Badnarik: Buyers' Remorse?


R.W. Bradford, editor of Liberty magazine, provides fascinating reporting on the Libertarian Party convention, with special emphasis on the controversies swirling around winning presidential nominee Michael Badnarik's past refusal to pay income tax or use a drivers license.

My own account of the convention on Reason Online here.

NEXT: More fallout from disappointing King Arthur opening

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  1. I think Badnarik is more of a liberal than Kerry. More like Bill Clinton here is his blog than Edwards. It's a shame Kerry didn't ask Badnarik to join his ticket.

  2. Jane,
    In what sense is Badnarik more of a liberal than Kerry?

  3. And the LP's effort to discredit the entire theory of limited government continues apace ...

  4. "...Badnarik's past refusal to pay income tax or use a drivers license."

    Hey, I kinda like this guy....

  5. I'm sorry, but someone who drives without a license and refuses to use ZIP codes does not deserve to be taken seriously as a candidate for president. And I was actually considering voting for this lunatic.

  6. Jason,

    How do you support your statement that the LP is attempting to "discredit the entire theory of limited government"?

  7. Refuses to use ZIP codes?!? What in the world is the rationale for that? All it says in the article is that he sees them as "federal territories." Is this a common position among especially "principled" libertarians? It sounds like maybe someone needs to learn to pick his battles a little more wisely.

    Also from the article: "Dirasian removed from the campaign website Badnarik's promise to blow up the United Nations building, his proposal to confine prisoners in bed until their muscles atrophy, and other eccentric items," but unfortunately they were already out.
    Yeah, he's a keeper. What the LP really needs is a presidential candidate advocating terrorism and torture.

  8. J: There is a wing of the "patriot" movement that has a problem with Zip codes. I don't know if Badnarik subscribes to their very odd theories, because -- judging from the piece -- he actually does use Zip codes, just in an eccentric way. Maybe it represents a fringe belief, maybe it's just something like putting a line through a "7" ... who knows?

  9. "I'm sorry, but someone who drives without a license and refuses to use ZIP codes does not deserve to be taken seriously as a candidate for president."

    Amongst other things, some of us are protesting the bombing, invasion, and occupation of a foreign country on false pretenses, being so incompetent as to leave a Secretary of Defense in authority who approved of torturing people, subverting the Constitution by imprisoning people without access to council and turning public libraries and ISPs into agents of the secret police.

    ...But it's the zip code and driver's license issues are a deal breaker for you? You are sorry. Have one of the other candidates come out firmly in support of zip codes and driver's licenses?

    Show me a candidate who was against the war, was against the Patriot Act and wants to cut my taxes, and I'll seriously consider voting for him or her instead.

  10. Jason is right on. How can any libertarian seriously think they will ever persuade people of the cause if they are pushing a wacko like Badnarik? This guy is joker (not that the other candidates were so hot, either) and it is hard to argue that voting for the LP this year will do anything to advance the cause of American liberty.

  11. It's still difficult for me to believe that a national party nominated a regular guy from Buda, TX whose program on Austin Cable Access used to put me to sleep. Congrats to the rank-and-file or something.

  12. But it's the zip code and driver's license issues are a deal breaker for you?

    You bet. It's a clear indication that he's a bit... extremist, and it makes me shudder to think of what other opinions of his did not make the cut to appear on his website.

  13. I think part of the problem is that Libertarians tend to choose people, themes, slogans, etc. that appeal to them and not to the great mass of Americans. A lot of people have this problem, of course - witness the whole "Bush = Hitler" crowd - but smart political players try and avoid it. Badnarik may have great appeal within the party, but that's not where he needs it. I wish big-L Libertarians would decide whether they want the LP to be a serious political entity or the AV club, you know? If it's just going to be a debating society, fine, pick the most ideologically pure guy. If it's intended to actually make an impact on the American political scene, for Crom's sake try to pick somebody who doesn't look like a flaming nutcase. Politics is a game of reality. If you don't want to get involved with that, you don't have to, but don't screw things up for folks who do.

