Campaigns/Elections

Look Who's Coming in Third!

With Bob Barr's nomination, the Libertarian Party is threatening to achieve historical relevance.

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Never in the history of the Libertarian Party has an idea been executed so smoothly as the nomination of Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman—and former drug warrior—from Georgia. True, it took six ballots at the party's national convention in Denver to nominate the man. True, the weekend before that vote was a marathon of rumors, threats, and twisted arms, with younger, more radical party members pitted against an old guard that included party founder David Nolan. But the ruckus culminated in the nomination of the most well-known and politically astute presidential candidate in party history. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the only other former congressman to run for president on the Libertarian ticket (in 1988), had already made 2008 a banner year for libertarian politics by launching a limited-government revolt in the Republican primaries. The question: whether Barr is poised to continue what Paul began.

Barr's campaign—and the possibility of a revitalized national Libertarian Party—will likely have more of an immediate electoral impact than Paul's did. The Republican Party, after all, is teeming with antibodies that have been able to fight off the diminishing libertarian virus within. Unless lightning struck, the heavens opened, and he stumbled upon the Ark of the Covenant, Paul was never going to win the GOP nomination. It wouldn't take much, though, for Barr's popularity to force John McCain to campaign in states he thought he had wrapped up, or even to swing one of those states into the Democratic column. The Libertarian Party has its greatest chance to affect a presidential election in 28 years.

In 1980 the Libertarians seemed on the verge of becoming a major party—not a replacement for one of the big two but a third bloc, like the Populists of the late 19th century. But the organization stagnated in 1983 after a bitter nomination fight prompted the supporters of losing candidate Earl Ravenal to leave the party. Its members occasionally won minor local offices or made up the vote difference in close elections between Democrats and the GOP. But in presidential elections, the party nominated a series of movement stalwarts who would be denied entry into the presidential debates, tour the country talking to the faithful, and be rewarded with fewer than 500,000 votes.

(The partial exception was Ron Paul, who, like Barr, had to overcome criticism that he was a carpetbagging conservative. But the Paul of 20 years ago was more obscure outside the libertarian movement than either he or Barr is today. And he didn't crack the 500,000-vote ceiling either.)

In 2004 the party basically punted. Bitter enmity between presidential front-runners Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo led to the nomination of dark horse Michael Badnarik, a freelance constitutional scholar who hadn't been filing tax returns, didn't have a driver's license, and believed prisoners on death row should instead be bound to their beds until their muscles atrophied. Around 2,000 members quit the party. Two years later, a rump of 303 delegates—less than half the number that had shown up to nominate Badnarik—met at the party's biannual convention.

These delegates pruned the party platform from 61 planks to 15 and elected the pragmatic Virginia party official Bill Redpath as chairman. Their mission, they said, was to make the Libertarians a true third party, upsetting the ossified GOP and the ever-objectionable Democrats with a credible candidate and campaign. All of this was in the works well before Barr joined the party in December 2006 and well before Paul's run caught fire in the summer of 2007.

The Paul rEVOLution encouraged these post-Badnarik reformers, but it also encouraged their opponents within the party. The radicals saw in Ron Paul proof that they too could spark a national phenomenon based on extreme-sounding ideas. Medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby decided to run for the nomination but promised to quit the race if Paul won the Republican primaries. Mary Ruwart, a Libertarian activist with two and a half decades in the party, organized for Paul until John McCain locked up the GOP nomination, then announced her own run for president to carry on Paul's legacy. "If the Ron Paul Revolution votes en masse for…L.P. candidates," Ruwart wrote, "the L.P. will receive an unprecedented number of votes."

The reformers agreed with this message, if not the messenger. They worried that yet another idiosyncratic or unknown candidate would pick up the ball Paul left downfield and spike it. The oxygen for libertarian politics in 2008, they believed, was coming from conservative voters sick of the big-government corruption of Republicans. So they drafted recent convert Barr, whose list of not-long-ago libertarian heresies, including a vote for the PATRIOT Act and authorship of the Defense of Marriage Act, was too long for even his most vitriolic opponents in Denver to keep track of.

But the reform faction took a chance, casting Barr and another ex-Republican seeking the Libertarian nomination, Las Vegas odds maker and relentless self-pitchman Wayne Allyn Root, as apostles rather than opportunists. If these men could be convinced that the Libertarian Party was viable, the argument went, surely they could convince their former fellow travelers.

Two days before the vote, an anonymous trickster passed out satirical press releases announcing that Barr, Root, and their allies in party leadership had renamed the Libertarian Party the New Republican Party. Radicals, who groused all convention weekend about the leadership's bias for Barr, finally had their proof when Barr invited onstage for his victory speech former party executive director Shane Cory, who had resigned from his post after making an indirect attack on Ruwart in a press release. "The party was in collusion with Barr from the beginning," Nolan said afterward. "Once they won they didn't even have to pretend anymore."

