Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Welcome, Bob Barr

Bob Barr jumped into the presidential race yesterday. According to the Washington Times, a Barr candidacy could generate between 3% (Zogby) and 9% (Barr's own polling) of the vote. I will not vote for Barr, and God help us all if he wins, but I was pretty excited about yesterday's news - and not just for the reason you'd expect.

My top 10 reasons that yesterday's announcement is great news:

10. This year's Libertarian nomination contest will be a real contest. Barr is now the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination, but Wayne Allyn Root, Mary Ruwart, Steve Kubby and even Mike Gravel are all strong candidates (check out this hilarious video Gravel posted on his web site for his birthday). Having a real choice will be great for the LP.
9. Barr's campaign will give Ron Paul's fanatical supporters something to do. Paul hasn't officially dropped out yet - and it sounds like he's going to make some trouble at the convention - but his campaign is a campaign in name only. It would be a real shame if all of the energy that Paul drummed up just faded away.
8. Americans will start to think beyond Republicans and Democrats. This year, I happen to believe that the best candidate is a Democrat, but I'd certainly be happy to have more than two choices in the future.
7. Barr will expose Republicans for the profligate spenders that they are.
6. Barr will expose John McCain's nasty temper with his insurgent campaign.
5. Barr will expose himself as a conservative, not a libertarian. This is a guy who wants government restrictions on abortion, immigration and gay rights. Hopefully this will energize the left wing of the Libertarian Party. But that might just be wishful thinking on my part.
4. Having one of Bill Clinton's impeachment managers on the ballot will energize Democrats - especially bitter Hillary Clinton supporters - and bring them to the polls for Barack Obama.
3. Barr will generate tons of media attention (it's already started), giving both the Libertarian Party and down-ticket Libertarian candidates a boost.
2. As a candidate, Barr can draw attention to issues that the other candidates aren't talking about. Maybe he can even get McCain and Obama to change some of their positions (moving Obama to the right on guns and McCain to the left on privacy, perhaps).

And the number one reason that I'm excited about Bob Barr's candidacy ...

He'll poach votes from McCain - especially in the Mountain West - and deliver the election to Obama.


Anonymous said...

He may draw some Obama supporters too, or rather people you would think would be likely to vote for the democrat.

Im one of those kind of voters. Ive always thought of myself as sort of libertarian, I vote for democrats because of the supreme court and civil liberties in general, I agree more with republicans on economics. Im so turned off of Obama because of his rude, irrational, arrogant....... supporters though and the way they played the race card against Hillary, and the way the liberal media has been in the tank for him that I may vote for Bob Barr.

Its up to Obama. He needs to move to the "center" and Sister Souljah the left of his party or he may lose my vote.

LibertyRepublican said...

re: Barr on immigration, gay rights, abortion....

1) Barr's stance on immigration is essentially secure the borders and end welfare benefits. (The same as Ron Paul's.) This isn't really bad on libertarian grounds, ifyou believe that libertarian doesn't permit welfare benefits in the first place and that national security is a function of the government. I view secured borders as a national security mechanism that prevents infasions of foreign armies or non-state enemies.

2) His position on gay issues (particularly marriage) is federalist. On issues like employer non-discrimination, well, I don't see how a libertarian can support legislation like that in the first place.

3) The pro-life position is a perfectly defensible position for a libertarian, if you believe it is a function of government to protect individual life and liberty from coercion.

The only real problem I have with Barr on libertarian grounds is his past stance on drugs and that he doesn't seem to believe in full legalization. However, he takes a federalist stance, which is the position that a libertarian running for national office should take in adhering to the Constitution.

I just don't see how supporting a very non-libertarian candidate (either Obama or McCain) instead of supporting a candidate that's about 85-90% there (Barr) and a Party that's all the way there is productive for the libertarian movement.

LibertyRepublican said...

BTW, I'm adding you to my blog roll. It's important to continue this dialog.

Mark said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm going to try to respond to them in a new post soon. The short response: 1. Obama is a better libertarian than Barr on some issues, and worse on others. 2. There are several reasons other than positions on the issues to support Obama over Barr.

Blue Box Citizen said...

Of course Obama is to the left during the primary season. It's what to be expected; Republicans lean right during primaries, then come closer to center during the GE, and Democrats lean left then come closer to center during GE as well.

The only people who don't do that, who, arguably, are those that are most honest, are those who are not viable be/c they are too far from the center to become viable.

Jake Featherston said...

There's no question that Obama represents the lesser of two evils for libertarians, as per John McInsane.

The obvious reason is that Obama very probably won't take us into a disastrous war with Iran, while that senile old coot from Arizona certainly will.

The more subtle reason is that while Obama and McInsane will both promote many liberal, distinctly unlibertarian policy measures, Obama can expect to face opposition from Congressional Republicans, whereas McInsane, due to the almost fanatical partisan loyalty to GOP Presidents among Republicans in Congress (such as we've seen with the present administration), will enjoy bipartisan support for his odious agenda.

The third reason, of course, is that Obama, like any other liberal Democrat, will generate a tsunami-like backlash against his liberal excesses, which will lead to a Republican take-over of Congress in 2010, and with any luck at all, a decent libertarianesque or paleo-conservative Republican nominee for President in 2012.

Electing McInsane in 2008, on the other hand, might well be sufficient to see the White House remain in Democratic hands for the next two decades.

Jake Featherston said...

"I just don't see how supporting a very non-libertarian candidate (either Obama or McCain) instead of supporting a candidate that's about 85-90% there (Barr) and a Party that's all the way there is productive for the libertarian movement."

Its one thing to prefer an Obama victory to a McInsane victory, as I do. Its quite another to actually plan to vote for Obama.

I suppose in a close election (as this one is likely to be), if one lived in a swing state, a vote for Obama might make sense, primarily to ensure that deranged Arizonan never has command of the U.S. Armed Forces. But for the majority of us who live in decidedly red or blue states (or for everyone, in the event the election isn't close after all), it makes far more sense to pull the level for Bob Barr. He's spectacularly more libertarian than either of the two nominees of the BiPartisan Party.

Kimberly said...

How in the world can someone who understands the Libertarian philosophy and principles vote for Obama??? You clearly are NOT a Libertarian.

Anonymous said...

Obama a Libertarian? Come on! At best he’s a socialist—though he probably leans more towards communism. I think one of the biggest disservices to Libertarians is the very skewed view of Libertarianism many people like Bill Maher put forth. Unfortunately many (mostly young adults) hear things like “legalize pot” and think “I want to be a Libertarian.” They lack the fundamental understanding of what Libertarianism is about. Furthermore they probably lack the basic understanding of politics in general. I encourage people I meet, especially liberals (aka socialists) that they should read the fundamental documents: Constitution, Federalist-Papers, and Anti-Federalist Papers. Furthermore they should get to know about the men who founded this country: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, etc… Only then will they really be “enlightened” to know, and appreciate, what Libertarianism is really about.

Mark said...

I wish libertarians would spend more time trying to further their political agenda and less time attacking people who generally agree with them for their lack of ideological purity.

Mark said...

I wish libertarians would spend more time trying to further their political agenda and less time attacking people who generally agree with them for their lack of ideological purity.