  14. Most of the article did not sway me. I detected a partisan slant in favor of Russo and anti Badnarik. Russo's 'nut case' bona fides go beyond "bluster and boisterousness". I was attracted to his plans to get attention for the LP but absolutely did not want him as my spokesman when that attention came. As far as Badnarik not paying tax or getting a license, that's more than fine by me. Taking principled action at personal risk only makes him a better representative in my eyes. The UN and prisoner stuff, is genuinely troubling. But at least he had the good sense to soft peddle his goofy side (in stark contrast to Russo). I met Michael at the MI LP convention and watched the CSPAN coverage of Atlanta. I like what he said much more than Nolan or Russo. And he definitely worked harder with less when he came to Lansing.

    The only thing in Bradford's article that sent shivers down my spine was his concluding thought:
    "The delegates may have voted for a radical constitutionalist, but what they got was a clone of Gary Nolan and Harry Browne."

  15. Jesse,
    As someone who puts lines through both my 7's and my z's, and having just completed a highly scientific 90 second google search of "patriot movement zip codes," I have to say that ZIP code stuff sounds like kooky-talk. But thanks for the info.

    On a not really related note, going back to a thread from yesterday, I wonder if 7 and z crossing would be a good red/blue measure. I was slightly red on that test, but I'm also in academia and maybe its pervasive blue influence has affected my penmanship. Or maybe I'm completely wrong in thinking it would have any blue affiliation.

  16. I wish that R.W. Bradford had asked Badnarik about that whole strapping prisoners to their beds idea in the intereview with him. It sounds like a pretty clear violation of the eighth amendment as well as a recipe for the worst episode of Oz ever.

  17. Seriously, Patrick, you've got a scale problem.

    I used to know some kids whose parents went ballistic every time one of them didn't make the bed right. Once you go nuclear over a bed making infraction, what's the proportionate reaction to finding something exciting in your kid's sock drawer?

    I remember when the infidelity issue popped up during the Hart and Clinton campaigns. Those were potentially real issues for a Presidential candidate in that someone could argue that if a guy's wife can't trust him, we can't trust him either. But driver's licenses and zip codes aren't even a character issue.

    I haven't given the matter much thought; maybe we would be better off without both zip codes and driver?s licenses. But, either way, compared to what Bush has proposed and compared to what Kerry has voted in favor of, Badnarik?s position on the zip code and driver?s license issue is nothing.

  18. I have a problem with the LP nominee?s position. I pay taxes and have a driver?s license. He refused to pay his taxes so his burden falls on the rest of us that pay taxes. No license means no insurance. He causes an accident how does the victim get reimbursed for damages? A law-abiding citizen? He's not. He is an anarchist. Is that what the LP is about?
    The LP nominee, what a shame. /R

  19. J: It's absolutely kooky talk. I just don't know whether Badnarik embraces that particular strain of kookiness or not.

    On the matter of crossing 7's -- I do it too, but I don't think it's a Red/Blue thing. It's just that my handwriting is sufficiently sloppy that someone might mistake an uncrossed 7 for a 1 or a 2.

    Finally: the prisoner proposal is so bizarre that I can't help wondering whether it was a failed attempt at a joke. Has anyone seen the quote in context? I'm really curious what would prompt him to write such a thing.

  20. I met Badnarik last Monday on a campaign stop here in Wilmington, NC. He started off coherently enough, though some of his statements during his speech made me cringe ("The death penalty is best inflicted at 2:00 in the morning when somebody tries to take my wallet"). Afterwards, though, at a dinner with the local party faithful, he became a bit less restrained, allowing himself to be drawn into a long and ridiculous argument about gold-backed currency and stating that he would support the disenfranchisement of recipients of any kind of government aid.

    I'm pretty extremist -- I haven't filed income tax returns in years, I don't have a driver's license, I don't have a bank account, etc. -- but Badnarik was still a bit much for me, and I really, really have a hard time supporting anyone who can seriously advocate reducing the franchise for the first time in American history while claiming to be a Libertarian. It rubs me the wrong way.

  21. "I pay taxes and have a driver?s license. He refused to pay his taxes so his burden falls on the rest of us that pay taxes."

