Badnarik the King-Slayer

Robert Novak notes how the Libertarian Party is targeting Wisconsin as a swing state in which they could possibly cost Bush the election. (scroll down, item "Libertarians vs. Bush: toward bottom). They are asking, Novak reports, Wisconsin Dems to give them money, promising to use it to target conservatives dissatisfied with Bush.

I'm not entirely sure that costing Bush the election will bring people rushing toward the LP or rushing away from it in morning-after remorse, but it should be interesting. The LP itself hypes Badnarik's ability to kill Bush in this press release about ads the campaign is running on Fox. (Part of the idea, I suppose, is that it might make the GOP skew more libertarian in 2008--but with what candidate?)

It will also be interesting if the LP manages to get props for it even if they do. I can easily imagine a scenario in which Badnarik "costs Bush the election"--that is, in which his votes are larger than the gap between Bush's and Kerry's in a state whose electoral votes are decisive in the election--and the likes of the New York Times don't even make a big deal out of it, out of a general sense that the LP isn't much worth noticing. We'll see.

UPDATE:
As Thomas Knapp points out in the comments thread, the Times' John Tierney just yesterday noted Badnarik's spoiler possibilities, in a piece I hadn't yet seen. Scroll down for "Nader nibble from the right" subhead.

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  • Warren||

    All too true. I think the LP should run presidential candidates, but I'd really like to see national support behind a vulnerable Senate or Gubernatorial race.

  • ||

    I spoke with a gaggle of registered Republicans over the weekend, and a number of them were planning to stay home. They're considering voting Libertarian now; at least, that's what they told me.

    If Badnarik can capitalize on the disaffected Republican vote, which is huge, it'll be a home run for the LP.

  • ||

    My father, who as I have mentioned in other threads is a lifelong Republican, told me this Saturday he was going to vote LP to punish Bush over Iraq and the Medicare bill. This is from a man who wrote in Richard Nixon in 1964!

  • ||

    I'm not entirely sure that costing Bush the election will bring people rushing toward the LP or rushing away from it in morning-after remorse...

    Good point. Let me once more put forward my crazy theory: In order to simultanesouly broaden its appeal while keeping its more conservative adherents happy, the LP should target a very high-profile Democrat for the "spoiler treatment." I'm not suggesting a campaign that focuses entirely on victimless crimes, nor am I suggesting that the LP waste its time trying to win over die-hard leftists in the electorate.

    But Democrat-leaning moderates might be amenable to a fiscally conservative/socially liberal candidate. A good starting place for a platform that appeals to Democrats would be to combine the best ideas from the ACLU and the Institute for Justice. IJ frequently handles economic liberty cases for small urban businesses owned by minorities, the sort of thing that might appeal to Democrat-leaning independents.

    Not only would a campaign targeting Democrats bring in votes from people who don't normally support the LP, it would probably also appeal to conservative-leaning libertarians. They might not feel so bad about giving their vote to the LP instead of the GOP if they know the LP candidate is also taking votes away from the Democrat. Think of it as analogous to the vote-swap ideas.

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    Quoth Brian:

    -----
    I can easily imagine a scenario in which Badnarik "costs Bush the election"--that is, in which his votes are larger than the gap between Bush's and Kerry's in a state whose electoral votes are decisive in the election--and the likes of the New York Times don't even make a big deal out of it, out of a general sense that the LP isn't much worth noticing. We'll see.
    -----

    Actually, we already have seen. The New York Times ran an article yesterday, complete with a graph of the states in which Harry Browne "covered the spread" in 2000:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/24/politics/campaign/24points.html

    I think they'll cover it if Badnarik does emerge as a "spoiler," too.

    Tom Knapp

  • ||

    As a conservative, neocon George Bush is not my guy but Kerry is certainly not an acceptable alternative. If libertarians are now going to operate only as spoilers rather than offering reasonable core ideas of their own, then I deeply regret my past support of the party.

    One thing is also certain. I will never support paleoconservatives and libertarians who have circled around so far to the right that they are now are now re-aligning themselves behind the positions of the far-left.

  • Xrlq||

    SR, I'm not sure what your point is about your father. Given his forty year history of throwing away his vote by writing in non-candidates who have no chance of winning, is it any surprise he's wasting his vote this time, too?

    As to Badnarik in particular, it's too bad that after so many years of being called "looneytarians," the LP has finally found a candidate who can really live down to that name.

