Sunday, May 25, 2008

Libertarian Party Nominates Bob Barr!

After six rounds of ballots where Bob Barr and Mary Ruwart ran neck-and-neck, Wayne Allyn Root's declaration of interest in being part of a Barr-Root ticket gave the race to Barr. Here is the final vote:

Barr 324 (+101)
Ruwart 276 (+47)

I was very happy for this result. While Barr isn't the pure libertarian's dream candidate, he did receive better more and better press coverage on his entry into the race than all other LP nomination seekers had, combined. That is golden with me. 

The message of liberty has to be heard by the American public, now more than ever. The coverage Barr generated indicates to me that for once, at last, this will be possible of our presidential candidate. LP press release.

We've had a lot of purists' dream candidates, including our last, Michael Badnarik, who got less than 1% of the vote nationally, was relegated to the kiddie table of debates, and was generally the prime example of a tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it happen.

I was therefore also very relieved for this result. Anyone other than Barr was going to repeat past results: less than 1%, certain exclusion from the main debates, confirmation in the minds of Americans that the LP is a collection of tinfoil hat-wearing kooks.

Later in the evening, Wayne Allyn Root won the nomination for Vice President, edging out Steve Kubby.

I'm not nearly as excited about this outcome, as Root really wasn't generating any buzz on his own. At least he can go out and talk about Iraq, the financial crisis, and health care without having to answer baggage questions first. Kubby would have, being a virtual single-issue marijuana candidate. As much as I agree with his positions on those issues, it isn't nearly as important as Iraq, the financial crisis, or health care, and really shouldn't come up in any serious conversation about public policy until those issues are exhaustively probed. 

There is a great opportunity to win the people over on these issues and the Libertarian solutions for each- then maybe they'll listen about pot. It doesn't work the other way. The average voter is not going to say, "Oh, you smoke pot every day? Well, we have to listen to your perspective on the dollar".

It's kind of depressing that these things have to be discussed as such. The LP is maturing, but at a snail's pace.


Roberta X said...

I do have to wonder just what andidate Barr's message is going to be -- the LP's open, liberty-minded platform or his own far-Right Christian conservatism?

Mind you, I'm not criticising the man on the basis of his faith or his beliefs, but all things considered, he still looks like a better fit for the Constitution Party than the LP.

...Of course, at the rate the LP purges and polishes, they'll be Republicans in everything but vote totals before too long. Certainly the GOP is leaving a gap to be filled as they move Left and Authoritarian. History tells us such things tend to happen; I'm just sorry to see the Party of Conscience going at it with such gusto.

Mike Kole said...

There is an impression by some that the LP is moving to the right. Certainly, it has been campaigning more rightward generally... but then you have a candidate like Eric Schansberg (IN's 9th Dist) who took more votes from Dem Baron Hill than Republican Mike Sodrel in 2006, because of the issue of Iraq, where Schansberg campaigned without hesitation against the war. This could as easily happen with Barr.

I hope Barr does vigorously campaign on the war. It's a winning issue for him, and would go a long way towards showing that the current LP brand is anything but "Republican Lite".

As for the "purges and polishes", there really isn't a single policy item the LP has reversed course on vis-a-vis standard libertarian orthodoxy. I see it more as a move towards a greater professionalism, and that seems to have revealed some of the leftward elements of the party to be the more, er, flamboyant, and thus a bit marginalized lately.

I like the move. More professionalism is a good thing. Outnumbering the characters at conventions who wear masks or look like they came from the Jim Rose Circus is a good thing. Reducing the platform to reflect the issues of the current election season, versus a 20,000+ word tome would be better still.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I just don't know my LP history, but when has an LP presidential candidat ever been included in the presidential debates??

Roberta X said...

I lost hope when the LP dropped the non-agression principle.

The States have got at least three parties run by stodgy stuffed shirts already; what'll we do with four?

"Sitting at the grown-up table," or turning into the pigs from Animal Farm?

Jeffrey Quick said...

Mike, you're a cockeyed optimist about leaving the kiddie table. The Bipartisan (note: not "Nonpartisan") Debate Commission has in all cases previously set 15% in several nationwide polls. Now, while I think that Barr has tremendous breakout potential, he's never polled more that 7% so far in any matchup. If he looks like he's getting too close, they'll "move the bar" if they dare, or, more subtly, McCainObama will find an excuse not to debate.

I was at the VP kiddie debate in Berea, and learned several things: Richard Campagna was not fit to be "a heartbeat away", and the Constitution Party is really getting their stuff together. Pat LaMarche was the best candidate qua candidate, even though her policy positions were insane.

Mike Kole said...

Guilty as charged, Jeffrey. But then, Badnarik wasn't even being polled and I had hopes that he could at least make the case for inclusion. Barr has a vastly greater opportunity for it.

If I had no optimism in a Libertarian candidate's potential for success, why on earth would I back them? For some self-congratulatory masturbation? Don't need politics for that!

Jerry said...

My wife and I watched the nomination on cspan and it was very entertaining. The first political anything that my wife has watched on TV and paid attention. She's still talking about it and how funny it was. I loved the guy from TN...and Indiana was represented well, too.