    Okay, so Badnarik's refusal to allow the government to take his income "burdens" you? Gimme a break. So if a thug tried to rob Badnarik and he fought back and the robber relented, you would be upset with him because now the robber might try to steal from someone else?

  22. Rick,

    I don't know the whole story on refusing to pay his taxes, so I can only partially answer to that. "His burden" seems to assume that he in some way took government services that he didn?t pay for. Now, he may have been enjoying national defense, police protection, etc. without paying for it, but then again, he may have paid more in non-income tax, taxes than what those services actually cost as a portion of the budget, and, for all I know, he may be refusing Social Security and Medicare. I know that I pay many times my fair share of the income tax.

    In regards to your question about driving around without insurance, that's actually permissible in many states that require insurance like California. You're supposed to post a bond though. If you don't have insurance, and you don't post a bond, then you have to pay for the damages you cause out of pocket. That's not a big deal. Most insurance policy's coverage is limited to a level that a lot of people can afford out of pocket, so I don't think that's a big issue.

  23. Amazing analogy Matt. The problem I have with it is that I think you are serious.
    Ken we all accept the services of all levels of government, defense, roads, court systems and on and on ad nauseum. Using these services without contributing towards the use is not acceptable to me.
    As for the license well yes, you can post a bond in some states but as in Virginia you need a license to post the bond.
    While these items may not be a "big deal" to you and Matt they are a showstopper when he is running for office. The LP can and should do a lot better. /R

  24. Badnarik does in fact use zip codes. He just puts them before the state (and after the city). It's his small way of saying that the federal government should be subservient to the states, rather than vice versa. This is a best slightly eccentric, not insane.

    As for the driver's license, his main objection is that the state of Texas requires a social security number and finger prints to get one, not just proof of competency and residence like most states. He had a driver's license when he lived in California. He has been pulled over a few times and given citations for driving without a license, and he has either successfully contested the fine in court every time or paid the fine. I don't know if he has auto insurance (or if Texas requires it), but he strongly believes in personal responsibility, so he would definitely pay restitution for any injuries that were his fault.

    And the bed rest thing was actually a sarcastic comment arguing against having weight rooms in the prisons, not really a serious policy proposal. And in any case, he never suggested strapping people to beds, just confining them to their cell with nothing much to do for the first couple months. Hardly a violation of the 8th amendment.

    The tax situation is the only one which may be a real problem for some people. He does genuinely believe that there are several reasons why income taxes are unconstitutional, so he decided to engage in civil disobedience about it. After he won the nomination, he has looked into paying his back taxes, although the campaign staff indicates that there is not much to pay, since he was unemployed for quite a bit of the time that he refused to file.

    So I definitely support his decisions here. He is clearly the only real advocate of liberty in this election, so he has my vote. You can read more about him at

  25. Jesse,

    The quote was so far out of context that it made me laugh for about five minutes when I first read it. It seemed obvious to me that it was an act of cyber-vandalism. He had a list of issues on his page (he still does), and one of them was on the death penalty. All of the issue arguments were perfectly logical with the exception of the infamous prisoner proposition, and it was attached to the end of an already complete argument about the death penalty.

    It was funny because it made you feel like what a lot of people who aren't familiar with Libertarians must feel like when they first hear Libertarians make their arguments. But, of course, the argument was so ridiculous. I had sent some of my friends and family to see it on his site, and whenever anyone read it, they laughed and laughed. Whoever did it obviously had some wit.

    Anyway, I e-mailed the quote to the webmaster and the campaign manager the night H&R announced that he had won the nomination (I posted the prisoner quote in the H&R thread that night as well), and I asked for confirmation that it was an act of cyber-vandalism. They didn't respond, but they took the site down the next day, and when it came back up, the site had changed and the quote was gone.

  26. I'm vaguely reminded of the scene from Bananas where El Lider says everyone must now wear their underwear on the outside. Although, I always did think ZIP codes where part of the UN's plot to intern patriotic Americans and install a world government...

    Presaging this eating of their own, my "interview" with Badnarik might prove of interest.

