…But I Play One on Tee-Vee

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In these three posts at the Harvard Federalist Society blog, Dan Alban pokes into the CV of Libertarian VP candidate "Dr." Richard Campagna and notes that the Ph.D. that justifies that "Dr." comes from a diploma mill, The American College of Metaphysical Theology. Assuming their pricing scheme hasn't changed, he would've paid $249 for the honor. Since this gives us yet another reason to ask that age-old question—"why can't the LP manage not to be a joke for the duration of a campaign"—I offer Glen Whitman's public choice analysis.

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  1. The more important question is why people are still attaching significance to the title.

  2. If crap rises to the top of the Democratic and Republican parties, why do Libertarians think their organization is going to be any different?

  3. Virginia Postrel for President!

  4. Virginia Postrel for President!

  5. I also think the second choice is the more accurate one. For many libertarians, it’s more about lifestyle than acheiving political goals. Just as there can be comfort in the herd for those in the majority, there can also be comfort in defining one’s self as being in opposition to the herd.
    Take a look at the other libertarian publication, Liberty, for examples of this in practice.
    The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many libertarians treat the party as a debating society, not a political party.
    As my astute father pointed out, the LP as it stands now is nothing but a scam to sell books.

  6. Was Campanga also in the “Skull and Bones” honorary secret society offered by Ron Popell for the introductory offer of $19.95
    He still beats the hell outta Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum.

  7. Argh!!!!

    I’m going to have a tough time deciding between a protest vote for the LP vs. writing somebody in. (Bush and Kerry are not options for me, and since I don’t live in a swing state it doesn’t really matter anyway.)

    Why, oh why, do they have to nominate these jokers?

  8. And another thing…

    Kookiness is so common that everybody is one. Kerry, Bush, Ashcroft, Clinton… every single person is a kook in some way. It is even more stupid to hold the LP to a standard that no human can possibly meet. Taking a few incidents of a person’s past to prove the kookiness is shooting fish in a barrel.

    The worry about how “kooky” the LP candidate looks is a stupid waste of time because it’s built in. Every LP candidate is going to be considered a kook because they’re in a “third” party, all of which are presented as “the silly party” by everyone else. The GOP presents the Dems as kooks and vice versa, critical mass softens the blow.

    Stick to picking a candidate that can get votes from within and (at this size of the LP) from without the party. Show a pattern of growth and the kookiness will eventually be just as much a positive as a negative. Pick the best public speaker and sacrifice a little purity. The candidate will eventually fall in line with the party anyway.

  9. I suggest a coup d’tat where the reasonable people on this forum storm the silly walls of the LP and nominate an articulate, well-funded moderate candidate… perhaps even one with (gasp!) a sense of humor. It would easy enough to do, I think. If we encounter any resistance, we can simply mention the gold standard or some obscure quote by Ayn Rand and rush through the breach while the party faithful are distracted.

  10. Jose-

    I’m all for it, but how do we get the people on this forum to agree on who that articulate moderate should be? 🙂

    I think that once I’ve made some money I’m going to put my ideas into action by holding some contests: I’ll make the maximum allowable donation to a handful of moderate, articulate, organized, and polished candidates. I’ll encourage candidates to send a package that includes sample pamphlets and campaign materials, a DVD of the candidate giving statements of various lengths on key issues (ranging from sound bites to stump speeches), sample press releases, letters of endorsement from respected members of the community, etc. Oh, and of course a link to their web site, so I can comb through it in search of loony material.

    I realize that not all LP candidates could produce a polished package like that. That’s sort of the point. By holding out this carrot one might encourage candidates to develop better campaigns. I’ll target candidates running strategies that I prefer, e.g. announce a prize for the state legislative candidate who has the best chance of spoiling a Democrat incumbent (a pet cause of mine is to find ways to pitch libertarian ideas to people who vote for Democrats). Or a prize for the most articulate LP candidate for county supervisor, to start electing people to higher local offices instead of things like the Water Utility District or the Parks and Recreation Commission.

    Anyway, I guess I have no right to complain until I spend some time in the trenches or put my money where my mouth is to try and fix the problem.

  11. Do the name RON PAUL ring a bell?

  12. Unless Campana is lying, he has three degrees from legit schools with solid reputations.

    So that raises two questions:

    Given Campana’s real accomplishments, why does he feel the need to add the apparently dubious doctorate?

