!

  • ||

    god, lonewacko, I don't know what's worse: that I think that's a spoof post of you...or the other side of me that thinks it is not.

  • Chris in NJ||

    Warren -

    I'm not an LP delegate or anything, but I was a Root supporter and I'm o.k. with him as VP.

    I'll admit, he didn't give the best performance of his life during the debates or in his speech at the convention. However, keep in mind, he had been campaigning at state LP conventions for months before the national convention. He strikes me as the kind of guy who, one-on-one, wouldn't be nearly as abrasive.

    Anyway, he had plenty of time to rack up delegates before that less-than-stellar debate/speech performance. So that was probably his base of support.

    Also, I know that the whole used car salesman routine doesn't go over with libertarians, but it DOES go over well with John Q. Public. Millions of them flock to Vegas every year because guys like that - or worse - sell them on it. We don't need to sell our message to libertarians, we need to sell it to everyone else.

  • Chris in NJ||

    /forgot - BANG!

  • ||

    "Also, I know that the whole used car salesman routine doesn't go over with libertarians, but it DOES go over well with John Q. Public. Millions of them flock to Vegas every year because guys like that - or worse - sell them on it. We don't need to sell our message to libertarians, we need to sell it to everyone else."

    Thank you Chris in NJ.

    I consider myself a "radical" but most radicals are clueless about how the other 99% live/think/act. Either that or the whole " I'm a pure libertarian and the other 99% are stupid idiot neocons" attitude

  • ||

    I'll admit, he didn't give the best performance of his life during the debates or in his speech at the convention ... He strikes me as the kind of guy who, one-on-one, wouldn't be nearly as abrasive.

    Sorry no sale. His little self promotion video was also WAYNE ALLEN ROOOOOT HARD SELL!!!!! Given that he too just dropped in to the Libertarian Party, there is no there there. He's just a blathering buffoon from beginning to end.

    I figure his supporters are the same type people who are into informercials. Someone must watch them.

    Yeah like one percent of one percent? Even if you figure your average LP member (such as myself) is ten times more susceptible to BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO IF YOU JUST YELL LOUD AND LONG ENOUGH (though I would have thought that would work the other way) it still can't account for the amount of support that he had.

  • Mike||

    zomg can we have instant replay plx? First-person porn vid? Barr=death. Barr+Root=? You decide.

  • Chris in NJ||

    believe it or not, I consider myself a borderline anarchist.

    But I'm not crazy enough to think 51% of the electorate is.

    I'd be happy if we could shrink the fedgov by 10%-20% in my life time. At least it would show movement in the right direction.

  • ||

    Mike - you aren't even coherent. I'm really not going to miss you as a Citizen.

    Chris in NJ - I feel the same way (except, I'm not an anarchist). We have to fight the State we have, not wish for Ponies, Ice Cream Mountains and Libertopia.

  • ||

    Some of the radicals don't get it. I would be happy to have, for example, a 10% reduction in my taxes. The radicals will laugh and say I'm a sellout, however, it's 10% of my money that I get to keep and utilize to fund more state-withering campaigns. It's also 10% LESS the government has to fund drug wars, eminent domain abuses and invasions of privacy. That's pretty freaking libertarian, if you ask me.

  • tarran||

    But, Gene, it never is as simple as that.

    If politician A got up and said, I am going to maintain things as they are and eliminate the Social Security tax, then one could easily vote for him.

    But, most politicians propose to do many things. A voter will look at the laundry list and see things that are an improvement and see other things that are not. Furthermore, some of the items would probably be unacceptable to the voter. For example, if Adolph Hitler promised to kill all the Jews and then reduce government to a night watchman state, you probably wouldn't vote for him despite the attractive notion of having government significantly reduced.

    You may see your candidate as reducing your taxes. Your neighbor, on the other hand may see a candidate who wants to deprive him of his favorite anti-nausea medication, and thus puts his life in danger.

  • Chamdar||

    god, lonewacko, I don't know what's worse: that I think that's a spoof post of you...or the other side of me that thinks it is not.

    If it really is him, it's amusing that he mentions Bohemian Grove while being a fan of Michelle Malkin, who would call him a moonbat for it.

  • Anthony Gregory||

    "Some of the radicals don't get it. I would be happy to have, for example, a 10% reduction in my taxes. The radicals will laugh and say I'm a sellout, however, it's 10% of my money that I get to keep and utilize to fund more state-withering campaigns. It's also 10% LESS the government has to fund drug wars, eminent domain abuses and invasions of privacy. That's pretty freaking libertarian, if you ask me."

    But it is not as though a Libertarian is going to win and cut government 10%. And so, what's the point of the Libertarian saying, "We want to cut government 10% -- to the size it was, say, two years ago"? Really, what's the point? We want Americans to _believe_ in liberty _more _ than they do. The extent to which most people believe in liberty, the harder it is to enslave them. We need to change the debate. Making a 10% cut in taxes a supposed explanation of what libertarianism is doesn't really get us anywhere. After all, the Republicans offer such little reprieves, and people vote for them, and the state grows. Only a more widely held view that taxation is theft can curb taxation to a dramatic degree.

