The One-Wing Ticket


I'm not a member of the Libertarian Party, so I don't often opine about its internal affairs—if I wanted to influence the party's policies, I'd rejoin it. (I was a member for a year in college, nearly two decades ago.) But I have to say I think it just made a mistake.

The mistake wasn't nominating Bob Barr for president. I've had a soft spot for Barr ever since I first saw him on C-Span in the mid-'90s, asking the right questions during the House's Waco investigation. I have disagreed with him on issues ranging from trade with Cuba to the rights of neopagans in the military; most notably, I think he was dead wrong about the drug war, the one area where his general bias in favor of due process and decentralization seemed to go out the window entirely. But he seemed far more interested in liberty than most of his colleagues, and after he left office that interest grew stronger; when I interviewed him for reason in 2003, three years before he joined the LP, he seemed to be on the verge of becoming a full-fledged libertarian. Since then he has revised his stated views on drug laws, the Defense of Marriage Act, and other important areas. I still have my disagreements with him, but I don't expect to have trouble casting a ballot for him in the fall. And if he pulls enough votes from the candidate of perpetual war to elect the man who, for all his flaws, at least promises to pull out of Iraq, then so much the better.

But given the number of party activists who are wary of the former congressman, and given Barr's deficiencies on several issues, it would have made sense to round off the ticket with a more hardcore libertarian. The ideal choice was Steve Kubby, a medical marijuana activist whose signature issue could have balanced Barr's past support for the drug war. Instead the delegates opted for another member of the party's conservative wing. Worse yet, the conservative they picked was Wayne Allyn Root, a man with the deportment of a Ronco pitchman with a squirrel in his pants.

It might not matter in the long run. No one pays much attention to the fellow at the bottom of the ticket. But it's a tone-deaf, disappointing decision.