    And why does Alban focus on the doctorate and where it came from instead of the other degrees?

  13. Whoops, that should be four legit degrees.

  14. Presumably because it’s not very interesting that a candidate would have one or more legitimate degrees. Most of them do.

  15. I find it inexcusable for a political party that wants to take itself seriously to stupidly allow the VP candidate to list this degree on his bio. It didn’t even take much research to find out that the institute “awarding” the degree is a joke – just look at the name (The American College of Metaphysical Theology).

    I admit that I am a small-L libertarian who wants very much to vote for the LP because it has the best ideas. But crap like this just overshadows these ideas, and a party struggling for recognition as not just a bunch of extremists doesn’t need this.

    Campagna should have left this off his bio and not referred to himself with a doctorate title if he wants the LP to be taken seriously. This is just flat-out stupid.

  16. Charles,

    It appears that his degrees from Brown and Columbia are legit. I also have found no reason to question the other two degrees.

    As Julian points out, there’s no story in the legit degrees. What would I write about them?

    As for why I focus on his doctorate…because he calls himself “Dr. Campagna” in his bio (first sentence: “Dr. Campagna is a multi-disciplinary professional who has a long and distinguished record in public and community service.”) and because it sticks out like a sore thumb among other degrees from perfectly credible institutions.

  17. Thoreau,

    And I’ll join you in sponsoring someone sane to run… although taking over the LP does have a certain appeal. JJB makes a good point. The purpose of a political party is to get candidates elected. Public policy is generally made by the winners of elections. The way to win elections is to present an articulate, reasonable, “nice” candidate with whom the voters identify. Find some moderate libertarian ideas with broad appeal and use them in stump speeches. Steal disaffected conservatives on issues like reducing the size of government, reducing regulations and simplifying taxes. Steal disaffected liberals on issues like gay marriage, medical marijuana, treatment over punishment for drugs. Find some unifying themse for the message and spend money like a drunken sailor on the campaign.

  18. $249 seems like a lot to pay for a bogus title. Can’t you still become a Reverand for a measely buck from the Church of Universal Life?? I wonder if Campagna is a very good shopper.

  19. I think the worst thing here is that he paid so much for the phony degree. It used to be you could be a Reverend for about 10 bucks — I don’t know what the going rate for a phony Ph.D. is but $249 sounds like extravagent spending to me.

  20. I dunno. From what I read in these parts, he sounds like a candidate who fits in. Fight the power, man. Screw school. It’s just the establishment keeping you down. Draw your own diploma. It’s a free country, right? LP – the only party that is fit to govern.

    Of course when the GAO picks up a few hundred gubmint employees who lied their way into jobs with similar methods (something those of us who are non-Rothbardian non-anarchists call “fraud”) we are all over it as the worst thing to happen, ever, and proof of the government’s fundamental incompetence, and unfitness to govern.

    Is it just me, or does anybody else see a jot of irony in this?

  21. I have received a lengthy response from Ed Noyes, Richard Campagna’s campaign manager that I will post (at least in part) and respond to on Ex Parte. Here’s an amusing excerpt:

    >For the record, the
    > ACMT degree requires reading of approximately >20 full length books,
    >preparation of a detailed annotated resume and >the preparation of a
    >substantial essay, similar to, although >obviously less rigorous than a
    >traditional Ph.D. thesis.

    Wow. He had to read nearly twenty (20) FULL
    LENGTH books, plus he had to write a SUBSTANTIAL essay and come up with a DETAILED ANNOTATED resume. And I thought 5th grade was hard…

    I have requested a copy of said “substantial essay.”

  22. $249 seems like a lot to pay for a bogus title. Can’t you still become a Reverand for a measely buck from the Church of Universal Life?? I wonder if Campagna is a very good shopper.

  23. This is just now being noticed?

    not-so wonderful

    Guess there weren’t any blue Druids to run.

  24. Jose-

    When I have the money to pursue this project I’ll look for partners to expand the amount spent or the number of candidates funded.

    My priorities would be:
    1) Keep electing as many people as possible to lower and/or single-issue local offices (school board, water utility district, etc.). Yeah, the discretion is limited but creative libertarian elected officials will be able to find ways to cut costs and redtape. And it serves as a farm team to identify people with a future in politics.

