Bob Barr Has a Posse. Maybe.

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Bob Barr's entry into the 2008 prez-stakes is generating more buzz than Mike Gravel's Libertarian conversion, less buzz than Ralph Nader's latest launch of the Ralph Nader Party. Jim Antle has a good rundown of the man's career and some predictions of what could happen.

Ron Paul won 0.5 percent of the vote as the Libertarian nominee in 1988. Pat Buchanan, one of the most famous conservatives in America, won 0.42 percent as the Reform Party candidate in 2000. Both faced resistance within the parties that nominated on account of their more conventionally conservative positions. John Schmitz, a sitting Republican congressman, managed just 1.4 percent as the standard-bearer for George Wallace's American Independent Party in 1972.

To find counterexamples, one must go back to Wallace himself in 1968 and Ross Perot in the 1990s. Neither man had very strong conservative credentials. Perot actually did better among independents and moderate Republicans than conservatives. But the right remembers Perot as the man who helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, just as the left blames Ralph Nader for Al Gore's defeat in 2000. If the McCain-Obama/McCain-Clinton is close, some of the prodigal Republicans Barr is counting on may well return home on Election Day.

More takes from Tom Tancredo:

Despite Barr's immigration stands, Tancredo said he could not support him because of his foreign policy stands, including "a blind spot on radical Islam." He added that he believes Barr's candidacy is a serious threat to Republican chances in November, because it could siphon off conservative voters who are skeptical of McCain.

Which segues nicely to Matt Yglesias:

I think there will probably be a bunch of voters who don't much like the McCain Perpetual War agenda but who also think that at the end of the day Barack Obama's a liberal and they're not not. In theory, at least, there's room for a sort of John Anderson figure and you could see Barr playing that role.

John Anderson's not the guy you want to think of here, as he pulled most of his votes from Carter and handed at least 6 states to Reagan. I think Tancredo's on to something: The immigration issue has the potential to be a fulcrum for Barr in a way it wasn't for Paul. (It's still an issue that a minority of voters obsess over, but those who do no longer have a choice between 6 border hawk Republicans like they did in the primaries. The vote's not going to dilute.)

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  1. David, how did Anderson pull Carter voters? He was Republican. You’ve swritten this before and I wonder what you mean by it.

  2. Nader and Barr will probably cancel each other out in terms of electoral impact.

  3. I think Tancredo’s on to something: The immigration issue has the potential to be a fulcrum for Barr in a way it wasn’t for Paul.

    Well, judging from his website, it’s not really clear to me he’s an immigration hawk. The only thing that indicates any hawkishness is the “secure our borders” bit. That’s vague to the point of meaninglessness. You could favor secure borders, and still support virtually unlimited immigration. It sounds like the kind of non-committal statement you could read anything you like into.

    I’m not familiar with any of his other statements on the matter.

  4. he believes Barr’s candidacy is a serious threat to Republican chances in November, because it could siphon off conservative voters who are skeptical of McCain.

    I’ve never wanted Tancredo to be more right.

  5. Adamness-

    Barr, unlike Nader, will be run by a party which already has ballot access in all 50 states. The Ralph Nader Party is lucky to get half that.

  6. Paul: Anderson was a liberal Republican.

    Btw, Schmitz got over a million votes and might have made the difference if Nixon had faced tighter competition from the Dems. And between his health problems and the split in his party, I’m not sure Buchanan’s experience indicates anything.

  7. “voters who don’t much like the McCain Perpetual War agenda but who also think that at the end of the day Barack Obama’s a liberal and they’re not”

    Hey, that’s me! I’d consider voting for Barr, or anyone else. But I get sick of people making the leap that my vote was “taken away” from McCain or the Democrat. They had a chance to earn it, and didn’t. Maybe the parties should learn from the past and court Perot/Nader/Paul/Barr votes harder next time.

    I often wonder whether it’s smarter for Libertarians to try to grow their own party, or work from within the two main parties instead.

  8. John Anderson … pulled most of his votes from Carter and handed at least 6 states to Carter.

    Is that a typo? Seems contradictory.

  9. I seriously doubt that Barr will vacuum up all those Paul voters. Ron had something which really inspired a lot of people, and Barr is just not going to inspire the same way. He’ll get a fair number of them, as many dedicated libertarians will vote LP as best choice, and some Paul supporters will switch over.

    But his impact will be far less than Paul’s. I’d love to be wrong, believe me.

  10. I caught Jesse Ventura on Larry King last week. He eviscerated the four Dem/GOP talking heads on the show.

    Like him or hate him – he is the closest thing to a candidate untainted by Party Partisan stench – and completely “reason” oriented. Too bad his “religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people” frankness probably disqualified any real run he might have had in him.

