Where Did the Libertarian Party Go Wrong?

A postmortem on Bob Barr's presidential run

From the outset, Bob Barr’s Libertarian run for the presidency was fraught with great expectations.

For many Libertarian Party members, the former Georgia congressman was a living hope, an actual experienced politician with a national reputation and real fundraising experience who could finally beat both fundraising and vote totals for the perennially beleaguered party in its 10th presidential campaign. It was the year of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), after all, and there was also a GOP candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was largely mistrusted by the small-government (and social conservative) right. Visions of $30 million spun in libertarian heads; expectations soared to include a million LP votes counted on election night.

It was a new dawn for the LP, former national executive director and Barr campaign higher-up Shane Cory told Atlanta magazine. The folks who had dominated the party in those long, lonely pre-Barr years, he said, “had changed it from a political party into a debating society. It was the church of Libertarianism. I’m not saying that in a condescending way. But we’re turning it around. This is a more pragmatic approach.”

Well, for an approach Cory frames as pragmatic, it didn’t really work. It’s all over now, and Barr failed as both fundraiser and candidate to even approach those high early expectations. The total money raised was $1.2 million; total votes came in at 510,000.

Now, the backbiting and, as Barr media consultant Audrey Mullen put it to me last week, the intra-libertarian “circular firing squad” may begin.

If one did want to spin the results postively, it can rightly be said that Barr managed to get the second highest raw vote total of any Libertarian presidential candidate ever. However, if you recast that in percentage terms, he was only 4th, behind not only raw vote-champion Ed Clark in 1980, but also Ron Paul in 1988 and Harry Browne in 1996.

To be sure, we’d be having this same discussion about recrimination and failure regardless of who the LP nominated—though Barr's opponents for the nomination would not have inflated expectations so much. I heard plenty of anecdotal evidence describing hardcore LP activists so disgusted by Barr’s right-wing past (and, in their reading, present) that they sat out doing any volunteer work, providing donations, canvassing, or even voting for him; I heard some LP watchers assume that because of these anecdotes, Barr only got about half the straight LP vote that a candidate more congenial to the party's hardcore would have received, and that the rest of his votes must have come from right-wingers disgruntled with McCain. (For their part, Barr campaign workers blame Obama, or at least McCain's ability to frighten right-leaning voters of him so much that even if they liked Barr better, they felt they had to tactically vote GOP.)

But such anecdotes come from a few dozen people who are intimately familiar with the decisions of maybe a couple of dozen more people each, and with no one surveying actual LP voters to parse out their actions and decisions scientifically, we’re all trying to capture a wraith: We just don’t know how many of the LP’s traditional core voters decided to sit out 2008 or maybe go Baldwin (or Nader).

But even in the beginning, the LP was filled with people who doubted Barr’s ability to perform—and what’s more, they thought that even if he did approach those high vote totals, he’d still be a liability to the LP, since his candidacy would link the party with a set of watered-down right-wing stances, not true libertarianism. One of the leading movement watchers who believed this, Thomas Knapp, summed it up this way: “In terms of vote totals, his failures put him firmly in the LP ‘usual’ pack. In terms of effect on the Libertarian Party, he probably set us back 20 years.”

One area of reasonably unequivocal success for the Barr campaign came in high-level media coverage, with either profiles or at least one story in USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many others prominent papers, as well as appearances on The Colbert Report and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, a fair number of repeat performances on CNN and other cable news outlets, and even a NBC Nightly News segment. The campaign itself told me last week they planned to compile a full list of media and personal appearances any day now; but media consultant Mullen, who worked with the campaign during its first half, tells me she’s sure she booked over 300 substantial TV and radio slots.

But all that free media didn’t help much in the end. Complaints about Barr’s performance within the LP world can be roughly divided into three categories, which in turn may have affected the vote totals he got (or didn’t get) in various ways:

1. He wasn’t libertarian enough. From the beginning, he was attacked for being too federalist and not enough of a libertarian on matters such as the drug war and gay marriage, being insufficiently emphatic about non-interventionist foreign policy and getting out of Iraq, and too right-wing on matters like border security. Many in the LP distrusted him as a carpetbagger from the beginning, and little about the way he conducted his campaign calmed down such detractors. Barr’s Leadership Fund PAC, for instance, gave money this go-round to many GOP candidates who were directly fighting LP ones.

He issued press releases with tender reminiscences of Jesse Helms, called for stronger border security, and offered a federalist defense of the Defense of Marriage Act—one of his legislative accomplishments—as the very heart and soul of libertarianism. His very last press release as a candidate, curiously, commended federal prosecutors for investigating financial firms.

Whether or not that’s the sort of government action that even a libertarian can support, it was a very strange choice as a press release—issued on the day before the election, no less. When Barr talked about the bailout at length on TV, he tended to stress not so much thoughtful explanations as to how government policies, from Fed interest rate manipulation and inflation to encouraging subprime mortgages, might have helped create the crisis; instead, he stressed prosecuting fraud and enforcing the laws already on the books, and other such claptrap.

While Barr could be sharp on the need to withdraw from Iraq, when asked to make a big statement on the problems the U.S. faced in the world on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, he didn’t mention war, peace, overstrained overseas commitments, or empire. He instead gave a weird peroration on how the real problem is that we’ve lost influence in the world and need to improve our ability to enforce our will and “protect our interests” worldwide.

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  • DannyK||

    I'd have thrown some money Barr's way, except for his history of religious bigotry and his tardy, half-hearted rejection of said bigotry.

    I don't know if I represent any kind of a voting bloc, though.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Bobarr failed at Day One because he was incredibly fake. For instance, in April I pointed out that he seemed to have stolen his immigration position from Obama, McCain, and/or all the rest. It was clear to me back then how much of a fake he was, and he only got worse.

    Before both of those, I exchanged a couple emails with Stephen Gordon in an attempt to point out how supporting our laws was a winning position. Clearly that didn't work for one reason or other, and if you want to point blame include Gordon and Jason Pye in the list.

  • Lefiti||

    Jesus Christ, this is like investigating why sticky green vomit makes people nauseated. Bob Barr failed because--just look at him! Listen to him! He and his ideas have all the appeal of grilled slugs. Libertarians, accept you marginality and stop pretending that you matter.

  • ||

    Where did it go wrong? How long do we have? Barr may have been a "name" politician but he had no sizzle. Even Ron Paul generated more excitement... which says a great deal about the paucity of real politicians who want anything to do with the LP. As unseemly as many (most?) libertarians might find it, the only way to make an electoral impact is with a celebrity candidate backed by mega-wealth. C'mon, folks. Libertarian ideas are not new. Reason is nice little publication, but for all its free minds and free markets... it's not changing any minds or opening any markets. You want political change in America, think P.T. Barnum.

  • ||

    Kurt Russell? With the eye patch, of course.

  • Lefiti||

    And how long is it going to be before you freemarket wingnuts pay attention to me and give me my own forum.

    Pay attention to me! Donate Now!

  • Old Bull Lee||

    I agree with a good bit of the article, but I cut Barr some slack for a few reasons:

    Obama successfully selling himself as ready to usher in utopia.

    Fear of Obama - a lot of people who might have voted for Barr were probably too afraid of Obama to not vote for McCain.

    Ron Paul disgracefully endorsing the other whacko 3rd-party candidates.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Oh, and one other things: GWB, the best friend the Democrats will ever have.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    We can (and will, undoubtedly) yammer endlessly on about how and why Barr failed, but what did (and always will) infuriate me was that a pragmatic approach was asked for one friggin' time, once!, and we couldn't get the Church Members to stop howling long enough to give it a shot.

  • ||

    When Barr talked about the bailout at length on TV, he tended to stress not so much thoughtful explanations as to how government policies, from Fed interest rate manipulation and inflation to encouraging subprime mortgages, might have helped create the crisis; instead, he stressed prosecuting fraud and enforcing the laws already on the books, and other such claptrap.

    That "claptrap" is far better than McCain and Obama were offering, and far more palatable to the general public than cold turkey libertarianism. Next you'll criticize the fact that he didn't advocate auctioning off the National Parks and the Interstate Highway System as pure libertarianism demands.

  • B||

    Speaking only for myself, I'd like to point out a couple of things:

    1) The Ron Paul transition cuts both ways--you may remember a few of us being rather upset with Mr. Paul in the waning days of his campaign? Personally, I thought his handling of the newsletters was obtuse. But what I was really pissed off about was that the money I had given his campaign was being used to run anti-immigration ads in NH.

    Barr (as Mr. Doherty points out) was running much more conservative than libertarian on border issues...in other words, much like Ron Paul...once bitten, twice shy...

    I might have been willing to vote for Paul or Barr (though ultimately I did not), but there was (and is) no way I was going to give money to a near-libertarian candidate again.

    2) I was voting in NC, and considered voting for Not McCain more important than voting for the LP. (I made a similar calculation in the Dole/Hagen race, vastly underestimating its lopsidedness). I voted LP the rest of the way down the ticket.

  • ||

    Excellent work as usual Brian. But you soft peddled the salient point.

    "In terms of vote totals, his failures put him firmly in the LP 'usual' pack. In terms of effect on the Libertarian Party, he probably set us back 20 years."


    Bobarr (thx 24) might be able to spin vote totals, but he was still Teh Fail. Barr purged all that was righteous and holy from the LP. We were once a group of nuts and flakes that stood for something grand and noble. Now we're just tinfoil wannabe sellouts.

    I want my "Party of Principle" back.

  • Boston||

    On whether or whether not the "purists" or what have you stayed home: Are there any numbers to crunch and analyze or is this all just augury?

  • ||

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around how Barr simultaneously (1) failed to make any significant impact on the American political scene, and (2) utterly destroyed the Libertarian brand for decades to come.

    'cause I hear a lot of the radicals (hi Warren!) claiming both.

  • Brian Doherty||

    Boston---all augery, really. No one polls regarding LP voters or nonvoters. The relevant part of the article:
    "I heard plenty of anecdotal evidence describing hardcore LP activists so disgusted by Barr's right-wing past (and, in their reading, present) that they sat out doing any volunteer work, providing donations, canvassing, or even voting for him; I heard some LP watchers assume that because of these anecdotes, Barr only got about half the straight LP vote that a candidate more congenial to the party's hardcore would have received, and that the rest of his votes must have come from right-wingers disgruntled with McCain. (For their part, Barr campaign workers blame Obama, or at least McCain's ability to frighten right-leaning voters of him so much that even if they liked Barr better, they felt they had to tactically vote GOP.)

