Third Parties

Party Picking Time in Georgia

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The latest step in Bob Barr's political evolution: He has become a life member of the Libertarian Party and is joining its national committee.

Yes, that's the same party that took credit for knocking him out of Congress four years ago. Times change!

Elsewhere in Reason: I interviewed Barr here. Jacob Sullum's appreciation of Barr's strong and weak points as of 2002 is here.

Update: The party has now posted a press release making the announcement.

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  1. Somewhere Ron Crickenberger is smiling.

  2. I liked Bob Barr back in the day. Good to have him over to the libertarian side.

    I wonder if he has re-evaluated his stance on the war on drugs.

    I wonder if he does so will he squander whatever political capital he still has left. I would hope that he would increase it. But I don’t know.

  3. Unlike kwais, I always hated the sanctimonious S.O.B. because I have a general revulsion for and huge suspicion of any social conservative.

    Because his so-con views got top billing, I knew nothing of his small government credentials. He’s grown on me over the past few years mainly because of what I’ve read here.

  4. I actually remember seeing him speak at an Objectivist Center event in DC a number of years ago. At the time, I thought it was really weird.

  5. “The latest step in Bob Barr’s political evolution: He has become a life member of the Libertarian Party and is joining its national committee.”

    I think there is a typographic error. The first sentence should read, “The LAST step in Bob Barr’s political evolution….”

  6. Barr was good w/ the Patriot Act, but his social conservatism (including the Drug War) is not good.

  7. Not all of us are ‘perfect’ either. Welcome aboard congressman.

  8. Hey, Borat liked him so how bad can he be?

  9. Speaking of free-thinking former Republicans, does anyone know whatever the hell became of my man Gary Johnson?

  10. Yeah, I came from the same place politically as Bob Barr.

    It would be nice to know that he has arrived at the same place I am now.

  11. Don’t do it, Bob!

    Get a real job, like the rest of us.

    “You are proposing to clean up the whore house but you expect to leave the business intact.”

    (Frank Chodorov)

    Don’t do it.

    Join The Voter’s Boycott.

  12. I second madpad’s emotion. My impression of Bob Barr was as your typical Clinton-hating theocrat during the 1990s. He’s gone up in my estimation a great deal since 9/11.

  13. So Barr’s finished marginalizing himself. Go figure.

  14. But wait a minute — he’s a career politician. This is probably all part of his plan to become the LP’s 2008 Presidential candidate.

    I can’t stomach a Drug Warrior in that position. He hasn’t ever repudiated that, has he? What other anti-liberty positions does he have? I must admit I haven’t followed him in detail, so I don’t know.

    I want to grow the party and elect more candidates, but let’s be careful who we put on the national committee. I’d want to hear him say he was mistaken about the drug war, in a believeable way, and see him be consistent about it for a few years first.

  15. Never. I’ll never turn to the Demopublican side. I’m a Libertarian, like my father before me.

  16. The Objectivist Center event was the opening of their DC office. I thought it was little odd too and I remember a little dissent. In 1940 when Wilkie was seeking the GOP nomination he asked an old party boss to support him. Old Party Boss decline. Wilkie asked OPB if he don’t believe in conversion. OPB replied that if local madam wanted to change her ways he’d welcome her but he wouldn’t ask her to led the choir. I have the same reaction to Barr being the presidential nominee.

  17. Wasn’t Barr on of the house of rep. managers on the Clinton impeachment?

  18. Barr was an Impeachment manager, based on his rule of law values, not theocratic bullshit. Hopefully Niel Boortz taught him a lesson or two in the drug war debate they held a few years ago.

  19. RE: Bob Barr as the LP standard bearer

    If the zebra has changed his stripes, there is plenty of time before 2008 to see if it is only a whitewash job or if it is for real.

    I remain hopefull as I have seen small gov republicans realize thay have been inconsistent and so become libertarian. I know, I know. too often republicans when faced with this problem simply jump on the big government band wagon in the name of fighting the terrorist, commies, or drugs. This is how we tell if they were really small government republicans or just faking it.

  20. Barr brings a truck-load of what we need: credibility.

  21. I can’t say Im too familiar with Bobb Barr, but, something about this frightens me.

  22. Bob Barr?

    Abortion-banning Bob Barr?

    Bob Barr?

    Defense-of-Marriage-Act-writing-and-sponsoring Bob Barr?

    Bob Barr?

    Patriot-Act-writing Bob Barr?

    Bob Barr?

    Drug warrior DARE-endorsing Bob Barr?