The radicals refused to back down after Barr emerged victorious. Steve Kubby ran against Root for vice president and narrowly lost, then walked outside to greet around 100 angry delegates who were ready to leave the party on the spot. Kubby pleaded with them to stay, then asked how many of them would. All but a few raised their hands. In short order, Kubby and Nolan met with Barr to patch things up, and the meeting ended with one of Congress' fiercest drug warriors literally embracing a man who'd fled the country and gone to jail for medical marijuana.

The Barr-Kubby hug revealed what had really happened in Denver, something that got lost in the fury over "neocons taking over" the party: The radicals had actually won. Barr, a politician and lobbyist with plenty to lose, had made the tactical decision to build a third party force outside the GOP. The former drug warrior and social conservative spent days telling delegates what he has spent years telling the press: Any effort to punish Americans for consensual activities is oppressive, doomed, and deserving of failure. After hoping for so long to win prominent converts to the cause, the Libertarian Party finally had managed to do it, over the loud protests of die-hards who worried that embracing a man with Barr's mixed record would damage the party in the long run.

On the night Barr and Root won their nominations, party chairman Bill Redpath said he "would be very surprised, and very disappointed, if we don't achieve all-time vote percentages and vote totals for a Libertarian ticket." A nomination-night banquet that had raised about $30,000 for the ticket in 2004 brought in $64,000 to kick-start the 2008 campaign.

The challenge for Barr and the reformers is to deliver on their promises: to score a record vote total, to grow the party's membership, and to force the two big parties to pay attention. They need to prove that libertarians can do more than form a protest bloc in the GOP or think-tank their way into the mainstream of politics and policy. If they pull that off, the Libertarian Party could reach unprecedented heights.

David Weigel is an associate editor of reason. His online coverage of the Libertarian Party convention can be found here.

NEXT: But Will the Timetable Be Done by the Time of the GOP Convention?

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  1. At the time of the last ice age when that article was written, it was relevant. The culminating point:

    The challenge for Barr and the reformers is to deliver on their promises: to score a record vote total, to grow the party’s membership, and to force the two big parties to pay attention.

    Exactly right. And heading into September we see the reform movement setting on a big goose egg. I hope the LP goes back to being the granola party after this. We may have been a bunch of nuts and flakes, but at least we stood for something. The only thing worse than being condemned to irrelevancy by keeping your integrity, is remaining irrelevant after you sold out.

  2. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and I feel Barr has recieved much more publicity thus far than any of the past LP Presidential candidates. Along with the Ron Paul machine, I think Barr’s candidacy will be good.

  3. Bob Barr and historical relevance? Don’t you mean histerical flatulance?

  4. Dave Weigel on Bob Barr

    Eeeewwwwww.

  5. Boy Warren, two months from the election and you are already throwing in the towel? Maybe you want to at least wait until the election is over before you claim that the most recent attempts at relevancy are a failure? Just a thought.

  6. No, Warren is correct. There should be a broad swath of disgruntled voters making their disgust known by now. They just won’t magically appear in October.

    I hear so much of “Throw all the bastards out” but it does not translate into poll numbers.

  7. Too bad Barr’s weak ballot access efforts are undercutting the promise of his campaign.

  8. Too bad Barr’s weak ballot access efforts are undercutting the promise of his campaign.

    No shit… I can’t believe we’re talking 46-47 states now instead of 49-50.

    On a related note… the Barr campiagn must surely be setting a record for number of lawsuits filed by a presidential campaign at this point. If all else fails, sue the bastards I guess…

  9. The LP has to evaluate its party infrastructure if it wants to survive and grow. It has little room for people who are moderately interested in politics and it has no system for passing on institutional memory. The nomination process exemplifies the first problem. Members who don’t fly all the way to the national convention are plain out of luck during the nominating vote, because state delegates can vote any way they want. Giving each state one pledged delegate in addition to its current delegates would let less active members have a say. A larger party needs a place for people who are loyal to the platform but short on hours to donate. The lack of party forums for passing on libertarian principles partly explains the rift between long time party members and newbies. For decades, the ratio of new recruits to founding members was small. The LP relied on think tanks like Cato and Reason to spread its ideas. Now that more people are joining and founding members are getting on in years, we need programs withing the LP to explain our principles to the next crop of leaders.

  10. Barr isn’t going to do anything.

    BTW, I sent an email to JasonPye about getting on a BobBarr conferencecall; he asked for where I post, which I sent on 8/11. I haven’t heard back, and I sent a followup on Tues. which wasn’t replied to either.

    Maybe it’s because, in the 8/11 email, I said, “Most of Reason’s contributors will know who I am.”

    Libruhtarians are funny.