    But such anecdotes come from a few dozen people who are intimately familiar with the decisions of maybe a couple of dozen more people each, and with no one surveying actual LP voters to parse out their actions and decisions scientifically, we're all trying to capture a wraith: We just don't know how many of the LP's traditional core voters decided to sit out 2008 or maybe go Baldwin (or Nader)."

  • ||

    We can (and will, undoubtedly) yammer endlessly on about how and why Barr failed, but what did (and always will) infuriate me was that a pragmatic approach was asked for one friggin' time, once!, and we couldn't get the Church Members to stop howling long enough to give it a shot.

    What planet do you live on TAO? Because that's exactly what happened. The LP gave Barr/Root a shot and they failed, miserably. If selling out is all cost and no benefit, what's the fricking point?

  • mike farmer||

    Rather than political consultants, an excellent marketing director is needed, and a thoroughly informed candidate with the right touch of earthy poetry in his/her speech. P.T. Barnum might be a little too much glitz -- but a Lee Atwater marketing a young Charlton Heston on crack might work.

  • ||

    Barr did not do better than earlier LP candidates. But neither did he do any worse. At best the LP can manage to drag out around 0.5% of the vote.

    Why?

    Because the LP is to focused on the presidency, but it's unwilling to do the ground level grunt work necessary to get such a position. Stop trying to win the Boston Marathon, and start participating in local 5k runs. Start running for local school boards, local city councils, local county boards, etc. This is how the Republicans and Democrats do it.

    The LP needs to start marketing and building the party. Part of this means they have to stop with their purity litmus tests. Stop scaring off voters by insisting on the right to own nukes. Sheesh. While I myself may be a radical minarchist, I am not so naive as to believe that anarchists/minarchists will ever be a sizable minority. But we can get significant buy-in on smaller less intrusive government. Let's aim for that goalpost for a while...

  • ellipsis||

    Along the lines of what TAO said, this year proved how out of touch most factions of libertarianism are.

    The Libertarian Party is a joke, and libertines are its jesters. It's fun to navel gaze from the comfort of the parents basement, but out in the real world politics are the art of compromise.

  • Boston||

    Dammit, sorry Brian. Reading comprehension lacking as the day goes on. Any idea why they don't do such polling/surveying?

  • ||

    Gee, i wonder if its precisely because the LP nominated an experienced career politician with a used-car salesman mustache. Bob Barr foresees the demise of the Republican party and strategically jumped ships just for his career. If he never got ousted by a libertarian in the first place, theres no way in hell hed have any libertarian change of heart. If anybody can identify slimy politicians its LP voters. Bashing Ron Paul for not immediately endorsing him certainly didn't help either.

  • ||

    Completely with TAO on this.
    The circular firing squad (of jerks) was started within minutes of Barr being nominated.
    You do that sh!t on Nov 5th, not before.

  • ||

    Bob Barr destroyed nothing. We could have run Yel O. Dogg as the LP candidate and done about as well. If anything, he has energized the LP insiders for the coming years. They are the only ones likely to be excercised about Barr's non-libertarian, lite libertarian, etc. positions. And that may be, oh, 1000, of those 510,000 voters.
    Only we can destroy the LP by not being a debating, educational society that is active at the grassroots level everywhere. 90% of the electorate will go back to sleep for another two years. Maybe 10% will remain engaged in political issues. Of them, maybe 1% will even know the LP exists - unless and until it becomes visible in everyday political discourse.

  • ||

    Because libertarians think that elections are too much government interference in their lives so they stay home.

  • ||

    The LP gave Barr/Root a shot and they failed, miserably. If selling out is all cost and no benefit, what's the fricking point?

    Those of us who aren't into alternative lifestyles, but just want the govt to get out of our admittedly conventional lives, gave moonbat LP candidates 30 years of shots, Warren. But keep alienating us. See how well that grows the party.

  • Derrick||

    OK, so what exactly does it take to draft Gary Johnson?

  • ||

    AS a Lib, I was leery of Barr, i voted for him, but did not like him a whole bunch. his reverse face on his beliefs were a bit much to take. Is he really changed or just saying so to get elected. The LP needs grassroots, which i work towards, and national canidatres with name regonition. I say Drew Carry for Pres 2012. He is an outspoken Libertaraian who could deliver the young vote and the old vote (he hosts price is right) Carey 2012 lets start it now, lol, but seriously lets

  • JS||

    I was going to post what Brandybuck said so eloquently.

    The LP would do far better to try to put someone into Congress. Identify maybe 5-10 seats where the LP could do well and choose 3-5 of them to run serious candidates. Get the national party to focus in on supporting these candidates. A million dollars won't do jack for a presidential race, but it is a good amount in a Congressional race.

    The LP should also do some regional branding for what issues should be emphasized. Gun rights resonate well in the south whereas marijuana legalization will work better on the west coast, etc. Know your customer. I'm not saying a LP candidate in Alabama should argue against marijuana legalization, but that it shouldn't be a priority in a campaign.

    The best chances for the LP might be in New England where the GOP has been seriously battered in Congressional races. Even some inter-party cooperation may help to make sure it is a Dem vs. Libertarian as opposed to a 3-way race.

    Any third party is going to have an uphill climb, but having a Congressman with an L behind his name would do far more than even a LP presidential candidate with 5% of the vote.

  • ||

    Because libertarians think that elections are too much government interference in their lives so they stay home.

    You've got a point there. Seriously, Brian Doherty himself refused to vote as a matter of principle, and then he wonders why the libertarian candidate didn't get more votes. Go figure.

  • ||

    If selling out is all cost and no benefit, what's the fricking point?


    You see it as selling out, and that's great. But what do people who neither identify as little L or big L see?

    nothing.

    You can't really sell out if no one is there to notice it. Libertarian principles do work best at the local level, which is where it needs to grow first.

    I still don't see the point of putting much emphasis on a Libertarian presidential ticket because no one seems to notice or care.

    Well, no one, except the community here (who, of course, care too much)

  • Nash||

    "That "claptrap" is far better than McCain and Obama were offering, and far more palatable to the general public than cold turkey libertarianism. Next you'll criticize the fact that he didn't advocate auctioning off the National Parks and the Interstate Highway System as pure libertarianism demands."

    Agreed. When are Libertarians going to understand that going on National Television and advocating legalizing crack is probably a bad idea?

    Barr did his best to appear "mainstream". His failure was that he didn't rally his base. He skipped step 1 and went to steps 2-5 and lost hardcore LP support in the process.

    A better move would have been to advocate legalizing crack to reason and lew rockwell and then engaging in doublespeak with Wolf Blitzer.

  • ||

    While I truly beleive presidential politics are FAIL for Libertarians, the above comment is spot on.

  • Manners||

    iTrollYou, you shouldn't put other people's names in the Name field for your posts.

  • ||

    The Libertarian Party insists on doctrinal purity and has no plans to open its tent. Given that reality, people who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal will continue to stick with the major parties. The LP doesn't really represent them anyway. Until the LP becomes practical and realistic, it will remain a protest party. Having seen the last convention, it looks like a reasonable LP ticket is impossible, and as such, a strategy focusing on a few Congressional seats also seems unlikely.

  • oz||

    "It was the year of Sen. Ron Paul (R-Texas)"

    ...congressman

  • ||

    I'd like to say it won't happen again.

    It won't happen again.

  • SpongePaul||

    people who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal will continue to stick with the major parties.
    ___________________________________________
    In my younger days i was a repub like my parents, then i switched to Libertarian BECAUSE IT IS SOCIALLY LIBERAL AND FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE! THAT IS WHAT DRAWS PEOPLE TO THE LP NOT AWAY FROM IT!

  • ||

    In my younger days i was a repub apathetic like my parents, then i switched to libertarian BECAUSE IT IS SOCIALLY LIBERAL AND FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE! THAT IS WHAT DRAWS PEOPLE TO THE LP NOT AWAY FROM IT!

    fix'd for me

  • ||

    Tomatos Tomatoes phalkor, but yes apethetic i was.

  • ChrisO||

    I wouldn't give the circular firing squad too much ammo in this case. This wasn't ever going to be a year in which third-party candidates could attract anyone beyond the faithful, once the Dem and GOP nominees were set. Obama simply grabbed too much of the attention for those seeking a new face on the scene, and his nomination also scared too many GOPers into voting for McCain despite their dislike of him.

    If Hillary had won the Dem nomination, I think the situation might have been different.

    To me, the real question should be what happened to all of the Ron Paul voters. Who did they vote for on Nov. 4, and why? The LP (and probably the GOP, too) needs to figure that out if it wants to grow.

  • SpongePaul||

    To me, the real question should be what happened to all of the Ron Paul voters. Who did they vote for on Nov. 4, and why?
    _____________________________________
    In my experince from myself and my friends who were Paul Supporters. WE went the way of our parties. i voted Lib with some of my other friends. the repulicans who liked him went back to mcain. The rest sat home. feeling robbed by the politics they tried to change. at least here in my state, the repulicans put together a fusion ticket to defeat Paul, or he would have won LA. I was there. the repubs all came togehr against him in the primary. ensuring they all would get some share of the state while shutting out RP!

  • ||

    Those of us who aren't into alternative lifestyles, but just want the govt to get out of our admittedly conventional lives, gave moonbat LP candidates 30 years of shots, Warren.

    Would you describe Ed Clark, Ron Paul or Harry Browne as moonbats?

    Barr got nowhere because he was arrogant and abrasive. He could have gotten the lion's share of Ron Paul's supporters just by showing them a modicum of respect.

    -jcr

  • ||

    LA has the most corrupt system on earth. first you have primaries, where the reps to the conventions are selected. you vote for the canidates tickety of reps. then there is a general election later, that selects the canidate who will rep the state. now in first pass all delegates must vote the person chosen by the voters, on all other passes they are relaeased and may vote for whomever, which makes getting your ticket elected important. now you have a canidate. then on nov 4th the state votes for pres and the electors vote.

  • ||

    "What happened to all of the Ron Paul voters?" is a damn good question. Thanks, ChrisO.

  • ||

    Is it about the LP, or is it about libertarian ideals? My suggestions for coming election cycles:

    1) Focus on elections we can win (as noted above).