    A Libertarian Party BOARD MEMBER?

    Unfriggin-believable.

  23. Wow…just…wow. Guess this is what the Reformista have been wetdreaming about. Unless this man can stand up in front of libertarians and repudiate his former stances I’d be prepared to say this is a death nell for the LP that will serve to drive libertarians from the party. You know they’ll tap him to run in ’08, right? Ahead of longtime libertarians like Steve Kubby. Not a happy moment for me…

  24. Yup, Brian Miller, that one. Just another sign of the LP abandoning all its principles.

  25. Hey, anybody who likes Kazak breast milk cheese is fine by me.

  26. Brian: I agree with your general point, but Bob Barr didn’t write the Patriot Act. He actually put in the “sunset clause” timing parts of it to expire.

    One can be anti-abortion and be a libertarian, look at Ron Paul. However, one cannot be pro-War on Drugs and/or anti-gay and be one, so either he had a huge revelation or the LP is officially headed to the same ash heap that the Reform Party landed in.

  27. It doesnt seem like he’s really principled.
    I’m thinking Doug Stanhope would be a better choice… http://stanhope2008.com/

  28. Brian Miller,

    There’s nothing inherently unlibertarian about banning abortion, or permitting it for that matter. Libertarianism procludes the initiation of force on human beings, and reasonable people can disagree on when a fetus/embryo/zygote becomes a human.

    Also, he later repudiated his support for the Patriot Act. I’d like to see him publicly change some of his other positions, but give the man credit where it’s due and spare him slander when it’s not due.

  29. Of course there’s inherently unlibertarian principles in using big government to regulate women and force them to provide real estate in their own bodies for a fetus.

    It’s accepted that this reality precludes the feds from getting involved — especially when the federal government doesn’t have the purview to regulate reproduction (or even “murder”) in the first place.

    Unless Barr has had a massive change of heart on most of his political stances, this represents a sea change in the LP from a libertarian party to a conservative tax-protestor’s party — and signals a potential exodus of small-l libs from the party (including many people who fall into the “LP reform” effort).

  30. One can be anti-abortion and be a libertarian, look at Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul is a Republican, not a Libertarian (well, except when he wants money from big-L libs).

  31. Already with all the hand ringing?

    So what we have:
    (1) No person can ever change their mind about anything and truly be ‘trusted’.

    (2) All the “good” libertarians sprang as such directly from their mothers’ wombs.

    (3) The party-member-chosen representatives of LP region #4 cannot be trusted in the slightest to have made an honorable decision. No benefit of the doubt to them!!!

    Barr didn’t just come out of nowhere, jumping ship to the LP. He has been making moves for YEARS. Slow, baby steps. Unlike most R/D party chasers, he certainly isn’t changing his affiliation to get elected! hahaha

  32. “I want to grow the party and elect more candidates, but let’s be careful who we put on the national committee. I’d want to hear him say he was mistaken about the drug war, in a believeable way, and see him be consistent about it for a few years first.”

    Welcome to the Libertarian Party. You can have your button as soon as you swear the Loyalty Oath.

    C’mon, folks, while libertarian thought might spark a bit of interest now and again, the Libertarian Party is about as relevant to American politics as, well, Bob Barr.

  33. Barr didn’t just come out of nowhere, jumping ship to the LP. He has been making moves for YEARS.

    It would appear that he’s planning some sort of vanity campaign, using the LP as his chosen instrument, and now folks are scrambling to explain why we shouldn’t be wringing our hands over the ascension of a pro-drug-war, anti-gay, big government, pro-reproductive-regulation, pro-Patriot-Act-voting, racist-organization-coddling Republican to our party’s board.

  34. From what I can tell he’s repudiated his love for the War on Drugs.

  35. If the same Drug Warrior we helped remove from office becomes our standard bearer a few years later, we have lost our soul.

    I know people can change, but don’t bet the farm on it. A lot more people pretend to change when it suits them.

  36. Nigel, please prove links and references!

  37. I mean “provide”.

  38. Barr for Pres? No. As a VP candidate on a ticket with former NM Governor Gary Johnson? Maybe….

    Kevin

  39. Bob Barr knows exactly how the LP feels about the War on Drugs. When the late, great Ron Crickenberger devised the plan to knock him out, he used the drug war and specifically medical marijuana to attack Barr in his own district. The LP ran anti-drug war ads against him and obviously he has meet with LP activists before making this decision and knows exactly how high a priority ending the drug war is with most LP activists…if he hasn’t modified his views a lot on the Drug War and joined the LP anyways, I would be very surprised, especially since he joined the LNC and just didn’t send in $25 for membership which anyone can do.

