Libertarian Party: Bad for Libertarians?

In my over 100 lengthy interviews, and close reading of decades worth of libertarian movement literature, done as research for my forthcoming book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, this is an opinion I've come across before. But here is Bruce Bartlett explaining why he thinks that, for the greater good of the larger libertarian cause, the Libertarian Party needs to disappear.

Bartlett is most famous recently for getting bounced from the National Center for Policy Analysis for writing the anti-Bush book Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy , which was excerpted in the June issue of Reason, with a close reading of Bush's terrible record on free trade

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  • ||

    There really seems to be a big push to knock off the LP. That indicates to me that they may be onto something, that "the enemy" is trying a desperate big blitz, and that now is the time to stick to our guns.

  • ||

    Yeah, as the last election showed, the LP is really ONTO something, that something being a losing strategy.

  • Warren||

    Brian,
    Please fix is so your name appears on your posts on the H&R home page

    As for Mr. Bartlett, I think his attitude does more harm to the cause than the LP. You say you won't vote LP because they can't win eh? Well there's a self fulfilling prophecy if I've ever heard one. And for all their "unserious" wackaloony childishness, I still find them acceptable in ways the major parties are grossly intolerable. (For the record I think the major parties run, and even get elected, candidates that match the LPs for loonyness)

    The LP is vulnerable to all Buce's charges, but I find it ridiculous to suggest that they are a detriment to the cause. As if a great tide of libertarianism would swell the Republican (and Democrat?) ranks if the LP would simply go away. Bruces big idea seems to be that libertarians should reorganize under some other banner. One the behaves as he'd like it to and plays by the rules he sets, perhaps they could call themselves Bartlett's Believers. I wish them well, but I'm still going to pay my dues and pull the lever for the LP.

  • ||

    I don't know why more Libertarians don't run as major party candidates -- either as Dems or Reps (like Ron Paul).

    Then when they buck the party line they can be considered mavericks and independent minded

  • ||

    C'mon, James, that sounds like tinfoil hat stuff. No one wants to knock off the LP. A guy just wrote an op-ed piece saying the LP is silly and probably counter-productive to the advance of libertarian ideas. I happen to disagree. The LP provides a nice, utter meaningless place for the abrasive pedants and fringe lunatics who would otherwise cause trouble elsewhere. Let the LP have its members, its tree house and its secret Ayn Rand decoder rings.

  • ||

    Warren---The lack of byline with the piece is an occasional glitch with our blog software that usually goes away within one minute--if you refresh the page. As near as i can tell, my byline is now there on both main hit and run apge and the specific entry.

    Brian Doherty

  • ||

    Lunatics need to express themselves in a political party of their own. In the major paties, the lunacy gets deluted. Purist fanaticism is its own reward.

  • Garth||

    The LP gives libertarians a bad name....

  • Wirkman Virkkala||

    Perhaps the LP wouldn't be such a drain on libertarian effort were the states to adopt Instant Runoff Voting or similar electoral reforms . . . and there's a growing movment for this particular reform.

    But, as fond as I am of the LP (or my memories of it), it should be dissolved. Any chance it had at the Big Time, of displacing one of the major parties, evaporated long ago. (I've argued this many times before. See http://www.insteadofablog.com/2004.11.04.shtml.)

    One could argue that there should be a political soapbox for libertarians to stick to principle without any compromise. Well, that rarely is the LP these days. I voted for an LP senatorial candidate in my state whose Voters' Pamphlet statement was pure political mush. I had to hold my nose to cast my vote. (A frequent position, in any case.)

    I think Libertarians need a national organization, but one that is "nonpartisan." Try to influence both parties. Kick up a fuss across the board. And even have fun!

    The LP isn't much fun, it doesn't make much of a fuss, and its influence is negligible. Still, it would be awfully tempted to run under its banner, if one had a huge warchest to dither away, just to see how much better one could do than the last batch of LP candidates, who have scored miserably. (Sometimes I get the feeling that libertarians just don't know how to get attention, how much fun an in-your-face campaign could be. Oh, well.)

