Live from the LP Convention: Barr and Anti-Barr


I joined a few other journalists this morning for coffee with Bob Barr. (Stacy McCain's coverage is here.) I asked whether the radical side of the party would lose its home and influence if Barr was the nominee.

The Libertarian Party is a surprisingly diverse group of folks. There are different factions, certainly. But one thing I've been surprised at is that there is a, certainly not unanimous, but very broad, level of interest of the need to organize itself as a party, to deliver a message as a political party, and an understanding that we need to reach out to voters. Not just libertarian voters per se, but a broad array of voters. The only way to do that is to present a message that is both understood by the average voter, and with which the average voter is comfortable.

I also asked why Barr didn't sign the Libertarians for Justice 9/11 investigation pledge.

Some candidates will sign whatever is put in front of them if they think it will get them votes. I don't operate that way. I'm not interested in re-hashing what's gone on before. Certainly, as a former prosecuter, if anybody brings me legitimate evidence that a crime has been committed, certainly that would be duly investigated by the DOJ. But I'm not interested in conspiracy theories. I'm interested in moving the country forward.

In the convention hall, anonymous anti-Barrites have passed out two attack papers to most of the seats. The first is a faux message from the distant future... May 26, when the party's nominee will have been chosen.

LNC Votes to Change Party Name to "New Republican Party."

DENVER - In a surprise move, the Libertarian National Committee voted today to change their party's name to "New Republican Party." When asked why, newly-elected National Chair Aaron Starr explained that the change was made to "gain credibility" and "get more people elected to office. It's all about getting elected."

The party's presidential candidate, Bob Barr, offered additional insights. "After eliminating all the controversial, scary language from our platform, we decided we might as well change the party's name as well. I plan to campaign on a strong platform fighting Islamo-Fas... uh, narco-terrorists, enforcing oppressive laws at the state, rather than the Federal level, closing our borders and working for a national sales tax. These are traditional Republican issues, and I just know that John McCain isn't a true conservative, so I believe we can pick up a lot of Republican votes by making this change. I've already spoken with several of my former Republican colleagues, and I expect several of them to announce their switch to the New Republican Party in the next few days.

Barr's running mate, Las Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Root, chimed in by saying "I'm so glad our party recognizes the need to appeal to traditional Republican voters who are fed up with the GOP, at least for now. I now feel completely at home in this party."

The other attack sheet is titled "LP: Please Don't Lower the Barr!" is much longer, and attacks Barr as a non-Libertarian. This part stood out to me.

Ron Paul in a Republican primary took 10 percent of the vote. This number likely included many Democrats and independents who would never support Barr, as well as Republicans who will not want to "waste their vote" in a general election, but to give Barr the benefit of the doubt, suppose he can take 10 percent of the Republican vote. He will take close to 0 percent of the Democrats and perhaps 5 percent of the independents. This is a best-case scenario. So, let's reject from the outset the argument that Barr is the best chance to win the election. Even if he is, it doesn't matter, since he can't win.

Obviously, 10 percent of the GOP vote and 5 percent of independents, if 2008 voter identification matched up with 2004 identification would make up 3.7 percent and 1.3 percent of the total vote: Five times more than any Libertarian has ever received. Remember, this is from the anti-Barr forces.

There's a lot of evidence that tonight's debate will be make-or-break for Barr, a chance to convince radicals and waverers that he has atoned for his sins. But there's a little evidence he's making conversions, too. Remember Sherman Ball?

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  • Colin||

    "[I]f anybody brings me legitimate evidence that a crime has been committed, certainly that would be duly investigated by the DOJ. But I'm not interested in conspiracy theories."

    This is the pledge all candidates should make.

  • ||

    Yeah, I like how Barr said that.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'm not interested in conspiracy theories.

    It's sad - really sad - that that is a step up from most of the candidates.

  • svf||

    It's sad - really sad - that that is a step up from most of the candidates.

    It's really sad that this could end up costing him the nomination too........

