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“No Exit” for LP?

The Libertarian National Convention may have reminded a few observers of Sartre’s “No Exit” – each faction selected the candidate that would deny their rival faction victory, producing a nominee with little broad-based support. Or maybe it was more like the 1969 blaxploitation classic Putney Swope, in which a wildly unlikely darkhorse emerges out of similar circumstances at an advertising agency’s board meeting. At any rate, the Convention certainly produced an unlikely candidate, Texas-based computer guru Michael Badnarik.

Badnarik entered the convention as a distant challenger to two better-financed candidates, Hollywood producer Aaron Russo and Ohio-based talk show host Gary Nolan. But acrimony between Russo’s and Nolan’s camps led Nolan, who fell behind in early balloting, to withdraw and endorse Badnarik, with the intention of tilting the election away from Russo. Badnarik finally carried a majority on the third ballot and became the LP’s unlikely nominee.

Badnarik’s campaign website, as of the time of this post, apparently has not been updated in ‘weeks’, as you are greeted with this message on the home page:

With the National Convention mere weeks away, we owe it to you to finish up our drive to the presidential nomination in style. Please consider NOW to be the optimum time to make a difference! (emphasis mine)

Moreover, it appears that Badnarik has not raised much money to date, and has not even had a professionally managed campaign, although I understand that a team is being mobilized rapidly. Candidate websites can be powerful fundraising tools, but right now, the only way to contribute online is (egad) via PayPal.

Badnarik’s website also contains a link to a speech given at Washington University in St. Louis that contains, well, comments about the United Nations that he would probably rather have back. But there they are, out on the web for the whole world to see. (Scroll down toward the bottom, or just do a Ctrl-F search for “detonate.”) Astute readers may find other causes for concern as they read through his position statements.

The election is still five months away, and Badnarik will have time to refine his campaign between now and November. I will keep an eye on the situation and provide updates (with the best intentions of objectivity.)

36 comments to “No Exit” for LP?

  • I am a conservative/libertarian and am a registered Republican, but I do have libertarian leanings (that’s with a lower-case “l”). I used to be a member of the Libertarian Party, but I left because of the loony-toon platforms of their national candidatesf – especially their views on the War on Terror.

    Later,
    Cody
    ******************************
    PrudentPolitics.com
    http://www.prudentpolitics.com
    ******************************

  • Hank Scorpio

    The election is still five months away, and Badnarik will have time to refine his campaign between now and November.

    In order to do what? Be completely crushed and remain an irrelevant third party of whackos? Like it or not, we don’t have a parliamentary system of government. We have a two party, winner take all system, and unless that changes in the forseeable future a vote for the Greens, Libertarians or the Bull Moose Party is a vote wasted.

  • David

    After reading his platform, it appears that Mr. Badnarik wants to become the first autocratic dictator in American history. Here’s a summary of his points:

    1. Dictate to the legislature
    2. Dictate to the judiciary
    3. Dictate to the executive branch without any regard for current laws.
    4. Tell everyone in the country what the Constitution means – it means whatever Mr. Badnarik wants it to mean.

    Vote Libertarian, Vote for Stalin

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I don’t know how wasted a Libertarian vote is — I’m in New York, where the Republicans have no chance of winning in November anyhow. And the Republicans here are far more statist than Bush — it was our former Senator Alfonse D’Amato who was one of the leaders in going after ATM fees.

  • Julian Morrison

    Badnarik seems to be an actual libertarian. This of course will irritate the blue b*ggery out of republican-lite so called Libertarians. Heh.

  • Julian Morrison

    No, David, Stalin was someone who dictated to the people. That’s why he was a tyrant. A libertarian would dictate to the government – and tell it to go away.

  • Cydonia

    “that contains, well, comments about the United Nations that he would probably rather have back”

    What did he say wrong? I read the speech via the link. It was excellent. His views on the UN are plumb line libertarianism.

    I can see that he will annoy the lib-lites, but the point of the libertarian party isn’t to win elections, it is to spread ideas and it’s good to see a candidate who’s not a compromiser.

  • He’d get my vote.

  • It rather pains me to be missing the Libertarian convention this year. I have found memories of the last one in a presidential year. I spoke to several political journos at the event who declared the Libertarians the “most fun” to cover.

    It would be nice if this new bloke can erase the memory of that arsehat (post 9-11) Harry Browne. Browne did a rather good job at driving many people away from the party.