  27. The ZIP code thing makes no logical sense. It's City FIRST, state SECOND, and fed THIRD, which is the way the pecking order of subservience should be anyway! The post office actually has it right.

  28. Seriously, Patrick, you've got a scale problem.

    Well, maybe I like to play devil's advocate a bit too much. Tell you what: if Badnarik promises to keep his nose out of my bedroom and out of what appears on my radio and television, I'll overlook the ZIP code and driver's license silliness.

  29. I think some of these comments rather miss the point. The cringe factor here isn't based on a sense that the ZIP silliness or tax dodging are somehow worse than the awful policies Bush and Kerry will pursue. It's that since Badnarik's not going to win anyway, the chief point of his candidacy is to draw favorable attention to the LP and libertarian ideas, rather than giving the public one more reason to think that libertarians are cranks. And he seems to fail that test pretty spectacularly.

  30. Julian, the cringe factor is the combination of the Zip Code, Taxes, License and all of the other utter nonsense he is promoting. When I think of his position on these points I cringe and say to myself is this what the LP is promoting? /S

  31. At least his candidacy has educated me on some states requiring fingerprints for licences. That's horrendous, and I had no idea it was going on.

  32. Rick Laredo, that is an interesting point; no license = no insurance. How is the guy who gets into an accident going to be compensated?

    It also illustrates how screwed up the thinking process has become in the world. Not yours, everyone's, we all think like that and it seems normal.

    The fact is that insurance was originally invented as a way of protecting you from guys without assets. Today it is a given that the law should force people to buy insurance to protect other people.

    The concept is an abject failure as well as being absurd. You think not? Then ask yourself why the state forces everyone to buy uninsured motorist protection while at the same time forcing everyone to buy liability insurance.


  33. they should have appointed that batshit crazy blind man i saw on CSPAN. in addition to forever killing libertarianism as a reasonable ideology for friends hanging out in my apartment that day, he further convinced me the LP is a great place for cranks, whackjobs, the terminally bitter and the bitterly depressed.

    "freedom does not mean perversion of the body"

    yes, it does, you jackass.

  34. While we're thinking outside the box here, could we talk about eliminating all traffic signals?

  35. He`s got my vote!He beats the hell outta Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum.

  36. Then you would really want to have insurance Ruthless.

    TWC in VA. a vehicle owner is required to have liability insurance; collision and uninsured motorist are options. Also as mentioned above you can post a bond in lieu of liability insurance, which validates your point that individuals can purchase the minimum insurance required to protect the other party. Sooooooooo, therefore the LP candidate doesn?t give a dam about the party he injures. Does he?

  37. While we're thinking outside the box here, could we talk about eliminating all traffic signals?

    Funniest comment today.

  38. I agree with Julian. With the disaffected Republicans peeling off like Iraqi Army regulars under fire, Libertarians have (or had) possibly the best chance in the entire history of the party to amass a sizeable percentage of the electorate in the 2K4 horse show. They won't win of course, but if they could just get into double-digits with the protest vote (Republocrat and Demopublican) we could begin to see a landscape shift among the electorate and a new sense that this is a legitimate party. With Badnarik's (even jocular) suggestion that we confine new inmates to their cells in order to make them more pliable, and the serious eighth amendment concerns that raises, he does a disservice to a moment full of potential for what is arguably the only party in America that still believes in freedom, the Libertarian Party.

  39. CA DMV requires SSN and prints too.

  40. Has anyone noticed that no one is really surprised to find that the Libertarian Party candidate for president is something of a kook? By the one, my vote for funniest comment today is the suggestion that Badnarik was joking... a libertarian candidate with a sense of humor? Now that's a funny.

    To become an effective political party (the kind that elects official to state and national offices), the Libertarian Party needs to make a conscious decision to dump the ideological Jesuits and run campaigns on broad-based, popular libertarian ideas. Oh, anticipating the usual gnashing of teeth, getting elected as the registrar of will and codicils in East Backwater County is not an indicator of libertarian success.