  • ||

    Xrlq, I said he wrote in Richard Nixon in 1964, not every race. Extract your head from your rectum and read the post again.

  • ||

    Carl Fisher,

    You don't like neoconservatives, you don't like paleoconservatives, you're not supporting libertarians...

    Are there mesoconservatives I haven't heard about?

    Confusion ensues in the mind of Pseudo. Who are you voting for?

  • ||

    While I'm not supporting Badnarik, I had a lot of wistful moments earlier in the year when the GOP was transparently pulling out the stops to help Nader. "When will there be free Democratic labor provided for Libertarian ballot access," I wondered. Good for Badnarik & co. for noticing the tactical opportunity, even if only late in the game.

  • ||

    Are there mesoconservatives I haven't heard about?

    Double secret conservatives! ;->

  • ||

    If the LP can pull it off, I think that the Republicans are deserving of what they get.

    There is nothing that makes a Republican steam with anger more than a libertarian. Democrats make Republicans feel superior. Libertarians piss Republicans off by pointing out that they are just big government right-wingers.

    At the presidential level I guess the only thing that the LP can do is try some gimmick. If you get involved with the LP politics, the ballot access laws will teach you that, unfortunately, playing nice won't work.

    IDL

  • Xrlq||

    SR, I did read your post. You proudly bragged about his silly 1964 stunt, as if to suggest it was relevant to next week's election, and then made no mention of how he voted in the interim. Whether pops repeats his childish stunt once every four years, or once every forty, the precedent has been set, and my point stands.

    Next time you feel like blaming someone else for failing to divine what you didn't post, consider relxing and enjoying a fresh cup of STFU instead.

  • ||

    This just in from the Onion's election guide:

    'You might think it's funny, but it's disrespectful to submit write-in candidates like "Don Knotts," "Mickey Mouse," or "Michael Badnarik."'

    'Remember to vote, or P. Diddy will kill you.'

  • ||

    In the local Sunday paper I read that Badnarik is on the ballot in 49 states. New Hampshire is the only hold-out. What's going on in NH?

  • ||

    As a libertarian (hell, anarcho-capitalist) who feels backed into voting for Bush, I am very interested in reading the open letter from John Hospers that Dan H. mentioned.

    If anyone else is interested, I found it posted here (haven't read it yet): http://americanbacklash.com/

  • ||

    Dan H., I've seen Bush at work on Medicare, and I can't say I'm too optimistic about what he might do with Social Security.

  • ||

    Did you ever notice how the angry, libertarian-hating "conservatives" sound exactly like the angry, Nader-hating "liberals" from four years ago?

    There is absolutely *nothing* wrong with voting not only your conscience, but LEGALLY for the candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who you feel can best serve this country as president.

    Anyone who tells you otherwise is misguided and cohercive, i.e., the political "f" word.

  • ||

    I agree, CTD. And what's with all these folks who are libertarians voting for Bush or Kerry? Do either of those cadidates have any libertarian leanings? I didn't think so.

    Ok, divided gov't, ABB, whatever. The more I think about, the more I don't understand how you can endorse either of the main party guys if you are a libertarian. And this is coming from a guy who was definitely of the ABB crowd.

  • ||

    The Hospers article is here, though I couldn't disagree more with his conclusion:

    http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/1004/1004openletter.htm

  • ||

    We have received reports that the people posting on this site are supporters of a "King-Slayer." Agents of the Secret Service and the Department of Fatherland Security have tracked you by your IP addresses and will be there to arrest you momentarily. Thank-you for your compliance.

  • ||

    Amen Bill! Thanks for posting that NoStar. It's good to see another libertarian keeping true to himself.

  • ||

    This is not a name I'm familiar with, so forgive me if I'm saying something silly, but is anyone here interested in reviewing the so-called libertarian case for George Bush as written by John Hospers?

  • ||

    (Whoops. Apology: I didn't see the Hospers links above upon my first glance at this thread. I'm sorry about the confusion.)

  • ||

    "And while Bush is no stranger to big government, he's on the right side of the biggest issues of the day - terrorism, and social security."

    As if there were someone running for President on the wrong side of terrorism! As if anyone would interpet my vote for the Bush Administration as an endorcement of Social Security reform!

    In what way will a vote for Bush register my disgust with the Patriot Act or, for that matter, my disgust with Rumsfeld's inexplicable, continued presence in the Defense Department? What about the Patriot Act? What about Abu Gharib? How do I register my digust with the Bush Administration and still vote for President Bush?

