In the Clearing Stands a Boxer

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Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray is running for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, on a platform of legalizing marijuana, repealing swaths of the PATRIOT Act, and labeling genetically modified foods. The L.A. Times (registration, endurance through a half-dozen irritating pop-up ads required) has an interesting if condescending profile.

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  1. “Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray is running for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, on a platform of legalizing marijuana, repealing swaths of the PATRIOT Act, and labeling genetically modified foods.”

    Well, two out of three isn’t that bad. I suppose he has to court the luddite paranoia of the enviro-commies if he wants to anyone in Hotel California to pay attention to him.

  2. I thought Jim Gray worked for NBC Sports.

  3. You should get yourself a pop-up blocker. They’re free and they make life worth living again.

  4. What no PR blurb about the Nazi Candidate, the Natural Law Party Candidate, or the Taxpayer Party Candidate, why not? They have just as good a chance of winning as this guy, and the Natural Law Party has a more entertaining party platform…
    Sorry I’m a curmudgeon, IF anyone beats Feinstein or Boxer they will have “-R” after their name, not “-LP” Of course this IS a Libertarian Mesaage board, so hope springs eternal.

  5. Hmm, Joe L., did anyone here say they thought it was *likely* that Gray would win? Oh, that’s right, they didn’t. So please, have a nice big serving of STFU.

  6. SR, temper, temper… it’s YOUR choice to vote for whomever you chose, and if your candidate takes a drubbing too bad. And if your candidate is DESTINED to take a drubbing, too DAMNED BAD… I don’t need a nice cup of STFU up YOU need a dose of reality… and manners.

    THE LP CANDIDATE FOR ANY POST ABOVE COUNTY EXECUTIVE IS GOING TO LOSE THIS ELECTION CYCLE. FURTHER, NO UNIT OF GOVERNMENT, TO INCLUDE LOCAL GOVERNMENT WILL LED BY AN LP CANDIDATE.

    It’s the price you pay for being Libertarian/libertarian/anarchop-capitalist. You might be “right” but you will also be in the minority… or as Tom Lehrer said in his classic “The Folk Song Army” “Remember the war against Franco?/That’s the kind where each of us belongs./Though he may have won all the battles,
    We had all the good songs.” You guys got the good songs, we’ll just take the vicotry in battle.

  7. Joe L., a person who trolls a libertarian-slanted blog for the sole purpose of going “Nyah-Nyah, your candidate’s gonna lose!” has forfeited his claim to be treated with respect. Why don’t you head over to Free Republic for some intellectual masturbation with your own crowd?

  8. SR, you have a nasty attitude, there, my man… I freely admit I’m a curmudgeon… I just wondered why the fan fair over a candidate that will poll less than a Green Party Candidate, assuming that there is one?

    Or can’t Libertarian/libertarian/anarcho-capitalists hang with the big boys and confront the truth? Is this just a clubhouse for the “elect”? You can hang out and talk about how “right” you guys are and IF ONLY the Sheeple would look up, Salvation would be at hand for both you and the Sheeple.

    Oh and I’m not here just ot go Nyah-Nyah… I just had to laugh at this topic, though. It’s like something from the “Jerk” “Ooooh, OOH, the new ‘phones books are here… I AM somebody” OK, Mr. Gray’s in the LAT, so are a lot of other folks, 99% of whom won’t win the Senate race either.

  9. Joe L.,

    If you perfer to be a political whore, that’s your business. 🙂

  10. Gary, I kind of like to think of it as being less a political whore as being at the table where the decisions are made…
    The LP/libertarians/CATO/anarcho-capitalists are by-and-large NOT at that table.

    I would ask, “Who did more for the Left, Ted Kennedy and Tom Hayden (sp.?) or Jerry Rubin, or the Chicago Seven?” And I’d say Ted and Tom, now their INTELLECTUAL mentors may have been Yippies/Hippies/SDS/DSA but the work of advancing the Cause goes to them.

    And you know what, I’m sure they were called “political whores” too. Still I’d rather DO something, than be right…

    It’s a choice we all confront in life, or as political science likes to call it, “Interest Aggregation.” Some folks don’t want to aggregate their interests too much, it leaves them with a relatively small group.

    I choose to interest aggregate at a larger level… I see portions of my agenda enacted. I can tell you this, IF EVER Social Security is privatized or if ever Medical Savings Accounts become law, it will NOT be done by the LP or anyone from this board, but by I’d guess the Republican Party.

    Now you guys can talk about how you blazed the trail or laid the groundwork or took the spears… but a major party candidate will advance your ideas.

    And for some people that’s kewlllll, they’re down with doing the intellectual grunt work and selling an idea.

