Even though many on the right think of Bob Barr as royal pain, the former Georgia Republican Congressman is right on the money. Barr has been challenging his party on all things related to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, leaving cognitive dissonance in his wake. Observe these zingers offered at the recent CPAC assembly. From the Washington Post report:
"Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?" Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. "Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?"
Dinh brought the crowd to a raucous ovation when he judged: "The threat to Americans' liberty today comes from al Qaeda and its associates and the people who would destroy America and her people, not the brave men and women who work to defend this country!"
It was the sort of tactic that has intimidated Democrats and the last few libertarian Republicans who question the program's legality.But Barr is not easily suppressed. During a 2002 Senate primary, he accidentally fired a pistol at a campaign event; at a charity event a decade earlier, he licked whipped cream from the chests of two women.
Barr wasn't going to get a lesson on patriotism from this young product of the Bush Justice Department. "That, folks, was a red herring," he announced. "This debate is very simple: It is a debate about whether or not we will remain a nation subject to and governed by the rule of law or the whim of men."
For the past five years or so, I concluded that the direction the Republican Party was taking was moving away from Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, and towards a big government distinct from the kind of big government the Democrats prefer- but big government all the same. The fiscal conservatives, the "small-L" libertarians still clinging to the GOP would at last be cast aside, with the Libertarian Party as their only possible home.
This is not a small constituency within the GOP, so in time, I believe that the divide will come to represent the questions of big government/small government, and individualism/collectivism. The result will again be two dominant parties, but far better defined.
In 2001, I had the timeline for this metamorphosis at 25-30 years. Now, I have it at about 15 years.
In my own way, I hope that the Republican leadership continues to ignore Barr. It will result in the Republican Party going to way of the Whigs, to be replaced by the Libertarian Party.