Denver Drama

So, the Libertarian Party held their nominating convention in Denver over the weekend. Did you know? Did you care? Did you watch any of the coverage on C-SPAN? I’m guessing for most of you the answers are no, no, and no. Being in the 0.5% of the voting public who regularly votes for the LP, my answers are different. I not only knew and cared, I watched the coverage on C-SPAN until I had to leave and get some stuff done on Sunday. Then we used my Blackjack II to keep track of the voting until it was over.

Let me first get this out of the way:

Okay, now I’ve dispensed with at least one obligatory joke.

The voting went almost how I expected. I didn’t expect the voting to be tied for two rounds between Ruwart and Barr. Generally speaking, this convention was a battle between principle and pragmatism. The long-term hardline radical LP members voted Ruwart. The people who thought it might be nice to get more than 300,000 votes nationally voted for Barr. I have no idea which answer is best for the long-term health of the party. Only time can answer that question, so get back to me in a few years and we’ll talk then.

Barr has a track record to deal with in his attempt to convince libertarians he’s worth a vote. A lot of his track record, especially his support for the War on Drugs, makes many of us twitch uncontrollably and start to foam at the mouth and swear. Since he left office, he has been lobbying for the Marijuana Policy Project. He also joined the LP in 2006, so he’s not a naked opportunist trying to jump on the bandwagon at the last minute because his major party presidential bid tanked. He is still less libertarian than many would like.

The only response I can offer is that it is, for some in the party and elsewhere, apparently impossible for a politician to admit he was wrong and try to do better. Some would argue his actions were so reprehensible that no future actions will suffice to make him acceptable. Any one who would argue that is frankly a cultist who is more worried about sin and redemption and the purity of the religion of Libertarianism. The party is not a church, it’s a political organization and exists to achieve libertarian ends through the electoral process. Bob Barr has a chance to influence the debate in a way no other candidate available would.

Other people would argue that it’s some kind of nefarious plot to either jumpstart his political career or engage in skullduggery for one of the big 2. I can dismiss the first with no thought whatsoever, but for anybody who’s slow in the audience: nobody in their right mind leaves the GOP for the Libertarian Party in an attempt to attain greater personal relevance. That’s like trading in your NFL career to go coach Pop Warner in the hopes of becoming rich. As far as skullduggery and nefarious conspiracies go, what could possibly be the upside for efenants? McCain loses? If Barr is a bad actor, he must be on the donk side. He could possibly pull enough votes from McCain to hand the election to Obama. There’s no scenario I can imagine where an Obama win benefits the GOP. Unless, of course, Barr is just bitter and wants to tank the GOP for hanging him out to dry after the impeachment. Hmm. I may have something there. Of course, he’s awfully prescient if he planned this out back before 2006. I may want to ask the campaign for some stock picks.

The upside for the LP? They finally have a candidate the mainstream media will take seriously and who isn’t obviously insane. Surely that’s worth something. If he will go out and make the case for libertarian ideals, he might get more traction than Cato and Reason and the rest of us combined. If the LP is ever going to succeed at changing anything, the first step is to get people paying attention. Barr has a better chance than anybody had in past elections, especially given the current political climate.

In any event, he’s the candidate. The libertarian faithful have three choices. Vote for lesser evil of the two majors and continue getting what we’ve always gotten: bigger government and more erosion of your rights. You could always stay home, because that’s guaranteed to make a change, right? At least you can feel good about your ideological purity then. Or you could suck it up and vote for Barr despite any differences you might have with the guy. Any attempt to get people in this country thinking seriously about government overreach and the rest of the hot-button issues ought to be worth a try.

Me, I know what I’m doing in November when it comes time to vote. My post-election plans remain unchanged.

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Blogger Ted said...

Yeah man, just don't be too surprised when they don't even get 5% of the vote this year.
Barr will get a one-time TV shot or open mic on radio, start spewing pervert privileges or some other foolishness, and that little red timer will pop up, because he'll be done.
I like the LP. I also like Atlas Shrugged, but I've got enough common sense to realize a third party in a "two" party system where "both" parties are actually factions of the same kakostocracy has about "as much chance of flying as a dead duck."
Quite possibly less.

5:46 PM  

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