  11. I hear so much of “Throw all the bastards out” but it does not translate into poll numbers.

    This all-too-common sentiment doesn’t necessarily translate to any form of third-party support. The sentiment reflects “The government isn’t doing enough for ME! Goodies, goodies, goodies…and a magical and triumphant (but bloodless!) end to the Iraq War”.

    Most people want to “throw the bums out” because they have a horrible sense of entitlement, not because they want less entitlements.

  12. fewer entitlements…but otherwise I agree.

  13. He’s an Ohio State student, Hyperion. Cut him a break.

  14. McBush/Lieber$hit 08!

  15. And heading into September we see the reform movement setting on a big goose egg.

    The Reform Movement lost, but reforming the LP did win. The problem was that ReformTheLP wanted a Republican Lite party. They wanted to dump the anarchists AND minarchists. They wanted to limit drug issues to medical marijuana and tax issues to the Fair Tax. They didn’t want the LP to be at the corner of the Nolan chart, they wanted it to be up against the diagonal line next to the word “centrist”. I was part of the ReformTheLP movement for a while. But I got disgusted with the *radicalism* of their reform. Gutting the plank instead of softening it was too much.

    What the LP did instead was a pragmatic reform. They nominated a pragmatic candidate. It’s a sign that the LP might be moving beyond it’s “Anarchist Debate Club” past and into a future where it acts like a genuine political party.

    If the election were held today, the Barr vote percentage would far outstrip anything any other LP presidential candidate has ever done, perhaps TEN TIMES the 0.5% barrier they’re used to. Some of this is simply because the time is right, and people are starting to see through the “small government” rhetoric of the Republican Party. But part of it is a candidate that doesn’t scare the libertarian leaning voter away.

    p.s. Ironically, I’m now in the GOP and the Republican Liberty Caucus. We have the opposite problem. We are the milquetoast group that Milsted of ReformTheLP wanted. Now I’m pushing towards radicalism, including the heretical idea that we shouldn’t be scared of using the word “libertarian”.

  16. We may have been a bunch of nuts and flakes, but at least we stood for something.

    I’m not really seeing where the LP still doesn’t stand for something…that something is just a lot less “litmus-test” oriented than it used to be.

  17. I don’t think the LP is headed for “historic heights” this election. A vote for a third party is a protest vote. Voters are comfortable with protest votes when the election looks to be a landslide, or when their own state is so red or blue that they figure their vote doesn’t matter. This election is shaping up to be another Bush-Gore squeaker. Everybody in a swing-state will be back in “lesser of two evils” mode by November.

  18. “I hear so much of “Throw all the bastards out” but it does not translate into poll numbers.”

    I don’t hear much of that at all and I wish I did. Maybe the LP should run against both major parties — against incumbents, that is — emphasizing the fact that we really don’t have a two party system in this country any more — especially on the national level.

  19. I’m not really seeing where the LP still doesn’t stand for something…that something is just a lot less “litmus-test” oriented than it used to be.

    What can the LP credibly claim to stand for now that they’ve chose Bob Barr as their standard bearer?

  20. Voters are comfortable with protest votes when the election looks to be a landslide, or when their own state is so red or blue that they figure their vote doesn’t matter. This election is shaping up to be another Bush-Gore squeaker. Everybody in a swing-state will be back in “lesser of two evils” mode by November.

    You’re exactly right. I’d like to vote Libertarian, but New Mexico is a purple state, so I’ve got to go with McCain (i.e. split government)

  21. I’d like to vote Libertarian, but New Mexico is a purple state, so I’ve got to go with McCain

    Right, because McCain is going to win or lose the state by exactly one vote — yours.

    Stop fooling yourself, bud. Don’t waste your vote on McLame.

  22. Can all of you folks who started out as libertarians raise your hands? Most people involved in politics start out as either D or R. The constant harping on Barr’s past implies to anyone thinking about the LP that they’ll get the same kind of treatment and will never really be party members in the eyes of the old school. Maybe that attitude keeps otherwise like-minded people away from the party…

  23. Oh yeah, and nobody in their right fucking mind joins the LP in an attempt to become a more relevant political player. Barr either sincerely agrees with the LP on some level, or once again, the LP has nominated a total loon for the office.

  24. Orange Line Special: Maybe they decided they didn’t want to let stalwart Barr-bashers inside their clubhouse?

    Richard: I seriously doubt the election is very close. The polls, if they’re to be believed much at all, have shown a +/- 10% swing for McBama. Factor in margin-of-error, and that’s far too wide a deviation to demonstrate a truly close election. I’d guess the focus on the tight race is nothing more than a psychological gambit to discourage voters from doing anything other than voting for the lesser of two evils. Who would’ve thought?

  25. Voters are comfortable with protest votes when the election looks to be a landslide, or when their own state is so red or blue that they figure their vote doesn’t matter.