    But you and SR seem unsatisfied with that. But I tell you if you want to be pure and powerless stay “here”; if you want to be whores, but accomplished whores, leave here and move to a real party, not the Greens, not the LP, not the Reform Party, but a real party Democratic or Republican. That’s where the power is, true that’s where the whores are, too, but that’s just the cost of changing the world.

  11. JoeL is right, unfortunately. It is winner takes all, and we have a two party system as a result. The resulting coalitions are totally distateful to everyone involved, and the last word will be something like, “I only support a hundred trillion increase in federal spending, while my opponent supports a staggering 1.5 trillion! I am the responsible one here …”

    Maybe it’s all deck chairs anyway.

  12. As far as Jim Gray and GM food, my understanding is that he supports mandatory labeling as an alternative to far more draconian regulations. His proposal seems to be that consumers should have the information and then the market should decide the rest.

    Now, obviously, that isn’t good enough for most here. Most would obviously say that the market should also decide if there are labels or not. But in my hierarchy of bad regulation, mandatory labeling is by far a lesser evil compared to most forms of regulation. Especially if he’s pushing it as a way to pre-empt further regulation.

  13. Joe L.,

    Can we agree that there’s nothing wrong with voting for someone you think can do the job competently and with honor?

    May I ask why you think it’s more important to vote for someone who, though sharing your ideologies, is demonstrably incompetent and incapable of taking responsibility for his mistakes?

  14. Joe L. nails it, in my book.

    thoreau puts up another interesting take on the “be right or be effective conundrum.” On issues, I prefer to be right; right up until my back is to the wall and the choices are compromise or lose. I don’t think we are anywhere near that point with GM food labelling, and so I think Jim Gray is negotiating against himself on this one.

    On elections, I prefer to be effective.

  15. Les,

    I am reminded in your comments of a vote I cast for Browne. The corrolary would seem to be that competent statesmen won’t go LP as a rule. The LP is plenty good at the ‘with honor’ part, but not so much the other.

  16. What if you simply cannot stomache either major candidate? What if you find both to be equally detestable, loathesome and undesireable? Of course by these statements I mean Kerry and Bush.

  17. Jason,

    Why do you think that is? It’s such a shame, it seems to me.

    I have no idea who I’m going to vote for. But I think it will be for someone who hasn’t already demonstated incompetence.

  18. The value comes not in the victory of this candidate, but that an apparently respected public official has decided to challenge the consensus duality. Every person who comes around toward the libertarian ideal is cause to celebrate.

    It is nice that we get converts of people who have been engaged in ordinary life, both righties and lefties. That somehow says more than the outspoken inveterate fringe characters who seem to populate most of the other perennial minor parties.

    Joe: If SS were privatized by the Republicans, that would suggest the Rs had become libertarians. How about a scenario where the righty zealots split off into their own Evangelist National Party and the Rs realign in a way that accomodates libertarians and attracts a share of lefties? It might still then be republican in name but the ideas advanced are the same ones championed by the LP candidates you lampoon today.

  19. If you always vote for the same party, your vote is completely meaningless. If you vote Republican when the Republican candidate is somewhate libertarian and Libertarian otherwise, you give the Republican party an incentive to run libertarian candidates. Swing voters have the power, so why not be a swing voter?

  20. As long as we’re on the subject of the 2 party system, it’s worth noting that we have an entrenched duopoly largely because of our single vote/winner take all election methods. There are other voting methods out there. For info on them, I recommend 3 sites:

    http://www.electionmethods.org
    http://www.approvalvoting.org
    http://www.fairvote.org

    I won’t go into the entire case for alternative methods here, but I will observe that alternative voting methods could enable more than just 2 candidates to be competitive in most races while still keeping the fringes from seizing power. Competition in the marketplace of ideas is a good thing, just like competition in any other marketplace.

  21. Les,
    WARNING STEPVEN DEN BESTE-LENGTH POST AHEAD!!!!
    As a practical matter, I’m not sure that either Kerry or Bush are “is demonstrably incompetent and incapable of taking responsibility for his mistakes?” The US Presidential selection process is like Medical School, it weeds out the guys who’d “LIKE” to be doctors and leaves only the ones who CAN be doctors. So, first off I’d have to say that either party’s candidate has been tested in ways that only Pat Buchanan can approximate, and no one lese can even come close to.
    Why? They NEVER face the scrutiny that the REAL candidates do, from either the Media or the Party, itself.

    I believe it was Robert Novak who said that he never wanted to ask Jesse Jackson any hard questions when he ran for President. Why? To do so risked the “Racist” Label and that wasn’t worth the hassle for someone that OBVIOUSLY was not going to win. Al Sharpton, Harry Browne, Carol Mosely-Braun, they never face media inquiry like Dubya or Kerry, or Dean, or even Edwards, they are obviously “also rans”. And that means that their “abilities” to govern are never really tested, because they simply get to talk for free.

