By the Way, He's the Libertarian Candidate

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Yesterday the Politico's Glenn Thrush ran a slow news day package of "seven worrisome signs" for the Democratic candidate. This one stood out.

Where have you gone, Ross Perot? Bill Clinton, the lone two-term Democratic president since FDR, wouldn't have been elected if independent Ross Perot hadn't siphoned 19 percent of the vote in 1992. Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, staging an indie bid from McCain's right, has little cash and doesn't seem to be a factor in competitive states.

It's true, Barr has little cash (and isn't picking your pocket to change that, a la Ralph Nader). Republicans aren't worried enough about him to challenge his ballot access, according to Ben Adler's reporting. But it's still an ominous sign for Republicans that the only third party candidate anyone's paying attention to is a former Republican who's running expliclity against the Bush years. According to some polls, he is a factor in western and southern swing states. He'll likely be the only third party candidate on the Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia ballots. The Libertarian and Ron Paul organizations are unusually strong in Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota—all swing states this year. And, of course, Barr's running mate Wayne Allyn Root is attacking the airwaves from his Las Vegas estate, writing op-eds, doing national and local radio, trying to turn soft conservative votes into protest votes. "I was booked 10 days ago on FNC on Cavuto but got pre-empted by the L.A. earthquake," Root told me, after he'd wrapped up interviews with Salt Lake City and Park City TV shows. "They promised to rebook in next few days. I continue to do several radio interviews across the USA most days."

So far Barr isn't taking off the way Ralph Nader did in 2000, when he raised millions of dollars and changed the electoral map. But a so-far-middling Barr campaign is making a few points worth of difference in at least seven states (the ones I've mentioned and Alaska.)

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  1. “The People” like solutions that involves big government taking care of them with rewards and punishment only for “bad” people.

    When are we gonna admit we’re going to get nowhere with democracy? People are delusional and uninformed about how government works.

    Good luck Mr. Barr. At least there’s a foundation in reality for your ideology, unlike the chump and the mummy.

  2. That Wayne Allen Root link goes to the matching funds article linked earlier in the post.

  3. What Barr needs to do is reach out to Obama’s campaign and work together to get the LP nominee in the debates.

    Obama would score points with his “change” crowd by saying things like “no American’s voice should be silenced.

    McCain would acquiesce, since, you know, he’s a fucking idiot, and all would be well…

  4. Obama would score points with his “change” crowd by saying things like “no American’s voice should be silenced.

    The fact that he’s part of the the two-party machine shows that he doesn’t have interest in doing this. Barr’s ideas on social policy are likely more liberal than Obama’s. The Ds don’t want the competition.

    But dare to dream, Taktix…

  5. Why hasn’t Barr been able to tap into the Ron Paul money-bombers and the like? He’s a better speaker, etc. Many RP supporters I know still cling to hope that the GOP convention will turn on McCain and nominate Paul. Many are still loyal Republicans and others dismiss libertarianism (RP went out of his way to avoid identifying himself as a libertarian.)
    Even if these people mostly intend to stay in the GOP and fight for Ron Paul’s ideas, they need Barr to tell them why in November 2008 they should vote Libertarian.

  6. The Obama campaign will never do that; it would be a huge mistake. There are plenty of libertarian-leaning types who would jump at a chance to vote for Barr if they knew he existed. I don’t know who’s still left in the GOP, but if they’re still hanging around that train wreck, then they’re probably not the sort of people who go in for fiscal responsibility and ending expensive wars and whatnot.

  7. Barr’s ideas on social policy are likely more liberal than Obama’s.

    I saw Barr in a documentary the other day supporting a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals; this was from a few years ago… I wonder if that’s one of the things he’s changed his mind on…?

  8. “I wonder if that’s one of the things he’s changed his mind on…?”

    It is indeed. He’s also changed his mind on the drug war. You have to admire someone who is willing to totally reverse course on issues that were once very important to them simply because they come to the determination that they wrong about such things to begin with. Intellectual honesty is neat.

  9. Why hasn’t Barr been able to tap into the Ron Paul money-bombers and the like?

    well, for one, RP supporters were not all libertarians…they weren’t even all rational beings. AFAICT, a bunch of them came from the JBS/Black-Helicopter Crowd.

    For two, RP supporters (and this nests closely with number 1) are a bunch of morons. That includes the Dear Congressman Himself, who blew millions of dollars in a vanity campaign in a primary he had no hope of winning.

    * – I swear I will rescind and apologize for all of this if RP sends his hordes Bob Barr’s way. Something he’s shown no interest in doing…which I hate him for further.

  10. You have to admire someone who is willing to totally reverse course on issues that were once very important to them simply because they come to the determination that they wrong about such things to begin with they are desperately trying to find a way back into the Washington scene after getting gerrymandered out of their former district, and don’t care who gets sunk along the way…

  11. Whether or not Barr is a factor this year, he’s atleast sane enough for normal libertarians to consider. That in itself gives me hope.

  12. For two, RP supporters (and this nests closely with number 1) are a bunch of morons.

    Excuse me sir, that paintbrush you’re using is too big.

  13. “they are desperately trying to find a way back into the Washington scene after getting gerrymandered out of their former district, and don’t care who gets sunk along the way…”

    Well, he’s still a part of the Washington scene to some extent. And if his goal is simply to obtain more power or influence, he would probably be doing something to obtain such things rather than running for president under the Libertarian (non-)banner. Like, he could go do an internship at a think tank or maybe answer the phones at the RNC.