  40. Bob Barr has said that the Defense of Marriage Act he cosponsored would not ban states from enacting same sex marriage laws. It would just allow other states to refuse to recognize such unions.

    He has also been a strong opponent of the Patriot Act and other Bush initiatives to limit freedom. And he voted Libertarian rather than supporting Bush in 2004.

    I have not seen anything on his website about the war on drugs, or heard any recent statement.

    I would assume he continues to have some views that are more conservative than libertarian, but that just means the rest of us who are libertarians have to promote our viewpoint. He is just one more member after all.

  41. The first libertarian who actually called himself a libertarian i met was from Georgia…

    I think at that time i would be best classified as an apolitical liberal who had the beginnings of an idea that property rights was a good idea…

    and the guys was sort of an asshole blow-hard whom no one could get a word in edgewise.

  42. Boortz?

  43. The problem with Barr back in the day wasn’t simply that he showed up and voted “yea” on bad drug war legislation. Lots of other legislators did the same. What made him special is that, IIRC, he actively pushed for particularly bad legislation.

    I’m inclined to believe that he must have had some sort of “road to Damascus” moment if he’s now on the LNC. At least I hope he has. I mean, I don’t expect him to wear a “Just say yes!” button, but I assume he no longer believes in prohibition.

    Hell, it’s entirely possible that he never did believe in it, but simply pushed it because he thought it made him look good.

    If he has indeed had a change of heart, and if it was catalyzed in part by his defeat, then I would consider his defeat at the hands of the LP to be a wonderful thing.

    Time will tell.

  44. More than thinking that he’s trying to subvert the LP like some posters see, I think he is the first of hopefully a growing number of people that are realizing that there is opportunity to present the LP as a real, honest to god party, one which can appeal to many marginalized centrists. We all have our political sins that mean we don’t follow libertarian principles lockstep (I for one, am a firm believer in the success and usefulness of zoning), but we all have a common principle of freedom for individuals and minimizing government impact. I welcome Barr as he will be campaigning on those basic principles, for many though probably not all our specific goals. I probably shouldn’t take this as too important an event, the LP has seen many politicians come and go, but atleast its a sign that some parts of Washington are taking our party seriously. Let’s hope this encourages more dialogue on the rollback of the Patriot Act and greater dialog about the costs and benefits of the drug war, along with spending and executive power critiques.

  45. When is he going to mention his new LP position on http://www.BobBarr.org?

  46. Wes Pinchot | December 15, 2006, 3:16pm | #

    I want to grow the party and elect more candidates, but let’s be careful who we put on the national committee. I’d want to hear him say he was mistaken about the drug war, in a believeable way, and see him be consistent about it for a few years first.

    ==========

    Those were pretty much my own first thoughts, when I read the news.

    After thinking about it a little more, it strikes me that, as only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Bob Barr is one of the few people (Barry McCaffrey, anyone? 😉 who could credibly promote Peace With Honor in the Drug War. So there is some potential there…

    Clearly, his current position on the Drug War will be one of the first things that Barr is quizzed about as a new LNC Rep. Let’s see what he has to say. (His website seems to lack obvious position material on the Drug War.) But I cannot imagine that the party could tolerate anyone on the LNC, much less a candidate for high office, who doesn’t agree that the War on Drugs is a failure, and should be ended. If his position ends up being even something like, “I don’t like drugs, but I don’t think they should be a federal issue … leave it to the States,” I could stomach Barr the congressional or even Presidential candidate, given his apparent change of heart on so many other issues of liberty in the past few years. But if espouses a belief in “liberty” yet feels that is consistent with a continuing Drug War, he’ll show himself to have a big screw loose, and libertarians would be justified in rejecting him.

  47. I’m pretty much with you, James Anderson Merritt. I’ve been saying for a while that only a Republican can end drug prohibition in the same way that only Nixon could go to China. Now, I realize that one Republican joining the LP doesn’t exactly constitute the foundation for major policy reform, but this isn’t just any old Republican. This is a very high profile Republican, a person who was at one time a very ardent drug warrior. Not just a guy who showed up to vote “yea” when drug war legislation was proposed, but a guy who actively pushed for a hard fight in the war on drugs.

    If he switches sides in a visible manner like that, it says something. If a few more jump on the bandwagon, it says even more.

    If Bob Barr vocally opposes the Drug War, then I propose a Barr-Gray (Jim Gray, sitting judge in Orange County, formerly of the GOP) ticket for President in 2008. These two guys have the credibility to make this a respectable issue.