    Nor are these candidates tested by their parties, except for Buchanan-lest you think I LIKE Buchanan I don’t but he faced SOME criticism within the GOP and then some fights when he took over the RP- because the party’s or constituencies are so small, that they are churches of believers. When one is preaching to he choir one has a much easier audience.

    The Major parties are constituencies, often times mutually antagonist ones, “Greens” and Labour, in the Democratic Party, “Neo-Cons” versus “Paleo-Con’s” or Reagan Conservatives versus “Country Club Republicans” within the GOP. Again securing the nomination stresses and challenges a candidate far more than securing the Reform or Libertarian Party nomination. In sum, I’d say the selection process for Democrat or Republican Party makes either John Kerry or George Bush INHERENTLY more trustable and capable as leaders than any third party candidate can be. They have already faced an incredible struggle simply in securing the nomination.

    “May I ask why you think it’s more important to vote for someone who, though sharing your ideologies, is demonstrably incompetent and incapable of taking responsibility for his mistakes?” You seem to be asking, or I will ask for you, “Why vote for Jimmy Carter, rather than Joe Clarke?”, assuming I were a Democrat. And that’s a darned good question, it IS. I dismiss “X-ray” and “SR” because they seem silly, but YOU ask a good question. Why not vote for Joe Clarke, he’s certainly got a better platform than Jimmy Carter, who was manifestly incompetent. The answer is political whoredom or practical politics? JIMMY CARTER IS GONNA WIN. I can either vote for the “right” candidate” or the winner. If I vote Clarke in 1980, I’m throwing my vote away, he’s not going to win and I alienate my group from the Party. Parties tend to reward loyalty, under the theory “Ya dance wit the wun wot brung ya.” If my group is continually running off to support some third party candidate rather than supporting the candidate, my group becomes LESS effective in the party.

    The same thing can be said of the Republican Rightwing, when we run off to Buchanan, as in 1992, 1996, 2000, we tell the GOP that we aren’t reliable and to not look to us for support. If you’re not reliable, what’s the point of courting you? Every group you court, is a group that can alienate another group. “What profiteth a man to gain 10 Conservatives if he should lose the Centre?” And if we Rightwing Nuts won’t be loyal why take the guff you get from Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Spectre, and the NYT for trying to court them?

    Bottom-line: by voting for Bush in 1992 and Dole in 1996, or Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984, stalwarts prove their loyalty and hence their influence can grow. Political Science would simply say that it is the difference between valuing the LONG-TERM or the SHORT-TERM.

    In the SHORT-TERM it might make sense to vote Clarke or Buchanan, but in the LONG-TERM it makes more sense to vote Carter or Bush ’41, because though they may lose, there is always NEXT electoral cycle and I’d like to be in the good graces of the party then.

    It makes sense to vote Buchanan or Clarke when they’re going to win OR when your faction within the party is at a long-term impasse with the winning coalition within your party. Buchanan and the Paleo-Cons are SLOWLY being forced out of the GOP, it’s a “paradigm” shift. The concept of “Conservative” is being re-defined, Pat Buchanan’s definition did not win in the GOP. So, it makes sense for him to leave and his followers. They are going no where in the GOP, and as the disposables they might as well leave as stay.

    So, that’s why I’d vote for Kerry, Bush 41, Carter in 1980, or Bob Dole, it’s in my long-term interest to do so, and it’s not all that clear that a third party candidate would do a better job, because they have no real experience in the rough and tumble of politics. They are dilettantes, whilst Carter et. al. are the professionals. They MIGHT be aces, but I know that Chuck Horner IS a fighter pilot, even if he’s not Chuck Yeager.

  22. I have no idea who I’m going to vote for. But I think it will be for someone who hasn’t already demonstated incompetence.

    That rules out the Libertarian Party, then. I’ve never seen any other political party with its knack for taking basic, easy-to-understand ideas like “taxes should be lower” and “the government should be smaller” and making them sound like only crazy people would believe in them.

    The Libertarian Party is to libertarians what American Atheists is to atheists — unrepresentative and embarassing.

  23. Gary:

    Stay home and cry. That may well be my plan.

    Les:

    Because the activists that form the base of the LP are: A) Opposed to incremental change as a concept and B) Enamored more of self righteous rhetoric than efficacy.

    I was at Freedomfest in Vegas two weeks ago. Lots of good speakers of libertarian interest: David Friedman, Ron Paul, John Stossel, and many more. I was at a table with Gordon Tullock of Public Choice fame during a debate between D’nish D’souza and Harry Browne about the war (there was a lot of that). I’m only name dropping to point out that there are a lot of very smart, reasoned people involved in libertarian activities. By contrast, the q&a session of nearly every presentation was assured to have at least one conspiracy theorist, one You Call Yourself a Defender of Freedom?!!!, and one old school Objectivist. Taking an informal poll, nearly all of the most shrill people I found were LP activists, and almost none of the moderate voices were. There were exceptions to this rule. Jason Sorens of FSP was an LP’er and was pretty mellow, for example.