  • Franklin Harris||

    Obviously, 10 percent of the GOP vote and 5 percent of independents, if 2008 voter identification matched up with 2004 identification would make up 3.7 percent and 1.3 percent of the total vote: Five times more than any Libertarian has ever received. Remember, this is from the anti-Barr forces.



    Some people in the LP do have an hysterical aversion to advancing the party.

  • Ruwart \'08: Unite the Party!||

    There's already a suspicion of negligence, but Barr is setting a higher bar for one unknown reason or other.

    And, what's funny about the first flier is that they don't even understand whose side Barr is on. Rather than "closing the border", Barr's position is the same as all the rest. On the issue that most people find distasteful about McCain, Barr is as bad as McCain.

    When you're a mile high in more ways than one, that doesn't matter. But, here in our reality it does.

    Has anyone investigated whether libertarianism could be an elaborate practical joke?

  • ||

    My problem with Barr is that he just doesn't seem to be trying to hard. Hard Line libertarians are supposed to compromise and give him the keys to the party, but where is he compromising in return? Unless he demonstrates some real contrition and an openness to basic libertarian philosophy then who needs him?

  • Wild Hare||

    Ms. Ruwart (if that's you, and not some minion or supporter, posting under Ruwart '08: Unite the Party!): You're the most sensible candidate in the race. Please don't make 9/11 balderdash one of your defining issues at the convention. It diminishes you. You're right about Barr on immigration. Hit him there and on the Patriot Act and similar abominations.

  • TallDave||

    That picture really sums up the Libertarian Party for me.

  • ||

    Wild Hare,

    The "Ruwart" post was lonewackoff. Didnt' you click-n-learn?

  • jlm||

    didn't

  • jwpegler||

    In 2004, Badnarik got 1/3 of 1 percent of the vote. 5 percent would be 15 times as much and would mark the first real progress the LP has had at the national level since Ed Clark ran in 1980. It would also almost assuredly spell doom for the war monger McCain. That's a worthwhile goal in its own right.

  • ||

    Even if Barr is nominated and gets 5% of the vote in November, the LP won't take advantage of that to run competitive and qualified people at the local level. The anarchists will see to that.

    Whether radical or reformer, the majority of the LP membership is not interested in serving in public office at the county level or below. They would rather run for governor or senator and lose than run for county commissioner or town council and win.

    The conventions are just a form of entertainment.

    To be a big geal in the LP you muat be a candidate for an office you can't possibly win, a party officer, a paid staffer, or a fund raising consultant.

    Elected and serving Libertarians are not even worthy to be exofficio delegates.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Picking a Libertarian Party presidential candidate is like being a battered wife fresh from the shelter walking into a pool room and walking out with the guy with the most prison tats and the fewest teeth. This guy's gonna be different, you bet!

  • Kolohe||

    Here would be my litmus test question if I were a LP member:

    "Congressman Barr, if you don't win the nomination, will you throw your support behind whomever is the nominee?"

    That would tell me if he's more interested in the LP or in Bob Barr.

  • conscientious objector ||

    No thank you. I love Ron Paul. Writing him in.

  • Brandybuck||

    But I'm not interested in conspiracy theories. I'm interested in moving the country forward.



    Whoo! As the only LP candidate (besides the unhinged Finan) who refuses to pander to the auto-trepanation crowd, Barr has my vote!

  • Fluffy||

    What's funny about the claim that Barr represents a Republican conspiracy to take over the LP is that it's much more likely to me that the ANTI-Barr people at the convention are part of a Republican conspiracy.

    The GOP doesn't want Barr in the race. They have no chance to win anyway this year, but Barr in the race means they REALLY have no chance to win. So whoever was putting out those flyers may as well have had a "McCain 2008" button in their pocket somewhere.

  • ||

    John,

    Mary Ruwart has run for local office on numerous occasions. She even scored a major newspaper endorsement once when she ran for school commissioner. But she's never one. The problem for Libertarians at the local level is the same as at the national level- most people believe in some form of socialism/authoritarianism and libertarian ideas just don't hold much appeal. That people are rarely exposed to libertarian ideas in government run schools or from the mass media doesn't help, but I'm not arrogant enough to think that's the whole story. So as a party, the #1 goal has to be education and persuasion. The problem with Barr is that he doesn't really believe in libertarian political theory, and that makes him a lousy teacher and advocate.