    Of course, if Barr decides to be a “Libertarian but” as in “I’m a Libertarian, but…” then this will all be for nought.

  48. I know people can change, but don’t bet the farm on it. A lot more people pretend to change when it suits them.

    Surely you don’t think joining the LP of all things is a clever way to the top???

    Face it guys…the LP has nowhere to go but up. Either Barr helps raise their profile and credibility, or he doesn’t. They’ve got nothing to lose here.

    Ending the drug war (as much as I believe that ought to be done) is an absolute loser as a banner issue, for the LP or anyone else. Having an LP candidate like Barr is a good way to put the emphasis on some other very good libertarian ideas.

    I could think of worse strategies, is all I’m sayin’…

  49. thoreau | December 16, 2006, 10:05am | #

    If Bob Barr vocally opposes the Drug War, then I propose a Barr-Gray (Jim Gray, sitting judge in Orange County, formerly of the GOP) ticket for President in 2008. These two guys have the credibility to make this a respectable issue.

    ==============================================

    That would be an interesting ticket. I like Judge Gray and voted for him when he ran against Barbara Boxer. I would like to see him campaign again. On the other hand, I would prefer to see him campaign for and WIN an office. It doesn’t look as if he can made a dent in the US Senate: sadly for the cause of liberty, Boxer and Feinstein seem to have those seats locked up for as long as they want them. But Congress, or the State legislature could use a man like Judge Gray, and he might have the clout to win one of those seats. I’m torn as to whether he would be better as a nationally touring “spokesman” in the VP candidate slot, or as someone with an actual, credible chance to win lesser office at the congressional or state level. Has anyone asked him what HE wants, or what he might be persuaded to do?

    I was also reminded of Arizona’s Richard Mack yesterday, when he appeared on a current events interview show on locally operated QNN (The Quality News [radio] Network, http://www.qualitynewsnetwork.com/). Running as a Libertarian, against incumbent Kyl, Mack received nearly 5% of the vote for US Senate from Az this past November. He is well spoken, and has strong credibility with libertarians for his successful court fight against the Brady Bill, as well as his outspoken denunciation of the Drug War, particularly the war against marijuana (medicinal and otherwise), from his perspective as a former law enforcement officer (responsible for a force of deputies and for a county jail system). You can see the positions he took in the senate race at http://richardmackforsenate.com/.

    Mack has also run for President, in a way, having appeared on the Showtime reality show, “American Candidate” in 2004. So he will be familiar to those who remember that show, and could finally put to good use the experience dealing with the media circus, which he received there.

    Finally, I would so love to see a debate between Bob Barr and Steve Kubby on the Drug War at the 2008 convention. Those two men, who were so thoroughly personally invested in their respective opposing sides, couldn’t help but give us something memorable and worthwhile. For CSPAN addicts, this would be “must see TV.”

  50. Sorry, I was reading the wrong figures. (Saturday morning, before the first cup of caffeine, so sue me! That’s also how “he can made a dent” got through without being corrected… you know what I meant! 🙂 Mack received 3% of the vote statewide in November. (I’m looking at the AZ Secretary of State official statement of vote, now.)

  51. The LP has lost another shred of credibility in my book. Barr still laments the practice of Wicca on army bases as a breakdown of military discipline and just political correctness (as recent as 2004: http://www.bobbarr.org/default.asp?pt=newsdescr&RI=516). But somehow I’m supposed to accept him speaking for libertarians? Wow, with friends like this, who needs enemies?

    Social conservatism like his is the antithesis of libertarianism. He would gladly spend tax money to support practicing and endorsing his religion, but not others?

    Oh, but he’s against the drug war? La di frickin’ da. Let’s just roll out the red carpet for him. Is it worth making concessions, sleeping with the enemy if you will, just to get votes and maybe some attention? Hasn’t steadfast devotion to principles been one of the defining aspects of libertarians?

  52. Dave Ross | December 16, 2006, 1:18pm | #

    Oh, but he’s against the drug war? La di frickin’ da. Let’s just roll out the red carpet for him. Is it worth making concessions, sleeping with the enemy if you will, just to get votes and maybe some attention? Hasn’t steadfast devotion to principles been one of the defining aspects of libertarians?