    It isn’t really about the views. David Friedman is much more radical than I am in his libertarianism, but I was very impressed with his comments, and I found him convincing on a number of points I might be reconsidering. He is not the face of the LP unfortunately. See that guy in the corner screaming about hoarding gold while healing people with a copy of Atlas Shrugged? THAT is what people see.

    One of the more interesting sessions was a not well attended one starring Grover Norquist. He was talking about coalition building. I have to say, and I expect to be rebuked sharply for this, but the LP could learn a lot about efficacy from a guy like Grover Norquist.

  24. Jason-

    You’ll get no argument from me about Norquist. I may disagree with him on many things, but on the subject of efficacy he clearly knows what he’s talking about.

  25. No Mark, a privatized social security, brought on by the GOP shows NOTHING OF THE SORT! It shows that we stole your good idea and made it ours, because we think it will get us votes. It doesn’t necessarily even mean that the party has become more libertarian… many “conservatives” have no problem with a LARGE FBI and LARGE DoD, and a very small anything else in Federal government. As long as a smaller Social Security bureaucracy did not mean a smaller FBI or Army we’d have no problem with it. Now Chaffee and Snowe might have problems with it, certainly Charley Reese would and Bill Kristol. They are big government conservatives/paternalistic conservatives/Republicans. Now Reese, assuming he is a GOP’er we can lose, but we wouldn’t want to lose Snowe, Chaffee or Kristol, we’d have to compromise the program and also re-jigger the definition of Republican, but parties do that all the time… “Two and Two have ALWAYS BEEN FIVE, Winston.”

    As to the Evangelicals leaving, I’m too close to that, being something of an Evangelical. I think we bring more to the GOP than we cost. I would argue for us to leave would split the opposition to the Left, allowing Ted Kennedy and his ilk to advance their agenda.

    It would weaken the GOP, the Centre and the Left of the Party aren’t all that big? and if the stories in the Press are true, the “Moderates” are leaving, because the Party is moving away from them. Folks such as myself are more the future of the GOP than is Arlen Spectre. And I think that the GOP realizes this. Arlen needs me and I need Arlen, in ten years that may not be so true, then Arlen or I might get the “purge.” If history is any guide, it’s Arlen that’s off to the scrap heap of history. But I could easily be wrong. So I’m not leaving and a lot of smart Evangelicals aren’t leaving either. We want to control the GOP, akin to the McGovern Wing of the Democratic Party controlling that party-only with more electoral success.

  26. Joe L.:

    “If you’re not reliable, what’s the point of courting you?”

    If you are too reliable, what is the point of courting you? Do the Dems have to care about the NAACP at all?

    That is my concern. If they get my vote no matter what they do, they get to count me in the coalition without giving me anything I want.

  27. If you don’t have any demands they’ll take you for granted.

    If your demands are too large and too far from the mainstream they’ll write you off.

    If your demands can be satisfied without alienating other crucial swing blocs, and your threat to jump ship is credible, they’ll kiss your ass on both cheeks all day long.

    This is why I think the LP Presidential candidate should make a list of demands and offer to endorse whichever major party candidate signs off on that list, or at least help that candidate in one crucial swing state. The list shouldn’t be too out-landish or else libertarians will be written off. People can debate the ideal list of demands, but the point is to propose some reforms that are significant yet palatable (to swing voters). Maybe it would even be good to give the candidates some wiggle-room, e.g. “Here are 5 reforms, I’ll endorse the first candidate to sign off on 4 of them. And before you disregard me, I’m polling 2% in FL and the margin between you guys is 1%.”

  28. Dan & Jason Ligon
    You’re just in for the long struggle that is party building. The LP COULD be a strong party. Sticking with it might be in your long-term interest.

    If the FSP works out OR if you could get some mayors and councils elected at the local level, the LP would be more set.

    That really needs to be your focus. If you can show a record of governance people won’t feel like they’re throwing away their vote on a bunch of Ayn Rand Egg-headed nut-cases…

    There IS a political realignment going on now, if the LP can adapt it’s message and its messengers to the electorate you could make in-roads.

    The McGovern Wing of the Democrats is still in control of the Party, BUT they have lost the moral and intellectual capacity that they had.

    The GOP is defining itself, we were against Ted Kennedy and Brezhnev, now both are gone or declining and we are in power, what are we FOR?

    This decline and redefinition gives the LP an opportunity. Good luck.