  • ||

    Sometimes the lunacy even gets diluted.

  • Warren||

    Brian,
    OK, good to know

  • :-||

    The only way libertarians can get anything done at the national level is through ad hoc efforts with like-minded individuals. Choose your battles carefully and focus on the small not big picture. One idea at a time. Otherwise you're just spinning your wheels and being laughed at. Or worse: ignored.

  • ||

    In the major paties, the lunacy gets deluted.



    Joe, are you emphasizing your New England bona fides, or is that a Freudian glitch? Either way, I love it.

  • ||

    Not convinced the L party is bad.
    And we already have interest groups. Here already is one, eh!!

    We all have our row to hoe.
    Hoing is more important than winning.

  • ||

    Overall the LP is good, but I won't get into that here so close to the holidays. What I will say is Bartletts been saying the LP should go away for a very long time for the same tired reasons everywhere he could, even in the pages of Liberty, a publication that makes the LP look dynamic and sane.

    I'll also say the LP ain't going anywhere -- hell, George Wallace's American Independent party is still on the ballot with candidates in a fair number of states and they hold their convention in a phonebooth.

    ok, one defense of the LP before the holidays. I was introduced to libertarianism by a booth the local LP ran at the county fair in high school, the people who ran the booth were nice and well dressed and reasonable and all that. I think the LP is the one vehicle 'blue collar' people who don't know or care about think tanks or op-eds have been or will be introduced to the ideas of liberty. And for the most part the activists that run those booths at county fairs and other events are fairly sane and nice in my experience -- the whack jobs usually only show up online or at party conventions after not getting their way online, or they are over anxious college students...I would be perfectly fine to have 90% of the LP members I've meet over the years as neighbors, as for the 10% however, I'd get a restraining order and perhaps thats the problem...

  • ||

    Hoing is more important than winning.

    I'll second that. Hoing is the cornerstone of our society. Pimping is also pretty important.

  • uncle sam||

    Hasn't anyone else given up on politics altogether?

  • Gene Berkman||

    Mr Bartlett thinks if the LP did not exist, libertarians would be more involved in the Republican and Democratic Parties, and make them more libertarian.

    Where were the libertarian Republicans when Bush pushed through the Iraq War and the Patriot Act? Ron Paul voted no on both, Butch Otter voted no on Patriot Act, but Jeff Flake, Dana Rohrbacher and the other "libertarians" backed by the Club for Growth & RLC all backed Bush's push for bigger government.

    Yea, more libertarians are voting for Democrats because the Republicans are so bad, but that is not a long-term solution either.

    The Libertarian Party has to figure out ways to build support and visibility without special interest money. Not easy, but no critics of the LP have any great accomplishments to point to either.

  • Derrick||

    the whack jobs usually only show up online or at party conventions after not getting their way online, or they are over anxious college students

    The LP is definitely rounding off some of its sharp edges and maturing.

    Many early members were young idealists like myself who read Atlas Shrugged and wanted to immediately convert the country to market anarchism. Now, the idealism of youth has given way to the wisdom of old age and a more pragmatic acceptance of political reality. Two generations of us have gone through that, and we now outnumber the starry-eyed, idealistic youngsters. If that's not a sign of a maturing party, I don't know what is.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Early on, and perhaps irrevocably, the Libertarian Party's culture became fixated on the idea that all correct libertarian positions can be derived from the non-aggression principle.

    I've come to think that the problem is not just that it's really, really hard to apply the non-aggression principle to the real world. The problem is that the principle itself is flawed. Having power and exercising it is part of being human. The correct principle for creating a free society is perhaps something more like the responsible, restrained, and respectful use of power.

  • Mike Mangum||

    Personally, I believe having a seperate LP does dilute and minimize the effect of libertarian ideas on policy.

    Libertarians should simply join the Republican party and subvert it from the inside. That's what the evangelicals did in the late 80s and while they aren't the dominant part of the RP, they certainly have influence within it.

  • ||

    That indicates to me that they may be onto something, that "the enemy" is trying a desperate big blitz, and that now is the time to stick to our guns.