    ===========================================

    If you look at the LP’s candidates for all offices, over the past 35 years, I think you’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful of people who would pass a stringent purity test. LP candidates who are mostly libertarian — certainly far more libertarian than their Demo and GOP opponents — get my support even if I disagree with them on one or two points in their campaign platform (unless of course those “one or two points” so thoroughly outweigh and negate their other libertarian stances, as Barr’s continued support for the Drug War would, in my eyes). The lack of religious tolerance you cite is certainly troubling, as are several other stances that Barr has taken in recent years. I’d like to get to know the “new, improved, Libertarian Bob Barr” better before coming to a conclusion.

    The reason I use the Drug War as a “litmus test” in this case is twofold. One, Barr was a famous congressional Drug Warrior. If he now can repudiate our generation’s Prohibition with credibility and effectiveness, that will be truly remarkable, and a strong indicator of a genuine change of heart and strengthening of principle in the man. Second, the Drug War is the foundation for the significant theft of general liberty that we experienced prior to 9/11, and it is acknowledged as having been an effective “dress rehearsal” for the ensuing War on Terror, helping to militarize our police forces to the present point of absurdity. Prohibition is a cancer, which has metastasized into the War on Terror and the War on Illegal Immigrants. We need to start rooting it out as soon as possible.

    Of course, we don’t know that Barr is actually against the WOD. I am not going to lie to you. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read the news about Mr. Barr, and an even sicker feeling when I went to his website and saw no denunciation of the War on Drugs. But perhaps a stinging electoral defeat based, in part, on his drug war stances helped turn Barr around. We have plenty of time between now and 2008 to see just how “libertarian” this fellow has become. I would not characterize giving him the benefit of the doubt and advocating a “trust but verify” approach as “rolling out the red carpet,” although I must admit that some of the seemingly premature enthusiasm about his “conversion,” which I have seen here and elsewhere, is worrisome.

    Victory at the price of our ideological soul is defeat (just as the elimination of our freedoms in order to fight terrorists who “hate us for our freedoms” is likewise defeat). I don’t want to see a Barr candidacy precipitate LP implosion in the way that the Reform Party imploded after the candidacy of another GOP refugee, Pat Buchanan. So let’s see what we can see, and proceed with care.

  53. The drug war has earned the status of a litmus test because it is a many-tentacled beast that is objectionable on so many levels. It sinks its tentacles into so many aspects of public policy, costs so much money, violates so many aspects of liberty, that it is impossible for a libertarian to oppose it.

    Now, reasonable libertarians can still disagree over how to go about dismantling it. For instance, publicly-funded rehab can pose some serious problems for a libertarian, even if it is less draconian than sending somebody to prison. Priorities may be an issue. For instnace, focusing too much on sentencing disparities in the drug war might have the unintended consequence of prompting calls for harsher sentence “just to make it fair”, when we were hoping for lighter sentences all around.

    Hell, there’s even room for people who are concerned about the possible consequences of legalization, and prefer a federalist approach where the feds get out of the prohibition business and leave drug policy to the states. That’s exactly the sort of compromise that ended alcohol prohibition in the US (read the text of the 21st amendment). It would be far from perfect, but it has a good historical pedigree (look at the good that came of ending alcohol prohibition) and so I would gladly support it.

    It’s worth noting that even Judge Jim Gray, a very outspoken critic of the drug war, has expressed skepticism of full legalization, and is open to the possibility that drug sales should be regulated. But he still subscribes that the drug war has failed miserably, it must be ended, and it must be replaced with a system where drug use is addressed in an open manner rather than a punitive manner, a system where drug sales are done by businessmen operating in broad daylight rather than criminals working underground.

    So there is room for wiggle. But, at the end of the day, a guy who wants to participate in the national Libertarian Party had better agree that the federal experiment with drug prohibition has failed and must be ended.

  54. CORRECTION:
    “…that it is impossible for a libertarian to oppose support it.

  55. I think were Bob Barr to run for president and be as successfull as you all hope he is in his wildest dreams of getting votes for the libs in the double digits.

    Most likely the only thing that would accomplish would be to ensure that the Dems win handily.

    That said if a candidate were to run.
    And be wrong about the drug war, and as wrong as both the Dem candidate and the Rep candidate on a whole slew of other things. But this candidate was for the elimination of the income tax.

    Or if the candidate was wrong and not in favor of the elimination of the income tax, and many other things, but the candidate was against the drug war.

    And if said candidate had a chance in hell of being elected.
    I WOULD BE FUCKING ELATED.

    As is the canditate with a shot at becoming president, will most likely be in favor of continuing the drug war, or continuing income taxes, of many other such wrongs.

    And I will as usual be voting for the most pro 2nd Amendment of them.