    2) Higher local offices (city council, mayor, county board of supervisors): Identify the good people and elect them to offices with broader purviews. Start enacting more serious reforms.

    3) The handful of winnable state legislative seats: Although such seats are rare, I’d venture that a dozen or so around the US would probably be winnable with the right libertarian campaign. Of course, it would take a very good candidate and a polished, well-funded campaign. Probably somebody who served in local office.

    4) Creative use of the spoiler effect in races that aren’t winnable but are expected to be competitive: Run spoilers to put a scare into BOTH parties. Get some clout AND some positive publicity. Find ways to peel off Democratic voters and swing voters. Hint: A campaign based on gun rights and left-bashing won’t do it. A campaign that combines the best of the ACLU’s stances with the type of economic issues pursued by the Institute for Justice just might. (IJ takes a lot of cases on behalf of small businesses in urban areas, especially with minority owners.)

    5) Selected state and local ballot measures. Particularly ballot measures that would appeal to Democrats and swing voters. Probably not the shock-value material like wholesale legalization of heroin and abolition of all taxes, but more moderate yet significant steps.

    So, when I have the means to do it, I’m going to put money into a competition for the best libertarian candidates/campaigns in each category. Small donations of seed money to water district candidates, and larger donations to strong candidates for higher offices and promising ballot measures. I could never run a good campaign myself, but I should be able to at least identify and fund some good ones. Especially if I am able to attract other moderate and sane libertarians.

  25. Speaking of strategies, does anyone have an opinion about the Republican Liberty Caucus? With apologies to our left-libertarian friends, I’ve always thought there were enough libertarians in the Republican Party to at least somewhat affect the party’s policies. Especially after Bush, who has thrown small government and a few too many civil liberties to the wind. If the RLC or something like it could get big enough to have a voice, then we might see some of that party “catering” going to more libertarian interests. Not to mention that more libertarians could actually get into office (ala Ron Paul). Even if anything resembling a “true” libertarian is rare in the GOP, that small percentage probably is quite a bit larger than the Libertarian Party.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a splitter. Just call me the Popular Front of Judaea.

  26. As someone who has always been a “small l” libertarian trying to work within the Republican party for several years, and who is finally fed up enough with the direction of the Republican party to burn my bridges and say “what the hell, we won’t win, but I’ll go where my heart is and become active in the LP” I find this to be one of the more encouraging discussions of these issues I’ve seen among Libertarians in quite some time. Keep this discussion going!

  27. oh, and for Pro Libertate, I once had high hopes for the RLC as well, but the bottom line is I’m really fed up with apologizing for a party that seems to have completely abandoned the principles that led me to become active with it in the first place, and that now seems to represent an intolerance and authoritanian outlook that seems to grow increasingly hostile to the notion of a free society, of letting people live their lives without excessive government intrusion, of moving toward less state intrusion in any area of life….tell me, how hard to you have to squint to see “free minds and free markets” as a truly viable force anywhere in the Republican party these days? Yes, I know, the Democrats are just as bad, maybe marginally worse in some areas and marginally better than others. However, i just don’t think one can any longer make the case that either of them is less detrimental overall to the cause of liberty than the other. The logic I used to use that “well, at least they are the lesser of the two evils” just doesn’t seem to apply any more.

  28. …and to any English Grammar teachers unfortunate enough to read my posts, yes, I know….long, unwieldy sentences are bad (with apologies to Mr. Mackey lol)…but I’ve really been needing to get that off my chest.

  29. Darren-

    I think a strategy of external pressure from the LP could be quite compatible with working inside the system. My post above basically suggested 3 things:

    1) Get as many people as possible into local offices and a handful of state offices so there are real, live libertarians working inside the system. People without the baggage of the GOP. People who can implement solutions and act as examples.
    2) In races where the LP can’t win, at least try to act as a significant and targeted spoiler. Recently a state chapter of the LP (in either WA or OR, can’t recall which) announced that any GOP legislator voting for a tax increase would face an LP spoiler. Any GOP legislator voting against it would face no LP opposition. Similar strategies might be used for other issues and also be used against Democrats. The goal is to make the GOP pay attention to small-government voters the same way that it pays attention to religious fundamentalists.
    3) If we can’t implement the entire platform, at least cherry-pick popular issues and run ballot measures.