    What about the consistent demonstration of incompetence?

  • clark||

    If the LP can send that ignoramus back to Texas, it will be a great accomplishment

  • ||

    Xrlq, the inference that even blind, mentally retarded three year-olds could grasp from my original post is that my father has been an ultra-hardcore Republican. (Who, other than a dyed-in-the-wool Republican would have written in Richard Nixon for president in 1964?) He voted straightline Republican in every election from 1960 onwards.

  • ||

    If the LP can send that ignoramus back to Texas, it will be a great accomplishment

    Some might argue you're referring to Badnarik, who is apparently a Texan. Could you clarify?

  • ||

    thoreau, I think the word "ignoramus" makes it clear.

  • ||

    Badnarik on abortion: It's not a religious issue, it's a property-rights issue: at what point does the baby take ownership of its own body?

    LOL what a smoothie. Though I agree he's technically correct, that type of statement is a turn-off to both sides.

  • ||

    I've gotten a lot of my conservative, liberal, and independent friends to vote for the LP this time arround.

    Libertarianism is an easy sell. Who knew?

  • ||

    Let's play this out. Presuming Kerry takes the Electoral College by a hair, and in a key state or three, Badnarik represents the spread, are the Democrats interested in preserving a tactical alliance for 2006? What might they offer? Is Guns, Grass, and the Patriot Act enough? Play spoiler on Dem incumbents on the wrong side of those three issues?

  • Thomas L. Knapp||

    Quoth Ben Masel:

    -----
    Let's play this out. Presuming Kerry takes the Electoral College by a hair, and in a key state or three, Badnarik represents the spread, are the Democrats interested in preserving a tactical alliance for 2006? What might they offer? Is Guns, Grass, and the Patriot Act enough? Play spoiler on Dem incumbents on the wrong side of those three issues?
    -----

    I'd like to make it clear that I am speaking solely as an individual, and not as a member of Michael Badnarik's staff in this whole thread. To put a finer point on it, I haven't had a great deal of input into the campaign's "overarching strategy" considerations, and my opinions here are my own, not those of the candidate or campaign manager.

    That said, I see it like this:

    I'm not looking for an ongoing "tactical alliance" with the Democrats ... or with the Republicans. What I'm looking for is potentially good outcomes, as follows:

    1) If Kerry is elected, the GOP will almost certainly maintain a majority in the House of Representatives, as well as a slim majority or a filibuster-able minority in the Senate. I don't see either of these changing in 2006, either. The GOP will likely start showing some backbone. They will not give Kerry things that they cheerfully give a president of their own party (like $400 billion plus deficits, massive expansions in entitlements, massive expansion in federal education programs, etc.).

    That's a fairly bankable outcome of costing Bush the election.

    2) If Bush loses, and if that loss can be plausibly linked to Badnarik, the GOP will react in one of two ways. Either it will move in a more libertarian direction legislatively, and probably nominate more libertarian-leaning candidates at all levels and a more libertarian presidential candidate in 2008 (in which case we win), or it will direct considerable attention, publicity and debate toward the Libertarian Party, driving yet more support to us and solidifying our ability to determine the outcome even of elections we can't win (in which case, once again, we win). This election could effectively make libertarians into a voting bloc to be pursued rather than an annoyance to be ignored.

    I think that that, too, is a fairly bankable outcome. We had a "mini-explosion" of that sort after costing the GOP a Senate seat in Washington and such. Costing them the White House will switch the size of the explosion from kilotonnage to megatonnage.

    3) Regardless of whether Kerry will be a better president or not (and I think, as per above, that having a Congress of the opposite party will FORCE him to be), a powerful example needs to be set: If you spend like LBJ on a crack binge, expand entitlements, expand federal interference in education, engage in foreign military adventurism, etc. ... YOU WILL NOT BE RE-ELECTED. The quality of Bush's replacement is not strictly relevant to the need for this example. We do not shrink from hauling Jeffrey Dahmer off to jail for fear that Charles Manson will be the next tenant in his old apartment.