    Unless it one of them is McCain, and then I will probably vote for the L guy, because of McCains 1st Ammendment issues with ‘McCain-Feingold’.

  56. So really all y’all talking about why the one guy that will never be elected is not perfect, you are much like the star wars fans talking about why a death star can’t do such and such.

    It is really irrelevant.

  57. I don’t know, I take that back.

    Let me see, if the tables were turned and Hillary were running as a libertarian, and she was about ending the drug war and the income tax but she still wanted to take away guns.

    I suppose that would be a tough vote.

  58. kwais-

    I am quite aware that a pro-legalization candidate can’t win the Presidency. The point of a strong third-party candidacy is not to win, it’s to raise the profile of an issue. Perot put deficit reduction on the radar for the first time in, well, forever, and 2 years later the GOP took Congress on a platform of fiscal discipline. That quickly broke down, but for a brief time in the 1990’s the feds ran a surplus.

    If Bob Barr ran for President on the LP ticket and traveled the country talking about drug legalization, it would send the message that you don’t have to be a stoner hippie to support legalization. I’ve talked to a lot of people who seem to realize that something is wrong with the drug war but nobody is coming out and saying it. If Barr did that, if he showed that the antithesis of a hippie can oppose the drug war, if he used his standing as a former Congressman to bring attention to this, it might bring a lot of people out of the woodwork, and make reform possible.

    No LP candidate will win the White House, but the right LP candidate might make drug reform a viable issue.

    The wrong LP candidate, alas, could make drug reform even more of a fringe issue.

  59. kwais | December 16, 2006, 3:21pm | #
    So really all y’all talking about why the one guy that will never be elected is not perfect, you are much like the star wars fans talking about why a death star can’t do such and such.

    It is really irrelevant.
    ========

    With respect, you are quite mistaken about that. We’re talking about someone who may very well want to try another run for Congress, the Senate, or even the Presidency, running under the LP banner. Even if this person has no chance of winning at all, he will get a chance to shape public opinion about the LP — and what a “real libertarian” is — through his campaign. As thoreau said above, the Drug War had and continues to have such a huge, pervasive impact on liberty in this country (arguably the biggest impact prior to 9/11 and all that followed, and still very large), that a libertarian candidate — whom many people will assume is an example of what a “real libertarian” is — simply cannot support it.

    This is not the difference between “perfect” and “imperfect.” It is the difference between “genuinely libertarian” and false, confusing claims to libertarianism.

    In my opinion, one of the most important services provided by an ideologically-based party, such as the LP, is the process by which it confirms that one candidate or another, or one policy proposal or another, merits the use of the party’s “brand name.” Anybody can run as an independent, and — as we’ve seen in the past several years — the tents of the GOP and Demos are so large as to dilute the significance of their respective “brands” to the point of near-meaninglessness. A most serious job of the LP in the coming months will include the validation of Mr. Barr’s libertarian bona fides before anyone entrusts the party’s reputation to him in any political race. In 2002, I was so relieved to hear, for instance, that the Connecticut LP refused to let Ann Coulter run under its banner. By the same token, I was disappointed to hear that the seemingly desperate NY LP was willing to let Howard Stern, and later, William Weld, run for governor in its name, getting burned both times. I don’t want to see the national LP scorched in the same way. It seems to me that a high-profile “faux” libertarian might potentially do more harm to the LP by losing than by winning, convincing “true believers” that the party has sold out, on the one hand, while putting false ideas about libertarians and libertarianism in the minds of voters, on the other. A candidate who wins, while being only “mostly” libertarian might attract more of the same type of person to the party, but would also elevate the stature of the party itself, giving more thoroughly libertarian candidates a better chance to win than they had before.

    One thing seems certain: the arrival of Bob Barr means things may get very exciting, very soon, one way or the other. And, either way, the excitement might prove very useful to the LP.

  60. kwais | December 16, 2006, 3:24pm | #
    I don’t know, I take that back.

    Let me see, if the tables were turned and Hillary were running as a libertarian, and she was about ending the drug war and the income tax but she still wanted to take away guns.

    I suppose that would be a tough vote.
    ========

    Not really. Barr continuing to support the Drug War or Hillary coming out for gun control or gun bans would make either candidate very unpalatable to libertarians, regardless of any other “libertarian” stances the might take. I couldn’t endorse either under such conditions.

    Hillary would also have had to have spent the past several years working on arguably libertarian causes to even be as credible a libertarian as Bob Barr is today. This clearly hasn’t happened, so your “hypothetical” exceeds a reasonable ability to suspend disbelief. Before Barr’s apparent “evolution,” I saw him and Hillary as fellow authoritarians under the skin. Now, it’s up to him to prove my earlier assessment wrong. Hillary hasn’t even been trying. 🙂

  61. Dr T and Mr Merritt,

    Points taken.

