Barrwatch, with Special Guest Star Ralph Nader

As you can see in the video linked below, Bob Barr's appearance on the Colbert Report did him some good. I was struck by how much he returned to the theme of "third parties," generally, relative to how much he talked about Libertarianism. There's a clear reason for this. There is, indeed, a high-information slice of the electorate that simply hates the parties. Some of them voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and 2004. Some of them voted for Ron Paul this year. Some of them were praying for Michael Bloomberg to jump into this race. They care about the issues, kind of, sort of. But they think the two-party system is at fault for so many problems that it needs to be ended before said problems can be solved.

It's good for Barr that he's filling that niche this year—not since 1988 has the LP actually placed third in a national election. (It was the second time it had done so.) And Ralph Nader is ceding the sort of third-party excitement that he rode in 2000. Back then, Nader was the outsider appearing on talk shows (Politically Correct, The Tonight Show) and making the "everyone hates the parties" argument. He's still making that argument in a wholly unserious way, as seen here:

(Are there actually people who will vote in November 2008 on the matter of "impeaching Bush"? And can they introduce me to their dealer?)

Nader, quixotically, is passing on a Green Party nomination he could easily win in order to raise awareness about how hard it is for independents to get on state ballots. That's an outgrowth of the "bad two parties," issue, but it's the wonkiest and least compelling outgrowth of it. It's allowing libertarians (big and small "L") to become the "disgruntled voter" of 2008, a role that belonged to the Left in 2000 and 2004 and the populist right in 1996 and 1992.

For takes on Barr's Colbert Report appearance, here's Aaron Gould Sheinin in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Robert Stacy McCain in the American Spectator (as one wit put it, the only magazine whose staff evenly divided between support for Rudy Giuliani and support for Ron Paul).

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  • ||

    But they think the two-party system is at fault for so many problems that it needs to be ended before said problems can be solved.

    Typical voter foolishness. You can't end the two party system by voting for a third party. That will simply lead to the "third party" eventually becoming one of the two parties.

    The only way to end the two party system is to move away from a winner takes all election system. Note that I'm not taking a position on this...simply correcting voter misperception.

  • JMR||

    I think Nader's right, for once. The problem is restrictive ballot access laws (which are so-complex they've literally led to what looks a lot like full time employment for a Libertarian -- Richard Winger). The idea that serious parties like the LP, Constitution, and Greens can't get onto 50 ballots without a billionaire's help is as UnAmerican as it gets, IMO.
    JMR

  • ||

    (Are there actually people who will vote in November 2008 on the matter of "impeaching Bush"? And can they introduce me to their dealer?)

    Am I correct in assuming you mean Bush will, as *former* President, not be subject to impeachment?

  • Guy Montag||

    Nader, quixotically, is passing on a Green Party nomination

    So, can he now be hanged from the highest General Electric windmill?

  • Guy Montag||

    Am I correct in assuming you mean Bush will, as *former* President, not be subject to impeachment?

    Correct. Impeachment is for removing people from office and serves no purpose, other than for kangaroo court theater, if the person is already out of office.

    Seemingly little known fact, impeachment is a convistion that can not be pardoned by the President.

  • Guy Montag||

    conviction*

  • ||

    And I have zero expectation that Bush will in any way, shape or form, be held accountable for his many and varied crimes or abuses of his position and authority.

  • ||

    Bob Barr's appearance on the Colbert Report did him some good... There is, indeed, a high-information slice of the electorate that simply hates the parties.

    The only way the former can be true is if the latter is. But what the fuck is a "high-information slice of the electorate"? Voters that are highly informed? Voters that need to be highly informed? Voters that are only discernible by collecting a high amount of information?

    I don't know, it's a good theory. There does seem to be a good deal of disgust with Rep/Dem stranglehold. But the LP has never been able to tap into that. I'm not convinced "this time it's different". And around here at least the Red Team/Blue Team meme still holds sway. Recently I've been noticing more "Had Enough? Vote Democrat" bumper stickers than Ron Paul yard signs.

  • Taktix&#174||

    And I have zero expectation that Bush will in any way, shape or form, be held accountable for his many and varied crimes or abuses of his position and authority.

    Just think, if only that pretzel was just a few millimeters wider...

  • squarooticus||

    I think Nader's right, for once.

    Didn't watch the video, but I'm guessing I disagree with Nader: the cause of the two-party system is a voting system that discourages voting for third-party candidates because doing so is equivalent to voting for the winner.

    What MP said:
    You can't end the two party system by voting for a third party. That will simply lead to the "third party" eventually becoming one of the two parties.
    is exactly right. This is why the Federalists and eventually the Whigs disappeared: the system can accommodate only two parties at a time, because a third, inevitably drawing most of its votes from one of the original two, will simply ensure the dominance of the other one.