  • ||

    "Congressman Barr, if you don't win the nomination, will you throw your support behind whomever is the nominee?"

    If that's the litmus test, Ron Paul isn't a Republican, as he's publicly stated he won't support McCain. I could understand Barr or any other candidate being careful about making a blanket statement like that.

  • ||

    So as a party, the #1 goal has to be education and persuasion. The problem with Barr is that he doesn't really believe in libertarian political theory, and that makes him a lousy teacher and advocate.

    So, how has 30+ years of nominating ideologically pure true believers worked out? You can't educate and persuade if no one listens to you in the first place.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    The GOP doesn't want Barr in the race. They have no chance to win anyway this year, but Barr in the race means they REALLY have no chance to win.

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, my... HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! [*wiping tears from eyes*] HA HA HA HA [*gasping for breath*] HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

  • Fluffy||

    Ridgely, if McCain is going to win, he'll win by < 1% of the vote nationwide and by < 10,000 votes in several key states.

    That means that if a libertarian candidate improves on the LP's usual showing, McCain has no chance to win.

    He's probably going to lose by 8 or 9 points anyway, but if the GOP maintains a fantasy of rallying and pulling it out by the skin of their teeth, a slightly-less-absurd-than-usual LP candidate really puts the nail in the coffin of that dream.

    If the LP can just refrain from nominating a kiddie porn advocate like Ruwart or somebody who turns their skin blue, they kick out the bottom of McCain's last bucket. This is not an outlandish or absurd statement. So you can back your laughter up and shut your worthless pie hole.

  • ||

    thus dies the thread

  • ||

    Can we have a little more authoritarian tyranny from the Reason staffers and get that wall of Ron Paul nuked?

    Just wondering.

  • Elemenope||

    All work and no play...

    ...jeez, what a douche.

  • ||

    I keep getting drawn back to something Milton Friedman said, about how the most successful party of the last century was the socialist party. They never got more than about five percent of the vote, but if you look back at their party platforms from the early 1900's, virtually every plank has been enacted into law.

    What happened is that the major parties coopted the socialists' ideas in order to tap into that 5% of the vote. After all, 5% is enough to swing a whole bunch of close elections. The voters would then swing back to voting for the major candidates, so the socialists never had much electoral success - but because their ideas got coopted by the major parties, they got their policies passed.

    For similar reasons, I don't see the libertarians ever having much electoral success - they're simply too "ideologically pure". If we want our agenda to carry the day, we have to stop running the purist candidates who get 1% of the vote, and start running people who can get 5%. That's what'll make the major parties take a serious look at tapping into libertarian-minded voters.

    Obviously, I'm really hoping that Barr gets the nomination.

  • ||

    "He will take close to 0 percent of the Democrats..."

    That's ridiculous. I was at a McCain rally on Thursday at which about 20 AFL-CIO guys were protesting for some reason or other. I stopped to chat with them, thanked them for protesting McCain (whatever their reasons), and asked who they had supported. Their spokesperson said he voted for John Edwards but now he plans to vote for Bob Barr in November. This from a Democrat union member.

  • California LP\'er||

    John Famularo is correct in what he says about locally elected Libertarians not even warranting ex officio delegate status. The LP treats many of it's elected officeholders like crap. Just look at how Bonnie Flickinger was treated by many in the California LP. Not only was she constantly attacked by her political opponents in Moreno Vally, CA (where she still serves on the City Council), but she was treated the same -- if not worse than -- by members of her own party. It's sick and despicable.

  • ||

    @Elemenope

    haha
    Here's Johnny!

  • California LP\'er||

    I forgot to mention that Bonnie was eventually ran out of the party a few years ago.

    Way to go, LP! Sometimes I wonder why I even bother associating with the party. Bunch of amateurs, they are, playing politics.

