Spoiling for a Fight


As an addendum to Matt Welch's post below, if you click through the Badnarik ad on the right side of this page, you'll note that the LP is explicitly playing the "Bush's Nader" strategy, seeking to garner support from Democrats by suggesting that small-government conservatives in swing states who aren't prepared to vote for Kerry might nevertheless be dissuaded from casting a ballot for Bush by a Libertarian alternative. Strikes me as a clever tactic; I'll be interested to see whether it works.

NEXT: Bank Shot

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  1. It may be clever, it won’t be effective. You can be sure of that because it isn’t getting media coverage.

  2. If Kerry wins by less than Badnarik’s total in any state, it will get media coverage. Or if the late polls show that that is about to happen.

  3. clever tactic? as the elite intellectual party, they are certainly very very clever!

    we will see if the LP will get 1% of the total vote with their crazyass “strategies”

  4. Causality’s a tough gig.

    If Badnarik does well, I’ll chalk it up to Bush’s poor performance as President.

  5. I watched the ad a day or two ago (on the web). I understand who they are aiming at, but I thought it was pretty weak. Of course, like most people here, I’m somehow never satisfied by anything the LP does.

    For the record, I successfully voted for Badnarik yesterday. He almost lost my vote when I saw Thomas Jefferson’s name on a touchscreen, but it turned out that that machine was just for practice. Just doing my part to ensure a repeat of 2000.

  6. Even other libertoids don’t know what to do with Reason! Here we have true believers in the LP’s message, but rather than appeal to your readers based on “Vote for libertarianism! Vote your conscience!” they appear to have lumped you into the category of “antiwar conservatives,” and paid to run the same ad they’re running in Buchananite magazines.

  7. Just ignore my previous post. The ad doesn’t assume the reader is an antiwar conservative. It assumes the reader is an antiwar Democrat. I don’t think “let’s help Kerry win a few states!” would be a very good appeal to antiwar conservatives.

    Still, they don’t seem to have tailored their message to Reason readers very well.

  8. Is the Badnarik campaign paying for the ad based on click-throughs? Talk about a clever tactic!

  9. Brown did get more votes than the difference between Gore and Bush in a Gore winning state in 2000: New Mexico. Also, technically Oregon and Wisconsin.

    I can understand under the circumstances that it didn’t get much attention, but I am not sure it was mentioned at all.

    nb – I don’t believe Nader’s votes “belonged” to Gore, nor do I think Brown’s votes “belonged” to Bush.

  10. First: Libertarian presidential campaigns ought to be about growing the party. Has this campaign generated any new members?

    Second: An ad promoting contributions to Badnarik’s campaign as a way to take votes away from Bush, expressly stating “Votes and Dollars for Kerry Won’t Be Enough” is not likely to get support from Reason’s libertarian readership.

    That message ought to be aimed at Democratic contributors, but this ad is not subtle enough to be effective. It ought to be mailed to a liberal or Democratic list (or posted at liberal or Democratic websites), with a plea for a “full and fair hearing in [name of swing state] on Bush’s un-Republican record”. That would convey the message that a contribution to Badnarik will not hurt Kerry, because the efforts will be aimed at the Republican base.

    My bet is that Nader’s solicitations of Republicans are no where near as clumsy as this.

  11. Uh, Peter, I’ve already received a chain e-mail exactly along the lines you suggested. See below:

    With two sentences, John Kerry could win the presidential election. Unfortunately, he won’t say them. Read the two sentences below and the explanation that follows to understand why:

    **** This race isn’t between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party; it’s between the Democratic Party and the Bush Party. Both the Libertarian and Constitution Parties are closer to traditional Republican values than George W. Bush. ****

    Kerry won’t say this because of the long-standing gentlemen’s agreement between Democrats and Republicans to not acknowledge minor party candidates. This cooperation is reflected in such things as the recent bipartisan action by the Oklahoma state legislature to double the number of signatures that minor party presidential candidates needed to qualify for ballot access, which kept *any* minor party from qualifying for the Oklahoma presidential ballot. It’s also reflected by the threat from the Kerry and Bush campaigns that if a court ordered them to admit minor party candidates to this year’s presidential debates, they would cancel the debates instead.

    This gentleman’s agreement has broken down, however, by continuing large-scale media coverage of Ralph Nader — a candidate that all observers generally agree disproportionately hurts John Kerry. According to the LexisNexis All News database, for just the 90-day period of July 10 to October 8, there have been over 3000 news stories mentioning Ralph Nader. Yet Nader will be on only about 38 state ballots.

    On the other hand, Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, who will be on the ballot in 48 states, has only been mentioned in 320 news stories. And Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party, who will be on 37 state ballots (just one fewer than Nader) has only been mentioned in 94 news stories.

    Although their platforms differ on social issues, both the Libertarian and Constitution Parties draw their support from disaffected Republicans who are disgusted by Bush’s support for war mongering, corporate welfare and big government. Badnarik and Peroutka are both running spoiler campaigns aimed at unseating Bush. (You can listen to a Badnarik ad attacking Bush here: http://badnarik.org/Multimedia/BadnarikConservative_national.mp3 ). Unfortunately, they can’t get their message out because of what effectively amounts to a media embargo. Indeed, national polls don’t even mention their names and on the rare occasion when they are referred to in the media, there is usually no effort made to identify what their platforms are.

    John Kerry could change that in an instant by just speaking those sentences above in each stump speech he gives. And best of all, besides instantly boosting the prominence of the Libertarian and Constitution Parties, it will put Bush on the defensive with his own base! Bush will be forced to spend time explaining why he *is* a real Republican (which he isn’t). Every second Bush has to spend justifying his indefensible policies is a second in John Kerry’s favor.

    But right now, Kerry won’t say those sentences. He would prefer to lose rather than acknowledge the existence of minor parties. He still believes the gentlemen’s agreement holds, even though Republicans actively campaigned to get Nader onto ballots in swing states and Fox News has averaged a reference to Nader every other day since Labor Day. (By comparison, Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly has prohibited guests on his show from even mentioning Michael Badnarik’s name! — http://badnarik.org/supporters/blog/2004/08/27/youre-out-strike-three-for-oreilly/ )

    Yet *you* can change that. Please pass this e-mail along to anybody you know who wants George W. Bush out of the White House. The Kerry campaign won’t change its strategy without pressure from its supporters.

    To learn more about the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party, please visit both the party websites and the websites for their presidential candidates:

    http://www.lp.org and http://www.badnarik.org

    http://www.constitutionparty.com and http://www.peroutka2004.com/

  12. It’s running @ Instapundit and Politics1.com as well.


  13. SR —

    The chain e-mail you quote is (1) far from “exactly along the lines [I] suggested”, and (2) is from neither the Michael Badnarik campaign nor the Libertarian Party.

    Why would either MB or the LP promote the Constitution Party?

    And how many people with actual incomes would take the time to read an unsolicited chain email of any length, let alone that one?

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