    Why yes, those "libertarians" like myself who dislike and hope for the end of the LP are really deep-cover agents of a secret, bipartisan cabal fighting against the LP sweep of the national elections our predictions show within the next decade...

  • ||

    Mike

    How did you get in here? Doctor! There's a normal person on this ward! Doctor!

  • ||

    "The Libertarian Party has to figure out ways to build support and visibility without special interest money. Not easy, but no critics of the LP have any great accomplishments to point to either."

    I once managed to get an ingrown toe nail out. That's more than the LP has ever done.

  • ||

    What the fuck is hoing?

  • Muscles for Justice||

    There is no long-term "libertarian solution". Grassroots, small-l libertarianism that shows its worth problem by problem, community by community, matters more in perception as well as in reality than a libertarian party or interest group ever will.

  • tomWright||

    A lot of folks have said that there should be a national libertarian organization, along the lines of the NRA, etal.

    Ever hear of:
    The Cato Institute?
    The Future of Freedom Foundation?

    Not to mention a little bunch of radicals based somewhere in a building at 3415 S. Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. I can't recall their name. Something like Rational Basement or Cogitators Collective, or something like that. Whatever.

    Those are just some I can think of.
    And while Cato has occasionally strayed, as in it's stand on pharmaceutical re-importation from Canada, it has been pretty solid, effective and works with both parties.

    The FFF is smaller and less effective, but it is there and Jacob Hornberger a powerful speaker.

    That third one has done a couple interesting things as well.

    I do agree that, as much fun as it is every couple of years to watch StarChild strut around in fishnets, and whats-her-name-the-abortionLady going around turning every conversation into a polemic on fetus-rights, (what a lead-blanket SHE is!), the convention does little to broadcast an aura of effectiveness. Not to mention the vendor booths have been sorely lacking in interesting chachkas the past few times.

    Perhaps evolving into the National Libertarian Association or the Individualist International is a better idea.

  • ||

    tomWright

    I certainly agree that when it come to libertarians, evolution has a better chance than intelligent design. But can we decide what we're going to evolve into? I sort of thought evolution was chancy. We could end up evolving into dog show enthusiasts. Not that I have anything against dogs, but where does that leave cat lovers?

  • thoreau||

    Why yes, those "libertarians" like myself who dislike and hope for the end of the LP are really deep-cover agents of a secret, bipartisan cabal fighting against the LP sweep of the national elections our predictions show within the next decade...

    Quiet, Eric, you're giving it away!

    I'm also part of the plot. As the "reasonable" guy who thinks there's a place for a third party, albeit one that handles things somewhat differently than the LP, I plant the seed of doubt that helps true believers eventually agree with Eric.

    I'll let The Master know that everything is proceeding as planned.

  • ElGaboGringo||

    Bartlett's right. The LP is very immature. I know a number of people (personally, not via the net) that call themselves Libertarians, but most are either A) whiny liberals that are ashamed to call themselves Democrats or B) immature wishy-washy's that just can't commit to any real position, so they abdicate and remain uninvolved by claiming the LP.

    I do like libertarian ideas, but it's hardly the Libertarian party that came up with them and it's probably not going to be the Libertarian Party enacts them.

  • ||

    Hey, let's rename the party! How about the Republikan Party? Or the Demokratic Party. Either one would net a lot of confused votes. The confused are definitely our best hope.

  • ||

    I'll let The Master know that everything is proceeding as planned.

    I lOoK afTEr ThE PaRTy WhiLE thE MASteR iS AwAY.

  • ||

    The party slogan

    Libertarianism--nice theory, wrong species.

  • ||

    Sure the Libertarian party is silly, but we should bide our time. The population is aging, and lots of silly old people will be voting in future elections. Silliness will become real political force.

  • Robert||

    I too have been saying for some time that LP is counter-productive. Among the reasons is the fact that it associates the libertarian with extreme losses. The electorate can be said to vote 99-1 or so against Libertarians, which discredits our ideas. People with limited time to investigate figure there must be something wrong with their ideas; so many people voting against them must know something.