    Make both parties feel some external pressure. Show them that there is a credible threat of losing votes when they support too much big government. Groom candidates in local office so that they gain attention and name recognition to enhance their spoiler run. Use ballot measures to implement small-government measures that the establishment politicians think are impossible.

  30. …ok, I’m done now…I feel much better 🙂

  31. and to someone who said, to the effect of “so what, people are going to think whoever is nominated is a kook anyway because it’s a third party” my point is that boneheaded actions by candidates become the story instead of the ideas being debated…if someone thinks a candidate is kooky because of their platform or position on issues, well, fine….but I know people who like a candidates policies don’t want to have to defend them for “not ready for prime time” conduct and decisions.

  32. “the institute “awarding” the degree is a joke”

    But they have a really convincing argument for why the fact that they’re not accredited isn’t important – because accreditation is completely voluntary, and because the Consitution gives them the right to teach theology to others.
    If he picked up that kind of fine logic at ACMT, the LP should just hitch their wagon to the good doctor’s star and enjoy the wild ride.

  33. I dream of a day when all the major parties will be “libertarian” 🙂 I actually joined the RLC to see what is going on there, but I get the impression they’re retooling. Their discussion group sounds quite a bit like the LP one I’m on locally, I note for the record. That’s not entirely a good thing.

    Maybe what the LP needs is a platform of more mainstream libertarianism. State the principles and goals, sure, but focus more on what tangible steps we’ll take to get there. Honestly, if the LP just banged a flat tax drum, advocated open government, and promoted the protection of basic civil liberties, they’d probably get up to the 5-10% in elections–enough perhaps to start participating in debates and to get more media attention. Maybe more, if a good presidential candidate could be located. The main parties have room in their tents for a lot of viewpoints–I don’t suggest the LP should be any different–but the time to act to stop the growth of government power and tyranny is now. The LP is simply too often on the fringe culturally as well as politically to be effective. The LP’s problems always strike me as a little odd when contrasted with the clout that the Cato Institute has, which is clearly libertarian in outlook.

  34. By the way, I agree with a local/state strategy. If you’ve been a mayor or state legislator, it’s easier to crawl up the political ladder to governor or congressman. And so on.

  35. The only way Libertarian ideas are ever going to make inroads into power are if they are A) adopted by Republicans, or B) come in the form of a third party other than the Libertarians. Libertarians have spent too many years marginalizing themselves, and have filled their ranks with too many unrealistic people who keep shooting themselves in the foot by insisting on goofy things like disbanding the military, getting rid of the police, and privatizing all the roads. Economic merits aside, anyone over the age of ten should know that proposals like this do nothing but cause others to laugh at you.

    But I do believe there is room for a moderate small-L libertarian party. Take the fiscal conservatism from the right, the social liberalism of the left, and mix it together. Reassure people by supporting a strong defense, and approach issues like drug legalization carefully and reasonably. Throw in some regulatory reform, education reform, and emphasize a strict hands-off policy between the state and religion.

    Be a practical party with real common-sense policies that can be implemented now. Use strong party discipline to keep the yammerheads from spouting off about how ultimately they want no government at all.

    And get someone popular and charismatic to lead it. Preferably, someone with lots of money, and enough name recognition to generate tons of free publicity. Say, Arnold Schwarzennegger. He’s damned near a Libertarian anyway. People forget that he introducted the 1990 version of Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” with a Libertarian argument, and that he counts Friedman and Hayek as two of his strongest influences. He’s your man.

    Can a new party get elected? Probably not. But it could do well enough to get into the debates, and maybe pick up 20% of the vote. That would give it serious clout in the next election cycle.

  36. Fyodor,

    He actually got a deal compared to the $495 he could have paid for a degree from Northwestern International University, another diploma mill run by the same guy, “Dr. Jay Wise.”

    http://www.universitydegree.com/

  37. The little “l” libertarians who think its time to for some “w’s” and so on.

    I agree with Thoreau that a party needs a solid farm team system where good candidates can learn how to win elections. I also agree with PL. A party needs an easy to understand platform of broadly libertarian ideas like the flat tax (or tax simplification, the “post card” income tax system.) I also think there is tremendous potential for building a party on tolerance. The two major parties are amazingly intolerant, of different things, of course.