  11. Jessee Ventura is against a lot of things, but I’ve never heard him really be FOR something. I guess thats why he was a lousy Governor.

  12. But I get sick of people making the leap that my vote was “taken away” from McCain or the Democrat.

    Well, you shouldn’t take it so personally! 🙂 I think the relevant question is how the votes would go with or without a particular third party candidate in the race. If Barr running means people would vote for him who would have otherwise have voted for McCain, then it’s fair enough to say he “took” those votes, even though, yeah sure, literally, technically, that’s not the most accurate way to put it.

  13. Thanks Jesse. But how did he cut into Carter’s base? I’m not doubting David, he’s probably studied it more. But I voted in that election and always figured Reagan would have blown Carter out of the water even more than he did without Anderson sore-losering on from the Republican primaries. Surely a lot of Anderson’s 6 million votes were from his Republican primary supporters.

  14. Just a quick threadjack:

    According to an auditor’s report, the IRS’ computers are vulnerable to hackers.

    Um – why isn’t there a permanent action item here at Reason for a distributed hacker team [something along the lines of Anonymous] to take down the IRS’ computers and delete all their records? Like the end of Fight Club but without blowing up any buildings.

  15. No Vaccination, No Autism

    The Amish do not have this horrific disease, and neither do other religious and/or libertarian-minded parents who avoid the state-mandated injections of mercury called vaccinations. See, for example, the extraordinary experience of these doctors.

    http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Health/2005/12/07/the_age_of_autism_a_pretty_big_secret/6829/

    how does the pro thimeresol crowd answer this?

  16. The Republicans “threw my vote away” when they nominated that asshat. Maybe they should try shaming people with no ideology and wooing me instead of the other way around. I think it would work out better for them.

  17. Paul: I haven’t seen any polling on the subject, but anecdotal evidence suggests to me that Anderson drew most heavily from liberal voters who ordinarily would be for Carter but blamed the president for the crappy state of the economy. I suspect he had a lot of supporters who voted for Kennedy in the Democratic primary.

    (I was for Anderson too. I was 10 at the time, and my reasons do not stand up to scrutiny.)

  18. Jesse if it makes you feel any better I was for Perot when I was 11.

  19. Jessee Ventura is against a lot of things, but I’ve never heard him really be FOR something. I guess thats why he was a lousy Governor.

    Umm…[citation needed]. Was Ventura really a lousy governor? Two big things he’s known for–a light rail line in Minneapolis and significantly reducing the motor vehicle registration fee–are pretty popular (whatever you think of light rail, the line has exceeded ridership expectations). I think his low approval ratings at the end of his term have more to do with the overall economy and his adversarial relationship with the media.

  20. Chris I just know his approval ratings were in the shitter. Maybe its because of the media. Nevertheless, it doesn’t say much for his IQ since the dumbest fucking thing a pol can do is TRY to get the media angry with him.

  21. I would really not put a lot of stock in medical diagnosis data from a group of people who don’t use doctors, Gabe.

    By the way, thimeresol isn’t used in vaccines any more and hasn’t been for years. Shouldn’t this have resulted in no new cases of autism for kids born after 2002? Oops.

  22. I’m convinced “autistic” is just rich parent-speak for “retarded”.

  23. (I was for Anderson too. I was 10 at the time, and my reasons do not stand up to scrutiny.)

    Jesse if it makes you feel any better I was for Perot when I was 11.

    I remember being 8 years old and in the car with some friends who had very liberal parents. My friends, especially one, was totally badmouthing Reagan, of course by merely parroting what his parents were saying. Even at that age, while being absolutely apolitical and totally uninterested in politics, I realized I didn’t want to be a moronic regurgitator of other people’s political vitriol.

    I thank that smugly stupid associate of mine for making me very wary of people too interested in politics.

  24. I’m convinced “autistic” is just rich parent-speak for “retarded”.

    I’d like to commend you for having the balls to say that. Because I expect you are going to be attacked very shortly by some people with autistic kids.

  25. “The numbers are too large to not see it. We would absolutely know. We’re all family doctors. If I have a child with autism come in, there’s no communication. It’s frightening. You can’t touch them. It’s not something that anyone would miss.”

    By the way, Gabe, the inclusion of this quote makes it clear that either the doctor involved or the author of this article is playing some extremely deceptive games with statistics.

    The overwhelming majority of children on the autism spectrum don’t display “frightening” symptoms like a refusal to be touched. Only a tiny minority of the most afflicted act that way. So comparing the size of this doctor’s practice to the data for the entire spectrum of these disorders, but then using a half-assed diagnostic technique like “Does the child try to rip my eyes out when I hold it?” is really, really dishonest.