    Dr T,
    I think you are right. I hadn’t seen Perot except for as a spoiler of Republican victory.

    But then again, as much as I was later ashamed to have voted for Perot because he turned out to be a nut (and this was the first time I was old enough to vote). Bush Sr still did not deserve a vote for his lie about not raising taxes. (And this was before I learned about or became libertarian).

    So as much as Clinton was the Antichrist to me, Perots overall effect was a positive in the light that he brought fiscal discipline to the forfront.

    So, I take back my last comments.

    If Bob Barr were to run as an LP guy, and did indeed draw 15 or more percent republicans from the Republican party, as he campaigned for drug legalization. And by doing so, he handed a victory to the Dems for two years.

    If by doing so he raised the issue and Americans (at least 51% of the voting public) were to understand the inescapable truth that the drug war is but harmfull and wrong.

    Then Bob Barrs candidacy would be a great thing.

  62. Mr. Barr, may you continue your pilgrimage to Utopia.

  63. It seems like a good thing to me. If you look at American History, the only times that third parties have been able to become second parties is by recruiting established politicians. The whigs and republicans didn’t just start electing nobodies, they convinced major party politicians to join them. Of course, Bob Barr is not a sitting congressman, so this effect is diminished, and I can definitely see why people would be concerned. I’m pretty much a purist myself, but ultimately we need to have pseudo-libertarians voting for us if we’re going to get anything accomplished. I think as long as the lp is careful about it (I certainly do have reservations about him as a presidential candidate) then is will be a positive for the party.

  64. JAM, how is Howard A. Stern a false libertarian?

  65. B-psycho said “one can’t be Pro-War and be a libertarian.”

    Really? How do you explain the fact that the very guy who founded our Libertarian movement, Dana Rohrabacher, was and is Pro-War?

    How about early Libertarians like Jack Wheeler and Reason’s own Bob Poole, both members of the 1970s Libertarian Defense Caucus.

    How about PJ O’Rourke, Larry Elder, Neal Boortz, and according to former LP News Editor Bill Winters, about “40% of the Libertarian Party membership.”

    Being “libertarian” is NOT synonomous with wimpy Girly Man. Nor does it mean that we should all bow down to Allah five times a day at the point of a gun.

    Being libertarian means that you fight back against those who want to jail marijuana users, stone prostitutes in public squares, outlaw politically incorrect cartoons, cut off the genitals of your Gay friends, and outlaw all booze and all forms of gambling.

    What’s inconsisten is to call oneself a “libertarian” and be Pro-Islamo-Fascist at the same time.

  66. I don’t think there is really an official libertarian policy on:
    War
    Abortion
    Gay Marriage

    All the above mentioned policies depend on how you view the problem.

    I am sure some of you disagree with me on that, but you are wrong.

  67. kwais,

    I’ll give you abortion and war (although any war supported by a libertarian cannot violate the Non-Agression principle, obviously), but I don’t think gay marriage is up for grabs. Any libertarian worth his salt believes the government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding which contracts between consenting adults it’ll honor and which it won’t.

    I know from your past posts that you’re not too keen on gays. That’s unfortunate, but ultimately your business. I do, however, (as I’m sure a lot of people do) have a hard time imagining a libertarian argument against gay marriage. Please enlighten us.

  68. Robert | December 16, 2006, 9:09pm | #
    JAM, how is Howard A. Stern a false libertarian?
    ===============================

    I don’t know how libertarian or non-libertarian Stern is. He’s an entertainer, and separating truth from self-made fiction is difficult in such cases.

    I suppose that I wasn’t calling either Stern or Weld a “false libertarian,” so much as a “faithless” libertarian, and I’m sorry if I didn’t use the extra words to make that clear. The point of that paragraph was to rail against “celebrity candidates” who aren’t committed to the party and its important job of spreading the idea of “real libertarianism” and making sure that people understand it and can vote for it through suitable candidates and ballot meausres.