    Returning to the campaign of broad-based ideas, a real LP would focus on stealing the disaffected voters from both ends of political spectrum. You don't do this by talking about a return to the gold standard. Winning a campaign is not about ideological purity... it's about convincing voters your candidate would make things better.

  41. Julian Sanchez,

    My main concern in choosing a candidate isn't how well he publicizes a view of the Libertarian Party that's palatable for the mainstream. If it was, then I suppose zip codes and driver's licenses would be a big deal to me too.

    But I don't expect the Libertarian Party to rise to power through mainstream acceptance or grass roots effort; I think it more likely that, much like FDR co-opted the Communist Party platform, one of the two major parties will someday co-opt the Libertarian Party platform, and then we'll either be Democrats or Republicans. In the meantime, I don't care whether or not the Libertarian Party is accepted by the mainstream per se.

    I just want to influence policy.

    When someone votes Republican, it's hard to tell whether they did so because they support the Iraq War or because they're against Gay Marriage. Voting for the Democrats, especially this go 'round, doesn't tell policy makers much either. But after this election, if a policy maker sees an increase in the votes for the Libertarian candidate, he's not going to have much trouble figuring out what all those Libertarian voters were trying to say. For that reason, I would discourage anyone from not voting at all rather than supporting Badnarik.

    The President's actions have been disgusting this term, and, because the Democrat's candidate is complicit in the President's disgusting actions, voting for him doesn?t distinguish how you feel about the War or the Patriot Act. Supporting the Libertarian candidate is the most effective means we have to voice our disgust with the War and the Patriot Act, and voicing our disgust is much more important than trying to teach the Libertarian Party a lesson or two about choosing a nominee who doesn't like driver's licenses and zip codes.

  42. Rick, would you also advocate state mandated homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance to ensure that if I fall and hurt myself at your place (after consuming lots of wine) that I could be compensated for your negligence?

    Or don't you give a damn about other people? 🙂

    Or is that somehow different?

    Va may not require uninsured motorist insurance but many states do, including Ca, where something like 23% of all drivers remain uninsured despite mandatory insurance laws and draconian seizure laws (no insurance? we're taking your car).

  43. RandyAyn writes:

    I agree with Julian. With the disaffected Republicans peeling off like Iraqi Army regulars under fire, Libertarians have (or had) possibly the best chance in the entire history of the party to amass a sizeable percentage of the electorate in the 2K4 horse show.

    I'm not a libertarian, but as a matter of political game playing, look at and look how many states are solid Bush or solid Kerry states. A third-party candidate could pull 10% in many of those states -- including NY, CA and TX -- without affecting the outcome of the state race. There is a basis in those states for making a pitch to voters that whomever they support in the Bush/Kerry race, they can best use their vote to send a message. I doubt creepy anti-ZIP guy will be able to do that, but someone could.

  44. Amongst other things, some of us are protesting the [usual list of complaints about Bush]

    So your idea of a "protest" is to vote for someone with insane and repugnant political beliefs and no chance of getting elected? In what way is that intelligent?

    Voting for Badnarik does not help defeat Bush, nor will the Republicans see it as a "protest". In fact it will have no effect on his election chances or strategy at all. Karl Rove isn't going to come running into the Oval Office in a panic, shouting "we've lost the 'people who think Zip Codes are a government plot' vote!".

    The one and only way to help prevent the re-election of George Bush is to vote for somebody who has a shot at earning more electoral votes than him. There is precisely one person who fits that description, and his name is John Kerry.

    The only reason to vote for the Libertarian candidate is if you think he'd make a good President. The Libertarian candidate is a dishonest criminal with totalitarian instincts and little understanding of the Constitution. Maybe that fits your criteria for "good President", but it doesn't fit mine.

  45. "The Libertarian candidate is a dishonest criminal with totalitarian instincts and little understanding of the Constitution. Maybe that fits your criteria for "good President", but it doesn't fit mine."

    Hi Dan. Long time no see. So how's the weather in la la land?

    Could you be a little more specific? I'd like to read more about the "totalitarian instincts" part.

  46. My take on it is that, at least we escaped running a con artist who'd live high off the hog on the campaign donations, instead of using them to campaign. Again. For the third time. Maybe by 2008 the Browne taint will have worked it's way out of the party, and we can run a serious campaign again.