  29. Well Jason, members of the NAACP and its branches have done very well from the Democratic Party and the Federal Government. I dare say were the NAACP and the LP do follow Thoreau’s proposal on endorsing and a list of demands, that the NAACP’s demands of the Democrats would be much more readily accepted than the LP’s demands of the Democrats.
    You conflate BLACKS and the NAACP… now Blacks may have a case of the arse with the Democrats, but the NAACP does not.

  30. thoreau:

    Norquist had an interesting point. What happens when a coalition defined as ‘redistribute to me’ feels that there is no money to give out? Even more interesting, what happens if through a public savings plan the public ownership of securities moves to 100%? Who in your coalition do you take from so that you can give to the others?

    Add to this the idea that the strongest block of voters is The Greatest Generation, and they are dying off.

    It was an interesting 45 min or so, that’s for sure …

  31. Jason- Interesting questions. What conclusions did Norquist draw concerning those questions?

  32. Jason- Interesting questions. What conclusions did Norquist draw concerning those questions?

  33. Jason- Interesting questions. What conclusions did Norquist draw concerning those questions?

  34. Sorry for the multiple posts. I swear that it’s really me posting and not Jennifer 🙂

  35. I must have misunderstood one of Joe L’s initial trolls here:

    “FURTHER, NO UNIT OF GOVERNMENT, TO INCLUDE LOCAL GOVERNMENT WILL LED BY AN LP CANDIDATE.”

    I’m not sure what this means. There have been LP mayors over the years, even in fairly large communities; recently a town or two had LP majorities on their councils. Did Joe do his homework before posting here? Or did he not say what I thought he said?

    Also, Joe, while the LP candidate in Wisconsin didn’t win the last Gubernatorial race, he made quite a splash, and people (not just LP people, but even, for example, CBS News) are still talking about it. Aaron Russo, currently one of the candidates for the refreshingly contested LP US Presidential nomination, ran a good race for Governor in Nevada, too. If we keep at it, we’ll knock a few dominoes down, and the rest will eventually fall. On the other hand, we’ll get nowhere if we quit.

    Regarding the two-party system, how many out there are aware that the “winner take all” nature of our system has little to do with the Constitution and much more to do with bipartisan sweetheart deals? The Constitution doesn’t require “winner take all” (with the implication that two dominant parties will eventually shake ouyt). The various election laws in the states — which have been brought into “harmony” through bipartisan cooperation — do that. There is nothing in the Constitution, for instance, to require states to give up all of their Presidential electors to the candidate that wins a plurality. This is something that the Democrat and Republican parties engineered in nearly all (but NOT all) states so that they could keep a lock on the process. That lock can be unlocked on a state-by-state basis, as well (even much more easily than states are, one by one, rolling back the national strictures on things such as medical marijuana).

    If the electoral prospects are not as rosy as some LP cheerleaders may have indicated in the past, neither are they as gloomy as the Joes of the world would have us believe. Whatever Joe’s true motivations and affiliations may be, the rhetoric sounds an awful lot like the “scare people back into the tent” talk that we heard from the California GOP in the years before Schwarzenegger brought the pachyderm party back from the apparent brink of death, here in the Demo-dominated Golden State. (Probably not gold anymore, actually, just a lot of well polished brass!) The State GOP chairman used to get on radio talk shows and browbeat listeners who were even thinking of looking into registering as Libertarian. It was a true sign that the GOP was desperate. Frankly, except for Arnie’s star power, I think they still are.

    Best of luck to Jim Gray: a credible and attractive candidate who deserves consideration from disaffected Demos and GOP alike.

  36. Norquist’s view was that a bill that created a society of stock owners would destroy the left coalition as it currently exists. As he framed it, the ‘takings coalition’ has to take from someone ELSE.

    He also identified those voting Americans in their 70’s – 80’s as the strongest, most numerous member of the left’s current coalition. Apparently, they are overwhelmingly Democrats who love FDR and everything he stood for. An notable comment from Grover was something like, they won’t last too long, no matter how much they get in free medicine.

    Another major theme is that the media and popular discussions dismiss the ‘issue voter’ as an anomaly. He argues that it is essential to the understanding of modern coalitions that most people have views on most issues, but there is only one that moves them to get off their butts and vote. The secret to a successful strategy is to form your coalition out of primary motivators that do not conflict. If I want my guns and you want your taxes back, we can both get what we want in theory. If you are religious, you are not in conflict with the guns or the taxes people on primary issues, though a good portion of the taxes people might want to, in Norquist’s words, ‘throw prophylactics at you’. He believes that we are all one issue voters.

  37. Jason Ligon,

    I’d like to strangle that little fucker; but you are correct in your statements. I’ve seen him speak before. What I find especially humorous is when he talks about religious liberty; which to his organization means the liberty to take money from non-Christians to pay for Christian projects.