    There is a fundamental American respect for the concept of “stay off of my back and I’ll stay off of yours.” Spin this into a platform and one could siphon enough voters to make some mischief. Isn’t that the point of politics?

  38. So if the lp wins, does Papa Smurf get a cabinet post?

  39. So, all of you with advice on how the LP can nominate and run serious, credible, moderate candidates: what do you know about, and what have you done to support, for example, the candidacy of Judge Jim Gray for US Senate in California? Did you know that a recent Rasmussen poll showed an 8% voter preference for Gray, and that he needs only 10% to qualify for the League of Women Voters’s debates (which start in August)? That 68% of voters believe Gray should be in the debates, regardless?

    What can you do to put the Judge over the top and into the debates? Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to take some action in a race that features the kind of LP campaign and the kind of candidate you castigate the LP for NOT running? Or would you rather just poke fun?

    Believe me, if Gray makes ANY noteworthy headway against Senator Babs this year, he will light the way for future LP campaigns. You can make it happen. Put your effort and resources where your mouth is.

    http://www.judgegray2004.com/

  40. Well, a week ago I responded to Gray’s request with a message to the LWV saying I’ll only watch the debates if he’s in it. And I’ve already donated to Gray’s campaign. If he had a campaign office or event in my area I’d volunteer.

  41. Bunny L says, “We?re talking about a man who felt all torn up inside without ‘Dr.’ before his name”

    Can you substantiate that? I’m serious. You may very well be right, but at the moment it is gossip. Let’s get educated, whether the news is good or bad — not persist in know-nothingness.

    D Anghelone presumes to lecture: “It’s a market, Jim.” Well, duh. So, if this is a market of ideas, let’s discuss the IDEAS. My point is that we can tweak (and cwi-tweak 🙂 the packaging and presentation all we want, but of course the public and mainstream media will do that far more effectively than people on this blog will ever do. My objection is not that I find the kind of comments I read here out in the public arena — that’s what I expect from long experience — but rather that I find only or primarily that kind of comment here, where we SAY we care about the substance at least as much as, if not more than, the packaging.

    Said another way, are Badnarik & Campagna possibly the Clay Aiken of American politics: Initially appearing geeky and awkward, but with the right stuff inside to be able to profit from a well-intended makeover and our continued support as fans of liberty? Or are they tone-deaf and talentless (albeit perhaps with a lot of heart, ala William Hung)? Are they just bad and embarrassing, as the comments here might lead a newcomer to believe?

    You see what I am getting at here? In this forum, I expect to find people who look beneath the sizzle (or fizzle) to appraise whatever steak may be in the package. (And I must admit that I say this not out of blind faith, but out of long familiarity with Reason and with the product of many contributors to this website.) It’s not a question of religion, but rather one of discernment. Once you’ve determined that someone is a stuffed shirt, knock ’em around like a scarecrow, be my guest and I will join you. But until you have done that, or if you determine that there is something worthwhile beneath the exterior, then why would you want to ridicule at the surface level and risk missing something valuable? That’s why threads like this one are so mystifying to me: “so and so has flaws, so let’s bitch and snicker and wait for next time.”

    I have news for you. Everyone has flaws — flaws that an unkind press or public can turn into hideous liabilities if they have a mind to do so. Remember Gerald Ford, perhaps one of our more coordinated and athletic presidents? He’s now known forever as a stumbling bumbler because of a minor incident that Chevy Chase turned into a comic trademark. It’s like driving on the highway: the highway patrol can always find a reason to pull you over; they just don’t get around to everyone every day.

    Understanding this, it would then seem to me that true supporters of liberty would want to understand a liberty candidate’s vulnerabilities, in order to be able to downplay them or even turn them to the candidate’s advantage if possible. But most importantly, they would also need to understand if the candidate were truly and competently a liberty candidate, to decide whether the protective measures were worth the effort.

    It is the lack of examination on this second score that puzzles and disappoints me most about this and similar threads. It’s why I have a hard time taking anyone seriously people who claim to be fans of liberty or to know how to get there. Show me.

  42. Bunny L says, “We?re talking about a man who felt all torn up inside without ‘Dr.’ before his name”

    Can you substantiate that? I’m serious. You may very well be right, but at the moment it is gossip. Let’s get educated, whether the news is good or bad — not persist in know-nothingness.