    2) When there's a candidate, from whatever party, who espouses any of our ideals we support him/her.

    3) Take advantage of the current chaos in the GOP -- either take seats away from them where possible, or coopt them where possible (as in 2 above).

  • ChrisO||

    the repulicans who liked him went back to mcain.

    To answer my own question, that is exactly what I did. I detest McCain and voted for Paul in the primary, but the thought of the combo of Obama in the WH and Pelosi/Reid in complete control of Congress made me vote for Sen. Queeg anyway. Had I lived in a non-swing state, I would have voted for Barr.

    For all the money he raised, Rep. Paul didn't get as many primary votes as one would have hoped, but he got a lot more votes than Bob Barr ultimately did on Nov. 4, AFAIK. And even beyond the votes, both the GOP and LP ought to be busy figuring out why so many donors and young people were so excited about the candidacy of a dour septuagenarian prone to rattling on about the gold standard, especially when the other party ran a "rock star" candidate. There's obviously something going on their beneath the surface. To me, it's an encouraging sign that such a large number of young people haven't fallen sway to the communitarian siren song.

  • ||

    I live in NW Washington state. Up here the LP has been co-opted by the religious right (in spite of all the denials). I figured that Bob Barr, given his history as a drug warrior, bigot and jerk was just an artifact of that and that is the new direction of the party (the religious right was moving to simply take over the Libertarian Party).

    I figured that the LP totally sold out with this guy and the belief they might have a shot. Barr can beat his breast, say it ain't so, give torturous reasons and use arcane logic that he is mis-understood and all the rest of it. The simple fact is that even his own constituency, as a Republican, was sick and tired of him.

    The LP seriously screwed up, abandoned base issues, and sold out for a jerk. At least Ron Paul has stuck pretty close to the real issues, unlike the wishful thinking wing of the Libertarian Party.

  • ||

    I voted for Barr, but I didn't do the happy dance as I filled in the bubble with a pencil. In 2008. We had touchscreens in Florida in the Before Time. But I digress.

  • ||

    "Would you describe Ed Clark, Ron Paul or Harry Browne as moonbats?"

    Yes... although I think that's being a bit harsh on moonbats.

  • ||

    ACK! I've been trolled!

    But trolls don't make substantive points. I've been impersonated by someone claiming to be a troll.

  • ||

    I am member of the Libertarian Party. That said, I did not vote for Barr.

    The religious radical right, and all that it entails, is my number one priority. I don't want them using my government to jam their self-righteous bigotry down my (or anyone else's) throat. And Barr has been too close to them.

    As was said earlier, socially liberal and fiscally conservative. The choice of Barr makes me wonder if I really should belong to this party, and the voter registration form to change to Independent is sitting on my desk as I write this.

  • shrike||

    I live in NW Washington state. Up here the LP has been co-opted by the religious right (in spite of all the denials).

    Its everywhere. The LP can't even agree on the "right to privacy" anymore - which should be a cornerstone of liberty.

    I quit the LP when women's rights went into the shitcan.


    I knew that mine would later.

  • ||

    I vote LP because I want to send a message, I want those numbers to mean something, to show up on TV -- not because I think we'll actually win in a given year's election. Some day, maybe, but not right now. This is why I didn't write on Ron Paul; his name will never show up in a vote tally unless it's so close that they take the time to actually READ all of the names given when someone checks "write-in". I'm sure nobody reads them unless there are a significant number of write-ins.

    I changed my registration from Libertarian to Democrat so that I could vote for Obama over Hillary in the primary.

    Even though my state (CA) was going to go for Obama, I voted for him anyway. If I'm going to be taxed out the ass, I want someone I can believe in, and I can believe in Obama much more than I can believe in the New, Disimproved McCain.

    I refuse to vote for Barr because he simply isn't a libertarian, he's a bigot and a clown -- just another neocon. I'll throw my vote for the libertarian candidate to make a difference, if I think what it says about the party is a good thing. Sure I'd take Barr over Obama or McCain, but he was never going to win anyway. Knowing that, why would I want to use my vote to say that Barr represents our interests as libertarians.

    If you want to know where the LP votes went, look at me. I'm a mainstream, regular libertarian voter with no history of fanatical behavior or party infighting, who is smart enough to realize that our votes are merely sending a message at this stage in the game. If I don't like the message that voting Libertarian will send, I won't do it.

  • BarryD||

    The religious radical right, and all that it entails, is my number one priority. I don't want them using my government to jam their self-righteous bigotry down my (or anyone else's) throat.

    It's not my first priority, primarily because I haven't seen much successful use of the government to to "jam their self-righteous bigotry down..." anything lately. Maybe you live in a different state and local efforts have been a threat.

    If I actually thought that the RR could do this stuff, I'd give the "anti-RR" variable a lot more weight.

    Can you point to specific programs that have been implemented to jam said self-righteous bigotry down our throats?

    (Caveat- they have to actually be implemented, not immediately thrown out by the courts, to matter too much to me.)

    Also, I'd be interested in knowing which party is NOT the party of Puritanism, and why.

  • Starchild||

    A good, balanced summary of the Barr campaign. A few new details to disgust -- $100,000+ on campaign consultants, and $18,000 on limos!?! -- but by and large, more or less what has been obvious over the course of this run. Richard Winger is probably right that Barr's main positive legacy to the LP will be the ballot access lawsuit. I got a kick out of Brian Doherty calling Leonard Read an "OG," that was a nice whimsical touch that probably confused a number of people not keyed into pop culture. Anyway, fantastic piece as usual from Brian. I urge all libertarians to read his book "This Is Burning Man."

  • ||

    I voted for Obama - with my nose pinched to be sure - because McCain was no different in attitudes to freedom, and very dangerous in temperament and manic behavior. Both those faults with McCain were exposed in his bailout crisis-suspend-the-campaign shenanigans.

    I didn't even consider Barr. I strongly disliked that guy when he was a GOP hack out of Georgia - Gingrich's creature in a way - during the worst excesses of the impeachment scandal and all the rest. He's also a very poor politician in the context of a marketable product: He's no orator of note, is not telegenic in the least, and is argumentative and shrill even when he doesn't intend to be.

    Barr is not even intimidating in any context; there is no air of vast intellect about him, no piercing eyes or memorable voice. If Bob Barr's life was a movie, it would be titled Watch Paint Dry. Frankly, I get the impression in prison he would be picking up everyone else's soap all day in the shower :), bottom of the pecking order by nature. Only the perverse unnatural world of Southern machine politics could have given that guy a chance at any power. Nothing alpha about that guy at all.

    Technically, this is petty tripe to consider, (I think of Donna Brazille telling Al Gore he needs to wear "earth tones"), stuff I laugh at the Republicans and Democrats for obsessing over. But the Libertarian Party pretty much rigged the nomination for this guy because of his Big Name Brand supposedly, how the LP finally had a marketable name to go with its message and all that. But Barr wasn't/isn't a marketable product to a national audience anymore that his replacement in the Georgia delegation (don't even know who that is), no matter the party. If the LP is going to sell out a bit to get a marketable personality in the election to build the party, etc. then at least get a marketable personality for the sell-out, after all the Democrats did! Makes the LP look like the amateur outfit everyone already thinks it is. Truly an Epic Fail.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I refuse to vote for Barr because he simply isn't a libertarian, he's a bigot and a clown -- just another neocon.

    It's this kind of religious mind-reading nonsense that gets under my skin.

  • Craig||

    ...many statewide LP candidates beat Barr in votes, showing some verifiable sign of the Barr alienation effect on otherwise reliable LP voters.

    Not necessarily. The same effect has been observed in many elections, with state LP candidates earning several times the vote total of the LP presidential candidate in that state.

    People get excited about the presidential race, and think their vote matters, even in blowout states, if the national race is at all close. They know little about the office holders at the state level, and correctly surmise that incumbents are pretty much a lock to win anyway, and so vote with their political philosophy in the down-ticket races.

  • ||

    [i]It's this kind of religious mind-reading nonsense that gets under my skin.[/i]

    Cool story, Hansel.

    I'm just trying to help y'all understand why Barr did as poorly as he did. It's too late to change my vote anyway. It's not just the diehard party fanatics who won't vote for a 'sellout' candidate. Normal people won't vote for someone who is basically just another republican. Be as angry as you want about it.

  • Sean Scallon||

    If Barr did not want to participate in Ron Paul's event he should have said so beforehand. Instead he acts like he's going to show, signs the same statement as did Baldwin, Nader and McKinney, the same people he didn't want be seen with, and then, after its all done, holds his own press conference in the same building.

    Oh, and to top it all off, his campaign staff launches attacks on Paul and it's all his fault his campaign can't raise any money.

    Talk about winning friends and influencing people. I wonder which non-major party Russ Verney is going to destroy next?

  • ||

    Query: Why on earth did Barr want to disassociate himself from Paul?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I'm just trying to help y'all understand why Barr did as poorly as he did.

    Oh yeah, thanks for that. Define "doing poorly", exactly.

    The LP gave Barr/Root a shot and they failed, miserably.

    I believe you and I had a "gentlemanly wager" concerning the Barr/Root vote total. Do you remember what that was, Warren?

  • ||

    He wasn't successful for at least the following reasons.

    1) His attitude towards Ron Paul voters and his relationship with Ron Paul was just abysmal. This is very strange is this seemed like exactly the voters he was trying to get, in otherwords disgruntled conservatives.

    2) His insistence on just campaigning in the swing states. If it was votes he wanted he needed to be campaigning in the non-swing states. The lesser of two evils syndrome is just to big to overcome in swing states and the cost and amount of media in these states is higher and harder to get inroads since you are competing against the big two candidates as well. There really is no downside to vote third party as a protest vote in a non-swing state, but the LP never seems to go after that vote.

    3) He basically said screw the libertarian activists. At the convention he should have tried to get Kubby or Ruwart as his running mate as this would have possibly appeased the activists. He seemingly didn't want to have much to do with the state LP's either. Here is where the volunteers would have come from but he seemed to alienate them instead of courting them.

    4) He just didn't induce any enthusiasm with anybody.

    I voted for him more as a vote for the LP then a vote for him personally. I was never that enthused about him, but I didn't think he was as bad as some here think he was.