  38. James-

    What do you think of using multi-member districts to elect one house of the state legislature? If legislators were elected from, say, districts of 10 members, then any party getting 10% of the vote in a district would get a legislator.

    I know, I know, it’s controversial to many people. I won’t go over all the objections right now except to say that I’m only posing the question in the context of state legislative races, not US House or Senate, and I’m only suggesting this for the state House or Assembly, not the state Senate.

    An interesting mathematical fact is that it would actually require more votes to win a seat, partially dispelling the notion that this is affirmative action for weak candidates. Say that there are 100,000 voters in a region (to keep it simple, assume that this figure accounts for voter turnout). If that region is divided into 10 districts, then in order to win a race you only need 5,001 votes (or fewer if there are 3 candidates in the race, but let’s keep it simple for now). Now let’s say that the region is a single district with 10 legislators. It would take 10,000 votes to win a seat.

    Anyway, James, since I know you’re a fan of the LP (as am I) I’m curious what you think of this.

  39. thoreau,

    Personally I think we’re headed for a nation not too dissimilar from that found in Walker Percy’s “Love in the Ruins.”

  40. thoreau,

    Without the ontological lapsometer of course. 🙂

    And if you have no fucking clue what I am babbling on about:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312243111/reasonmagazinea-20/

  41. Gary:

    He was speaking to audience at this conference, and so positioned the center-right coalition as a “leave-us-alone” group. He headed off (or attempted to) protests that the religious right doesn’t want to leave people alone by putting them in the same camp as homeschoolers. He argued that they want to be left alone to raise their children as they see fit without having to pay for an educational system they don’t believe in.

    From the minute he pulled that little maneuver, I really had the sense that I was watching a Machiavellian in his element …

  42. Jason Ligon,

    Well, its pretty clear that being “left alone” means dominating all discourse in the public school system – even at the university level. I’ve mentioned before that where I attended graduate school – Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!!) – tried to block the formation of a gay and lesbian group on campus, then tried to block allowing them from gaining access to monies from student fees. Anyway, this whole nasty incident wasn’t driven by “student outrage” or anything like a local university concern, but by christian politicians up in Montgomery who were pissed off at the prospect of having gay and lesbian groups on public Alabama campuses. Anyway, they had to fight through the courts for several years to finally get this mess straightened out, and it ended up causing a lot of bad blood for the group on campus – so much so that for the first year they were there I and a couple of other fellows had to provide some “security” for their events, even if they were off-campus.

    Of course Auburn is also the university that until the mid-1990s had a Greek “parade” which featured slave-masters riding in cars with “slaves” (largely black children paid to act as such) following on foot.

  43. Gary-

    I’m sure there was no racism intended. They’re just proud of their “heritage.”

    Or something like that…

  44. Joe: Feel free to “steal” as many libertarian ideas as you want. The names don’t matter as much as the deeds. As long as the state keeps its hands out of my pants (pockets and otherwise), I don’t care what one labels the philosophy.

    thoreau: How can we package a change in the party-electoral system so the less-interested masses can understand it? Even before I can worry if they’ll agree with the goal of more representative government, I’m concerned that most people just don’t think that hard. Starting with State assembly races takes away some of the power of “do you really want that nutcase in the legislature” threats, as James countered to Joe.

  45. I wonder what the point is to being effectively wrong? Something like wanting to be the bad guy cause nobody pushes the bad guy around.
    You can be in the right or in the wrong.
    Hitler was effective. Ooh, I want to be like Hitler because I’d rather be effective than in the right.

  46. You’re just in for the long struggle that is party building. The LP COULD be a strong party. Sticking with it might be in your long-term interest.

    It is not in my long-term interests for the term “libertarian” to be forever associated with the pack of fruitcakes that the Libertarian Party is composed of.

    If the electorate comes to accept libertarian views, the Democratic and Republican parties will move to capture those voters by pushing libertarian reforms, and the Libertarian Party will be unnecessary and irrelevant. If the electorate does NOT come to accept libertarian views, then libertarian reforms will never happen and the Libertarian Party will remain, as it is now, unnecessary and irrelevant. So question here isn’t “will the Libertarians gain power” (the answer is known to be ‘no’) but “is the LP helping to spread libertarian ideas”.

    The answer to that question is also “no”. The primary function of the Libertarian Party is to take good, solid, libertarian ideas and make sure that most people associate those ideas with fruitcakes like Harry Browne — to “teach” people that the term “libertarian” is synonymous with “out-of-touch ideological extremist”.

    If the FSP works out OR if you could get some mayors and councils elected at the local level, the LP would be more set.

    I don’t want the Libertarian Party to be set. I wouldn’t trust them to run a Girl Scout Cookie sales drive; I’m certainly not going to trust them with the reigns of power.