    California was a safe state for Kerry. Probably the safest state outside of Massachusets. Yet registered Green Party members overwhelmingly voted for Kerry. I suspect Cobb got more votes from battle states than from safe states.

    Politics is a strange thing and logic doesn’t enter into it. Will people vote for Barr in safe states? I have no idea. It sounds logical to me, but we’re talking about illogical voters.

  26. Right, because McCain is going to win or lose the state by exactly one vote — yours.

    By that logic, no one should ever vote for anything. Is the libertarian party going to gain or lose relevancy by exactly one vote — mine?

    In 2000, Florida (which has 9 times the population of NM) came down to a few hundred votes, each vote really does have the potential to carry some weight.

  27. “You’re exactly right. I’d like to vote Libertarian, but New Mexico is a purple state, so I’ve got to go with McCain (i.e. split government)”

    McCain was thinking of switching parties just 7 years ago. So good luck on your divided gov’t idea.

  28. # T | August 21, 2008, 6:07pm | #
    # Can all of you folks who started out as libertarians raise your hands?

    I started out from a “mixed family”: my Dad’s side were GOP, my Mom’s were unionized Democrats. As an elementary schooler, I “supported” peace-candidate McCarthy in 1968, and as a high-schooler read the LA Free Press habitually. I had little use for CA Governor Reagan. I detested Nixon, laughed along with the SNL audience when Chevy Chase lampooned Ford, and registered Democrat for my first Presidential election. But when time came to pull the lever, I thought Carter was too inexperienced, and that Ford was getting an undeservedly bad rap based more on jokes about him than his actual performance, so I voted to make Mr. Ford an elected President for his second term: this is certainly not the behavior one expects of a registered Democrat. By the time Mr. Reagan ran against Mr. Carter, I was thoroughly uncomfortable with the unappealing choices offered by both major parties. I loved Mr. Reagan’s libertarian rhetoric, but couldn’t trust my former Governor or his party-of-Nixon to follow-through in any way that would make a significant and lasting difference. So for my 2nd Presidential election, I chose LP and never looked back.

    Although the LP has not yet “broken through” to electoral success for national office, I think that I and other LP loyalists and activists helped to build something that was at very least still around and available to facilitate this year’s “hail mary” pass with Barr. And although the LP was not technically my first voter registration beneficiary, I do indeed consider myself as having “started” as a Libertarian, as that was truly the start of my own serious engagement with the electoral process.

  29. By that logic, no one should ever vote for anything. Is the libertarian party going to gain or lose relevancy by exactly one vote — mine?

    By that logic, people should get over the megalomaniacal delusion that their one vote will help their preferred lesser-of-two-evil teams win the big close game and vote for who they actually agree with most on policy.

    Then… maybe… the two party monopoly might finally be challenged.

  30. By that logic, people should get over the megalomaniacal delusion that their one vote will help their preferred lesser-of-two-evil teams win the big close game and vote for who they actually agree with most on policy.

    Ideally, yes, but I wonder if all the people in FL who voted for Ralph Nader would agree with that sentiment now.

  31. “with younger, more radical party members pitted against an old guard that included party founder David Nolan.”

    I pretty much stopped reading there. I am a young radical and I frequent many radical Libertarian blogs and read stuff from all the factions in the party. I have read what David Nolan has written and his comments on various Libertarian blogs. At no point was I ever under the impression that young radicals were ever “pitted against David Nolan.” In fact, IIRC, many radicals advocated for David Nolan being a featured a speaker and replacing one of the Republican speakers at the convention. The radicals were also primarily anti-Barr and Nolan was also critical of Barr. At least he certainly was no Barr cheerleader. Where this whole “old guard versus youngin” talk came from I have no idea. There are certainly more than 2 factions and subfactions within factions ( for example one could be a “radical reformer” or a “pragmatic reformer” or a “left radical” or a “conservative reformer” or whatever else). However the main split was between radical Libertarians and “The Republican party left us, but we didn’t leave it so we begrudgingly joined the LP” conservative-libertarians. Of course a lot of the “Old Guard” were also onetime Republicans, but the GOP “left them” in the 60s or early 70s. Whereas apparently the GOP didn’t “leave” Bob Barr until around 2006.

    Many of the same people that love Barr were also in love with the charming Wayne Root. It’s all there on CSPAN. All these people gushing over Root 2012. They like minor Republicans and used car salesmen.

    I am fairly confident Barr is going to bomb in a huge way. He has already failed petitioning efforts in several states that even Michael Badnarik and Chuck Baldwin had no problem getting.