  • Antoine Clarke

    I thought Badnarik looked good in photos, better than the other two. Nolan looks like an axe-murderer and Russo looks a little old, although either would have had their strong points. Given that both Badnarik and Nolan would probably do well in public debates given their occupations, it seems like the LP hads a fair candidate for the job. Badnarik will do by the simplest of tests: he won the nomination without cheating and without great expectations.

  • Tomas

    I actually wanted Nolan to win, but am glad that Badnarik won the nod; hes a good guy. Russo however is nuts, not for any personal political beliefs, but for the fact the he was trying to turn the convention into a circus by making up this lies of being back-stabbed by Gary Nolan. *rolls eyes*

    Also, for you republicans out there that yell “wasted vote!”, I love this quote from Badnarik. “When you vote for the lesser of two evils, you know what you get? More evil.”

  • speedwell

    Just goes to show… that when you’re herding cats, the slowest cat is the one that’s easiest to catch.

    (no really, that made sense when I wrote it, and I’m truly not chemically enhanced at the moment.)

    Starting over… given a party made up of individuals who hate government, what sort of individual do you think is going to wind up with the sad job of BEING the government? I used to make jokes, way back when I was 14, about belonging to the “National Union of Anarchist Individualists.” Little did I know that when I grew up I’d realize I actually joined it for real.

    But I quit. Why? It’s like a tired punchline… I couldn’t agree with anyone else in the Party. Ha ha ha.

  • David

    As I mentioned in my first post above, I read Mr Badnarik’s political agenda and came to the conclusion that he was a closet autocrat. The rest of the posters, except Julian Morrison, ignored my statements. And Julian merely disputed it while actually confirming it. (A libertarian would dictate to the government – and tell it to go away.) But Julian, what if two hundred million Americans like the government just the way it is? Think about how you respond to my question.

    Two political philosophies exist as theoretical polar opposites. In one, an individual or small group has unlimited power to force on other people their vision of the world. The other political system limits any one individual’s power to force anyone else to do anything. Like most theoretical constructs, true political systems never exactly match either extreme, but tend to fall somewhere in between.

    Most Utopionims falls towards the autocratic side of the spectrum. In Utopionism, an individual or group decides it has discovered a perfect way. They then attempt to implement the perfect way only to discover that most people either don’t care, or oppose this so called perfect way. The Utopianist then decide they must either re-educate or remove the unenlightened. So all calls for “peasant governments”, “workers paradise”, etc have usually devolved into gulags and mass murder.

    The U.S. system was founded on the belief that humans will naturally attempt to implement their vision of the world on unwilling other people. Therefore, the U.S. Constitution was written to divide political power between the judiciary, executive and legislature. Additionally, the government is put to approval at regular intervals from the population as a whole. This allowed the population to live the lives generally free from the influence of other people. In other words it came pretty close to the theoretical pole of true individual freedom. Most people in the United States, including me, rather like this system. I like it because I understand that the absence of a central government does not guarantee individual freedom. For example, in France, the rise of feudalism and serfdeom happened during the collapse of Carolingian rule. It was in the absence of the central government that influential local men grabbed local power to enforce their particular vision on their fellow citizens.

    Now, let’s look at Mr. Badnarik. He states that after his election, he would order all members of Congress (the independent legislature chosen by the people) to attend a week long class during which he would “re-educate” them on the meaning of the Constitution. He then states that the meaning of the Constitution would be whatever he wants it to be.

    Let’s see, Utopian vision of the world not held by most people in the U.S. (check); attempt to impose personal vision on the rest of us (check); stated desire to impose personal vision on the chosen representatives of the people (check); undermining the concept of divided power in order to consolidate power into himself (check). Ladies and gentleman, we have an autocrat in waiting. As I have come to believe over the years, scratch a Libertarian, find a Marx (or a Pol Pot). Perhaps the reason the Libertarians have done so poorly in elections is that few of us Americans want to place in power individuals with so naked a desire to impose their personal vision of the world on us.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the words “United Nations” and “detonate” should appear in speech far more often.

  • Julian Morrison

    But Julian, what if two hundred million Americans like the government just the way it is? Think about how you respond to my question.

    Well duh, they wouldn’t vote for him. And if enough people did, tough luck to the remainder – isn’t that the way the game of democracy is played? After praising the rules, you can’t complain if you lose by the rules.

  • Shaun Bourke

    Until such time as the Libertarians can place a majority of Electors in the various Electoral Colleges, no Libertarian candidate will ever win the White House letalone carry a single state.