  26. Epi-

    I’m being a bit of an asshole with that statement, but honestly I’ve read about autism, I’ve read about being developmentaly disabled (“retarded”) and I have a hard time telling what the difference is exactly.

  27. I’m being a bit of an asshole with that statement

    Absolutely. I’m commending you for being blunt and willing to be offensive while doing it. South Park does it every week, and it’s great.

  28. FWIW I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in middle school, and I think thats just bourgeoisie for “uppity little asshole kid”.

  29. I often wonder whether it’s smarter for Libertarians to try to grow their own party, or work from within the two main parties instead.

    Just compare Rob Paul’s Republican run for President with his Libertarian run for President, and the answer is obvious: work within the two main parties.

  30. Cesar,

    I know what you mean. In general, as far as I can tell the various “syndromes” which are grouped under the heading of “retardation” [or used to be, anyway] generally are genetic conditions with multiple physical and mental symptoms.

    So if you are ugly and can’t think, or have webbed feet and can’t think, you’re retarded.

  31. Meanwhile, if you’re good-looking and can’t think you’re the next MTV tennybopper star money whore.

  32. And if you’re only average looking and can’t think, you become a journalist!

    ba-dum-bum!

  33. Sigh. Okay, the “various syndromes” are subsets of being retarded. So? I find the PC thinking that replaces “retarded” with developmentally disabled to be silly, but I don’t get y’all’s problem with the term “autism.” It’s a specific type of retardation. What’s the big shit with that? You have a problem with describing any illness more specifically than “being sick”?

    Disclosure: yeah, a family member may have a mild form of autism.

  34. Didn’t you guys see Jenny McCarthy on Larry King the other night? Her autistic kid got better. And, don’t the symptoms not appear until a child older? Make of that what you will, but it it’s true then I would say that’s a pretty strong difference between autism and mental retardation.

    Mike Laursen – good point, but at the same time that is a Presidential run. I’m talking more about getting Libertarian “minded” Republicans and Democrats into the House and Senate and forcing a President to deal with them all, rather than trying to get Libertarian Party candidates elected.

  35. I’m not arguing that autism != retarded….but your flat out wrong that thimerosal is not included in vaccines anymore. it is in flu vaccines adn they have really been pushing those a lot more in the last few years. I have little kids and I know this first hand. If you ask the nurse if there is mercury in it they say “non” ask if there is thimerosal and they might say yes….ask to see the inseert on the flu shot and it always says thimeresol. Don’t ask me why they lie, but they do. Yes I take my kids to a rich boston suburb pediatrician and ADHD does seem to = bratty/lazy rich kid….that doesn’t mean it should be medicated with extra drugs….and yes my kids have had all their shots and they don’t have autism or retardation…they are quite good looking.

    I still don’t understand the pro-thimersal crowd or the thimerasal denier crowd…why do lie or talk about things you have no idea about? it is in the flu vaccine shots.

  36. Just compare Rob Paul’s Republican run for President with his Libertarian run for President, and the answer is obvious: work within the two main parties.

    Too soon to tell. You’re probably right, but if the LP makes an impact in the elections, it might be a lesson that third parties in general might work better now than they used to.

  37. Autism could be a wedge issue for the LP, and nominating an austistic candidate would be a step in the right direction.

  38. I still don’t understand the pro-thimersal crowd or the thimerasal denier crowd…why do lie or talk about things you have no idea about? it is in the flu vaccine shots.

    Maybe because it utterly debunks the entire “My kid was fine until he got his 18 month boosters!” hysterical females out there. Flu shots aren’t clustered at the magical 18 month time period.

    That’s what this association with vaccines has always been about – hysteria and femaleness, put together in their worst manifestation, the hysterical female.

    Most children with autism can’t show the symptoms before they are 18 months old, because the primary manifestations of autism are communications delays and an inability to advance to late-toddler-stage emotional and social developmental stages.

    Unfortunately, there is a set of major vaccinations and boosters that hits at 18 months.

    So, because hysterical females are stupid, mothers of children with a disorder that can only be noticed once the kid is 18 months old decided to postulate a false cause and effect relationship with vaccinations that coincidentally were given at 18 months. Lawyers who want to rip off vaccine manufacturers are only too happy to encourage this sort of primitive “evil eye” type thinking.

    It will almost certainly turn out that autism doesn’t “happen” at 18 months but “happens” well before that, maybe even at the fetal stage. And what will become of your vaccine theory then?


  39. Just compare Rob Paul’s Republican run for President with his Libertarian run for President, and the answer is obvious: work within the two main parties.

    I think you need them both – the major parties as vehicles to get elected, and the minor ones to steal votes and give the major parties an incentive to cater to the voters that defect to the minor parties.

  40. Autism could be a wedge issue for the LP, and nominating an austistic candidate would be a step in the right direction.