    More fundamentally, of course, voting and democracy is a fool's game that serves up only the illusion of freedom... but that's another topic. :-)

  • ||

    Seemingly little known fact, impeachment is a conviction that can not be pardoned by the President.

    Not exactly. Impeachment is not a conviction. Impeachment is the first of two stages in a specific process for a legislative body to remove a government official from office. The second stage is conviction.

  • ||

    I think Nader's right, for once.
    I usually agree with Nader when he's describing the problem. My disagreement comes when he starts talking about the solution. Nadar's solutions inevitably come down to "Just put me in control, and everything will be alllllllll riiiiiight".

  • ||

    But they think the two-party system is at fault for so many problems that it needs to be ended before said problems can be solved.

    The problem is not a two-party system. The problem is these particular two parties. If the two dominant parties were both for dismantling the current monstrosity known as the Federal Government there would be no problem from my perspective. The real problem is that any party that does not advocate the status quo has no hope of becoming dominant.

  • Guy Montag||

    Warren,

    Yea, I was just using the global legeslative removal from office context.

  • ||

    The problem is these particular two parties.

    Nope. The problem is near irreversible damage done by the SCOTUS when it oversaw the expansion of Federal authority during the 20th century. Once the floodgates were pushed opened by the SCOTUS, the selling of Washington the the electorate was inevitable.

    Short of a full scale Constitutional revolt, we're pretty much stuck with the existing status quo.

    (Is that enough cynicism for today?)

  • squarooticus||

    The problem is these particular two parties.

    So demonstrably false it's not even funny. The problem is democracy combined with the legitimacy of taxation and wealth transfer: when people can vote themselves other peoples' money, the dominance of parties that encourage and participate in such behavior should not be a surprise.

  • ||

    The problem is near irreversible damage done by the SCOTUS when it oversaw the expansion of Federal authority during the 20th century.


    QFT
    How do you even begin undoing that damage? Pass a constitutional amendment saying "The Bill of Rights, and this time we mean it"?

  • ||

    Politically Correct

    Typo or subtle dig at Bill Maher?

  • ||

    How do you even begin undoing that damage? Pass a constitutional amendment saying "The Bill of Rights, and this time we mean it"?

    In a manner of speaking, yes. Only a re-written Constitution, where certain vagaries such as "commerce" and "general welfare" are eliminated, will allow for a true rollback of the Federal leviathan.

    I would say that by 2022, five years after the initial economic shock of having Social Security fall into deficit, and with the US economy on the brink of total collapse, it will be possible for a movement to rise up and convince a super-majority of the electorate that this country needs to be put on a different path. This will occur because the Great Depression of the 2020's will be seen as directly resulting from the social welfare state.

  • ||

    The problem is democracy combined with the legitimacy of taxation and wealth transfer: when people can vote themselves other peoples' money, the dominance of parties that encourage and participate in such behavior should not be a surprise.

    The United States Government is not a democracy, it is a Federal Republic. The President, members of Congress and Supreme Court justices all take an oath to serve and protect the Constitution. The fact that a majority of the contemporary electorate want representatives who ignore it is not a problem of the two-party system, it is a problem of human nature.

  • ||

    I will vote for Nader/Gonzalez in November because the Duopoly did not impeach Cheney, Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld. The duopoly didn't even investigate the more than obvious criminal behavior (our laws and treaties) they broke deliberately.

    I have no dealer. Who provides you with your Kool-Aid?

  • ||

    The problem is that those Founding Fathers didn't know what the hell they were doing when they wrote the Constitution.

    I'm just kidding of course..

    sort of.

  • ||

    The problem is that those Founding Fathers didn't know what the hell they were doing when they wrote the Constitution.

    If only they had added the provision that the President and all Legislators would be put to death at the end of their term of office...

  • Morgan Mghee||

    EDIT: clarification to article content
    11:17am 060508

    Barrwatch, with Special Guest Star Bob Barr

  • ||

    I had some well meaning of Ron Paul supporters tell me that our foudning fathers never intended to have political parties That may be true, but it's wholly irrelevant. Political parties are a nature of the beast. Even if you outlawed them, they would still exist in some form.

    Parties allow voters to select candidates without having to research their qualifications. They allow people to pool funds for candidates of similar ideologies. They give people the emotional thrill of being a part of the "us" that is against the "them". Parties are a convenient political pidgeonhole.

  • kinnath||

    Refering back to the Will/Colbert thread the other day: Parties allow us to organize our animosities.

  • ||

    I had some well meaning of Ron Paul supporters tell me that our foudning fathers never intended to have political parties.

    Which is funny, because it was founding fathers who started political parties in America.