  • ||

    Anthony Gregory: Only a more widely held view that taxation is theft can curb taxation to a dramatic degree.

    Me: "Only"? That's an absolute statement of strategy. Please PROVE that.

    It strikes me that if 50% of the pop wants taxes, say, 25% lower AND 25% wants taxes 10% lower AND 25% want tax levels the same as they are, that'd be a set up for major tax reductions. You and I may not find that satisfying, but I'd call that progress. You?

  • ||

    We can rassle in the mud about taxes, liberty, etc but today the kids are dying in Iraq. Please, the first priority is to save them from the politicians, then we can go toe to toe with each other.

  • Jack Johnson||

    . . . . and now we know why libertarians should promote concepts of freedom within both parties instead of having a party of its own. Political parties change. The current GOP is nothing like that of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. The LP will soon be a very different "thing" now and will start ignoring indvividual freedom while expanding it's emphasis on economic freedom - just like the GOP.

    We need to remember that it's the concept of freedom that's the driving force of libertarianism, NOT winning elections.

  • ||

    Anthony: I'm not saying we should run on a program on 10% tax reductions. Far from it. I'm just saying that most radicals pooh-pooh such small (but significant) reductions out of hand and don't feel compelled to back them. However, if a 10% reduction is offered, we should jump at the opportunity because it IS libertarian in nature and WOULD result in denying the state money that can be used against us.

  • ||

    tarran: I get your point, but even if each person was offered a $1.00 reduction in state or federal taxes, the parasitic would cry foul because it would be just a tad bit more difficult to suck off the government teat.

    If there is an opportunity to reduce taxation by even 5%, I'll jump on it to ensure that I can reclaim even that small portion of my paycheck. It's all about self-defense against the state.

  • Ron Paul Newsletter Writer||

    For example, if Adolph Hitler promised to kill all the Jews and then reduce government to a night watchman state, you probably wouldn't vote for him despite the attractive notion of having government significantly reduced.

    I don't know, that sounds pretty good.

  • ||

    Anthony Gregory:

    Good to see you commenting over here. I've always felt that you were one of the more level-headed folks to write for LRC.

    You should talk to the powers that be over at the LRC blog about opening up comments over there.

    Are you sure that commenting over here isn't going to get you shunned over there though?? (I keed, I keed...)

    David (yes that one)

  • ||

    We can rassle in the mud about taxes, liberty, etc but today the kids are dying in Iraq.

    If you are referring to American soldiers, then I don't believe any of them are children, or want to be infantilized.

    If you are referring to the Iraqi victims of the Iranian-backed terror campaign, then I have yet to hear credible explanation of how immediate withdrawal of American soldiers = Iran not pressing its advantage with even more violence until it gets an Iranian puppet regime in Baghdad.

  • ||

    Sorry that I called 18-19-20 year olds kids but they are someone's children. I was drafted in 1956 at 19, I really hadn't matured enough to want to die for my country, that came later. These American youngsters took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to go to somewhere in search of tilting windmills.

    Can we out wait Iran? They live next door. At some point we must leave, I don't want your children/grandchildren to be the last victims.

    Continuing to piss in the wind, oh, I forgot, there's almost light at the end of the tunnel, another surge will take care of that and all be well for our astute foreign policy.

  • Ayn R. Key||

    Do you know what would be really cool? If there were a political party dedicated to reducing government and promoting individual liberty. Those who want it have two options - form such a party or take over and existing party. Perhaps it is time for libertarians to take over the Libertarian Party.

  • ||

    It's also 10% LESS the government has to fund drug wars, eminent domain abuses and invasions of privacy.

    Yeah, right. If tax revenue decreases, they can just borrow more and inflate the dollar. Cutting taxes without cutting spending by an equal or greater amount would be the height of irresponsibility. Borrowing and inflation are far more destructive than taxes.

  • ||

    If you are referring to American soldiers, then I don't believe any of them are children, or want to be infantilized.

    Oh, cut it with the faux outrage. Older people use "kid" to refer to young adults all the time. Just like the Bush Administration, you have to feign offense because you have no defense for your position.

  • Fluffy||

    I have yet to hear credible explanation of how immediate withdrawal of American soldiers = Iran not pressing its advantage with even more violence until it gets an Iranian puppet regime in Baghdad.

    You must have missed the great big case of "Who gives a shit" that I throw at the head of anyone who asks for such an explanation.

  • ||

    Fluffy - its a perfectly legitimate position to say that "I don't care what happens to the Iraqis if we bug out as quick as we can load the trucks."

    My question is directed more at the folks who seem to think that us leaving at this juncture will somehow stabilize the country.