    The LP and Bob Barr remind me of a lot of musicians I have followed. There are certain artists that have an underground niche. At some point they want to expand their fan base and sell more units ( get more votes). That’s fine, but to do that you have to do it the right way. The whole point of “selling out” is SELLING. The biggest flops are those who try their hardest at “selling out” and then endup selling less than they did with no budget. This happens all the time in music. The indie band or rapper that goes out and gets signed, hires the biggest named producer(s), gets a 6 figure video budget, 7 figure marketing budget…and then they sell less than their last CD on an indy label that was self-produced and mixed by the label’s receptionist.

    The same thing can/will happen in politics when you “sell out” to get a “name” who really isnt much of a name at all, is a small time player in the scheme of things,wont get in debates, can’t even get on easy ballots, and half your existing base will abandon because there is nothing resembling the product that made you want to support it in the first place.

  32. Oh yeah, and nobody in their right f—ing mind joins the LP in an attempt to become a more relevant political player.

    He joined because he was no longer a player in his old party (thanks partially to the LP, let’s not forget) and he wanted to be a big fish in the LP’s small pond. If the R’s ever offer him a run at elective office, he’ll ditch us faster than a Britney Spears divorce.

  33. How can you write about a hopeful rise of a third party without discussing how our “one man, one vote” method of voting guarantees a two party system? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plurality_voting_system#Effect_on_political_parties
    We will NEVER have a successful third party until our voting system changes. For those who don’t know about different voting systems, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_runoff_voting

  34. Blow away the smoke of the last weeks here is the news in a nutshell about the Barr and Root Campaign:

    Most Media attention than any other LP Candidate in history.

    National polling at 6%, some States polling at 10% (I have read that this is the highest of any LP Candidate)

    Donations better than the previous LP Candidate.

    LP monthly Membership growth about 400 pre LP Convention, about 720 per month post LP Convention. (don’t have a number for those who may have left the LP)Counting numbers from LP News.

    Ballot access pre Convention thoughts of 45 or 46 States now possible 48, (WV, Maine are two of the States thought unattainable until Barr Campaign)

    Newt Gingrich cautions McCain Barr could receive 15% of the vote if McCain picks the wrong VP.

    Montana Governor states Barr is the better Candidate than McCain and Obama on gun rights issues.

    Republicans are starting to sue to keep Barr of the ballot in PA.

    Barr having to sue to get on some State ballots.

    Thank you kind reader for spending a moment to read this.

  35. ” We may have been a bunch of nuts and flakes, but at least we stood for something. The only thing worse than being condemned to irrelevancy by keeping your integrity, is remaining irrelevant after you sold out.”

    I the LP a relgion or a political party? The only purpose of politics is to gain power or keep your enemies from gaining power. We want to gain power in order to turn that power back over to the people, but we need to win first. I would like to see an LP that is just statest enough to gain 33% of the vote and actualy win. The LP membership is full of people who think that they belong to some kind of freedom religion. The fact is that most people don’t agree with us on the whole. Being part of a fun little club for radicals doesn’t make you or anyone else more free.

  36. The nomination of Bob Barr hasn’t made the Libertarian Party more relevant — it has all but destroyed it. The long-time activists are dispirited, the money flow is a trickle, and LP presidential ballot access will be the worst in several elections.

    Barr may attract some conservative voters who don’t like McCain, but not if they read his press releases.

  37. “The nomination of Bob Barr hasn’t made the Libertarian Party more relevant — it has all but destroyed it. The long-time activists are dispirited, the money flow is a trickle, and LP presidential ballot access will be the worst in several elections.”

    The Barr campaign is raising money at the same rate as other LP Presidential campaigns. “Slowed to a trickle?” Where is the evidence?

    His polling results are substantally better than any previous LP campain. I would estimate by a factor of 5. (Browne 2000 and Badnarik went from lows of “-” to highs of 1.7 and 1.2 respectively. The typical result was less than 1%. Barr’s lows are 1% with a high of 7%, with typical results of between 2% and 3%)

    His media exposure is very much better. Perhaps by an order of 10. He is averaging more than 1 time a week on cable news. Because he is included in many polls as a potential spoiler, he is mentioned too often to count.

    Consider Baldwin’s exposure. That is where the LP is usually.

    The National LP was expecting to get on the ballot in 48 states. The Barr campaign has made a stab at two more. So far, poor planning by the LNC has resulted in failure in Maine.

    Demoralization? This is nothing compared to the Badnarik campaign.

    Further, we had critics of both Browne campaigns on both the “too moderate” and “too radical” side.

    Barr’s campaign message is perfect. Smaller government, anti-war, and pro-civil liberties.

    His position on the controversial social issues is the same as Browne, Badnarik, and Paul. Let the states decide. Where Barr is weakest, is that, if pressed, he will admit to not supporting libertarian reforms at the state or local level.

    And, of course, this failing is emphasized by anti-Barr libertarians. But if you look at the media exposure of the campaign, this is not the message that is being spread.