    My initial impression of the Badnarik campaign was that it was a "get the most votes possible and damn the torpedoes" approach. However, after initial ad runs, polling, etc., it became clear to me that no matter what we did, our top potential continued to fall among Republican-leaning, rather than Democrat-leaning, voters in this race, and that that was the draw for media coverage as well. I assume that those at the top of the campaign drew the same conclusions from the same data and tailored further strategy decisions to fit by going after the votes that were most accessible. The "spoiler" thing started as a side effect; the media began grabbing it, and it moved to center stage. That's not a bad thing.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  • ||

    Anyone who even remotely considers themselves libertarian should be ashamed of working to give John Kerry the White House.

    which is fine for you to say, mr L, but we're still faced with john kerry vs chairman mao. i don't vote for kerry because i'm a libertarian -- i vote against the candidate which has shown the greatest capacity for real damage.

    kerry, fwiw, presents a great philosophical threat but one he will have great difficulty implementing -- given that the house often seems to be a stark-raving-mad den of neocon lunatics.

    and to this:

    Libertarianism is an easy sell.

    i agree -- but protest-voting is simply not an option for me this time around. it has been in the past, and i hope it will be again in the future. but imo bush -- when backed with a slavish republican congress -- presents a grave threat to the republic which i cannot abstain myself from trying to end.

  • ||

    Tom Knapp's comment is instructive, but I would add an option.

    4) Badnarik is seen by the `phants as costing them some electoral votes that would have tipped the election towards Bush. Since the GOP has much strength at the Governor and State Legislature level, they will proceed to enact tighter ballot access laws, in order to strangle further growth of the LP. Even if the courts look with disfavor on the attempt to turn every state's election law into Oklahoma's, national and state Libertarian coffers will be depleted by legal fees, and we will be distracted from candidate recruitment and grassroots organizing for `06. If the ABB Democrats hold enough of a grudge against the Nader crowd, they'll go along with it, even if it makes more sense to have a divided opposition in `08. Sometimes a scorpion stings because that's its nature.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Bush out of office. Gridlock on the Potomac.
    The LP gets credit. Win/win/win.

    It's a very high risk strategy, though. By focusing virtually exclusively on swing-states, four of them, the LP/Badnarik Campaign has
    put all of its eggs in a one-basket strategy.

    Voters in those states are going to be far more cognizant of the "don't throw you vote away" argument, if they can make the decision of Bush versus Kerry.

    With that factor & the four state focus, total votes for Badnarik could be abysmally low.
    Then if Bush wins, anway, well, it's lose/lose/lose.

    I didn't have to be that way. I'll mention just one thing. The Badnarick Campaign was confronted by a groundswell of support for buying $20K of ads on the "Daily Show". Jon Stewart is *the* hot topic these days, and, increasinlgy folks claim they are going there for the true news, minus the spin. plus the sarcasm and satire. $20 K was cheap for 30 spots, with the very likely outcome that Badnarik could have gotten on the show itself for his only national TV interview outside of C-Span.

    With that possibility, that could have cracked the main-stream media blackout and
    made Badnarik a "talking point".

    Too bad, Fred Collins, MB's campaign manager, refused even to think about it, given his four-state strategy.

    I'm going to disagree with my friend, Tom Knapp, about something. The four-state, steal votes from Bush strategy was *not*, as I see it, a careful analysis of polls, ect.

    That strategy was "given" to us by CBS.com before Badnarik was even nominated. They've not mentioned the LP/Badnarik since,
    but before the Convention they announced the LP's candidate could be a spoiler.

    The LP fawned over that notice, and in the very first press-release after the Convention the strategy of "spoiling" for Bush was announced, long before there were any TV ads or polls.

    Well, it's a done deal now. Whatever the outcome, I want to vehemently disagree with the claim that we have more appeal to conservatives than liberals. As I see it, except for the Ed Clark Campaign, we have **never** even come close to trying to appeal to liberals, not even in niches.

    To bad, so sad,

    larry fullmer Idaho

  • ||

    I read the open leter from John Hospers and I find it much less than convincing.

    The fact that bush put 530 [b]billion[/b] into medicare is strong evidence that he has not intension of showing any real fiscal conservativism.

    As for terrorsim, I think that Patrick J. Buchanan did a wonderful job of explaining how we brought that on ourselves in Where the Right went Wrong.

  • ||

    I read the open leter from John Hospers and I find it much less than convincing.

    The fact that bush put 530 BILLION into medicare is strong evidence that he has not intension of showing any real fiscal conservativism.

    As for terrorsim, I think that Patrick J. Buchanan did a wonderful job of explaining how we brought that on ourselves in Where the Right went Wrong.

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