  • ||

    Robert

    Give me a break. The number of people who konw that the Libertarian party exists much less know how many votes in gets is probably less than the number who could find Iraq on a map.

  • ||

    "...The LP is essentially a high-school-level debating club where only one question is ever debated -- who is the purest libertarian and what is the purest libertarian position?"

    This is the entire reason that I don't sign up with the LP. Yeah, the people with 95% of their views in line with the party can feel all self righteous and debate worthy, but what about those of us who have 73% of our views in line with the libertarian stance but only 45% in line with the GOP and/or Dems? It's almost like they'd rather have me go fuck myself than join their party because I'm not pure enought.

    There is a serious lack of practicality in the LP - so much so that it is much more beneficial to libertarian views to try and influence the major parties than it is to try an get a win with the LP.

  • Sam Franklin||

    "Before the president risks the life of even one American soldier, he needs a reason, not an excuse," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party executive director. "Unless the United States is at risk of an Iraqi military attack, Bush's proposal to invade that nation should be denounced for what it is: reckless foreign interventionism."
    -August 8, 2002

    I wasn't hearing that kind of talk from the Republican Party in late 2002. I wasn't hearing that kind of talk from the Democratic Party in late 2002. Even if there were no Libertarian Party, and the entire Libertarian Party was re-allocated between the major parties, I still don't think we would have heard this kind of talk from either of the major parties in 2002. This is proof enough that the Libertarian Party is good. They told the US what the US needed to hear in 2002 (and did not wait for 2006 to start being seriously anti-Iraq-war).

  • ||

    ChicagoTom, the Republican Party seems to tolerate Mavericks (i.e. Ron Paul or John McCain) far better than does the Democratic Party (i.e. Joe Lieberman who's only real disagreement with his party was on the War.)

  • Sam Franklin||

    which one? Israel versus Lebanon or the coalition of the willing versus Iraq?

  • Eric Dondero||

    Gene Berkman asks where were the libertarians in the Republican Party when George Bush was clammoring for the War in Iraq? We were in the aisles cheering him on. But we were screaming, George, DON'T LET THE LIBERAL AMERICA HATERS DISSUADE YOU FROM FIGHTING THIS WAR ON ISLAMO-FASCISM.

    Needless to say many of us libertarians have been deeply dissapointed in Bush. He's turned out to be "Cindy Sheehan lite" on the War on Islamo-Fascism.

  • Mike Linksvayer||

    Bartlett wrote:

    "In other words, both major parties have fewer libertarians than they would without the LP, meaning the net result of the LP has been to make our government less libertarian than it would otherwise be."

    Indeed. Why LPers don't get this simple logic is beyond me. No, why a new crop of fools joins the LP every cycle, replacing dropouts, is beyond me. But it shouldn't be, as I was with the LP for awhile. It needs to die so others' time is not wasted.

    In addition to making the D&R's less libertarian the LP distracts from other valuable non-electoral activism.

    For a group that supposedly loves the market, the LP has ignored market testing (which it flunks).

  • ||

    People take this Dondero guy seriously?

    Maybe as many as a dozen people? Yeesh.

  • ||

    Lost_In_Translation | December 21, 2006, 3:44pm | #
    Yeah, as the last election showed, the LP is really ONTO something, that something being a losing strategy.

    ======

    Eric the .5b | December 21, 2006, 7:44pm | #
    That indicates to me that they may be onto something, that "the enemy" is trying a desperate big blitz, and that now is the time to stick to our guns.

    Why yes, those "libertarians" like myself who dislike and hope for the end of the LP are really deep-cover agents of a secret, bipartisan cabal fighting against the LP sweep of the national elections our predictions show within the next decade...
    =======

    Dismissiveness and over-exaggeration as tools of marginalization. Behold two examples above.

    It is a fact that the GOP in California has undertaken several deliberate campaigns to marginalize the Libertarian Party and its candidates here (with my own ears, I've heard their leaders going out of their way to diss the LP in talk radio appearances during campaign seasons), and there are numerous accounts of similar shenanigans elsewhere. So if you want to call the GOP a "cabal," go ahead. In Calfornia, the Republicans are so far under the radar that they might as well be a "secret cabal," for that matter.

