Friday, May 23, 2008

Libertarian Party Convention Underway

I'm not in Denver today, but I am keeping a close eye on the Libertarian convention, as a nominee for President will emerge. Here are my main interests in a nominee:

1. Carry no baggage. I was cheering Ron Paul until his ties to racist garbage were revealed. At that point, Paul became something worse than a poor ambassador for liberty. He tarnished the very idea, because people associated Paul as liberty itself. We can't have that in the Libertarian nominee.

2. Be a real communicator. Michael Badnarik won the 2004 nomination on the strength of one performance at the Libertarian convention in Atlanta, sweeping many delegates off their feet. We soon learned that one speech does not a communicator make, as Badnarik was not covered by the media, and worse, he opted to sit at "the kiddie table" of debates- the forums for the excluded minor party candidates. Our nominee cannot be one who self-marginalizes by accepting exclusion. Our nominee must make America take notice. Most of our candidates are not capable of that, frankly.

3. Focus on real campaigning issues. I love the Constitution, but the American public neither knows about it nor cares. Our nominee has to get over this, and get to topics of substance that the public does care about. In my opinion, a winning trio is Iraq, our financial crisis/jobs, and health care. I don't want a nominee who is talking to me. You already have me. I hope our delegates have this wisdom, for once.

Overall, Bob Barr is my #1 choice, because he can fulfill #2 & 3 better than any of our candidates. However, he does have baggage, both ideological and in act, and running as the most conservative, "I'm more Republican than the Republicans" candidate in a year where the Republican brand is the greatest possible albatross is a very bad idea. Barr needs to change his tactics.

Mike Gravel is the other big name, and I have to say that I was impressed with his fire and his clarity when speaking at the Indiana Libertarian convention recently. Unfortunately, Gravel does have some baggage, in the sad image of being a doddering old man. I'm sure that's why he came out to Indy with such spunk. I don't see Libertarians nominating him, though, as the Democratic Party is such a pariah within the LP because of Dems' positions on all things economic, and Gravel will be met with great suspicion accordingly. Gravel is my #2 choice, though.

Mary Ruwart is a favorite of many Libertarians, because of her ability to communicate ideas, but her baggage is so overwhelming that she would make Ron Paul's racist connections look very welcome by comparison. I think most people who read regularly know that I would support almost any Libertarian candidate come November. Not this one. The media will never give her a chance to talk about anything but her stupid, foolish comments about child pornography. She can't pull a Ron Paul on them and say she didn't know they were written. They're in her book, "Short Answers to Tough Questions".

Apart from that, I find that the remaining candidates are all very similar. Sure, they differ on this issue or that, but what they have in common is this: They aren't raising big money. They don't sweep you off your feet. They haven't gotten any noteworthy positive media attention, no matter how long they've been at it. They are run-of-the-mill candidates for the Libertarian nomination. If any of them win, we are guaranteed continued obscurity in a year when the nation needs liberty more than ever.


Jeffrey Quick said...

You and I are coming at this from opposite ends, which is OK. I think you're too concerned about baggage (esp. Ron Paul's). All 3 of the Duopoly candidates look like Marley's Ghost, they're carrying so much baggage. And before we even deal with general-election baggage, there's the intra-party stuff. Gravel just does not grok libertarianism...see the report on Last Free Voice from Libertarians for Justice, where the crowd pretty much handed Mike's head to him. (Granted they were self-selected as radicals). Barr is coming along, but has not explained his former (and current!) non-libertarian positions. For me, his actions re the Ft. Hood Wiccans come very close to being a deal-breaker; if I want to vote for a theocrat, Chuck Baldwin would be a fine candidate (but I don't). I think it's going to be Ruwart, for better or worse. There's been only one inspiring candidate this cycle, in any party...and of course "he's a racist." And no, I'm not referring to Obama.

gRegor said...

To the contrary, Ruwart is the only LP candidate I'm remotely interested in supporting at the moment.

The so-called "baggage" is BS internal party politics trying to take out a candidate. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I'd hoped the LP was a bit better than that.

Have you read what she's said on the matter?


longer post by mary, touches on the topic somewhat:

Mike Kole said...

As usual, this comes down to idealism vs realism. I like Ruwart's idealism in most things (although on this baggage issue, I am rather uncomfortable), but for me, the realism is too heavy: The press will only talk about that item in a Ruwart candidacy, and the LP will marginalized worse than ever at the top. That's my analysis, and of course it can be taken or left. I'd hate to be in the "I told you so" area in December.

Within my own desire for an idealistic candidate, I try not to let perfect be the enemy of the good, so I can tolerate someone who scores even 80-80 on the Advocates Quiz as "libertarian enough" for me, so long as the solutions they propose for the issues they talk about are going involve more liberty and less government.

I can't get away from thinking that if Ruwart wins, she'll do nothing but explain her comment, because the media will ask her about nothing else. I have read what Ruwart had to say about that, but it comes down to a simple truism in political campaigning: if you are explaining, you are losing ground. I don't want a candidate that has to explain anything other than how their presidency will make America better. Endlessly explaining a passage in her book does not make America better, and it certainly doesn't advance this party.

Libertarian candidates, fair or not, have to be five times better than their competition to get 5% of the positive media coverage. We always have to suffer introductions like, "and now a candidate who has virtually no chance to win, but plugs away anyway. Her views are controversial..." - and that's without having to explain about child pornography.

I've been the top of ticket candidate. I know what it's like to have to suffer those introductions, thinking, "How do I steer this towards talking about the issue I want to talk about"? It really is counterproductive. You want to be able to hit a home run with the first thing out of your mouth. There is no home run defensive position.

gRegor said...

I understand what you're saying. I guess what pisses me off about the situation is that it wasn't the press that asked her this, it was an internal attack from party hacks and other LP candidates.

Shane Cory's press release, which I understand was not approved by the LNC (?), was a bunch of ridiculous bullshit, and a clear attack on Ruwart.

I disagree entirely on her being an idealistic vs. realistic candidate, but that's another topic.

Mike Kole said...

Gregor- Shane Cory's press release mystified me. I really liked so many of the things he was doing for the party, and then that. I can take candidates going negative (not that I prefer it), but the party staff is supposed to be nothing but supportive and neutral, leaving the convention to sort it out.

2minutenews said...

Hey, you blog, don't expect to come off clean when you swipe at Ron Paul. :P

I wouldn't take internet rumors for granted.