    For example, Barr just had an Oped in the Washington Times. It was about not intervening in Georiga, not about his personal view about drug laws on the state level.

  38. Those who think that Barr’s campaign is a mess and a failure clearly were still in high school during Badnarik’s campaign. Just because you don’t like Barr doesn’t mean his campaign is a failure. All of the numbers show that Barr’s campaign is doing better than all LP campaigns for about the last 20 years or more.

  39. I see my name being slandered yet again. Par for the course. Making unfounded accusations is a grand LP tradition.

    Reformthelp was not a Republican takeover attempt. I joined the LP in 1981 as a syllogism spouting anarchocapitalist. Time and experiment demonstrated weakness in this approach to liberty. One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results. The LP has plenty of instanty.

    The original goal of reformthelp was to open up the LP to the entire upper triangle of the Nolan Chart, with everything from Boortz style neolibertarians, to anarcho-capitalists, to lefty geolibertarians and free liberals. A Barr-Gravel ticket would have been nice.

    If done, that would mean that the center of such a coalition would be significantly less radical. The anarchists wish lists would have to go, if the platform was to represent the entire party. Open-ended language might be used to avoid committing all members to this center.

    Once the Pledge was affirmed I decided to leave the party. Got talked back into it for a while but left for good and turned over the Caucus leadership to others well before 2008.

    My vision was never to turn to LP into a more freedom oriented Republican Party. If libertarians within the RP could not control that party, they certainly could not form their own party and win.

    The real pool of politically homeless is on the Left. The RP has its libertarian leaners. The DP has purged theirs for the most part. For a time I pushed being MORE out front on the drug issue, albeit making reasonable steps: treat marijuana like liquor and hard drugs like casino gambling. I printed a couple thousand Legalize Hemp bumper stickers as well as a thousand or so signs reading “End the Insane War on Drugs” and “Legalize Hemp.”

    I do not like Barr’s waffling on the drug issue.

    But over time I realized that the key to getting left-libertarians was economic equality, thus my site http://www.holisticpolitics.org. The real opportunity is in the upper left of the diagram on that page. Bob Barr and Wayne Root are in the upper right.

    That said, Barr is arguably better than McCain or Obama, so I may vote for him. Not so keen on Root. Serious lack of relevant experience and a sleezy aura.

  40. Mr. Wiegel’s biased reports on the LP convention and things since have been a low point for Reason. I was there and his reports never matched what I saw. But then I was in the convention when he was sitting at the Barr booth, sipping coffee and watching it on the TV screen they had.

    Of course Barr alwyas had the possibility of getting more votes. The Far Right is looking for a candidate to support — just not a libertarian candidate. Of course, being a Libertarian Party candidate, these days, is no guarantee that one is a libertarian. And both Barr and Root are conservatives running conservative campaigns. I saw how Barr operated at the convention and he was deceitful and underhanded — a typical politician. And so far he he has deviated from LP positions more than any other LP candidate of prominent that I can think of.

    He wants the states to fight the war on drugs and says so. He also says they should wage a war on drugs — not just have the right to do so, but ought to do so. He’s still a drug warrior. He wanted less US intervention in the Middle East– but more in South America — again as part of the war on drugs. He claimed he learned his lesson on the Defense of Marriage Act and replaced that with supporting the same thing on the state level. He advocates state’s rights just not individual rights. He wants the feds to bailout Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae with taxpayer money. He tried using the courts to force his way into a church’s forum on politics — some respect for property rights.

    That the LP can get more votes by running a candidate who is NOT libertarians is not surprising. If the goal is merely votes then why didn’t the party co-endorse Obama or McCain. They’d have a record vote total. But I was always naive enough to think the party existed to promote libertarianism. Now I discover its purpose is just to get elected regardless of what it takes.

    The bulk of hte libertarians I know, which are quite a few, have pretty much told me that they have decided not to vote LP this year. Many haqve resigned the party or just stopped supporting it. Replacing them with conservatives won’t be hard but that doesn’t mean that a libertarian party is growing even if the Libertarian Party is growing. It is easy to call oneself a libertarian these days. And you can be the top candidate and advocate violating people’s rights and apparently Mr. Wiegel witll applaud that.

    I absolutely love Reason’s articles and Wiegel is the one exception. I thought his reports from Denver were uninformed, biased and distorted. And he has not improved since then.

  41. We will NEVER have a successful third party until our voting system changes.

    adam….for the win!!!

  42. To continue the thought, perhaps libertarianism would be better off if libertarians stopped advocating libertarianism and began advocating serious electoral reform.

  43. He wants the states to fight the war on drugs and says so. He also says they should wage a war on drugs — not just have the right to do so, but ought to do so. He’s still a drug warrior. He wanted less US intervention in the Middle East– but more in South America — again as part of the war on drugs. He claimed he learned his lesson on the Defense of Marriage Act and replaced that with supporting the same thing on the state level. He advocates state’s rights just not individual rights. He wants the feds to bailout Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae with taxpayer money. He tried using the courts to force his way into a church’s forum on politics — some respect for property rights.