    As far as what we may be "onto": if we were insignificant, folks like Bartlett couldn't get anywhere criticizing us, the GOP wouldn't be trying to torpedo us, and the Demos wouldn't be trying to poach the libertarian vote. So the question is, what is the threat -- actual or potential -- that we represent? Perhaps GOP losses in elections where the Libertarian candidate garnered more votes than the margin of victory are helping the LP live up to its important function as "big stick," with which to beat pols and parties who promise libertarian results and deliver crap. Whether we win or can only prevent others from winning, either way we are perceived as some kind of threat to the major party status quo. The more that mainstream pols and their a-pol-ogists lay into the LP, the more I suspect that we are being perceived as at least a spoiler threat.

  • ||

    Dismissiveness and over-exaggeration as tools of marginalization. Behold two examples above.

    We're libertarians - we are marginal. Deal.

    But focus on that first point. "We", the people you keep hinting at being the tools of statists trying to keep the LP down (along with the 100 MPG carburetor), are libertarians. I'm a libertarian, Bartlett is pretty damn libertarian, and a lot of people here are, to. When libertarians have real problems with the LP and consider it a failed project, it has nothing to do with the GOP trying to fight off a spoiler effect. It has to do with libertarians thinking that the LP sucks.

    If people from the LP could learn to deal with that, instead of dismissing anyone not in The Party as ideologically untrustworthy and reacting to any criticism as statist persecution...well, it wouldn't be the same party.

  • ||

    Sam Franklin | December 22, 2006, 6:17am | #
    "Before the president risks the life of even one American soldier, he needs a reason, not an excuse," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party executive director. "Unless the United States is at risk of an Iraqi military attack, Bush's proposal to invade that nation should be denounced for what it is: reckless foreign interventionism."
    -August 8, 2002

    I wasn't hearing that kind of talk from the Republican Party in late 2002. I wasn't hearing that kind of talk from the Democratic Party in late 2002. Even if there were no Libertarian Party, and the entire Libertarian Party was re-allocated between the major parties, I still don't think we would have heard this kind of talk from either of the major parties in 2002. This is proof enough that the Libertarian Party is good. They told the US what the US needed to hear in 2002 (and did not wait for 2006 to start being seriously anti-Iraq-war).

    ==================

    Thank you Sam. If there were no LP, any pandering to libertarian voters would probably happen only during the primaries. Because there is an LP (whose candidates are turning up in official debates more and more these days), important issues and points of view continue to get coverage, all the way up to election day (and beyond, as some former LP presidential, vice presidential, and gubernatorial candidates have been tapped for comment by news organizations in the years between elections).

    The fact is that the LP's detractors, especially on this forum, do not present tenable alternatives to voters and activists who want to increase American liberty. Because libertarian points of view and proponents tend to get swallowed and muzzled within the major party organizations, saying that there should be no LP is tantamount to saying "sit down and shut up." If the LP is, by virtue of its structure or leadership, unable to facilitate the "standing up and speaking out" of its membership, much less their election to higher level office, then the detractors should either 1) work to improve the LP from within, or 2) form a different organization that can be more effective in influencing public policy and getting libertarians elected than the LP. Knock yourselves out, but I won't hold my breath waiting.

    I've been hearing the same basic criticisms of the LP for decades, now, and in all that time, none of the naysayers has ever come close to either option 1 or option 2, above. Furthermore, "Sit down and shut up," or "fall in line and get with the program" are unacceptable as options. In the meantime, the LP speaks out, as Sam said, and even inspires and helps people to get elected to at least local office. To me, that sounds like a net balance of positive on the LP's side.

    Bartlett and those who duckspeak along with him do not seem to be builders. It is hard for me to accord any respect to the views of non-builders.