    In Coulter’s case, I don’t think she was any kind of libertarian at all. Weld has often been called “libertarian,” but he hasn’t impressed me. Stern talks a good libertarian game at times, but when push came to shove, he didn’t appear to have the courage of whatever convictions he may have — he certainly failed to follow through, as did Weld, and both times the hapless NY LP was left holding the bag, with egg on its face. In all three cases — ESPECIALLY if nobody expects the candidate to win — a very important question for the LP to answer in vetting the candidates was, “what will the public learn about libertarianism and libertarians from this candidate?” From Coulter, I expect the public would have perceived the LP as “GOP-lite.” Potentially this was true with Weld, as well. With Weld and Stern, unfortunately, the LP came off as the oft-duped Charlie Brown to the quitter-candidate’s Lucy. This is the kind of thing that empowers the Medveds of the world to label the party as “losertarians,” and which fuels so much mocking of the LP even here at HitAndRun.

  69. I think you have cause & effect mixed up. Anyway, by running for governor, Stern got standing to challenge the financial disclosure requirement. He lost, but nobody else in LP had ever sued over the law.

    I’ve been asking LPers a lot lately why they run candidates for office when they could make their points just as well or better by other means. Stern certainly can. Stern also saw one thing that could be accomplished by a candidate for office that couldn’t be accomplished by other means; how is it that others in LP didn’t see that?

  70. Robert | December 17, 2006, 3:56pm | #
    I think you have cause & effect mixed up.
    ======

    How so?
    ==============================

    Robert | December 17, 2006, 3:56pm | #
    …but nobody else in LP had ever sued over the law.
    ==========

    That may be technically correct, especially for the NY state law, but I do remember that, as of 2000, Harry Browne for the LP and Howard Phillips for the Constitution Party were attempting to challenge the Federal Election Law Amendments of 1974, including the financial disclosure provisions. So it is not as if this line of thinking hadn’t been followed, or acted upon, before.

  71. Andy
    I tried to answer before, and either the sever squirrels were back to their shennanigans or my internet sucks.

    Anywho,
    It is not that I am not keen on gays. I believe in equal rights for all.

    I am generally not in favor of the whole state recognized marriage thing. If the state is to recognize marriage, I see discrimination against those who would be poligamists to be a much bigger issue.

    If there is to be a law concerning a contract between people, then all people should be able to partake of that law. That is not the outdated institution that we call marriage.

    I like to think of myself as an objective thinker. And I don’t fully understand my own sexuality let alone any one elses. But I question some of the claims and assumptions. I don’t think that makes me ‘not keen on gays’.

    Well I could go on about that, and perhaps not make anything else clearer.

    But I think that depending on how you view the govts role in marriage, and what is the best way you think of making ‘equal before the law’ is going to shape your opinion of gay marriage.

    Therefore, being for gay marriage is far from clearly the only true libertarian position.

  72. About Howard Stern.

    I had mixed emotions when I heard that he was running on an LP ticket.

    On the one hand I thought it was a good thing, because he is popular and can bring attention. And can break things down to a level the average voter would become interested in.

    On the other hand I feared it may backfire. That libertarian would be confused with libertine. And that Howard himself was confusing the two, and that he was only libertarian in the thing that interested him.

    I mean I think I myself am somewhat libertine, but I don’t think libertine ticket is a winning ticket. Most my liberal friends are more morally conservative than I am I think.

  73. kwais:

    Is this a slogan you might possibly be able to live with:

    Privatize marriage!

    Kevin

  74. Kevrob,
    certainly.

  75. I think you have cause & effect mixed up.
    ======

    How so?

    It’s the party which proves itself useless and drives all thinking persons away eventually.

    ==============================

    Robert | December 17, 2006, 3:56pm | #
    …but nobody else in LP had ever sued over the law.
    ==========
    That may be technically correct, especially for the NY state law, but I do remember that, as of 2000, Harry Browne for the LP and Howard Phillips for the Constitution Party were attempting to challenge the Federal Election Law Amendments of 1974, including the financial disclosure provisions. So it is not as if this line of thinking hadn’t been followed, or acted upon, before.

    Maybe your problem isn’t just cause & effect, but before & after. 1994 came before 2000.

  76. What the Libertarian Party needs right now desparately is celebrity, any celebrity.

    Hell, the Party just had one of its worst election seasons ever. Less than 10 (!!) LPers were elected to local offices. This is a low for the past 10 to 15 years. Nobody won a race for State House, let alone Congress.

    The LP needs to go begging at the doors of any celebrity that will have them.

    They are absolutely NOT in the position to run off people like Howard Stern. They should be glad that he even gave him the time of day. Ditto for Ann Coulter.

    In essence, the LP can’t afford to be picky and choosy. They gotta take what they can get.

  77. Sez you, who’s not in the LP.

    Picking the wrong celebrity could do us a lot more harm than picking the right one could benefit us.

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