    In the mean time, Barb is a competent campaign director, and for all his negatives, by actually campaiging, Badnarik will probably be able to better the results of the last two disasters.

    Best to just think of him as a place holder while the party recovers from Browne.

  47. Ken Shultz writes "But driver's licenses and zip codes aren't even a character issue."

    No, they're a rationality issue.

    And as far as scale goes, when you consider the serious issues at stake these days, one has to wonder why he even bothers discussing such minutia.

    It'd be like Bush or Kerry making a big deal out of what kind of pizza is served in school lunches on Fridays.

    It also suggests that Badnarik would get into the nano-management style that can really waste taxpayer money and make your life hell.

    Imagine: he takes office, and has all government documents redesigned and reprinted to reposition the zip code...

  48. California does not require uninsured motorist coverage, or at least it didn't ~3 years ago when I moved here and got insured... I distinctly remember having to transcribe by hand a waiver to AIS telling them that I understood that I would not be covered for the liability of other drivers if they did not have insurance.

    I have the legal minimum insurance in CA, which only covers the damage I do to other people and their property.

    Google finds this: Minimum car insurance by state

  49. Kevin Drum's assessment is correct: this nomination will help continue the belief that libertarians are crackpots.

    You nominate some "I am an island" unemployed guy for President? Who makes any issue at all about ZIP codes? I can understand the driver's license issue, and the income tax issue, and all the rest of it.

    But why nominate him for president? Surely there are other candidates who don't have quite all the baggage? It's not a matter of the guy being "wrong" or "right". It's like the Democrats deciding to nominate Abbey Hoffman for their presidential candidate.

  50. Followup.

    Then I went and read Doherty's entertaining description of the convention. And I'm thinking: why on Earth didn't those clowns nominate Russo? It's a question that answers itself.

  51. But I don't expect the Libertarian Party to rise to power through mainstream acceptance or grass roots effort; I think it more likely that, much like FDR co-opted the Communist Party platform, one of the two major parties will someday co-opt the Libertarian Party platform, and then we'll either be Democrats or Republicans.

    Agreed. The way to do that is to become a significant spoiler. And while we can debate the ideal way to become a significant spoiler, I can assure everyone here that talking about zip codes and the gold standard is not the way to do it.

    Also, I think a significant spoiler would do well to go after disaffected people who vote for Democrats as the lesser evil. No, I'm not suggesting we go for the parts of the Democrat base that thinks Norway's social services are a step in the right direction. I'm talking about ordinary people, many of them similar to swing voters, who reluctantly hold their nose and vote for the Democrats because they have decided (yes, I know, wrongly so) that the Democrat is the lesser evil.

    How to do this? Probably by projecting a mainstream image (hint: no blue-skinned tax evaders demanding a gold standard) and talking about policies that, while not pure, would downsize the government and make life better for a lot of people (including people in lower income brackets). Basically, a nice and sensible fiscally conservative/socially liberal image.

    Talk about how to make housing more affordable by rolling back zoning laws.

    Talk about libertarian solutions to health care (hint: probably best not to argue that the FDA has declared war on psychic healing), focusing on ways that modest but real steps could make health care more affordable.

    Talk about the benefits of gun rights without talking about the right to keep and bear tanks (this came up in a thread yesterday). Battered women protecting themselves from abusive exes might be a good way to tackle that issue (my views on gun control changed when my mother got a gun to defend against my extranged and sociopathic father.

    I doubt that such an approach would a Libertarian to the White House, or even US Congress. At least not as long as we elect our officials via first-past-the-post as opposed to approval voting or instant runoff or whatever. But it would build a significant spoiler effect, and yield a discernible 10% of the population that both parties might try to woo by changing their platforms. It would also elect more local officials and probably a small handful of state legislators. In particular, it might elect local officials to offices like city council and county board of supervisors, offices with broader powers than the very narrow purview of a Park Commissioner or Water Resources Board.