  • Mike||

    Bob Barr was never a libertarian. He is a Republican who is pissed at the Republican Party for not having his back in 2002 when redistricting pitted him against John Linder. He ran as the LP candidate because he wanted to be the spoiler for Republicans in 2008 that Ralph Nader was for the Democrats in 2000. It didn't work and I hope that this is the last that we hear from him.

  • ||

    "I refuse to vote for Barr because he simply isn't a libertarian, he's a bigot and a clown -- just another neocon."

    You don't even know what a 'neocon' is.

  • ||

    I refuse to vote for Barr because he simply isn't a libertarian, he's a bigot and a clown -- just another neocon.

    It's this kind of religious mind-reading nonsense that gets under my skin.



    TAO, it's that kind of mind-reading nonsense that drives many Reasonoids. I submit the comments section from virtually every Obama piece as evidence.

  • voxpo||

    One area of reasonably unequivocal success for the Barr campaign came in high-level media coverage

    Compared to what? How much coverage did Browne and Badnarik get? We need numbers for the word "unequivocal" to apply. I seem to remember Browne getting quite a few dead tree writeups.

    Whatever the Paul Revolution will mean to the future of American politics, it was not to mean much to the presidential election this year.

    This assumes there was not a significant group who were transferable from Paul to Barr but not from Paul to Baldwin. I have not seen data to this effect.

  • Mike Linksvayer||

    Every LP presidential campaign in history has bee "fraught" with great expectations, all dashed. LP supporters could take a lesson from history, or even better yet, the market -- see http://www.midasoracle.org/2008/11/09/analysis-of-barr-and-nader-2008-intrade-contracts/

  • jkp||

    Where did it go wrong? Christ, with the exception of the occasional charismatic candidate who was already nationally-known prior to the campaign, Third Parties ALWAYS suck in terms of vote-getting.

    Bob Barr was a total dud who should've stayed with the GOP if he was serious about popularizing libertarian ideas. (At least he was taken somewhat seriously when he was there, but once he bolted he became just another easily-ignored wingnut.)

  • Thane Eichenauer||

    What I am surprised to read is that there is a supposedly rational person out there who chose not to like/support Bob Barr because he has a mustache.

    "Mustache Institute nominates Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr for best mustache award"

    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2008/10/mustache-institute-nominates-libertarian-presidential-candidate-bob-barr-for-best-mustache-award/

  • Renard||

    I have voted Libertarian for >30y, as an LP member off and on over that period. I came to the LP a Dem, so I was never tempted by Ron Paul's xenophobia and anti-choice stances.

    Watching the 2008 LP convention was like watching a slow-motion train wreck (I screamed at the TV early and often), since it was evident to anyone with sight and/or hearing that Bob Barr had the principled foundation of Bugs Bunny and that his running mate likely has peaked on GSN (though I've never watched). This perception was confirmed by Barr's statement to Steven Colbert that the LP had never done well because it hadn't offered candidates of his high caliber.

    Barr and LP mailings throughout the campaign were alternately condescending, self-righteous, whiny and ill-informed. I sent an e-mail to the LP suggesting they take me off the list because they were wasting their money, to no avail.

    I voted for Obama (as my mom pointed out, the first time in the history of my immediate family that all of us favored the same person).

    This wasn't about gradualism vs. "church members." This was willingness to stand on principle vs. haste to sit on it, so it might not be seen.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I voted for Obama

    total nonsense! any rational person would put Barr > Obama.

  • ||

    White folk are angry I hear.

    There may be a revolt in the making.......

  • ||

    The better question, folks, if libertarian ideas are so great, why do liberatarians not only make zero impact as a political party, but exert next to no influence on the two major parties. And this comes from a libertarian leaning person. Sad as it may sound, but the best thing for libertarian ideas may be a "rapture" event removing all big "L" libertarians from the planet.

  • David F. Nolan||

    Good overview, Brian -- and about as objective as one could hope for. A couple of points that should be noted, however. First Barr's supporters were talking about raising up to $40 million, and getting 5% of the vote (about 6.5 million votes, as it turned out). As you noted, they actually raised less than $1.4 million, and got 510,000 votes. In other words, they raised about 3.5% of what they hoped for, and got 8% of the vote they held out as a goal.

    Now, in my opinion, this was the worst-run Libertarian Presidential campaign ever. Verney has no clue about what motivates Libertarians to become active in a campaign, and Shane Cory is an incompetent buffoon. But even if Barr had done everything right (chosen a better running mate, hired actual experienced Libertarians to run his campaign) I doubt he would have gotten even 1% of the popular vote. Presidential politics is a big-money game; Obama and McCain spent close to a billion dollars between them. A campaign with a budget of $1.4 million just can't compete for attention and votes. Nader, who is better known than Barr and who had more than twice as much money, only got 700K votes.

    I agree completely with those who say that the LP devotes far too much of its scarce resources to Presidential campaigns, when we get far more "bang for the buck" on lower level races. This is why, after the Ron Paul fiasco, I urged Libertarians to stop wasting their money on a clueless, badly-run campaign (Barr/Root) and send it to candidates like Mike Munger instead.

    I question whether the LP should even run Presidential candidates in the future. But I firmly believe that if it does, there should be no hype and BS, and no compromise of Libertarian principles. If we're gonna get 0.4% to 0.5% of the vote, let's at least get it for something better than mushy, compromised pseudo-libertarian pap!

  • ||

    "The better question, folks, if libertarian ideas are so great, why do liberatarians [sic] not only make zero impact as a political party, but exert next to no influence on the two major parties."

    Two questions, two answers.

    We make little poll impact because the voting public is mainly stupid observers of Short Attention-Span Statist Theater, who vote based on superficial nonsense.

    We exert no influence on the major political parties because the statists don't want to hear a freedom message; because we don't do enough work to influence public policy through means other than the ballot box; and because we don't have the internal infrastructure to gain the membership, money, and voice of support that creates influence and being listened to.

    And in both cases, it's because we royally suck at marketing.

  • Robert Goodman||

    Answer to the Q posed by the title: As soon as it was founded. Although some said so from the start, it couldn't be known for sure until it was given a good, hard, long try.

    Libertarians in the USA (at least) are not effective having their own political party. We'd do a lot better in other parties, even the small ones. Many shouldn't be involved in politics at all, of course.

  • George Dance||

    Local LPers from New York to Iowa to North Carolina to Tennessee complained to me about lack of communication and coordination from the Barr campaign, particularly annoyed by its decision to charge, in most cases, local volunteers for campaign materials-as if the campaign was in the business of selling brochures and signs rather than trying to win votes. Perhaps as a result, many statewide LP candidates beat Barr in votes, showing some verifiable sign of the Barr alienation effect on otherwise reliable LP voters.

    Your 'perhaps' does not follow; LP statewide candidates beat the presidential ticket more than 2:1 in 2000 and 2004 as well.

    But you describe two real problems, and two that can easily be cured. The problem had to do too many things at once over the summer, found itself scrambling, and didn't do them all well.

    Holding the convention earlier would allow a campaign more lead time, and make it possible to prioritize.

    For example, the campaign wouldn't have to worry about printing literature when its top priority was getting some money in the bank; which led to that stupid decision to charge for election material.

    Say, hold the convention in Nov. 2007; that would give 3 months to build up a fundraising list and set up lines of coordination with the state parties; then ballot access and initial literature and merchandise supply Feb. till June. The real campaign could begin July 1 with all that already in place.

  • George Dance||

    @David Nolan: But Barr's opponents were saying that the campaign would raise under $400,000, and get less votes than Chuck Baldwin. So the campaign came in 300% over those estimates. By those benchmarks, the campaign was an enormous success - it performed more than 300% over expectations.

  • ||

    Michael, while I agree on the two points you made, I would add a few others on the pile.

    Ballot access is still a concern in many states. Ask those in petition states-- huge amounts of time and money are sucked into the petitioning process. It's a near guarantee of grinding down volunteer willpower to nada. I do wonder though-- can those petition lists be copied and used later as a database for mailers, etc.? Are these under-utilized?

    Another concern is frankly, people don't seem to want freedom anymore. Perhaps that explains why Question 1 crashed and burnt this time around when previously it had nearly passed. A notable exception seemed to be Colorado, but in a lot of states people were voting down money-saving or fiscally responsible ideas and putting their imprimatur on pie-in-the-sky expensive crud like Prop 1A (et al). This could, I admit, be partially an artifact of the demographics that tend to vote Democratic and things may be quite different in 4 years.

    There are probably other factors as well, possibly a lot of other factors. It's going to take a near-miracle to dig out of THIS rut, if we want to grow to anything resembling impressively sized.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    Say, hold the convention in Nov. 2007; that would give 3 months to build up a fundraising list and set up lines of coordination with the state parties; then ballot access and initial literature and merchandise supply Feb. till June. The real campaign could begin July 1 with all that already in place.

    Great idea! I've wondered why the nominating convention hasn't been done at an earlier date. The GOP and the Dems wait in order to maximize the bump from 4 nights of unchallenged network and cable coverage, on the other hand we need to worry about ballot access and organization, which both require much earlier starts.

    Also, I wonder if it is legal under campaign finance rules to have someone other than LPHQ or the LP POTUS candidate do GOTV work for the campaign? If it is, folks with deeper pockets could donate more to it, without worrying about breaking the dinky personal campaign contribution limit.

  • Eric Dondero||

    Look, Barr was well on his way to getting 5 to 10 million votes. Than that fateful day in early September when Sarah Palin was picked the GOP VP, shot all his dreams to hell. Libertarians in large part immediately shifted to supporting the McCain ticket.

    Want proof of this?

    Ryan Christiano.

    If Reason was smart they'd be interviewing this young man. Christiano was a Libertarian staffer for McCain. (Yes, he's giving me permission to "out him" post-election.)

    Ryan confirmed to me way back in September that Barr's rising Zogby numbers had been a major part of the inner-discussions of McCain top brass. They actively sought a "libertarian" type Republican to head him off.

    Palin who had attended two Libertarian Party meetings in Alaska, and had worked closely with the Alaska Libertarians was the top choice.

    (Though, I strongly suspect - but haven't yet got confirmation from Ryan - Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and South Dakota's John Thune were also considered.)

  • Xeones||

    DONDEROOOOO!
    *shakes fist*

  • ||

    Barr also supported the anti flag-burning amendment a decade ago.

    It wasn't bad enough that there's no freedom choice between the statist inside-the-Beltway parties, but then the LP props up this right-wing zealot who somehow had his liberty epiphany and realized that the Republicans didn't represent freedom any more than the Dems.