    This is all compelte bullshit, as anyone other than John McCain could easily verify after five minutes of Google searches.

  44. I hope Barr’s supporters wake up and realize that NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR A THIRD PARTY. Anyone voting (in a competitive race) for a third party candidate is, voting directly against his own values! And don’t give me the “one little vote doesn’t count” – it may. I usually vote Libertarian for State Mines Inspector – to send a message – and vote Republican for the rest.

    Is used to be a member of the LP. Then I realized it tended to be as utopian as Marxists – it was a college debating society infested with Ayn Rand freaks (alright, that’s an exaggeration – not every L is that way).

    Great ideas do not make great politics, and in some areas (foreign policy being the most obvious), the LP is historically clueless.

    I’m sure this will be ignored here, but IMHO Libertarians can have the strongest, and most beneficial impact within the right – both the RP and the overall conservative movement.

    How many know that National Review, the earliest and still most influential conservative journal, has long been for drug legalization? It is also totally pro-life. Politics is not simple!

    The right is not libertarian, but it is far more freedom oriented than the left (which is fundamentally based on central control and theft).

    Come join us on the right. We won’t agree with everything, but in my mind, one should never consider policy without considering the Libertarian viewpoint.

  45. svf above is spot-on.

    hlm you can’t go getting your “news” from those friends of yours that have “resigned the party or just stopped supporting it” (and the like-minded birds of a feather that you and they have flocked to) while simultaneously berating David Weigel for filing reports that are “uninformed, biased and distorted.” This is the height of hypocrisy.

    Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? The Barr-bashers are constantly accepting as irrefutable fact the distorted positions anti-Barr bloggers have spoon-fed to them. The Barr-bashers proudly recount epic tales of their heroic mass-defections from the LP, even months after-the-fact. The Barr-bashers continually predict low vote totals, low contributions, low ballot access, and low performance. Low-and-behold they’re not very shy about publicly vowing to be active participants in trying to lower all four. The Barr-bashers also herald the utter destruction of the Libertarian Party at the hands of the Barr-barian horde when the Barr-bashers themselves will at best be accomplices-in-crime and at worst be prime suspects if ill were to befall the Libertarian Party in the not-too-distant future. Their hands would have blood on them.

    Why would “dedicated libertarians” do such things?

    While draping their actions in the pageantry of virtue … “Principle” … “Honor” … “Integrity” … “Justice” … the fact is that it seems far more likely that the driving force is actually either selfishness or childishness. It seems as though these people are hoping Bob Barr won’t do well just so they can stick their thumbs in their ears, wiggle their fingers, and tell the Libertarians that dared to support him: “Na na na na naa naa.” This appears to be an effort to exact some sort of worthless revenge for not getting the outcome they wanted in Denver, and this is ridiculous. If you’re guilty of this sort of behavior I’d like to introduce you to some especially-rabid Hillary Clinton supporters that you’re sure to get along with. They’ve come here from one week in the future.

    The long-time-LP-supporters-turned-Barr-bashers that feel the nomination of Barr has squandered years of their efforts and are now dead-set on bringing harm to the LP are, in fact, acting as the catalyst of said squandering. The LP-supporters-turned-Barr-bashers that believe they or their favorite candidate(s) were more qualified/deserving/principled to be the official LP nominee and are now dead-set on bringing harm to the LP are only ensuring further ballot access struggles and further relegation to irrelevance in the public consciousness by taking any action to interfere with whatever momentum the Barr campaign does possess. This may help weaken the LP’s existing tenuous position, and sets the stage for future LP candidates. What if you hurt the future prospects of a candidate that you find more acceptable to you?

    This isn’t about Bob Barr. This isn’t about any one candidate or any one election cycle. This is about long-term goals, not short-term concerns. This is about the long view, not shortsightedness. This is about continuing the relentless and incremental process of trying to peaceably restore the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. There’s no telling what the future holds, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and squabble while maintaining a “come what may” attitude about it. The ripples of your actions today have the potential to discover a better tomorrow that you’ve helped create, or they can intersect with a dystopic nightmare you refused to prevent. In the case of the latter it may not be simply the figurative blood of the Libertarian Party on your hands, but your own as well.