    I think after 8 years of Bush, we’re done with electing mentally challenged officials. At least I hope so.

  41. And what will become of your vaccine theory then?

    It’ll just keep chugging along in the face of all evidence like most conspiracy theories. For instance, “controlled demolition”.

  42. The only reason I think thimeresol may cause some problems is that there is a a long history of Mercury being a dangerous poison. It’s isn’t crazy to think injecting it in 18 month old kids could cause a problem(tetnus and flu shots still have it).

    When people like you and government officials lie and say it isn’t given any more it definitely discredits you. If governemnt will lie about that then and lie about a lot of other things such as the war on terror then what evidence is there to convince me that injecting my 20 pound child with 50 micrograms of mercury (adult levels) (in a double tetnus shot-flu shot combo) is good for them? sorry but your being unscientific if you read all the studies and come to the conculsion that 50 mg of mercury is good for a 20 pound baby.

  43. Former head of the NIST fire science division says a new investigation is needed for WTC 7….I wonder why he got fired…oh well fluffy and Episiarch are real scientific they know the government would never plan terror attacks…Operation Northwoods, Gulf of Tonkin, USS Liberty and Operation Gladio never happened.

  44. Jessee Ventura is against a lot of things, but I’ve never heard him really be FOR something. I guess thats why he was a lousy Governor.

    Sounds like an excellent start on being an awesome governor to me.

    And low approval ratings don’t mean he was a bad governor, either.

    FWIW I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in middle school,

    If I hadn’t good access to pot all through high school, I suspect my boredom would have manifested itself as “ADHD”.

    Most children with autism can’t show the symptoms before they are 18 months old, . . .

    Unfortunately, there is a set of major vaccinations and boosters that hits at 18 months.

    Fluffy, its almost like you’re trying to say that correlation does not equal causation.

  45. agreed RC Dean….correlation =! cuasation…my problem is that fluffy and the governemnt seem to conclude therefore we must beleive that mercury injections are good for kids AND we must lie and say it isn’t in the shots anymore. Soemthing doesn’t fit there.

  46. My nephew has HDADD, High Definition Attention Deficit Disorder. He can barely pay attention, but when he does it’s unbelievably clear.

  47. Mike Laursen – good point, but at the same time that is a Presidential run.

    Oh, that’s a different question. (Sorry, dashing this off kinda quickly…)

    I think the best thing for libertarians to do, especially those that don’t agree with the Libertarian Party’s platform or pledge, is to get involved in a local single-issue group, or run for your local non-partisan city council position. Anything like that that gives you real political experience at the grass roots level.

    Just as important, maybe more important: Get involved in non-political civil society. It needs to be built up. Get involved in private philanthropy, community service organizations, business mentoring, coaching, etc.

  48. I’m a DLC Dem, and thinking Barr is the best option after BHO’s recent and insane pandering to the protectionist wing of the party.

    I’m guessing there are more like me; Barr could pick off more than disgruntled GOPers.

  49. I’m convinced “autistic” is just rich parent-speak for “retarded”.

    How brave. Don’t let the fact that autistic kids who function well enough to be tested for intelligence tend to score significantly above average get in the way of your “conviction.”

    Autism isn’t associated with low intelligence, but it is associated with defects in the ability to organize information. Because social interaction is one of the most complex data handling tasks around, autistics tend to come off as pretty socially inept, which can morph to withdrawal over time. Lots of software coders and amazing stamp collections in the ASD world. We do OK with words, especially when they’re used literally (that annoying kid who always “misunderstood” figures of speech? Hmmmm…) , but tone of voice, facial expression, body language and social convention really trip us up. The autistic pattern of handling these things is very consistent but thoroughly distinct from “normal” patterns.

    I would guess that as we learn more about it, it’s going to turn out that what we call autism is a common set of symptoms springing from varied causes. My son seems to have gotten it from me as genetically as hair color – I think of the diagnostic meetings with the school as my “really, that’s unusual?” sessions. Maybe some kids really did get damaged from mercury in vaccines, maybe something else. They’re finding unusual patterns of neuron development in at least some autistic kids, but maybe that can be a product of different causes.

    But the second coming of ADHD for rich parents who don’t want to deal – doesn’t really work.

  50. I’m convinced “autistic” is just rich parent-speak for “retarded”.

    I’ve spent a lot of time with both kinds of kids. Very different conditions.

  51. I object to Bob Barr because he is another right-to-lifer. Libertarians are supposed to be pro-choice.

  52. Barr for a third party, great! The Republican party has lost its way with BUSH & CHENEY’S occupation and nation building in Iraq. Our children and grandchildren will be taxed for this boondoggle for many years. This party needs to go the way of the Wigs, with a third party arising from the ashes.

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