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Barr turned 60 the day after the election. There wouldn't be such a ready crowd that night. So after his concession speech, caterers rolled out a cake, and the candidate blew out the candles. The night moved on at a languid pace as he signed autographs, reminisced with staff, and did a "live" media interview that was pushed back more often than the release date for Chinese Democracy. Later Barr and his staff decamped to his office to drink champagne and shoot plastic "Livestrong"-style bracelets at each other like rubber bands. The candidate sat down briefly at a computer to load up the Georgia Secretary of State's page. "I'm looking for something interesting in the state House races," he said. "Nothing yet."
In May, Barr had disputed the idea that 2008 represented a "libertarian moment." "I think," he said then, "that we're in a libertarian era." If that's true, it's an era that won't include any elected members of America's largest third party in Washington. But pundits are no longer talking about a "permanent Republican majority" based on social conservativism and small town votes.
This year is ending with Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Wayne Allyn Root holding media megaphones they didn't have as recently as January. What will they do with that prominence? What will libertarians do now that the Republican Party has receded back to pre-Reagan levels of influence? That's for no one candidate to decide.
David Weigel is an associate editor of reason.