    D Anghelone presumes to lecture: “It’s a market, Jim.” Well, duh. So, if this is a market of ideas, let’s discuss the IDEAS. My point is that we can tweak (and cwi-tweak 🙂 the packaging and presentation all we want, but of course the public and mainstream media will do that far more effectively than people on this blog will ever do. My objection is not that I find the kind of comments I read here out in the public arena — that’s what I expect from long experience — but rather that I find only or primarily that kind of comment here, where we SAY we care about the substance at least as much as, if not more than, the packaging.

    Said another way, are Badnarik & Campagna possibly the Clay Aiken of American politics: Initially appearing geeky and awkward, but with the right stuff inside to be able to profit from a well-intended makeover and our continued support as fans of liberty? Or are they tone-deaf and talentless (albeit perhaps with a lot of heart, ala William Hung)? Are they just bad and embarrassing, as the comments here might lead a newcomer to believe?

    You see what I am getting at here? In this forum, I expect to find people who look beneath the sizzle (or fizzle) to appraise whatever steak may be in the package. (And I must admit that I say this not out of blind faith, but out of long familiarity with Reason and with the product of many contributors to this website.) It’s not a question of religion, but rather one of discernment. Once you’ve determined that someone is a stuffed shirt, knock ’em around like a scarecrow, be my guest and I will join you. But until you have done that, or if you determine that there is something worthwhile beneath the exterior, then why would you want to ridicule at the surface level and risk missing something valuable? That’s why threads like this one are so mystifying to me: “so and so has flaws, so let’s bitch and snicker and wait for next time.”

    I have news for you. Everyone has flaws — flaws that an unkind press or public can turn into hideous liabilities if they have a mind to do so. Remember Gerald Ford, perhaps one of our more coordinated and athletic presidents? He’s now known forever as a stumbling bumbler because of a minor incident that Chevy Chase turned into a comic trademark. It’s like driving on the highway: the highway patrol can always find a reason to pull you over; they just don’t get around to everyone every day.

    Understanding this, it would then seem to me that true supporters of liberty would want to understand a liberty candidate’s vulnerabilities, in order to be able to downplay them or even turn them to the candidate’s advantage if possible. But most importantly, they would also need to understand if the candidate were truly and competently a liberty candidate, to decide whether the protective measures were worth the effort.

    It is the lack of examination on this second score that puzzles and disappoints me most about this and similar threads. It’s why I have a hard time taking anyone seriously people who claim to be fans of liberty or to know how to get there. Show me.

  43. Good for you thoreau. Now, what about the rest of you people? Thoreau is in California, I believe, but if any of you out-of-state folks really believe that the LP should concentrate more widespread resources on races with credible candidates, perhaps even you might check with the Judge to see what you can do to help. (BTW, thoreau, I also wrote the LWV as soon as I heard about the debate lockout situation. No response so far. I read in Gray’s newsletter that the LWV responded to news of the poll by calling it a “push poll.” They said only regular, non-commissioned poll results counted for their purposes. It’s still an uphill fight…)

    It might interest some here to know that it is the California LP that is attempting to run a truly credible candidate (Judge Gray) in an important race. That’s right: The same state party that ran the Blue Druid against Gray Davis a couple of years ago. So you see, there IS a sincere attempt to get serious, even among those who were formerly the poster children for (popularly perceived) LP wackiness.

    Were Clinton’s sexual escapades in the Oval Office more or less shameful than the Blue Druid spitting on a talk show host, or than a VP candidate who — in addition to having several legitimate degrees — likes to affect the title of “Dr.” on the basis of a diploma-mill Ph.D.? Yet, regardless of his trespasses and transgressions, Clinton is a bright man with keen political insight. My distaste at his behavior does not prevent me from listening to what he has to say, or gleaning whatever wisdom I can from it. Come to think of it, the Druid had some interesting and worthwhile things to say, too. As does the LP’s current VP nominee (not to mention the current Presidential nominee — http://www.badnarik.org). Does anybody care to talk about these candidates’ philosophies or positions on public policy? I expect glib, superficially informed dismissivness from the major media (especially when third-parties and their candidates are the topic), but here at the Reason website, I hope to find people — authors and commenters alike — who know what they are talking about and who toss some substantial analysis and criticism in with their flip one-liners.

