Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The soul of the Libertarian Party in the balance

When the Libertarian Party holds its convention in Denver over the Memorial Day weekend, their selection of a candidate for president will be a defining moment for years to come. The leading contender, many pundits say is Bob Barr .

Bob Barr is a former Republican, and very popular among that very set of Republicans most disappointed with the choice of McCain. A “conservative’s conservative”, he had a lead role in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He’s a fiscal conservative, and an advocate of the “Fair Tax”, which would bring another disaffected group of voters. He calls for smaller government, and is against the Gulf War. With him at the helm, the Libertarian Party could get a bigger share of the vote than ever before, become a real player the other two parties would have to deal with.
However… he also is many things anathema to the Libertarian spirit. “Bob Barr was a strong supporter of the War on Drugs. He wrote the Defense of Marriage Act. He also voted for the Patriot Act. Bob Barr also proposed that the military ban the practice of Wicca among its ranks…” For someone like me, this makes him a non-starter- it is incomprehensible to me how the Libertarian Party could in good faith accept his application.

Will the Libertarian Party, in the pursuit of the bright elusive butterfly of votes, sell its soul, or will they accept the lesser role of goad and hold to their principles? Am I to be shouldered out of yet another party, to have no political home at all?


Toonhead said...

Mike Gravel is also seeking the nomination. Do people think the Libertarian Party is a catch-all if you cannot make headway in the main parties?

Anonymous said...


(1) He only supported the Patriot Act with the sunset clauses intact, and until he was ousted by gerrymandering (he ended up in John Linder's district in the 2002 elections), he fought the Bush administration on the affronts to civil liberties.

(2) After he left Congress, and even before he switched parties, he started writing a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (my local paper). Over the years, he espoused more and more libertarian (and Libertarian) positions, including opposing the "War on Drugs."

(3) He still personally believes in a number of conservative positions -- such as opposing medical marijuana, gay marriage, etc. However, his stance on *how* they should be opposed has changed (or, rather, become more focused) in that it should be a States-level decision, not a Federal-level decision.

(4) I am a life-long Libertarian (since '90), and a Wiccan. And I can honestly say that while I may not agree eye-to-eye with Barr on his positions on issues, I agree very much with him on how they should be dealt with. And I definitely believe that the Libertarian party would be better served by and taken more seriously with Bob Barr as its presidential candidate than I think the Democrats are served by Obama (or Clinton, for that matter), the Republicans by McCain, or the Greens by Nader. I'll vote Barr over any of them. And I would vote for Obama before I'll vote for a Green-party wolf in Libertarian clothing like Gravel.

Chalicechick said...

OK, Barr claims to have made quite a turn around on drug issues, but as much as I prefer his new-found libertarianism, it does nothing to do undo his YEARS of ardent drug war support in Congress. I mean, come on, a mere ten years ago the man was on Newt Gingrich's Drug War task force.

Barr was all about using big-government power as much as he could when he had that power. Even if his change to libertarianism is sincere, which I sort of doubt given the passion he has shown for running people's lives in the past, the libertarianism is brand-new and I'm confused that having just joined the church, he thinks he should be elected president of the denomination.

((I am a life-long Libertarian (since '90), and a Wiccan. And I can honestly say that while I may not agree eye-to-eye with Barr on his positions on issues, I agree very much with him on how they should be dealt with.))

Ok, I don't know what a life-long Libertarian since 1990 even means, unless you're 18. I'm a long way from being a Wiccan, but I certianly don't believe that the Pentagon banning the practice of Wicca in the military is how the religious freedom of our folks in uniform should be dealt with.

I don't love everything that Tom Coburn or Jeff Flake have done, but I at least would believe them as libertarian candidates.