Friday, April 4, 2008

Bob Barr Will Run, but Not as a Libertarian

The New Republic reported yesterday that Bob Barr will run for president as an independent. Curious news, given that Barr sits on the Libertarian National Committee. But so be it. Barr is no libertarian, as I've written in the past (here and here).

If he does go ahead with this foolishness, you would think he would at least want the Libertarian ballot line. Libertarians aren't very good at electing candidates, but they are excellent at getting on ballots. Maybe Barr doesn't think that LP members will support him at the convention next month. Maybe he's worried they won't look kindly on his opposition to abortion and immigration, or his PAC, which gives money only to the most pro-war, anti-privacy Republicans. As an independent, Barr might not even be able to take enough votes from John McCain to make his quixotic candidacy worthwhile.

So instead of the general election spoiler we might have hoped for, Barr will just be one more in what is shaping up to be a long list of novelty candidates this year: Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Alan Keyes and probably either Mary Ruwart or Steve Kubby for the Libertarians. Who knows, maybe Mike Gravel will even find a way to get onto a few ballots.

Who will this motley crew of also-rans take more votes from, McCain or Obama? I won't even begin to try to guess.

Update: Doug Craig claims on the Crazy for Liberty blog that Barr said in a radio interview that if he runs for president, he'll run as a Libertarian. I can't find any other accounts of this interview, but I'll take Craig's word for it. Still, this raises the question: If the LP members reject Barr as their candidate - as they very well might - would he consider an independent run?

Second Update: Barr has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Libertarian candidacy for president. So I guess the New Republic was wrong.


Anonymous said...

That is not true he will run as a Libertarian he talked about this on XM radio on Thursday..

Doug Craig said...

This is response to your comment on The blogging Libertarian may not like him as much but the main thing is how well recieved he is at convention. We nomonate our candidates with super delegates only. I believe it will hurt barr with the convention being in Denver.It will be hard on the southern more right leaning Libertarians to make it to the convention

Mark said...

I'm no fan of Barr, but I am rooting for him to be the LP nominee. Kubby, Ruwart or Gravel would only take votes from Obama. Barr would hurt the warmonger McCain. So for now, "Run, Bob, run!"

Eric Dondero said...

Bob Barr will make a fine Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, perhaps the best ever, even eclipsing Ed Clark's high water mark of nearly 1 million votes (1.1%) in 1980.

Problem is the Party is in the grips of leftwing Anti-War Libertarians (many outright Anarchists), thes days. Most of the Pro-Defense wing has left for the GOP into the Republican Liberty Caucus, Club for Growth, ect...

Barr will get a substantial vote among just the hardcore Libertarian set - base of about 500,000.

But if he hopes to increase that into the millions, he'll need to walk a fine line on foreign policy, careful not to run away Pro-Defense libertarians who might be inclined to vote for him.

Just today we learn of yet another report about to be released showing how the Surge in Iraq has been a stunning success since September.

If Barr takes the Ron Paul/Obama non-interventionist/pacifist line and claims that the War is a "failure" he'll end up looking foolish and run off a great many potential libertarian Republican supporters.

Eric Dondero said...

Actually, your article contains an error. You say "Libertarians are not good at electing their members to office..." That is entirely inaccurate.

The LP has the strongest record of any 3rd party in electing its members to public office. Currently, over 500 serve nationwide.

Just last week, Ed Thompson (yes the brother of Tommy Thompson), won election as Mayor of Tomah, Wisconsin (pop. 8,100), as a Libertarian.

The LP has a couple state legislators in office. And tons of Mayors, City Councilman, County Supervisors, ect...

Yes, they suck at winning Congressional elections.

But on the local level, the LP has more elected officials than all other American 3rd parties combined, including the Greens and Constitution Party.

Mark said...

When I said that the LP was no good at winning elections, I was comparing the party to the Republicans and Democrats. You are quite right that the Libertarians are the most effective minor party.

In response to your points about "pro defense" Libertarians: Libertarians can disagree about all sorts of things. But I believe that I am in the majority (of big-L Libertarians, small-L libertarians and the public at large) when I say that this war has been a disaster and that a warmongering country can not be free and can not have a small government. That is one of the reasons that I support Obama.

I hope that you are right, and Barr endorses this failed war as a presidential candidate, as he did when he was in Congress. All the better for the one viable candidate who can end the war and move this country in a libertarian direction: Barack Obama.