    John Moore the Libertarian viewpoint cannot be fully expressed by the left-right political paradigm that the public currently accepts as canon. Although some of our ideas are similar to that of the right there are many significant differences as well. Inevitably there are many libertarians attempting to work from within the Democratic and Republican parties, but there is definitely room for a distinct Libertarian Party. It could be argued that it’s never the time for a third party in the inhospitable political environment we have in this country, and that means now is absolutely no different than any other time. I appreciate that you are fearful of what might happen if we don’t fall in line like good little lemmings and choose between the two options that the powers-that-be are force-feeding to us, but you need to understand that many of us refuse to waste a single political penny on either of the sideshows the carnival barkers are shouting about this election no matter how much J.M. Obarnum promotes the elaborate spectacles behind each respective curtain.

  46. Seriously, either Bob Barr had a George Wallace conversion moment, or the LP is simply attaching to the biggest name it could find willing to go out and make a handful of stump speeches.

    The reality is the LP is a perpetual pyramid scheme of wasted money flowing up to people wise enough to sell the notion of political reform to dingbats stupid enough to give it. Ron Paul managed to raise more money than McCain and then did absolutely NOTHING with it. I saw a billboard ad put up the week after the South Carolina primary, and I’m still unsure exactly where his vast sums of money actually went. The only worse investment for results ratio this season was Mitten’s 35 million sunk into his own failed bid.

  47. Sean S.,

    The Paul camppaign spent lots of money. In SC, people who had voted in past Republican primaries received many postcards from the campaign. I received 7.

    There were also many radio ads.

    There were plenty of materials for distribution. Signs, bumperstickers and the like.

    Paul peaked in the polls at 11% and received 4% of the vote.

    Perhaps not very effective, but the money was used on campaigning.

  48. Barr bashers make things up. Usually, there is an element of truth, but then they embellish to the point that they have told a lie.

    For example, Barr believes that the War on Drugs is a failure. He calls for ending the Federal war on drugs.

    If pressed, he has admitted that he doesn’t favor legalizing at least some drugs at the state or local levels.

    Barr bashers then invent the claim that Barr supports ending the Federal war on drugs because it can be better prosecuted at the state and local level.

    Similarly, some time ago, Barr argued that the War in Iraq means that the U.S. ignores other threats in the world, and mentioned the conflict between Venezuela and Colombia. (This was before the conflict heated up after Colombia’s attack on rebel bases in Ecuador.)

    The Barr bashers then invented the claims that Barr favors sending U.S. troops into Colombia.

    The methodology appears to be:

    If Barr believes one thing.

    He must believe something else.

    So, we will claim he does believe that other thing.

    And if you trust the Barr Bashers, you may assume that Barr actuall said this other thing.

    And he didn’t.

    Anyway, the campaign is now nearly three months old. They average more than one press release a day.

    The message is clear– civil liberties (opposing the Cheney/Woo theory of executive primacy, smaller government, and staying out of foreign conflict.

  49. Weigel is once again clueless, swallowing the propaganda of the ‘reformer pragmatists’ who’ve run ahead of the parade and pretend their leading it, while in fact lining their pockets while undermining the LP from within (as they remin in control of national).

    Unfortunately, Barr (and WAR) doesn’t get he’s surrounded by these people who in 4 years will be deriding him as a kook as they did with Badnarik (notice Milsted’s weasely beginnings in that direction above). Now Reformers do all they can to undermine Barr’s campaign, starting with telling him he needs no local campaign directors and locally focusing their people in trying to take over affiliates, not advance his campaign. they actually persuaded him to help ‘stuff’ ballots in the convention. it’s on tape. I wonder if they’ll spring it after he loses worse than ever and they claim he was too ‘anarchist.’

    He’s right on one thing though. They were outwitted by the ‘party stalwarts’ in Denver who blocked their efforts to get rid of the pledge and SOP as well as control county affiliates, offered a platform actually written by the stalwarts in 2000, and got some people like barr and gravel in the mix, which they were fighting tooth and nail before ( and why ventura was not invited to the convention). They’re still wondering how to spin that, if Karlan’s letter in the latest LPNEWS plus its strange lack of LP convention coverage is a clue.

    Weigel, who still repeats myths concocted by the two camps on what really went down in 1983, should actually interview people in the LP who know something, assuming they’ll give him and his lazy journalist rear end the time of day. I do hope Barr wakes up, and Weigel will spare us his fact-free articles.

  50. John Moore Wrote, “I hope Barr’s supporters wake up and realize that NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR A THIRD PARTY. Anyone voting (in a competitive race) for a third party candidate is, voting directly against his own values”

    To be honest, if I vote Dem or Repub, I’ll still be voting directly against my values. I believe in small government and last time I checked, the NeoCon Republicans aren’t on the small Gov’t bandwagon.

    Protest votes are even more Vital in close elections. If Barr gets decent numbers and the LP causes the Republicans to lose, it will force the GOP to realize that they need to address the desires of the fiscal conservatives.

    I am no fan of Democrats, but if my vote for Barr puts Obama in the office, I’m Okay with that. The GOP needs a big slap in the face to wake them from their Dellusions.

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