  • ||

    No thank you. I love Ron Paul. Writing him in.

    retard. you would be, by definition, wasting your vote. a poll worker will drop your ballot straight into the trash.

  • ||

    The Ron Paul post is libertarianism in a nutshell -- selfcenteredness combined with emotional immaturity.

  • ||

    Here would be my litmus test question if I were a LP member:

    "Congressman Barr, if you don't win the nomination, will you throw your support behind whomever is the nominee?"


    Turnabout is fair play on that one, isn't it?

  • ||

    @Ayn_Randian

    Stop using that name dipshit

    @Authoritarian

    now you're clever

  • ||

    I'm more than clever, I'm right.

    After all ... that "Ron Paul" post does, in fact, do no actual "harm" nor violate the rights of any actual person. Its fouling the general ecology or its "nuisance" are things that libertarians quite proudly dismiss as not actual "harms."

  • Brandybuck||

    Way to go, LP! Sometimes I wonder why I even bother associating with the party. Bunch of amateurs, they are, playing politics.



    Have you considered the Republican Liberty Caucus? Dondero has been banned from all its forums, so it's safe to join. There are still a few of his asswipers around but there are also quite a few radicals as well.

  • ||

    Bunch of amateurs, they are, playing politics.

    True ... but understand that this is a feature, not a bug. Libertarianism is built on mistrust of, bordering on contempt for, government. It is therefore completely natural that politics as a vocation would be disdained, but, since its functions are essential, the political functions would be performed by amateurs at play.

  • ||

    Authoritarian,

    Absolutely. And the owner of the server on which this thread is stored is free to remove the nuisance at any time; if you have a problem with the nuisance, you're free not to use Reason's property any more by not loading this thread.

    Ain't it wonderful how freedom works.

  • Anti-Authoritarian||

    But if we simply ban spammers and delete their posts, then there will be less of an incentive for people to use and improve spam filters! Is that worth the trade-off?

  • ||

    So, what is a pragmatic libertarian to do here?? I think the obvious answer is vote for Barr . . . here is a golden opportunity to expand the base, get the message out, and get some attention . . . all while denying McStalin the presidency. Pragmatic, effective, principled . . . beautiful political orgasm!

  • ||

    I love it ... one minute apart, two libertoids rebut me with **completely contradictory** arguments -- the first saying that private actors can act against spammers, and the others saying not acting against spammers is good.

    This is where libertarianism leads you -- in the name of preserving "freedom," it poisons your ability to discern bad stuff as bad.

  • Unofficial LP platform||

    As Libertarians, we are opposed to Big Government. As government is significantly controlled by political parties, we are against Big Party. Therefore, let it be resolved that a minimum of a third of all delegates be hard core minarchists, anarchists, or conspiracy theorists. This will ensure that the LP never gets more than 1% of the vote, and thus the LP will never be in danger of supporting the evil that is Big Party.

  • ||

    Right ... to make a critique of "bigness" is necessarily to consign oneself to marginality, because success make you "big."

  • Kolohe||

    crymethink @ A_R re my 'litmus test' post: (and let me caveat that I'm am not a LP member):

    It goes to the debate that has been refered to several times in these several threads: Does the LP wish to be ideologically pure but electorally impotent, or do they want to become a political force?

    Both the republicans and democrats contain factions that are at odds with each other, but ultimately (most) align with whatever candidate comes out of their nominating process - at whatever level (national,state,local). When they don't, the factional split generally throws the election to the other side.

    Now, if the LP wants to start achieving success, I think they need to start presenting 'a united front' on whomever their process winds up with. Thus, if Barr is willing to work as hard, and use his name recognition to campaign for a non-Barr candidate as he would for Barr, this will immeasurably help the LP for the long run. Otherwise its just another ego trip, the same as Nader and Buchanan. And I would think the primary interest of a LP member is doing what is good for the LP.

    As far a Paul not supporting McCain, the RP is in a different place than the LP; Paul's non-endorsement is far less important than a Barr endorsement.