  • The speech & issues pages seem to have been removed from his web site, but can still be found through google. Just search for badnarik UN and badnarik issues and click on the cached copy.

  • D Anghelone

    As I have come to believe over the years, scratch a Libertarian, find a Marx (or a Pol Pot).

    Make that, “scratch a dogmatic Libertarian” and you are right.

  • I grabbed the missing issues page from Google and put it up at billstclair.com/badnarik

  • Kind of makes Russo look silly for spamming us all with emails in which he calls himself the “resumptive nominee,” doesn’t it?

  • Kind of makes Russo look silly for spamming us all with emails in which he calls himself the “presumptive nominee,” doesn’t it?

  • Cydonia

    “It would be nice if this new bloke can erase the memory of that arsehat (post 9-11) Harry Browne.”

    I have no idea what he was like as an individual, but his principles always seemed very sound.

  • Cydonia

    David:

    You’ve lost me. What vision are you suggesting libertarians want to “impose” on others?

    It seems to me that you have got it exactly the wrong way around. The libertarian vision is of a society in which people are not permitted to impose their vision on others. How is that the road to autocracy?

  • Julian Morrison

    Cydonia : democrats think that the concept “imposition” applies to “the people” and not to individual persons. Thus they find thwarting “the people” in their bossiness and pocket-picking, “an imposition”.

  • Cydonia, what Browne said after 9/11 was offensive to all but the fringe of the libertarian movement. His comments caused many to reconsider their involvement with the party at both the national and state levels. It was not just what he said but how he said it. The man demonstrated a severe lack of tact and did the LP a great deal of harm. (Hence why he was booted out.)

  • Cydonia

    Julian:

    Yes, I feared that might be the answer. The modern day worship of majoritarian democracy by those such as David is alarming, to say the least :-(

  • Cydonia

    Andrew:

    What did he say that was so offensive? The only thing I read of his, was on his website http://www.harrybrowne.org (from memory) – in which he put forward the libertarian anti-war case. There was nothing there which was offensive; just forthright. Did you have something else in mind?

  • Mace

    I’m a believer in free markets and Capitalism and I’ve had two up close and personal experiences with the Libertarians over the last two months. The first was watching a small portion of the Libertarian convention on CSPAN last weekend (a small portion was all I could stomach). These guys are laughable amateurs. I wouldn’t vote for any of those guys.

    The other experience was having an informal chat with the local Libertarian county chairman. I’d describe him as anything except Libertarian. He was more of a Leftist/Anarchist who believed in wild conspiracy theories (Can we spell T-r-i-l-a-t-e-r-a-l?). What a loser and he knew very little about economics. The Libertarians aren’t going anywhere with people like this.

  • Guy Herbert

    The “laughable amateurs” bit is a bit of a double-bind for libertarians. If you want less government then converting yourself into a sophisticated manager of the pork-barrel may be counterproductive. A major libertarian motivation being to get government out of one’s own life, it is hard at the same time to make political and policy process a consuming passion.

    There’s little patience with detail or compromise among even the thoughtful denizens of (say) this site. We all want simple quick fixes that we hope will get the tedious and bureaucratic out of the way so we can get on with something else. Unfortunately the appearance of professionalism involves grinding away at the detail behind closed doors, and being prepared to sacrifice immediate personal gratification and individual self-expression to the indirect goal.

    It is the adherence to voluntarism and honest rational persuasion as alternatives to the business as usual that does for libertarians every time. Politics rewards the ruthlessly strategic and the sociopathically unprincipled who work consistently towards their ends within the system. If you are not driven by outer-directed self-aggrandisement, nor by some superordinate good regardless of cost to yourself or others, then the required steel is going to be hard to find.

  • Wili Wáchendon

    It’s a minor complaint, but the claim in the ‘Gay marriage/gay adoption’ section that, “100% of all homosexuals are born to heterosexual parents”, is clearly false. Think of all the closet-cases who’ve hid behind the facade of a standard nuclear family over the years, especially when homosexuality was still illegal. Just because they were conceived through a heterosexual act doesn’t mean the parents were necessarily heterosexual.

    And while closets are probably becoming less common, think of the choice now being offered through fertility treatments etc. Lesbian couples having one partner artificially inseminated with a gay male friend’s sperm, or whatever.

    It’s not a big deal, it just struck me as a really silly and clearly inaccurate thing to say.