  52. Oh, I should also say that going after people who vote for Democrats would be good for other reasons besides the simple fact that it means more votes than when you limit your attention to the conservative base of the LP.

    1) If the LP only spoils the GOP, otherwise sympathetic conservatives will be turned off. Sour grapes? Probably. But the fact remains that otherwise sympathetic people were turned off. Spoiling Democrats might actually help the LP with its conservative base.
    2) If the LP can spoil both parties, it demonstrates that their ideas have support from a variety of sources. The Dems and GOP know that if they go too far in placating the Greens or the Constitution Party they risk losing a lot of moderate swing voters. But if the LP somehow built a package that attracts swing voters, that would make co-opting more attractive to both parties.

    I need to get involved with my local LP chapter once I finish grad school and settle down somewhere.

  53. Don't get myopia y'all - Badnarik isn't "all about the gold standard". He's very much a mainstream Libertarian, as far as those two words can be slung together. Want wacky? Look at Kerry's proposals and Bush's record.

  54. "...I can assure everyone here that talking about zip codes and the gold standard is not the way to do it."

    I agree.

    This may have gotten lost in the static, but what I was reacting to was the suggestion that it would be better not to vote than to vote for Badnarik.

    I don't like the way things are being run, and voting is the best way to register my disapproval. Unfortunately, the major opposition party has chosen to run a candidate who has refused to significantly differentiate himself from the incumbent on two issues that are important to me, the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. If my party, which represents a certain stripe of the swing vote (and judging by the posts on Hit & Run, there are plenty of Libertarians who swing both ways), if my party is to register any impact on policy at all, then I should vote for Badnarik.

    That's because a weak showing for Badnarik isn't going to be interpreted by anyone but Libertarians as a sign that we need our preachers to go mainstream. A weak showing for Badnarik will be interpreted by everyone but Libertarians as a sign that you can start or vote for a preemptive war on false pretenses, and you can ram legislation like the Patriot Act down America's throat, and at the polls, when it counts, none of the voters, not even the Libertarians, will give a damn.

  55. So what if he's a kook? There are writers who have some ideas that we find offensive and even noxious, but on other subjects they might be on to something. Truth is where you find it.

    Besides the proposed eighth amendment violations; Badnarik doesn't really even have any offensive ideas. His policy advocacies are very liberty friendly, as opposed to those of Bush, Flipper and the Green(?) control freak.

  56. In deference to the marketing concerns expressed by some posters, I meant for my comment to start with: "As far as who you're going to vote for; so what if he's a kook?"

  57. I specifically remember Reagan making a big stink about the gold standard in 1980. The idea is no kookier today than then. (And by terms of ideological purity, the government shouldn't be deciding the standard anyway.)

    The LP makes its mistakes not with the kooky ideas, but with the same old problem of groupthink. Being a third party, people are trying to find any possible reason to dismiss it. One kooky idea in a sea of brilliant ones is all it takes, even if the idea itself is sound policy rather than kookiness.

    The LP surrounds itself with itself and insists on people joining it rather than it joining people (I know this basically repeats what Jason said). At this point the LP acts like it cares more about brand recognition than actually serving customers. It insists on standing out from the crowd, and it sure gets exactly that. Like Coke II.

  58. I remember watching the Libertarian Party convention on C-SPAN (1992, I think). They were debating, for the platform, whether private citizens have a Second Amendment right to own nuclear weapons.

    Ever since, whenever asked, I have emphasized that I am registered independent and a "small-l" libertarian.

  59. Could you be a little more specific? I'd like to read more about the "totalitarian instincts" part

    Hm, let's see -- he supports torturing prisoners, issuing illegal orders to Congress, forcible political indoctrination, abrogating treaties, destroying property... that about covers it. Oh, yeah. Add "rewriting history" to the list, since he disappeared those goals from his website and refuses to acknowledge that they were ever there.

    So you think he's a great guy. Congrats on contributing to the 0.5% of the vote the Libertarian Party musters every four years by rounding up the fruitcakes too right-wing to vote for the Communists.