    The LP lost credibility and my support. And deservedly so.
    Warren nailed it,so I quote it again:
    "Barr purged all that was righteous and holy from the LP. We were once a group of nuts and flakes that stood for something grand and noble. Now we're just tinfoil wannabe sellouts."

    Right on. By the way, recently was thinking about talk-show host Gene Burns. Hadn't heard where he went so I checked the web. I guess he's in SF now at KGO and weeks ago re-registered a Democrat, basically pointing to the lack of traction the Libertarian party has had. Anybody tune into him?.... and did he go left, or is he just trying to avoid the "flake" tag and try to make change from within?

  • ||

    Brian,

    If so many people can blame Sarah palin for McCain's defeat, don't you thing an article like this should at least mention the screaming ginsu knife salesman professional poker playing nut job that the LP nominated for VP?

    How could anyone take the party seriously with that guy as its spokesman?

  • ||

    All things considered, I think Barr did a decent job. As Dondero pointed out, he may have made the Republican party more libertarian, which is a good thing in my opinion.

    After Barr won the nomination most Libertarains chose to support him. The more "radical" members are probably most accurately reflected by the vote totals for Charles Jay, which aren't that high.

    Financially, I think Dr. Paul drew a lot of the money that would have gone to the LP presedential campaign. People are willing to spend a certain amount on politics per cycle, and the money-bombs got a lot of that.

    Aside from that, I think he basically faced the same problems any third party cantidate. To raise money one would have to earn it themselves (like Perot). To get a lot of votes one would have to be famous for some other reason. Even then, it might be easier to run as a Republican, so it is hard to recruit good cantidates.

  • ||

    Actually, i think NOW we will really be able to tell what good Barr will be to the LP. IF he proudly wears the former candidate badge and continues 'good works' for the cause, he could bring more positive attention to the brand.
    This WAS a big election in terms of dollars, Bush backlash and star power of Obama.

    I do agree that the focus should be more local, but a prez candidate needs to be fielded if only as a token. Maybe population centers need to zero in on states with loose ballot access just to get ANYONE in DC.
    Or maybe in high profile state offices.
    I think IL is tough but if Chicago metro LP could help out in WI with DC elections, it could put someone over the top.
    I'd certainly be willing to try it.

  • Boston||

    Dondero,

    Shine on you crazy diamond.

  • Angela Keaton||

    Eric,

    Here's the real reason why Barr failed:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/17/203558/96/600/662494

    Rage,

    Angela

  • Eric Dondero||

    I just wrote a lengthy response to Brian's piece on Barr over at Libertarian Republican blog.

    While it may appear to some as a bit nasty, it's all in the best of spirits.

    In fairness to Brian, I disclose some super insider information, that he no doubt was not privvy too. Still, he should have had the gumption to dig a little deeper into the subject matter, and done a bit more research outside of the leftwing libertarian community, before he released this article.

    Let's just say with the information I disclose, our friend Brian may have a bit of proverbial egg on his face.

    And it's not the hard-boiled kind either. It's the warm, runny, and sticky variety.

  • Eric Dondero||

    Angela, I was going to email you personally. But since you're here, I wanted you to know that nothing in my response piece should be considered by you or Brian to be affronts to you both personally. The parts that are of a personal nature, I trust you know, are all in fun.

    But the serious matters are not.

    I most assuredly believe Brian missed a hugely critical aspect of the story. And you yourself must admit, that you have a horse in this race.

    I most humbly believe Brian's strong biases, and yourse, showed through with regards to his passing judgement on Barr.

    He should have been a lot more even-handed. Knowing his bias as he does, and the fact that he's married to you, he should have gone out of his way to seek other voices rather than far leftwing libertarian Tom Knapp. He didn't.

    And as such, his piece is deeply flawed.

  • Angela Keaton||

    Eric,

    Of course I have a horse in the race.
    According to Daily Kos, I am a horse.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/17/203558/96/600/662494

  • Eric Dondero||

    Well, Angela, I'm not surprised. I think you'd make a great candidate for the LP. Go for it.

    But that doesn't change the fact that Brian's piece completely missed the most important factor of the Barr Campaign: The pick of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP as a direct result of Barr's campaign.

  • Massively Subpar Messengers||

    Much ado 'bout nothin'. I voted for Barr 'cause I am a principled voter. There aren't many of us out there sad to say. Everybody else was so sure either we were ushering in a new age (Obama voters) or trying to close off socialism (McCain voters). The MSM assured us by completely ignoring pragmatic 'the system-is-fucked candidacies-but-I've-toned-things-down-on-the perfect-plan' such as Paul's that the landscape was bare.

    The MSM guaranteed failure. Any talk further is ridiculous. Maybe someday when netreaders trump those who get the news via boobtube, it will become understandable. For now it's either standard MSM or FOX MSM (I say it's the same in all the important ways), but people see there is a Procter & Gamble diff. Fair enough. But with Obama, it was a different season.

  • brandon||

    The better question, folks, if libertarian ideas are so great, why do liberatarians not only make zero impact as a political party, but exert next to no influence on the two major parties.

    Because America's electoral system impels that there shall be two main political parties that draw votes from either wing and share the center, and that alternative parties shall with few exceptions be irrelevant. Wasted vote syndrome and all that. (small l)ibertarians can try to make one of the wings more libertarian (sell more people on libertarianism), or try to reform the electoral system to enable fringe parties to share power. Both appear incredibly difficult.

  • Looking At Shit Through A Micr||

    One fine day, the electorate will be comprised of citizens who understand something beyond People magazine. I don't see that day. We're fucked!

  • Realist||

    Barr lost because a majority of the American people actually believe they can get a tax cut, while stickin' it to the rich man, while getting free health care, and that a wonderful magic man can make a bad economy go away by throwing more government at the problem. The American people are idiots.

  • Lance Brown||

    I think in cataloging the lessons of the Barr campaign, it's important to remember that one implicit promise of the "celebrity campaign" did come true: the media gave Barr a pretty fair amount of attention. Mr. Doherty mentions it, but then he also seems to dismiss it a bit in his final analysis.

    The tactical numbness/blunderousness of this campaign effort, combined with Barr's soft presentation of libertarianism, were the two controllable factors that did the campaign in. But one thing did work: when the LP put up a candidate that was well-known and pre-established to the media, the media responded by giving the party a half-decent platform from which to launch an insurgent effort. The Barr campaign dropped that ball, and as Doherty noted, basically didn't create any actual news (other than lawsuits, and snubbing Ron Paul).

    A different candidate that was equally easy for the media to get its mind around (i.e., a celebrity, or other known entity) could do a lot more with what Barr had available to him.

    Not that I think celebrity should be a defining criteria, but I do know that a presidential campaign doesn't have much of a chance (to break through in any substantial way, to get a million votes, to seriously expand the party, to foment revolution...fill in the blank) if it doesn't get at least as much media as Barr did.

    It's worth pointing out in the same breath that Wayne Root 2012 would not get that same sweet booster shot. Barr got a pretty glad hand from the media; I think Wayne would be up against tougher odds.

    Drew Carey on the other hand...

  • ||

    I don't think the American electorate is particularly retarded in relation to its selection of leadership, at least in comparison to what else is out there. When I look out at the rest of the world and their systems of apportioning power - and the characters they end up with having absolute power - I feel a little better about our lot here (I'm not talking about Obama, necessarily either).

    Hating the electorate and looking down at them as intellectual buffoons for their choices is something Democrats and the left did while in the wilderness, and I found it particularly insulting. People who love freedom should not fall in the same trap of marginalized vanity. Its like religion, if I was to judge everyone I've met in my life based on their theological viewpoint, I would be a much lonelier and socially poorer person; the worse for it instead of the better.

    Americans fall in love with great leaders and not necessarily great characters when they are available. FDR is in my mind one of the three or four worst presidents of the previous century. But I cannot deny he was a great leader by nature, he was good at convincing people to do what he wanted, which in my opinion consisted of running in a hamster wheel of Keynesian and unconstitutional foolery. But he talked folks into it, "inspired" them to do it. That is the measure of a great leader, sadly. Libertarians need a great leader to sell their great idea.

    Bob Barr ain't it.

  • Brian Holtz||

    An excellent and balanced overview from the movement's invaluable official historian, with only one thing that could be called a mistake. Doherty cites five different races in trying to make hay of downticket LP candidates out-polling Barr. I've been reading LP electoral results for not nearly as long as Doherty, but I learned years ago that down-ticket candidates poll about 5X to 10X the vote share of the ticket topper. The five cases Doherty cites -- and he could add about 40 more here in California alone -- say absolutely nothing about the quality of Barr's campaign.

    David Nolan repeats some numbers ($40M, 5%) allegedly from the Barr camp but this time calls them "hopes" and "goals" instead of "promises" and "predictions" (as he did in an earlier essay). I'd still like to see some citations for any such Barr number that could be called a "promise" or "prediction" rather than a mere "hope".

  • Hacha Cha||

    they say in the article that it was the year of Sen. Ron Paul, don't they mean CONGRESSMAN.

  • ||

    This is the first time in my 32 years as an American citizen, that I felt there existed an imperative for my vote. And this bothered me deeply. I can only think of Mises' definition of government as "legitimized coercion". All these years, I respectfully bowed out, reasoning that I simply wasn't the type to force other people, by proxy or elected official, to do that which may or may not be in their own interests.

    But after 8 unbelievably awful years of expansive government; After 8 years of remembering being a child and my parents explaining to me that one of the chief differences between the USA and the former USSR was that here, the government doesn't read your mail and doesn't torture, I looked forward to casting a ballot (with reservations), for the first time.

    And who did the Libertarians offer? A man that supports government intervention into marriage along religious lines. A man that has argued that a woman must bear the child of her assailant. A man that has supported our useless war against medical marijuana.

    All I could think was: "Are you kidding me?"