  47. Joe L. and Jason,

    Thanks for the comments. Damn, this stuff is complicated. Very educational for me, this one. Thanks again.

  48. James Anderson Merritt,
    I mean that the LP controls NO UNIT OF GOVERNMENT , to include the local level…
    Sure name all the mayors you want, all the school board members you want, but can you name ONE UNIT of local government under LP control?…………………………………………………………………………………………… Nope, thought not.
    Now I can point out 120 units of county gov’t in my state controlled by one of the two major parties, and almost 500 units of city gov’t controlled by D’s or R’s. By my reckon’n there are more local officials that are Democratic or Republican, in my tiny little state than there are LP officials, nation-wide! You can get a single member elected here or there, can you control ANY unit of gov’t?

    And I’m here to tell you, almost getting elected is a lot like getting a kiss from your cousin, it’s better than nothing but it don’t mean much. Now if the LP can REPEAT that performance, then you’re talking. Oh I notice you said the candidate made quite a splash. What he was expected to poll in the 5% range but he got 10%? In California I’m willing to bet that the Green Candidate, if there is one, will poll better than Mr. Gray.

    I will say that sinner takes all is a threat to 3rd parties… I see it as nice, but I’m a major party kind of guy. I’m willing to bet that if the LP makes the cut as a major party, suddenly the winner take all system will seem pretty good… I’m a cynic that way.

  49. Joe L offers a good example of those who abondon priciples for electoral success. This is precisely what led to the formation of the Libertarian party.

    A real libertarian isn’t interested in wielding the reigns of power. A libertarian candidate who places electoral success above the principles of liberty becomes a republican.

    Who will save us from those who are effective at attaining and wielding political power?

    Certainly not those who are interested in that very thing.

    It isn’t necessary for libertarians to attain electoral success. We only need to help people realize that the costs of political government exceed the benefits.

    Eventually, the politicians will be their own undoing, for the parisite cannot survive without a host.

  50. He wants to repeal labelling of GM foods? Or he wants them labelled?

  51. thoreau,

    I completely disagree; evangelical Republicans simply would not vote for such a character in the general election; indeed, under such a scenario one might see a schism in the Republican party; furthermore, a Democrat would carry the base of his party no matter what. What you are looking at here is of course something along the lines of an election similar to that found in 1860.

  52. Up the thread I believe is a very salient comment, and I paraphrase, libertarians take excellent ideas and make them scary. It is like libertarians are some form of autistic savant capable of genius in one moment and offending everyone in the next.

    At this point, the term “libertarian” has become so tainted, most savvy politicians with libertarian leanings will run for office under a different label. Mention the “L” word, and people think you want to install crack vending machines in elementary school classrooms. Running for office as a libertarian is like running a race carrying a 100-pound pack… an interesting exercise, but less than likely to produce victory. If one is absolutely opposed to the two major parties, I propose an alternative… simply use the familiar term, “Independent.” No one knows exactly what it means which makes it perfect for a political campaign.

  53. Gary-

    You may have a point. Still, while the evangelicals would bolt, a lot of other people who normally vote Republican would stand with a fiscally conservative/socially liberal candidate. Look at Arnold’s victory in CA in a 3-way race against Bustamante and McClintock.

    McClintock, despite his libertarian credentials on many issues, was also the preferred candidate of the social conservatives. Whatever you might think of him, he has found a way to strike a balance and keep the support of social conservatives while also winning praise (however rightly or wrongly) from libertarians. He came in third place.

    Bustamante kept the Democratic base. He came in second place. And this was in California, where Democrats normally do really well.

    Arnold didn’t get a majority of the vote, but he came close. (I’m just referring to him as Arnold because I can never remember how to spell his last name.) He came in first.

    So maybe my prediction of a landslide was wrong, but I do believe that a fiscally conservative/socially liberal candidate could do well in a national race, even if the evangelicals bolted. The problem is that no candidate can get the party nomination in a national race and still maintain his fiscally conservative/socially liberal credentials.

  54. ** Joe (apparently a different Joe than the fellow I had replied to earlier) says, “The guy [LP Presidential candidate] has no chance of winning. … This is a waste of the LP’s money and time.”

    If winning the race is “the only thing,” then perhaps Joe is right. On the other hand, election laws in some places (written by those ol’ Democrats and Republicans) tend to view candidates for President and Vice President as evidence of a party’s seriousness and legitimacy for purposes of ballot access, major party status, etc. Back in the days when it was much smaller, the LP got a lot of hurdle-clearing bang for the buck by running a presidential ticket, which could be recognized fifty-times over as qualifying federal candidacies. This is very important, because official recognition can eliminate or ease ballot access restrictions on a qualifying party, lowering the cost of campaigning by a significant amount.