  • Wili Wáchendon

    The most horrific idea in his position statements, I think, is the whole ‘force prisoner’s muscles to atrophy through inaction’ thing. Talk about corporal punishment. Geez.

  • David

    Julian

    “After praising the rules, you can’t complain if you lose by the rules.” Sure I can if the person elected (such as Chavez in Venezuela) uses the rules to destroy the system to prevent his losing power. Having a single election is standard in many countries. Then the president declares the Congress dissolved and himself president for life.

    Cydonia,

    The vision is one of a land without a state. I’ve visited several of them and they’ve all been hell on earth. If you want to see true Libertarianism in practice, visit Haiti. Although it officially has a government, it really doesn’t. Trust me on this one. There actually are Europeans and Americans who love living in Haiti because everything is okay, if you have the money. Of course the deforastation, gang warfare, dead bodies washing down out of the hills, garbage dumped in the streets, etc., are sometimes a little hard to take. What I mean is, I just don’t want to live in a place like that. But if you do, move there by all means, I sure won’t stop you.

    Finaly, the following may sound like a stream of consciousness narrative, but it’s essentially how a Libertarian once explained Libertarianism to me:

    “The state is an amorphous power and money hungry class of people who oppress everyone else. In order to free the oppressed people from the domination by the upper class controlled state, certain elect and enlightened individuals (like Mr. Badnarik) must temporarily gain control of the state. Then, under their enlightened control of the state apparatus, they will oversee the removal of the oppressive upper class from the overlordship of the proletariat in conjunction with the disintegration of the state. And everyone will live in peace and harmony with no need for the police or courts or laws or a military. The only problem of course is that in order for this to work, the whole world needs to live under this it. If some people don’t like the new world order, they’ll need to be re-educated (as Mr. Badnarik states he intends to do with Congress). If those who have undergone re-education persist with their reactionary beliefs, they will need to be sequestered in order to prevent their opposition from infecting the now pure state-less order. Of course, certain enlightened Libertarians will still need to hold some power in order to prevent the class reactionaries from staging a counter-revolution, but we can trust them because they will be servants of the people. After the disintegration of the state everyone will receive compensation, not based on the arbitrary determination of colluding corporations who use the power of the state to undermine individual economic freedom, but from the true value of their labor.”

    To which I asked, “Do you realize you’re a Marxist?” He vehemently denied my accusation, but whenever I read Libertarian political tracts, I frequently see little more than reheated Marxism. That is why I am not a Libertarian. I want you to leave me alone, but I know that individuals like Mr. Badnarik are true believers who, if they gained a position of power, would not hesitate to use it to impose his beliefs on me. Which is why I will never vote Libertarian.

  • David: I doubt the person you were speaking to was a libertarian w/ that type of rhetoric. Simply pointing out, in detail, that according to the constitution 90% of what the US federal government currently does is illegal would’ve sufficed.

    As for the “what about an opposing plurality” comment: the US is not a direct democracy. If people seriously want an expansive government, then they can attempt to pass constitutional amendments to make it that way. Unless that happens, the answer is by default “no”.

    If people can’t bring themselves to play by the rules then they should quit. Forcing their agenda on others by way of lies & faux-populism is unacceptable.

  • Lex

    Since the LP doesn’t have the financial resources to run a competitive race, a Libertarian vote is a protest vote at this point.

    For a protest vote, the more extreme the candidate is, the better. A vote for Badnarik can only be interpreted as a sign that the voter is fed up with the big-spending, anti-liberty policies of Bush and Kerry.

    As for Badnarik being an autocrat, all I can say is “Huh?” If he tells the Congress and the Court what to do, and leaves the American people free to live in liberty, that’s the best kind of autocrat I’ve ever heard of.

  • David,
    The basis of Marxism is the abolition of private property. The LP, by CONTRAST, embrace the rights of INDIVIDUALS to have private property, and furthermore believe that annual taxation of property is theft. Please name ONE issue in which the LP agrees with Marxism. All I have seen is your uneducated opinion so far. Please be specific

  • Greg

    >>>Cydonia, what Browne said after 9/11 was offensive to all but the fringe of the libertarian movement. His comments caused many to reconsider their involvement with the party at both the national and state levels. It was not just what he said but how he said it. The man demonstrated a severe lack of tact and did the LP a great deal of harm. (Hence why he was booted out.)<<<<

    I’d like to know exactly what Harry Browne said at that time.