  • Brian Doherty||

    Brian Holtz---I did not have in front of me (and if you can find them online, pls guide) detailed state by state vote breakdowns for every LP race from the past when I wrote my "perhaps" speculation that downticketers in the states Barr concentrated on beat his vote totals was meaningful; it may well be that my "perhaps" is a "perhaps not" and this is perfectly common and no sign of Barr losing any hardcore LP support (tho it certainly is, if as common as you and some others suggest, a sign that the LP really needs to stop wasting so much money on presidential races...)
    However, what you say about California in this race is not accurate; not only could one not add "40" more examples, one couldn't add even one; in fact, if the LP web site is to be believed, not a single statewide Cali candidate for federal office got even HALF of Barr's Cali vote total of 51 K; Chris Agrella for District 38 House came closest.
    http://www.lp.org/2008-general-election-results/California

  • Tony||

    The LP got infected by the Kochopoly, just like Reason, which was hijacked years ago and now works to keep the LP impotent.

  • Brian Doherty||

    I realized after writing the above that Holtz must have meant PERCENTAGES, not raw votes; but that was never what I was talking about when I referred to downticket candidates beating Barr in my posts; I was always and only talking about raw votes. Why? Because what is relevant in support of my supposition (which may well have been illegitimate anyway according to many, but if they too were talking about percentages and not raw votes, then not) is raw votes; voters who were savvy and concerned enough about the LP to cast a vote for a downticket candidate, but chose NOT to vote for Barr. All of the figures in my piece about downticket people getting x times Barr's vote were discussing raw votes, NOT percentages; and in California, as I said, no downticket candidate got even HALF the number of raw votes Barr did.

  • Kendall||

    Now why would anyone have expected anything but dismal voting results from Barr given that sites like Reason were pushing Obama hot & heavy?

    Libertarians were being herded by the Obama campaign just like the rest of the electorate, by being told things they wanted to hear about what Obama would do for them.

    The few not pushed in the direction of Obama were pushed to vote for McCain, in an attempt to stop total domination by the Democrats and the wave of government enlargement now to ensue (my vote for McCain was a vote trying to keep the party balance equal so as to prevent too much forward motion in government growth).

    Welcome to the next four years Reason, I hope you enjoy what you helped to create.

    The Libertarian party is dead to me now, divided in the same way everything else is. I consider myself a dynamists (instead of a stasists) and will see what sort of grouping forms around that concept as it's the core distinction that truly matters now.

  • ||

    Given all of Barr's weaknesses as a candidate and the errors of his campaign, and given all of Ron Paul's weaknesses as a candidate and errors of his campaign, it appears clear that a libertarian campaign in a major party primrary is a better way to promote the libertarian message than a Libertarian Party effort in November.

    I supported Barr. But all along, I knew that he would have to do remarkably well to justifify future LP activity. How many libertarians had already figured that out?

    Primary campaigns are set up to give at least a small chance to candidates who are long shots. You can focus your efforts in early primary states. And, the primary debates are much more open than general election debates.

    Of course, you have to show some support after you are given a shot.

    Barr's campaign did quite well relative to past LP capaigns. The media esposure was much better. Even if we had the money, the exposure that a big three TV buy gave in 1980 no longer exists. On the other hand, Ron Paul in 88 didn't have a chance to appear on 24 hour cable news shows. Could the silver tongued Browne of 1996 do as well with a "talk radio" strategy with the talk radio of today? It is difficult to blame Browne, however, for failing to appear very much on 24 hour cable news. The media changes.

    The polling results were much better for Barr. Zogby did poll for Badnarik and for Browne 2000. Barr, of course, was included in lots of polls, and the other two in maybe 8 each during the summer and fall. Barr had a lot of 2% results. While Browne 2000 and Badnarik did break 1% a few times, the polling was usually pretty acurate--well below 1%.

    The vote totals in November were no better than usual. Basically, Barr got the .5% LP partisan vote. He didn't even get the 2% self-described libertarian vote. Or break into the 15% of voters with a generally libertarian attitude.

    Given these bad vote totals for Barr, (500k) the 100k or so Paul loyalists who signed up for Campaign for Liberty, or those disgruntled LPers who want a candiate who focuses on legalizing their drugs or else want's someone who supports their preferred, more hardcore, version of libertarianism, would have had a significant impact. Barr could have gotten maybe 30% more voters.

    But who cares? 500k? 650k? What difference does that make?

    The polls about who will you vote for in November are, of course, important. Even if the votes don't materialize, they show that there are people who are favorably enough disposed to the campaign to vote for them. But, for a libertarian campaign at this point in history, the "favorable" polling is more important. What proportion of the population knows who the libertarian candidate is, and has a favorable opinion of the candidate. That would be the measure of success of the campaign. It goes without saying, that the hope, and assumption, is that this has something to do with knowledge by the voters of an appropriately libertarian message by the candidate.

  • ||

    The GOP is rudderless right now. LP leaning voters and thinkers need to get involved with the GOP and try to bring the party back to small gov't principles. Better that then watch it go the way of Huckabee.

  • ||

    On the other hand...

    The issues...

    Ron Paul was the anti-war Republican. The Iraq war was an important issue. The news was bleak. The other Republican candidates competed to see who sounded more delusional about "winning" this no-win war.

    Then, the news from Iraq got better. So, any anti-war libertarian campaign would lose traction.

    Then, the "credit crisis," became a panic in the fall. There are polls showing that a large majority of Americans thought that another Great Depression was likely, or very likely.

    An anti-war libertarian campaign is off the radar screen.

    The bailout was unpopular, but how many voters would support "doing nothing?"

    Paul, of course, was out of the picture. Barr had no plan for solving the economic crisis.

    Generally, I think an LP candidate should look to Cato for a moderate libertarian position and run with it.

    Barr never articulated a plan for dealing with the financial crisis. The reality is that there is no libertarian consensus on the matter.

    Any "plan" would be highly controversial among libertarians.

    The Ron Paul faction appears to go with the view that another Great Depression will occur, there is nothing we can do about it, and all we can do is make sure that the Fed is abolished so that it won't create the next one.

    Other than that, I don't see much consensus. Few support the "bailout."
    Much of the thinking does involve avoiding "next time." Perhaps what Barr
    said is about all that could be said.

  • VM||

    Lefiti | November 17, 2008, 3:34pm | #
    Jesus Christ, this is like investigating why sticky green vomit makes people nauseated

    .

    really?

    it sure turned you on last night...

  • The Democratic Republican||

    You know, the pundit class is bad enough, but where I really start to lose my cool is when "radicals" like Doherty are so interested in "principle" that they refuse to vote or get involved in the process but still find the time to tell other people how to do it better in a system they supposedly don't care about.

    If you pay attention, all of Doherty's writing is "historical", meaning that he gets to report on all the neat things others are doing without having to get his own hands dirty. Disgusting.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Seriously, Doherty, Tom Knapp and Susan Hogarth? As though these two qualify to be spokespersons for the "true" LP? If "true" equals "asshat" and "incompetent," I suppose you're right. I have interacted with Hogarth and would NEVER let her represent me to other people.

    So when is the story on how Tom Knapp's awesome VP run went? Where' the coverage of the Boston Tea Party? How about telling us where those assclowns went wrong?

    Oh, right...they were jokes from the beginning, and the only reason that you even covered Barr is BECAUSE he could have run a good race if people like you hadn't sat on their hands.

  • Brian Holtz||

    Yes, Brian, sorry -- I was talking about percentages. There were no statewide races in California this election, but in 2004 our Senate candidate got 4X the votes of Badnarik, and in 2000 our Senate candidate got 4X the votes of Browne. I've never heard of an LP presidential candidate for whom this pattern didn't hold. In off-year races our candidates for state executive tend to do even better. In 2006, Lightfoot got 2.0%, and so did Weissman, while Tello got 2.2%, Ogden got 3.7%, and Smithson 4.0%. In 2002, Lightfoot got 2.8%, while Smithson got 2.4%, and Ogden got 3.2%. In 1998, Lightfoot got 2.7%, while Peterson got 2.4%, and Ogden 2.2%. I don't know about other states, but in California our downticket percentages were at record highs, 30% to 50% higher than expected. Our average vote percentage for Congress was 4.53%, for State Senate 5.94%, and for State Assembly 6.74% -- compared to Barr's standard 0.5%. The explanation for this pattern seems to be that the Wasted Vote Syndrome is weaker the farther down the ticket you go. Many voters can't name their Congressman, and most can't name their Assemblyman, but they've all heard of Obama and his "historic" campaign.

    As for Doherty not being "involved in the process", I submit that Reason and Cato do more to spread libertarianism than the LP does, and I'm grateful for the level of attention that Reason pays us. Also, it's a matter of public record that Doherty was a presidential elector pledged to Bob Barr. I wish every libertarian "radical" had the even-tempered perspective and practical involvement of a Brian Doherty.

    (Apologies if this is a re-post; first try didn't seem to take.)

  • Guy Smiley||

    From this article I've learned that Barr's consistently dumb campaign moves were arrived at consciously as apposed to by some accident, which is all the more depressing. But(t) fuck it, I voted for him.

  • ||

    Obama. Obama, Obama, Obama.

    Three other people mentioned it in these comments, but it deserve another mention:

    OBAMA.



    Libertarians used to stand for change, the other two were the status quo. Obama took our motto and a good portion of our enthusiasm and ran.

    The prospect of a 3rd party in the Whitehouse just wasn't as exciting with Obama in the mix.

  • George Phillies||

    Brian,

    The state by state vote totals, as well as the spending data are in the November issue of Liberty for America magazine, on page 2

    http://LibertyForAmerica.com click on magazine and November issue

    to reach

    http://libertyforamerica.com/200811.pdf

    Liberty for America

    Liberty for America is not currently a political party.

    Liberty for America does not currently run or endorse candidates for Federal or non-Federal office.

    Liberty for America exists to build an effective pro-liberty movement in America, a movement separated from the flat-earther bigot cesspit that is modern American conservatism, a movement separated from the Après moi, le déluge philosophy of the Congressional duopoly party, a movement that stands against good-old-boy scratch-my-back incompetence and corruption.

    Liberty for America is preparing to offer
    positive political alternatives
    not available elsewhere.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Well, George, with you at the helm I'm sure it will be a resounding success (in your own mind).

    Brian Holtz: you make a good point, but Doherty made it public that he did not intend to vote on grounds of principle at all and is sympathetic to the radical "the process is inherently corrupt" mentality. I think this disqualifies you from dispensing campaign advice or discussing where a political party should strategically head.

  • ||

    Mr. Barr was not the problem. The Libertarian Party's strategy is the problem. Libertarian's must work from within the major parties to effect change, not from without; i.e. a fifth column. Pick national candidates in either party, Democrat or Republican, who follow a Libertarian philosophy and give them active endorsement from the Libertarian party. It's better to get Libertarian ideas enacted than to run doomed third party candidates who make you feel good.