  • ||

    two libertoids rebut me with **completely contradictory** arguments -- the first saying that private actors can act against spammers, and the others saying not acting against spammers is good.

    Those aren't contradictory.

  • ||

    Thus, if Barr is willing to work as hard, and use his name recognition to campaign for a non-Barr candidate as he would for Barr, this will immeasurably help the LP for the long run.

    That's pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. No candidate will ever work as hard for someone else as for him or herself. As A_R pointed out, are you holding Ruwart and Kubby to the same standard? ie, if they refuse to support Barr, they're just on an ego trip as well?

  • ||

    As far a Paul not supporting McCain, the RP is in a different place than the LP; Paul's non-endorsement is far less important than a Barr endorsement.

    I disagree. The GOP is in for a very tough election this year. True, they're not struggling to get 5% of the vote like the LP, but they are going to struggle to defeat Obama -- and a Paul endorsement might help them get a crucial percentage point or two. Also, Barr endorsing Ruwart or the like is going to have little impact on raising the 0.5% that candidate would get.

  • ||

    Those aren't contradictory.

    I know, but since I'm an admitted authoritarian, I'm too much of a proud moron to admit it.

  • ||

    Those aren't contradictory.

    If the unstated minor premise of your point was "private parties acting against spammers is good" -- or as you put it (so it's not so unstated) "ain't it wonderful how freedom works" -- then the two arguments most definitely contradict one another. It's a classic "double turn," for those who ever debated in HS or college.

  • ||

    For the record, that 710 note was not written or sent by me, and I request the moderators to delete it.

    First spammers, now people pretending to be other people.

    Libertarian morals are so lovely.

  • Fluffy||

    Wow, is Authoritarian a dope.

    Libertarianism would hold that only the owners of this site can take positive action to remove that annoying post. If there are "actual persons" who have been harmed or whose ecology has been fouled, it's them. And only they can make that judgment and determination; you get no vote, and I get no vote.

    That is not the same as saying that only those owners can consider the post "bad". No one's ability to discern bad stuff as bad has been harmed in any way.

    As commenters and visitors here we are in a position analogous to guests at a dinner party hosted by the owners of this site. We can certainly regard the post in question as rude, unpleasant, and "bad". But it is not our place to take any action to delete the post or ban the poster; that is up to the host or owner.

    But I suppose, since your name is Authoritarian, you believe that you have the right to act forcibly against anything you perceive to be "bad", regardless of context, because it's all about you after all, right?

    Strangely enough, although you complain that libertarians are self-centred and emotionally immature, you're the douchebag who shows up out of nowhere at a site where people are pretty tolerant of "unusual" posts and start complaining about how YOU are annoyed. You're running a clinic on self-centredness and emotional immaturity.

  • ||

    For the record, the only "complaining" I have done is of being mimicked and my email address used for false pretenses, which I think is completely unacceptable. But I guess that doesn't count as "harm" either since it cannot be solved under a property-uber-alles morality.

    I thought the Ron Paul post was funny (and sadly typical), and I generally find libertarians amusing rather than annoying. (I actually agree that I have no personal right vis-a-vis Reason, though not because of Propertyism.) But if that post wasn't evidence of self-centeredness and emotional immaturity on at least the part of the poster (with derivative questions coming upon those who tolerate it and/or nurture such souls), then 'taint no such things as self-centeredness and emotional immaturity.

    I also love how "bad" becomes "anything you perceive to be bad" in a blink of an eye -- a sure sign of philosophical incontinence.

  • ||

    Authoritarian,

    You're right, libertarians contradict each other all the time. Some of them say that chocolate ice cream is the best flavor, while others favor vanilla, while some deranged types even prefer butter pecan. It's a good thing we have authoritarians like you around to remind us that everyone has to have the same opinion about everything.

  • ||

    a sure sign of philosophical incontinence.

    well, that Depends.

    Sorry if I'm fouling the general ecology.

  • ||

    But we're not talking about opinions of taste. In fact, the very fact that you reduce an intellectual matter to one of taste is very telling about the libertarian mindset (and not in a good way).