  • ||

    Eric the .5b | December 22, 2006, 3:39pm | #
    ||Dismissiveness and over-exaggeration as tools of marginalization. Behold two examples above.||

    We're libertarians - we are marginal. Deal.
    ======

    No, we are actively MARGINALIZED. There's a difference.

    Eric the .5b | December 22, 2006, 3:39pm | #
    But focus on that first point. "We", the people you keep hinting at being the tools of statists trying to keep the LP down (along with the 100 MPG carburetor), are libertarians.
    ==========
    See, there you go again, with an insulting, marginalizing insinuation. I never said anything about secret cabals, 100 mpg carburetors, or tinfoil hats. Whatever thrill you get out of lobbing insults at people, great. But don't try to convince anyone that you are for actual progress or serious debate, as long as you keep peppering your rhetoric with snide asides like that.

    Eric the .5b | December 22, 2006, 3:39pm | #
    I'm a libertarian, Bartlett is pretty damn libertarian, and a lot of people here are, to. When libertarians have real problems with the LP and consider it a failed project, it has nothing to do with the GOP trying to fight off a spoiler effect. It has to do with libertarians thinking that the LP sucks.

    ======================================

    The answer to that, as I mentioned above, is get inside and fix it, or go into competition with it. But don't hold out the false hope that, by throwing in with the two major parties, libertarians will get what they want. Perhaps by accident, someday, but the odds are very slim, if history is any indication.

    Eric the .5b | December 22, 2006, 3:39pm | #

    If people from the LP could learn to deal with that, instead of dismissing anyone not in The Party as ideologically untrustworthy and reacting to any criticism as statist persecution...well, it wouldn't be the same party.
    =======================================

    Give it up. Especially here in this forum, people who try to have serious discussions about how to deal with the LP's shortcomings, and improve its future prosoects, are routinely greeted with snarky one-liners and dismissiveness, simply because their approach DOESN'T play into the "kick/kill the LP" mindset. If they have the temerity to defend themselves or their arguments, or heaven forfend, even go on the OFFENSIVE, then the flying monkeys (or insects), hurling insults involving tinfoil hats, secret cabals, 100 mpg carburetors, etc., come out in force. It's a big piling on game in here.

    Libertarian to libertarian, half-bee: suggest a more promising "project" to replace the "failed project" of the LP, and I'll listen respectfully. But "working on the inside," within the GOP and Demo parties is a strategy that has been tried many times, and is also a FAMOUSLY failed project, Dondero and the RLC notwithstanding. So what else ya got?

    The fact of the matter is that the LP has fielded credible, respectable candidates on many occasions, especially during the last few election cycles. They tend to do no better than, and often even worse than, our more outrageous and flamboyant candidates. But it is also true that we continue to elect local officeholders, and more and more candidates for higher office are getting a full seat in official debates, where they represent the LP view and positions credibly -- earning the respect and even the applause of audiences.

    The only thing that makes me think that the LP's situation could be hopeless is the constant, sometimes vicuous, carping that issues from people who call themselves "libertarians," especially as it is used to justify crucial downplaying or even outright surrender of the principle that motivated us to abandon the two-faced monoparty in the first place. It is said that only we Americans, not the terrorists or any external enemy, can destroy our American way of life. Similarly, only we libertarians can kill the LP. From where I sit, "we" are doing a pretty good job in both cases. That's insane enough to earn a tinfoil hat, if you ask me. If you want to stop the insanity, I certainly do. Perhaps that is sufficient common ground to achieve something worthwhile.

  • Gordon Mohr||

    The LP has been stuck at the same local-maximum for ~25 years. There is no amount of hard work or cleverness that will lead to a breakout: by constitution and tradition, our politics advances through the competition of two broad-based, only weakly-ideological, ever-shifting coalition parties.

    The best an ideological third party can hope for is to be coopted. LP, hurry up and get coopted, already, or try something completely new.

    Given the intrinsic two-party nature of American politics, the LP distracts libertarian influence from where it could offer some results -- the major-party primaries. Perhaps just as importantly, it teaches bad habits about electoral activism -- that you should avoid forming large coalitions which include some distasteful allies, that you should be happy with a non-winning gain in votes from 2% to 3%, that some unmeasurable 'outreach' is more important than actual influence. 51% counts in American politics; everything else is navel-gazing.