  60. I support Bush's War in Iraq - and yet I'll voter LP and Badnarik in November.

    Noninterventionism is a fine stance if we are hated for it. But in the case of Jihadism, I believe libertarians are merely wishful thinkers: if we adopt "live and let live" - so will they.

    That's naive, ignorant, and false. We are in a civilizational war rooted in religious differences, something unprecedented (unless you count defeated American Indians' ghost dance revivalof the 1890s) for the US.

    I cetainly don't know if Bush has the edge in this war, although I do know, reading Kerry foreign policy advisor Gary Hart's interview recently, Democrats still have no clue.

    9/11 didn't change everything - but it changed a hell of a lot. Libertarians would do well to pick up Graham Allison's "Nuclear Terrorism" in August. It's anti-Bush ammunition. Perhaps by the time of the presidential debates occur we'll see if the Dems are taking security seriously.

  61. I remember watching the Libertarian Party convention on C-SPAN (1992, I think). They were debating, for the platform, whether private citizens have a Second Amendment right to own nuclear weapons.

    When it's a crime to own nukes, only criminals will own them! 🙂

  62. Sigh. Forrests and trees.

    The big picture is that libertarian ideas are dismissed out of hand by 99.99% of the voting public because the come from the mouths of LP kooks every four years.

    I hope this isn't too much of a shock to the LP types, but the problem with libertarians in the mainstream isn't that the base won't mobilize. The base is very, very small and desperate for anything that looks friendly. No, the problem is that no one outside of the base understands the arguments or appreciates the implications even of government programs they like. Making the limited government case takes time, because it is not instinctual.

    So, the first order of business is to convince people of the value to them on some issues. Thoreau is spot on in his thinking here. You can't just say you will eliminate the IRS, much as you might like to. You must sound super reasonable in presenting your case on these issues, because you will be cut no slack by people who don't follow your assumptions.

    The LP in its historical form is the absolutely worst enemy of advancing these ideas precisely becuase they insist on delivering a fiery complete message every time. They are caught up in the quest for the most Hitlerian (in style, not substance) delivery. Browne's rhetorical style epitomizes the problem. He can't function outside of a room full of people who already agree with him, because he SEEKS to shock you with revolutionary ideas. Guess what, Harry? It works. People are shocked, and you sound like a loon.

  63. Full disclosure. I voted for Browne in 2000. I have come to see the LP as the problem since then.

  64. Jason,


    As another Harry Browne supporter in 2000 (and embarrassed since 9/11), I think the messengers and the message delivery mechanism of LP makes them look like loons to most reasonable people.

    Neal Boortz (spoke at the Atlanta LP convention) says they blow it right off the bat with their opener (the 'elevator pitch'). Ask them what they stand for: "elimiate IRS" "legalize drugs" or some such statement will lose the audience.

    Instead, start with "protect property rights", "less government control over people's lives" or something like that, that will get their attention. You can always sell small government, low taxes, lower regulations to a large section of people (that is what Repubs do, no matter what they end up actually doing).

    But, that tactic won't fire up their "base" I guess. Pure, ideological, stupid (may be 'unrealistic' is a better word) people!

  65. Dan:
    "he supports torturing prisoners"

    Oh really? Now Dan, in any of your posts did you ever once see fit to call what happened at the Abu Ghraib prison, "torture"?

  66. There probably wouldn't even be such a thing nuclear weapons if it weren't for governments.

  67. The guy believes in blowing up the UN building. Unbelievable.

    I'm writing in Howard Dean. And it's unlikely that I'll ever vote nationally Libertarian again.

    I'd even vote Bush or Kerry before Badnarik. At least they don't publicly endorse prison torture.

  68. Dan wrote on the subject of Badnarik's alleged totalitarianism: "he supports . . . abrogating treaties"

    So that would also make Bush totalitarian, right? See, e.g., abrogating the ABM treaty, "unsigning" the ICC treaty (which the Senate wouldn't have ratified anyway), etc.

  69. what I understood of the argument (and apparently it seems I understood very little), the idea was that full time professional webloggers would somehow lead us to a "best, next generation of weblogs." The idea being that someone dedicated to weblogging full time would somehow advance the medium. I don't think this is true.

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