    Older people use "kid" to refer to young adults all the time.

    And using it in the context of professional soldiers dying in battle is transparently manipulative and inaccurate, is all I'm saying.

  • ||

    Using it in the context of professional 18-year-old soldiers dying in battle is transparently manipulative and inaccurate?
    I'm just askin'.

  • ||

    I'm just askin'.

    And I'm just sayin' yes, it is. No eighteen year old person is a child.

  • ||

    "My question is directed more at the folks who seem to think that us leaving at this juncture will somehow stabilize the country."

    Lawrence Korb who was assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration had this to say in the May 19, 2008 "The American Conservative". "A US departure will not necessarily lead to genocide and mayhem. Iraq today belongs to Iraqis, a people with their own norms and tendencies. It is quite likely that in the absence of the cumbersome and clumsy American occupation, Iraqis will make their own bargains and compacts, thereby fending off the projected genocide and evicting outside groups like al-Quaeda. Once the US sets a date for withdrawal, it will compel the region to claim Iraq, forcing neighboring countries to decide whether an Iraqi civil war, with all its consequences, is in their interests. If nothing else, a failed Iraq will force surrounding nations to confront another deluge of refugees on top of the 2.5 million who have already fled the country. Faced with this reality, it is likely that the Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, Jordanians, Turks, and others will seek to mediate rather than further inflame Iraq's internal conflicts. The US can move this process along by launching a diplomatic surge with these neighbors as it begins to remove its troops. Finally, setting a date for a US withdrawal will give Iraq's political leaders the best incentive to undertake meaningful political reconciliation. The US military presence allows the current dysfuntional central government to avoid making difficult decisions."

  • ||

    RCD, As jimmy smith notes, my 19-year-old son is MY child.
    I just thank God he's not throwing his life away on some fool's errand in Iraq.

  • ||

    Although I certainly don't begrudge the parents who find solace in the fiction that their K.I.A. child has died for some noble or heroic purpose over there.

  • ||

    RCD, As jimmy smith notes, my 19-year-old son is MY child.

    But he is not A child. And no one else should be referring to him as a child, should they?

    bookworm, the Korb scenario begs the question of why all those nations aren't trying to mediate the problems in Iraq right now, doesn't it? I mean, if a failed Iraq is such a catastrophe that they would do anything to prevent it, where have they been all these years? And why would countries that have been trying to destabilize Iraq do a 180 when the US pulls out?

  • ||

    By the way, I, too, love your "Reverse Castle Doctrine" RCD.

  • ||

    And using it in the context of professional soldiers dying in battle is transparently manipulative and inaccurate, is all I'm saying.

    So an 18-year-old working in road construction is fit to be called a kid by someone much older, but an 18-year-old driving a Humvee in Baghdad isn't? How do you justify that distinction?

  • Anthony Gregory||

    Robert Capozzi, yes, I agree that if most people were more anti-tax (but not completely anti-tax), that would be great. But the key here is to move the debate. As libertarians, we believe taxation is theft and we should try to convince people of that idea, or at least see the point and thus favor taxes less than they do. I'm a "gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice," but a moderately liberal public is better than, say, a fascist or theocratic one.

  • Anthony Gregory||

    David, no, I won't get shunned for commenting here. We have no lockstep thought control. LRC is big tent: look at the range of people it publishes.

  • ||

    I agree, RC, that leaving now is likely to result in Iraq becoming part of an Iranian sphere of influence. I really don't see the Saudis standing by and letting a complete subjugation of Iraq under Iranian rule, though.

    In any case, what the war defenders have failed to convince me of thus far is that staying there is really going to change the situation -- ie, are we going to be faced with the same threat of Iranian hegemony if we withdraw in 10 or 20 years? If that is the case, the price of keeping Iran at bay will be an essentially permanent occupation of Iraq, which I really doubt we want to have to sustain.

  • ||

    gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice

    The gradual, and highly successful drift of our economy from a free market toward central control, would seem to argue against that claim.

  • Anthony Gregory||

    Chris, what free market? Like the 1890s? And things don't work the same way when we're talking about tyranny as they do when we're talking about liberty. Being moderately for slavery goes a longer way than being moderately for liberty.

  • Fig||

    We need to remember that it's the concept of freedom that's the driving force of libertarianism, NOT winning elections.


    I just wish such a fuzzy concept were true to the point of influencing people's day to day decisions. I just don't think the average lay person understands freedom (at least, as libertarians do) or cares to think about it and who are we to say they must?

    That said, I think it's absolutely critical to have strength in the political process. Otherwise, we will simply see no _results_. We have to have people who actually share our vision willing to interject change within our society. Sure, we should cover the non-political bases, but not covering the political base (as it is now) leaves libertarians terribly vulnerable to have their liberties stolen left and right. We need to express our guts out in the political process, because only then can we hope of returning rights stolen through politics.

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