    In their fondest wishes, third-party believers might hope to one day be one of the major parties in a two-party system. But then who would the opponents of such a 'libertarian' major party be? A uniformly progovernment party.

    Any vigorous two-party competition will, with shifting events and rising expectations, result in oscillation between the two competitors. And an electoral oscillation between a libertarian party and a progovernment party could easily descend into sticky totalitarianism: one side will be much better at exercising and consolidating unrestrained government power.

    An oscillation between two mixed-bags parties, neither wholly libertarian or collectivist, has some chance of remaining competitive, and preserving much liberty, in a stable manner. Or at least metastable, the 200+ year US run being not so bad.

    Those wanting a reliably libertarian major party should be careful what they wish for.

  • RSDavis||

    Gene Berkman asks where were the libertarians in the Republican Party when George Bush was clammoring for the War in Iraq? We were in the aisles cheering him on. But we were screaming, George, DON'T LET THE LIBERAL AMERICA HATERS DISSUADE YOU FROM FIGHTING THIS WAR ON ISLAMO-FASCISM.

    Needless to say many of us libertarians have been deeply dissapointed in Bush. He's turned out to be "Cindy Sheehan lite" on the War on Islamo-Fascism.


    I have a sneaking suspicion you believe liberalism to be a mental disorder...

    - R

  • ||

    So, two questions: Did Bob Barr sign the Non-initiation of Force certification, when he became a life member of the Libertarian Party?

    If the better play truly is for libertarians to try to make one or both of the major parties more libertarian, by working within them, why did Bob Barr -- an arguably much more savvy political operator than any of us here -- not also see this blindingly obvious wisdom and remain with the GOP? You'd think that a former multi-term congressman would have an easier time steering the major party, with which he was so long affiliated, in a more libertarian direction, than in steering a 35-year old third party to victory in electoral runs for national office.

  • Robert||

    But "working on the inside," within the GOP and Demo parties is a strategy that has been tried many times, and is also a FAMOUSLY failed project, Dondero and the RLC notwithstanding.

    It got the worst anti-liberty gov't program in the country's history, the draft, abolished. It got marijuana penalties greatly reduced. It got ownership of gold coins & bullion legalized. However, gains like those seem to have stopped as LP got going.

    I came to the same conclusion as Gordon Mohr, and even used the same aphorism, for slightly different reasons: http://users.bestweb.net/~robgood/politic/LP_lose_by_win.html

  • ||

    The truth hurts, doesn't it? Bartlett is absolutely right that too many in the LP are far too concerned with enforcing a strict Libertarian orthodoxy. For a bunch who espouse "free minds" it's unseemly to be so quick to excommunicate anyone who actually has one. A malady the good folks at Reason aren't immune to, by the way.

    I didn't flee the Republicans and Democrats in search of someone else who'd tell me what I must think, thanks. I don't wish the LP would die, but I sure do wish they'd grow up.

  • Eric Dondero||

    Robert says "working within the Republican Party has turned out to be a dissaster..."

    Really? How do you jive that with Ron Paul being elected to Congress as a Republican in 1996? Virtually his entire Campaign Staff were RLCers. Was Ron Paul being elected to Congress a "failure"? Would you rather him not have been elected???

    RLC just had one of its best years ever in the 15 years it's been around. Over 80% of RLC-backed candidates won election. Libertarian Republicans were elected to local offices, state houses as in New Hampshire, Montana, Alaska, Arkansas and even to Congress.

    But of course, you're not hearing anything about it. There's a virtual libertarian media black-out on the successes of the RLC.

    Butch Otter was featured in a 6-page spread in REASON two months ago. Our wonderful Host Magazine here praised him to the tilt as a "libertarian."

    Well, he won, with a comfortable margin, no less.

    Where's the front page story in REASON about Idaho electing a libertarian Governor??

    Eric at www.mainstreamlibertarian.com. We do cover the successes of libertarian Republicans.

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