    Honestly, I have run into altogether too many Superintendents of Schools who called themselves “Doctor” on the basis of an Ed.D., yet who could barely speak, write, or spell. They probably paid “good schools” a lot of real money for those degrees, but ended up with pieces of paper that may have even been worth less than the value we’re ascribing to Campagna’s Ph.D. I learned very early on not to be very impressed (or disappointed) with someone’s degrees. What is the breadth and depth of their knowledge? What is the quality of their thought processes? Which interesting ideas do they cherish and profess? When you find someone who impresses by virtue of the answers to those questions, that person’s embarrassing quirks or affections quickly mellow into charming (or, at least, ignorable) eccentricities. How does the VP candidate rate on THAT score?

  44. We?re talking about a man who felt all torn up inside without ?Dr.? before his name, so stop describing Campagna as if he purchased his fake Ph.D. as a conscious statement against the triviality of degree programs. I find it insulting that Campagna has the ?quality of thought process? which would lead him to believe that libertarians need to be fooled by a fraudulent degree, would be fooled by a fraudulent degree, and are stupid enough to buy his truly asinine explanation now posted on Ex Parte. Oh thank you, LP ? ye fountain o? comic relief.

  45. J. Merritt,

    It’s a market, Jim. There is a market for ideas as there is for all else. Religious figures can attract with their alleged purity but we are not selling religion. Well, OK, many of us are but we shouldn’t be.

    It’s a market and not Mecca. You (LP) cannot command people to face your way so you must attract their attention and in a favorable way. You cannot command people to make the pilgrimage so you must induce them to come.

    A longstanding libertarian problem has been the preaching of markets and the practicing of religion.

  46. No, you show ME. Give me a reason why I should vote for a politically impotent candidate whose ?surface flaw? consists of discarding libertarian values of honesty and respect for intelligence, and when asked, insists on perpetuating a lie. The difference between someone like Clinton and a member of the LP is that there is absolutely no incentive to vote for a third-party candidate unless he demonstrates that he can be trusted to publicly represent that party?s ideals. The LP will continue to be a laughingstock to little-L libertarians until it runs a candidate who is just that much more excellent so that he can at least convince the choir that he believes in his own message. The truly ambitious might even run a Ron Paul to draw a few outsiders in.

  47. Given that the LP is small, there were a dearth of individuals able and willing to drop out of life for a year, incur great personal expense, expose themselves to great scrutiny, and work like crazy for virtually no chance of success. That’s why someone like Campagna ends up winning the nomination; virtually no one at the convention thought much of him, but he was willing to do it and was relatively better than the others who offered themselves.

    Furthermore, because the LP is small and has little power to effect candidates’ political careers for ill or for good, candidates are almost always in position to have significant internal power on their campaigns. That’s why, once they are nominated, candidates’ flaws aren’t well-covered. There are insufficient incentives (or disincentives) at play for a candidate like Campagna to have to listen to anyone within the LP with regard to what he insists on saying or doing.

    These problems of candidate quality are essentially economic problems that are simply inherent in small political organizations. Democratic or Republican candidates are often every bit as personally flawed as Libertarian candidates, yet they are better presented thanks to the massive investments made in their campaigns by vested interests. These investments are only made because the Democratic and Republican parties are large and can promise a reasonable chance of victory, i.e., profit.

    This is why voters are so often confronted with a choice between media-savvy Republican or Democratic candidates and a Libertarian with a much less professional campaign and very visible personal flaws. But it’s also why any philosophical (“small-l”) libertarian who votes for an unprincipled but media-savvy Republican or Democratic candidate over a visibly flawed Libertarian should be counted as a victim of propaganda — and ultimately, just another supporter of the machine.

    I got off my chair and tried being involved with the LP this year, and the “kook” factor turned out far below what I expected. In all honesty, it’s near zero; the people in the Chicago, Illinois, and national party organizations that I’ve met are almost uniformly impressive. But the “kook” image will only vanish with further growth. Until the LP is large enough to generate the internal incentives and competition necessary for its candidates to lose power relative to its campaign management, it will be unable to control media perceptions in the way that the major parties do.

    So, at last, here’s the sappy payoff line: if you’d like there to be better LP candidates, getting involved (even with no intention of running yourself) will help, because it will increase the organizational pressures on candidates. However, yelling at LP candidates from your armchair — secure in the knowledge that they are far more kooky than you are — will not help.

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