    In the modern day, the LP is actually able to run a fairly broad slate of candidates in most areas where it operates, so house and senate races can count, too, making the “top of the ticket” less important in the struggle for ballot access. On the other hand, reporters and tv/radio crews will show up for an event featuring the presidential or vice presidential candidates of a national party, where they might not pay much attention to the local candidate for county supervisor, state legislature, or even governor.

    If a “top of the ticket” candidate works with local parties and candidates to get them maximum exposure during stops on a nationwide tour, then all benefit from the publicity. In that sense, third party Presidential campaigns are not a waste at all; in fact, they provide a cost-effective way to maximize a party’s media exposure in the face of severely limited campaign warchests.

    ** Jose (is there a pattern here?) echoed a comment from earlier in the thread, with the following: “…libertarians take excellent ideas and make them scary. It is like libertarians are some form of autistic savant capable of genius in one moment and offending everyone in the next.”

    But Jose, hundreds of Libertarians are currently serving in office across the country. Re-election is becoming a fairly routine occurrence. Are THOSE people “scary”? Did they take good ideas and make them “scary”?

    Rather than concentrate on the “scary/silly candidate” bogeyman, I would think that people who really wanted to make a positive difference in the libertarian direction would instead get hip to the real-life examples provided by successful Libertarian incumbents, and encourage the party — dare I even hope, HELP the party — to replicate those successes. Instead, not a thread that mentions Libertarians goes by without somebody lobbing a “scary” or a “crazy” rhetorical grenade at them. At some point, you have to conclude that such people aren’t interested in seeing Libertarians succeed; they must WANT them to fail. If that’s the agenda, then we need to take their criticisms with a grain of salt. Maybe a whole box.

    The fact of the matter is that, for the most part, the reputation of being “scary” is a banana peel that opponents tossed in front of inexperienced Libertarian candidates of yore. It worked; enough candidates slipped up on it to color the party reputation, and so the opponents keep using it. For every truly “scary” LP candidate, however, you will find rooms full of scary GOP or Demo candidates. By no means does the LP have a monopoly on “scary.” That being the case, why don’t we try encouraging truly libertarian candidates and approaches that are not scary? Or focus on how Demo and GOP candidates or approaches are even scarier than anything from the LP? As a matter of fact, that’s what’s happening, and a rising number of local LP victories demonstrates the effectiveness of that strategy.

  55. Joe L.

    Do you view your identity as an evangelical as consistent with libertarian principles such that the coalition between small government types and evangelicals is sustainable, or do you think that evangelicals could not tolerate support for the dreaded “homosexual agenda” from within their own party?

    You believe that evangelicals are the future of the party (you indicate history is on your side, which raises my eyebrow a bit), so what do you want to do with the party once you get controlling interest?

  56. Jason Ligon,

    Evangelical, “born again,” etc. Christians already control the Republican party; sure they let other people call themselves Republicans (New England Republicans), but they don’t control the party itself. Or let me put it this way – can you imagine the election of a Republican President who lacks the support of evangelicals, etc.? I certainly can’t. That currently is both the strength of the Republican party, and its achilles heel.

  57. Gary-

    A moderate Republican without evangelical support could easily win a general election. In fact, such a candidate could probably win the largest landslide in modern history by running a fiscally conservative/socially liberal platform.

    The problem is that no such candidate could win a GOP primary.

  58. Joe-

    I guess I am not sure what you mean when you talk about a “unit” of local government, or “control” over it. I thought a city council constituted a unit of local government. The Colorado town of Leadville, for example, recently had (and I think, still does have) a majority of Libertarians on it. Isn’t that control? We haven’t achieved that feat in a really large town or city yet, but, as we are always electing council members, mayors and county supervisors all over, time will tell. One of the more encouraging signs underlying my optimism for the long haul, is the frequent re-election of Libertarians over the past 20 years. It takes a lot to overcome the reputation of being a bunch of wackos. But it has happened often enough to get hundreds of Libertarians into local office in recent years, and guess what: Clearly, the sky does not fall when Libertarians are elected, or else they wouldn’t be re-elected. The longer we are able to demonstrate this simple fact across the country, the more likely success at higher levels of elected office becomes.

    Thoreau-

    The idea of a house composed of multi-member districts is an interesting one. I haven’t spent too much time looking into the math of an arrangement like that. Does it pass muster as a “republican form of government,” as the constitution requires each State to have? I like the prospects for untangling our outrageously gerrymandered representative districts. Perhaps, if the Free State Project or any similar movement is successful in concentrating libertarian voting power in a particulr state region, a state constitution could be amended to make multi-member districts happen. Otherwise, I think that the idea may never get traction, because of the vested interests fighting for the status quo on the one hand, and the apparent apathy of the voting public on the other.

  59. Thanks for posting this

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