  • ||

    Vote for the Libertarian nominee or write in Ron Paul. Those are my choices. I ain't voting for McAin't.

  • ||

    But there is no general ecology -- only a property or property-analogous right, right?

  • ||

    Naderize McAin't.

  • Kolohe||


    That's pie-in-the-sky rhetoric.


    Um, we're talking about the Libertarian Party, right? :)

    more seriously, I would apply the same standard the Ruwart and Kuby: i.e. the LP needs to start getting some 'team players' if it hopes to actually accomplish something, IMO.

    The GOP is in for a very tough election this year. True, they're not struggling to get 5% of the vote like the LP, but they are going to struggle to defeat Obama -- and a Paul endorsement might help them get a crucial percentage point or two.

    Fair enough. However, I would say that:
    1) Ron Paul's actual electoral success has been underwhelming, esp when compared to his fundraising and press.
    2)in most of the competitive states, he was beaten pretty soundly by Huckabee as well - who is now going with both barrels for McCain (and sometimes misfiring)
    3) How many Ron Paul supporters have gone back to the LP? To the Constitution Party? To Obama? I have absolutely no numbers on these questions. But I would hypothesize that the number that Paul would bring back to McCain from these locations with an endorsement is smaller than those that can be brought to a LP candidate with Barr(and others) support.
    (a side set of of questions which I do not know the answer to: Will Paul be allowed to speak at the Republican Convention? Does he want to?)

  • Jules||

    You're all terrorists





















































    :)

  • GE||

    Huckabee is "going for" McCain. Hucksterbee is kissing McCain's ass. He's been hired by NBC, so he gets tons of air time, far more than Dr Paul who is still running.

  • ||

    But we're not talking about opinions of taste.

    Of course we are. I think that comment is an eyesore and a pain to scroll through, while he thinks it isn't. Neither of us is suggesting any action or inaction should be required of Reason; indeed, I didn't even state my opinion on the matter.

    In any case, your post suggested that my main premise, that Reason had the ability to protect its property from such nuisances, was contradicted, which was not true.

  • ||

    In fact, the very fact that you reduce an intellectual matter to one of taste is very telling about the libertarian mindset (and not in a good way).

    The fact that you think everyone of a given political philosophy has to have the same opinions on every intellectual matter is telling about the authoritarian mindset.

    I'll leave the reader(s) to decide whether that's in a good way or a bad way.

  • jwpegler||

    The most interesting thing in this year's campaign is this: After McCain secured the Republican nomination, Ron Paul won 16% of the GOP primary vote in a very large and very blue collar state - Pennsylvania. It may point to two things: A.) there are a lot of GOP-leaning voters who aren't very happy with McCain and B.) some of these GOP-leaning voters may be so-called "Reagan Democrats" who aren't very happy with Barack Obama either. Who has a better chance of enlisting their support - Mary Ruwart or Bob Barr?

  • dpsc||

    I disapprove of the way you present yourself, but I will defend to the death your right to put a _fucking bone through your nose_.

    Scratch that. I'll defend it unto minor inconvenience, and after that you're on your own. There's a basic tension here- I believe in liberty, but I'd also like to see ugly people put in camps, for their own good. And mainly for my own good. That guy is camp-worthy.

  • ||

    I'm not going to say that "Authoritarian" is pompous and condescending, but...wait, yeah I am.

  • ||

    Covering up 9-11; great; what is the difference between him and McCain/Obama/Clinton; none.

    Wish we had a serious candidate running to save the Constitution.

    The closest is McKinney; but the Green is not on enough ballots to matter.

  • ||

    McKinney? Save the Constitution? I'd personally rather see the document trampled on than forcibly taken away from me by jackbooted greenshirts to be recycled at a government-owned Global Warming Combat Center and turned into eco-friendly paper used in a reprinting of the Communist Manifesto.

    I say we launch the Objectivist/Libertarian/Constitutionalist Revolution in Svalbard. It's the size of West Virginia and has less than 2500 people there. Hard to be a collectivist in a country where you're outnumbered by polar bears- there's not much to collect.

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