  • Brian Doherty||

    Brian Holtz---Thanks for clarification; indeed, if you add up all the votes for every US House candidate in Cali, roughly, about 150K seem to have cast a vote for an LP federal candidate, three times as many as voted for Barr. If this pattern is roughly historically consistent--and I don't have the data for past races broken down by every federal candidate handy--then my "perhaps" that this was some reflection on hardcore LP disdain for Barr does not hold up.

  • ||

    The article is good, overall, but, it has a few major flaws.

    It is not significant that Barr was outpolled by Senate candidates, if you do some history and see that is always the case.

    What that actually shows, is there are really very few protest votes in an election campaign.

    Protest voting is a myth, so is voting for the lessor of two evils.

    Those are easy excuses people give as way of explaining themselves. Most people don't have the gift of an author, and need to find easy ways to give explanations that they will never have to intellectually defend, and those arguments serve exactly that purpose.

    No, the truth is 510,000 ppl, give or take just the occasional random voter...supported the LP. People who voted for McCain, guess what, they actually liked McCain. And Obama's supportes like/love/worship him as well.

    No...Bob Barr ran into internal resistance, but that would also be more significant if Browne hadn't run into resistance, Marrou ran into furious resistance.

    Its more a story about an immature party than anything else.

    You are right, winning the minds of voters, one at a time, year after year, no quick fixes.....that is the task we face.

    That means you support the nominee. That means you respect the membership, after all the membership, through its representives selected this nominee.

    If you don't do that, you don't understand the purpose of a political party. Your immaturity is also a drag upon the success of the LP.

    Bob Barr will come and go...but the base of support that the next candidate will get, should have been maximized. Support the nominee, or don't participate in the party at all. No excuses.

  • ||

    The tired idea that a political party should operate as a 5th column, should be thrown out.

    Parties have tried this, its a very old idea, where are those parties today?

    Gone.

    Ron Paul influences the Republican Party? He's a sitting congressmen, he wasn't even allowed to speak. He was allowed to enter the hall only under onerous restrictions...restrictions so absurd that he didn't even go to the convention.

    Some influence...oh you hope for more later?

    Guess what, the majority of libertarians have never joined the LP party. So whatever success you plan on having ...you should have had by now.

    Its easy to criticize the LP because it should be electing candidates and does not.

    But so too should these 'I'm remaining mainstream' influence pedllars be held up to examination.

    The mainstreamers...those libertarians who remained behind to influence major parties: complete and total failures in doing that.

  • ||

    Libertarians will not be a successful political entity in any election without an excellent brand - namely a face - to identify it in the larger society. Most casual observers of politics think of a 30-something living in Mom's basement still clinging to his Amiga and a bong when they think of a "typical" libertarian at best and a guy in a bunker with some Gold Eagles, a Bible, and an AK waiting for the black helicopters at the worst. These stereotypes aren't particularly accurate (Mom's basement guy has a seed of truth sadly) but its what people think when they think "Libertarian." Since politics is people, that is what your ideas are as well when you try and sell them. When I think of a Republican I don't think of an elephant any more than I think of the perfectly appropriate jackass for Democrats. I think of their notable, respective politicians good and bad.

    Also, I don't think its advisable to enter any race of any kind if you have no expectation of winning, even a slim expectation. Making a point isn't a good enough answer, especially when no one cares after you made the point. Its like finishing the auto race last, but after everyone went home from the event in the first place, great point - to yourself. Useless.

    If anything, Ron Paul proved that even a mildly competent campaign by a barely-competent poltician revealed a vast untapped market for libertarian respresentation in the wider political theater. But Ron Paul isn't good enough, frankly. No stage presence, does not hit it out of the park rhetorically, not one memorable quote that even his supporters can gather 'round, nothing. If someone as marketable and well-marketed (not the amount of money either, but the way you spend it) as Obama had been in Ron Paul's position, you'd be talking about someone who would've cracked ten percent of the popular vote at least I think - a watershed moment for the party - and finally, finally you'd have somone that doesn't need to hound the press for an interview, but is hounded by the press for an interview (demand and supply for the product are suddenly swapped). It worked quite well for Jesse Ventura at the state level in Minnesota and that's the kind of personality I'm talking about, if not him specifically. You would then have a character to rally around and carry your banner for two and four years into the next political cycles. Now you'd have something going, now you'd be able to capitalize on the two main partys' fiscally voracious incompetence and creeping totalitarianism every election with a fresh, so far untested face and party.

    But Bob Barr? What? No wonder everyone thinks Libertarians live in the basement with a bong - wanting but unable to afford Golden Eagles and an AK - and awaiting black helicopters that will never come because even if they exist they don't give a damn about libertarians living in mom's basement.

  • ||

    He didn't go wrong! It's stupid people that wasted their vote that did not want to "waste" thier vote....

  • ||

    A few hints for the LP

    What you're doing just isn't working at all
    even the best result was pathetic
    Its alot to do with image
    So firstly DROP THE NAME
    the word libertarian smacks of extremism and anarchism
    you've already lost 75% of vote from the name alone
    Try something less aggressive that hints at your philosophy
    try "Libre" the Latin word for free
    DROP THE EXTREMISM
    No matter how morally correct pulling out of the UN may be
    its never gonna win votes
    when Ron Paul appears on the TV proposing this he just looks like a madman without a grip on reality
    The buzz words here are fiscally "conservative, socially liberal"
    legalizing marijuana and lowering corporation tax will win alot of votes
    DROP THE DEMAGOGUERY
    Don't accuse the opposition of being pinkos and facsists (even thou they are)
    Stick with the analytical constructive policy esposued by the like of Reason magazine that propose sensible solutions for current issues
    JOIN THE LIBERAL INTERNATIONAL

    www.liberal-international.org/

    LI was founded in 1947 to strengthen liberal protection from totalitarianism, facism and communism. It has since become the pre-eminent network for promoting liberalism, individual freedom, human rights, the rule of law, tolerance, equality of opportunity, social justice, free trade and a market economy

    What Americans call a liberal the rest of the world calls a socialist, they call libertarians right wing liberals
    The liberal democrats in the UK win 15% + of the vote, they swear an oath on J.S. Mill's On Liberty when joining the party. Associating with parties that actually hold actual political power will increase the credibility of a part that cant muster a percentage point in a general election

  • ||

    I think it's great that Reason contributors are finally acknowledging that it will take a "celebrity" to bring the LP out of the shadow of dust bunnies. Without some sort of wow factor, the LP will never have a chance. Some of what Materialmonkee (note: prepare for Nesmith lawsuit) notes should be heard, namely trying not to seem so freakishly anti-social. Other than that, Drew Carey seems about the only hope for national success the LP has ever had, or ever will have if nothing else changes within the party. So no more denigrating Obama as a "celebrity", people. He was a nobody when he started campaigning, and he got to the top by virtue of his ... um ... virtues and lots of small-unit donations. The LP could learn a lot from his recent campaign. If only they would.

  • ||

    1)The libertarian Party comes off as a bunch of frustrated republicans. Almost eveyone does not want to pay taxes and if they have to, they prefer their neighbor to pay. This is where the action is. It is "who pays" not "we don't want to pay".

    The Libertarian movement is to wrapped up in some anarchist notion the majority of the population will allow the higher IQ carnivores run the show.

    Wrong! The average citizen wants a government to keep the carnivores in place.
    They will accept all the looting by Dems and Repubs that Libertarians lose sleep over for SECURITY.

    2) Why doesn't the Libertarian Party go after corporations. They are a creation of government in the form of a privilege. Would it not be smarter to end corporate welfare prior to putting someones grandmother under a bridge.

    3) When will Libertarians understand the difference between Commonwealth and Privitization. Why support privatizing roads when humans have a natural right to travel. Also, there is a difference between law made property and property from labor.

    4) Why don't Liberatarians support a land value tax instead of all the other taxes which negatively affect the economy. It was good enough for Adam Smith, the Physiocrats (originators of Laissez faire), Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson. It is a site value fee in reality.

    5) National campaigns are a waste of time and money. Go after local elections first and build a base.

  • Ben||

    LP downticket candidates regularly get many more votes than the Pres. candidate. Unless you bring in the performances of past Pres. candidates vs. downticket candidates, this is not a useful measure.

  • Robert Goodman||

    Ron Paul influences the Republican Party? He's a sitting congressmen, he wasn't even allowed to speak. He was allowed to enter the hall only under onerous restrictions...restrictions so absurd that he didn't even go to the convention.

    Some influence...oh you hope for more later?


    Well, duh! What'd you expect, one candidate in one presidential cycle? What about the whole rest of the party activists and all the office holders down ticket?

    How do you think the big parties got to be the way they are now? Thru the influence of persons within them. Unless you think libertarians are not persons, have you any reason to believe libertarians can't influence large organiz'ns the same way all other -ians and -ists do?

  • elephant_logic||

    The real question here is who the hell did vote for him and why?

    The reason/cato/tnr crowd was busy justifying why they chose mccain or obama, and the real libertarians were either voting baldwin, leaving the top of the ticket blank or staying home.

    I challenge anyone to explain to me why Barr can be forgiven for DOMA, the PATRIOT act and the drug war, but Ron Paul can't be forgiven for some "racist", but partially true, statements in a 20 year old newsletter.

  • ||

    I hate to admit it...I held my nose and voted for him.

    But it was painful to do so because he may be a Libertarian..but he is not libertarian.

    As a delegate at the convention I did not vote for him. I only voted for him during the election because there was no one better running.

    I sold out my ideals to support the party. But it will never happen again.

  • ||

    Please accept reality. People do not want limited government. They want socialism. At least have the character to stop participating in an immoral system, and have the decency to stop backing delusional people who think getting 2% of the vote is a success - or who think they will ever get more than that.
    You had one brief moment where a Republican was able to get on TV and spread his views, during the inane primary debates. That's as far as you'll ever get. Don't cry, don't get into a depression, don't try to bargain, or go into denial. Just accept it, and live your life.

  • ||

    I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to check in to support TerryP's comment from above in the strongest possible terms.