    Oh, and the Federalists didn't fade because of a third party. They managed that feat all by themselves. The USA was essentially a one-party state (the Jeffersonian Republicans) from the end of the 1812 War until the group around Andrew Jackson split off to form what is now the Democratic Party in the 1820s.

  • ||

    Ralph, More power to your ideas. Keep working to end this insane war and bring our people home. You've been out there making speeches, doing interviews and writing articles and have written at least three books in the last 6 years. And you've been writing weekly commentary on the things that really matter, at http://www.nader.org .The question is where has the Press been on these important matters you discuss? where have the "Talking Heads" been on corporate crime and the profiteers of this war? The population is too busy being entertained and watching Sporting events to get involved, they take the easy route and don't bother to think, settling instead for snippets and quick slogans. Knowing what's going on in a Corporate controlled State takes work. Thank you Ralph, for all the good things you've done to protect the People of this Country. Amazing how quickly they forget, or perhaps they just don't know. Almost everyone's lives and/or that of friends and relatives of theirs, have been improved and made safer because of you, Some wouldn't be alive today, if not for Ralph Nader! Their minds have been intentionally bombarded with with Corporate propaganda and the Democrat Party scapegoating machine. Clinton and that phony Terry McAuliffe should be ashamed of their comments regarding you. They continue the DNC scapegoating myth. thank you for your great service to this Country. More power to your ideas. http://www.votenader.org..... all the rest of you out there, buckle-up! ....... Other Great websites about Nader; Click on play at http://thewomandirector.com./ AND after that go to http://www.dianeszoo.com/ralphnader.htm to vote and comment

  • ||

    Are there actually people who will vote in November 2008 on the matter of "impeaching Bush"? And can they introduce me to their dealer?



    Removal from office is not the only consequence of impeachment. The impeached official can also be disqualified from holding federal office in the future.

    That is not just a hypothetical possibility. After serving as president, John Quincy Adams served in the House of Representatives and William Howard Taft served as Chief Justice of the United States. After serving as vice-president, Richard Nixon served as president and Hubert Humphrey served as a U. S. Senator. Walter Mondale served as Ambassador to Japan and was nominated to run for the Senate from Minnesota when Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.

    Impeachment even after leaving office would be entirely appropriate for President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

  • ||

    Substance.
    So. Say the establishment was tarred and feathered and sent on it's sorry way..

    What agenda would be in play for the LP? I have not seen much from the party except for their pro and con. No straegy.

    The only plan I've found that is different, I found in Ron Paul because he has published every issue with solutions going as deep as the roots of the problems. He has his plans.

    I think he is our chance through the R3volution to change things, including mindsets and media that would include more than the two party mandate.

    Unity. Power in number the revolution is already started. March on Washinton. Go to the National Convention. Support what is already in moving..Help yourselves what ever your cause may be..LP CP, anything except the status quo'.

    Doing the same thing over and over expecting different result is insane.

  • Travis||

    "This will occur because the Great Depression of the 2020's will be seen as directly resulting from the social welfare state."

    Sadly I can't agree, the average person doesn't pay close enough attention to know what truly causes a countries problems. Politicians will still be using scapegoats to pin their misrule on & most people will buy the lie.

    As an example South Africans aren't blaming the South African politicians for a 40% unemployment rate they blame immigrants from other parts of Africa.

  • ||

    The problem isn't that a first past the pole election system produces a two party system. The problem is that the two top parties have rigged the system to make sure that they'll always be the top two. Meaning that they can get into a race to the bottom without fearing replacement.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Barr is only "filling a niche" in the same way that a Chinese knock-off that costs more and is full of lead fills a niche. He might get even fewer votes than Badnarik. Now that would be a record.

  • David Ross||

    The buzz on the fringe isn't about impeaching Bush; Pelosi took that "off the table" in 2006. The buzz is about prosecuting him for murder. Remember that attempt at citizen's-arrest on Bolton?

    If you haven't got in contact with their dealer yet, it must be because he's been too busy...

  • Morgan Mghee||

    "Nadar's solutions inevitably come down to "Just put me in control, and everything will be alllllllll riiiiiight"."

    He's been pretty clear about it for 40 years or so, place committed intelligent qualified people. (not friends, relatives, ex-business partners, ex-crime partners, big campaign contributors, celebrities etc)and make them all accountable to oversight.

  • ||

    Ah yes, promising criminal prosecution of political opponents is the best way to get them to peacefully hand over power to you. Do you guys *want* Bush to declare himself dictator for life?

  • ||

    Read this with interest as someone who is very pro third party, I have voted for socialists, greens and libertarians before. I would love to see Ralph Nader, Bob Barr and other major Green & Libertarian thinkers write up their own constitution, constitutional convention style. Or come out with a series of essays on how to create a responsible government. There are differences between many of us, but there are more similarities then we want to think.

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