  14. Forgive me, LIT. I should say, “A Very Visible Set of Ron Paul supporters are morons”.

  15. Paradoxically, I think Barr would be doing better if Ron Paul hadn’t run in the primaries. A lot of libertarian types are just fatigued and disillusioned by the utter disaster that was RP2008.

    Plus, if you’ve already donated hundreds of dollars to Paul’s campaign, donating to another protest campaign may not be compatible with your budget.

  16. Paradoxically, I think Barr would be doing better if Ron Paul hadn’t run in the primaries. A lot of libertarian types are just fatigued and disillusioned by the utter disaster that was RP2008.

    However, if Ron Paul had not run, Barr might not have gotten the attention he did from regular libertarians, who wouldn’t have seen this year as a year ripe for a useful protest vote. And without that attention, Barr might not have been the LP nominee, meaning that yet another nutcase libertarian runs and small l libertarians once again switch their attention to Obama/McCain/Noneoftheabove.

  17. As apolitical as Ron Paul speaks, he is not an idiot. It would be suicide for the liberty movement to not take advantage of the headway RP made within the Republican Party. Ron Paul thinks long term. As much as he would like to help the libertarian party in the short term, he knows that dissasociating himself with the Repubs would be very costly after the 2008 elections.

  18. Chad,

    I agree that that’s his strategy, but it almost certainly doesn’t matter. If McCain wins, the neocon wing continues to dominate, and if he loses, the Huckabites take over. The GOP wants nothing to do with libertarians.

  19. Huckabites

    I thought Yaweh commanded Joshua to wipe them out, enslave their virgin daughters, and kill the rest?

  20. I was interested on how Barr was doing yesterday when he was linked to, because numerous caveats aside, i think he is the best chance to get the LP brand out there. Both in the party sense as well as the philosophy. Hes looking to raise something like $201,000 by august 21 and hes at like $40,000 and doesnt seem to be climing at all. Alas.

  21. The statement about Perot is wrong. Exit polling showed that had he not run, not a single electoral vote would’ve changed.

    If Bush had won, there’d be just as many people saying it happened only because of Perot.

  22. “A lot of libertarian types are just fatigued and disillusioned by the utter disaster that was RP2008.”

    LMAO — leave it to the Cosmo crowd to think that RP2008 was a disaster. Jeez, what myopia. Let’s wait and see exactly how much influence in 2020 can be traced back to Ron Paul — that is, if there is a country left to do any tracing in.

  23. THarms – so, you’re mad at us for saying Paul has had no discernible influence, even though you yourself just stated we’d have to wait until 2020 (how scientific!) to see?

    I don’t know what you’re definition of “disaster” is, but I’d say raising millions to garner like, 5% of a primary vote is close.

  24. *your definition

  25. Now Paultards are making the same “let history decide” arguments to defend the Paul campaign as neocons make to defend the Iraq war. That can’t be a good sign.

  26. Warty,

    I believe the women, children, and livestock were to be put to the sword along with the men. King David actually got in some deep trouble for not “finishing the job”.

  27. What Barr needs to do is reach out to Obama’s campaign and work together to get the LP nominee in the debates.

    Obama would score points with his “change” crowd by saying things like “no American’s voice should be silenced.

    McCain would acquiesce, since, you know, he’s a fucking idiot, and all would be well…

    It would help Obama to let Barr into the debates. It won’t happen because McCain isn’t a fucking idiot and knows it would be bad news for him, and because the Democratic party leaders would go ballistic at the notion of giving people more choices than Red statists versus Blue statists.

    That, and it would open up the door for Democratic vote-sucking candidates like the Green Party to clamor for inclusion also.

    The savvy thing, of course, would be for Obama to lie like a sumbitch and publicly state that he wants the LP party candidate included in the debates because he feels libertarian-leaning voters are numerous and important to Democrats and have some natural affinity to his views — and then let some other Democrats take the fall for tweaking the debate inclusion rules to make sure Barr is excluded.

  28. Bob Barr will actually be on fewer ballots than Michael Badnarik.

    Their petitioning is terrible- they are being beaten out by Chuck Baldwin ( who?) and other 3rd/independent candidates in signatures collected in many states.

    It’s going to be very embarrassing that so many people in the LP soldout the party to get a more pragmatic “name” candidate who can’t even out petition or fundraise on the level of the non-name candidates of the past.

    The way the LP has used the ballot access issue to completely screwup petitioning while lining the pockets of their Republican friends is disgusting.

  29. The way the LP has used the ballot access issue to completely screwup petitioning while lining the pockets of their Republican friends is disgusting.

    I’m intrigued and ignorant. Tell us more, please.

  30. To “The Angry Optimist”: my definition is a strategic investment in the advancement of human liberty that will yield a positive, long-term return. Only a naive or a con expects a fast buck. The money invested in the Ron Paul campaign introduced millions of politically disenfranchised Americans to libertarianism. Now we wait for that investment — one largely made in college students and young adults — to compound and mature. If it has created a generation of responsible libertarian-influenced politicians who will be ready and waiting to salvage the Republic after the current Leviathan has collapsed on itself, then the millions you are whining about may well turn out to be a bargain.

    B.T.W. – I’m not “mad” at you. Anger is not an emotion that typically yields a positive return.

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