    For a small party to campaign in swing states, in the hopes that it might actually achieve enough votes to 'cost' one side the state, doesn't make any sense. Most people in swing states understand their situation and are less likely to take a chance on an unknown/fringe product. Those are exactly the kind of voters who are always scared into voting against (rather than for) a candidate. Plus, advertising is incredibly expensive in such environments, the local media are locked in to the 2-party struggle, and even if you succeed, you just piss off half the population.

    After 2000, a LOT of people understand the electoral college. People in California, Illinois, Texas, Utah, and Alabama understand that their votes have no chance of making a difference in the outcome of the election. Those are the people who would be willing to vote LP (or some other small/outside-the-box party). Plus, advertising and getting recognition might be easier in those situations.

    Get enough of those, and it's very possible to get over 2% of the general election total - maybe more. That would make people take notice, and maybe give a moment of attention to what the LP is actually saying.

  • Ben||

    Elephant: I don't think you can prove that there are masses of libertarians who didn't vote for Barr.

    This Reason article hints at this, but with thin evidence. As I pointed out, downticket Libertarians regularly beat the Presidential candidate by a considerable margin. When a Libertarian candidate gets more than 10% for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 2000, I don't think that means Harry Browne somehow lost the votes of the LP faithful (in getting less than 1%).

    Downticket Libertarians do better. This says something about voting behavior, but nothing about how many "real libertarians" voted for Bob Barr.

  • ||

    Ben - your comments about down-ticket races are clearly true. And yes, the article didn't present a great deal of concrete evidence that actual libertarians (big L or small) failed to show up to vote Barr.

    At the same time ... you have to admit, there were some elements at play that made it reasonable to hope Barr would do better than usual for an LP candidate this time. There was the general abandonment of small-government/constitutionalist thinking by the Republicans, the one party that had ever claimed even half-assed pretenses to that mentality. There was a high-energy primary campaign by a libertarian-minded congressman that continually surprised the pundits in its ability to generate money and enthusiasm.

    Insert a former congressman with at least some minor amount of name recognition into such an environment, and it wasn't unresonable to hope Barr would get 1 million votes, or something close. Therefore, while there isn't a lot of indisputable evidence that Libertarians rejected Barr, there are at least the depressing vote totals.

  • Ben||

    MKW - I agree with all you say. Barr was disappointing given reasonable expectations.

    I just disagree with the narrative that says "Barr wasn't a real libertarian, real libertarians didn't vote for him, only a few dissatisfied conservatives."

    Also, for those of us who watch LP vote totals, the analysis of down-ticket races just comes across as ignorant (from Reason, which otherwise has the only reliably good coverage of the LP).

  • ||

    He wasn't the yellow dog I would have preferred, but there was no reason not to vote for the LP candidate in a guaranteed true-blue state, so I did. I would have had to hold my nose a lot more to vote for Obama or McCain.

    I heard a lot from my state LP, and from our favorite son contender for LP nomination, but virtually nothing from the Barr campaign. The only lawn sign I saw was the one I bought from the campaign in the final weeks; the bumper stickers never came.

    (I usually like my state LP, but we had a candidate for US Senate who ought to have been able to get a bigger piece of the usual 35% anybody-but-the-incumbent vote, as did the LP candidate for US Senate in 2000, who got a vote total very close to that of the Republican, and also more than 75% of what Browne got nationally that year.)

  • Jake Witmer||

    Brian writes: "While ballot access for the LP is mostly a responsibility of the national and state parties rather than the presidential campaign, the Barr camp did, according to ballot access maven Richard Winger, take responsibility for getting on three ballots-West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C.-and failed in all three." Taking responsibility with more than enough time and resources to get the job done would preclude failure. Failing this was the direct result of managing the drives as if they were functionally mentally retarded. It is the direct result of Shane Cory's complete incompetence in managing petition drives (and anything else beyonf basic web design, which I understand he's good at). Russell Verney is not a decent human being and also not a libertarian and contemptuous of libertarians. (Redpath had to call him and threaten him to get him to pay me what he owed me, weeks after I had earned it. Verney will say that he withheld pay because I failed to do a daily turn in to his -irrational and ranting- employee on the ground in WV, Shane Cory, but this is a simple lie to avoid responsibility.)

    Oh yes, and while Shane and Verney were screwing LP donors on one side, Sean Haugh and Scott Kohlhaas were screwing up National LP ballot access (and eating up resources and misdirecting others that could have been sent to WV, CT, or any of the other 4 states and DC that they screwed up). If they were generals in a war, they would have all been hung for treason. Sean Haugh is even less competent and less of a decent human being than Shane Cory. The complete truth is here if anyone wants it: http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/barr-loses-west-virginia-ballot-access-lawsuit/

    Sean Haugh hired Scott Kohlhaas to run the various petition drives for him, since Haugh is completely incompetent. Scott Kohlhaas took a look at the situation, and since he had no title, he realized he would accept no blame for Sean's actions, after he told him what to do. Nice arrangement for Scott! He promptly manipulated Sean into taking revenge on anyone who knew he had defrauded 4 LP activists in NE in 2006. Those activists showed up at the Pittsburgh LNC meeting in 2007, and the LNC members (AFTER being made aware that the petitioners were in the room, by Bill Redpath) paid them out of pocket (documented on page 14 of this link: http://www.lp.org/archives/lnc20070721.pdf ).

    Those petitioners never shut up about being defrauded by Kohlhaas, and Kohlhaas is a career petitioner for the LP. Sean Haugh was delighted to have someone around who knew how to do the work he was being paid to do. So Sean fired and blacklisted all of the people that Scott told him were "no good" (ie: those who knew about the 2006 happening). Sean literally called around to State Libertarian Parties, and demanded that none of these longtime activists get hired by any of the State LPs that they had previously done good work for). Simple obedience to Scott Kohlhaas, or simple incompetence? The line is blurry between the two.

    The result? A loss of ballot access in 5 states PLUS D.C. A total of six losses, when we should have had INCREASED ballot access over 2004 (since we only failed in 2004 because of the NH local party that sent LP activists out of the state to Alabama before the deadline. Some "Free State"!).

    If insider political hacks are going to run ballot access for the LP, and it's not going to be decentralized and accountable, then the LP damned well better have someone who is as competent at directly administering ballot access. (Such as Anthony Garcia, Bill Redpath, Paul Jacob, or Nick Youngers). Otherwise, the job needs to be decentralized to LP activists, and simply paid for by national via the State Parties. The other option is to do what was done in 2008: Lose a bunch of states for no reason at all.

    BTW: For anyone who knows their ass from a hole in the ground WRT petitioning, this was Shane Cory and Russell Verney's plan for ballot access in WV: Hire a bunch of locals (with 3 weeks left to gather 30,000 signatures) with radio and newspaper ads, and get them out and productive in time to finish. Oh yes, and turn away the help of Christina Tobin (Nader's petition coordinator, and longtime IL LP member). Shane Cory sat in an airconditioned hotel room the entire 3 weeks, and failed miserably to bring petitioners into WV. He was obstructionist, elitist, and incompetent. He barked orders, but the market wouldn't respond! Wonder why? (This is why a ten year old kid on a dirtbike rolled up to me with the same petitions I was circulating and asked me to sign, with no clipboard just newspaper underneath, and then said "Hey you're doing the same thing me and my sister are doing! How did you get so many?" --I was out in the parking lot asking people to sign, they were sitting on a picnic bench in the shade.) As bad as he was, Verney was worse, because he delegated 100% authority to Cory, and then threw a massive temper tantrum on the last week, when it was clear Cory would fail. Before then, Verney wouldn't even answer his phone. Both of them still blame me --one petitioner-- for their abject failure.

    I hate reporting bad news about the LP, but that's completely true, and I haven't even included any of the supporting details here, because they could fill a book. (The post at LFV is more complete)

    If anyone here wants to get the LP on the ballot for roughly 1/3 the cost, and none of the drama, please contribute online at http://www.freedomballotaccess.org

    Thanks for paying attention. If anyone has questions, I will return phone calls within 24 hours. Unless they're from Shane, Verney, Cory, Kohlhaas or anyone else who belongs in a padded room. My cell#: 907-250-5503 Call me if you want to prevent another train wreck in 2012.

    The saddest thing about the 2008 situation? We would have had a dynamite campaign and 49 or 50 states of ballot access (+ D.C. and more resources for an OK lawsuit) if Wayne Root had gotten the nomination. Instead, we got rank amateurs handling the ballot access drives, for both National and the Barr campaign.

    Redpath was a great ballot access chair. He moved people around, and put out fired. Sean Haugh couldn't put out a fire on his own ass. Here's one example of Sean Haugh ordering valid petition signatures to be burned (thus breaking the law of Massachusetts), because the person who gathered those signatures was one of the petitioners defrauded by Scott Kohlhaas in 2006, in NE: http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/haugh-demands-ballot-petitions-be-burned/

    The clowns who failed the LP donors will be back again for more free handouts unless self-respecting LP members demand that they not be. An alternative to funding the LP is to send money to freedom ballot access, and they will do the work more cheaply than national would do it anyway.

    For the record, Redpath is not a clown, he is a competent guy who unfortunately hired some bad people and then decided not to get rid of them in the middle of a petition drive. If he gets rid of them now, his mistakes should not be considered extreme. It is hard to find good help, and perhaps he didn't realize the depth of Kohlhaas and Haugh's vindictiveness.

    For the record, Dondero is a longtime friend of Kohlhaas's, and helped him set Cory up for failure, telling him that I would gather 400 signatures per day in WV. Since Cory is a newbie and rube at gathering signatures, and doesn't understand the basic process, Cory listened to him. One more screw up we can attribute to partially to agent provacateur and sheep-in-libertarian-clothing Eric Dondero (Ron Paul's fired and disgraced former employee).

    Well, now you've got the truth!

  • Max||

    This article hides what everyone in the LP knew: It had been seized by the GOP in 2006 and the 2008 Convention was flooded by GOP ringers and staff with their 'debating society' cries. Barr's campaign promised 5 million votes and 5 million in funds then went on to screw up ballot access, the platform, and many state parties with purges and worse. There're even youtubes showing the corrupt votes.

    The blow by blow is in a lot of state LP yahoo groups and web comments but these are slowly vanishing for the 'official' REASON cover-up. REASSON should be exposing what happened, not this nonsense.

    The last Convention ousted many of the GOP from the LNC but many state LP's are intheir control, running fringe candidates and blocking actual Libertarians.

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