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LP choses Bob Barr

The Libertarian Party convention has, as most of us expected, selected Bob Barr as our candidate. As I have been on the road the last month I have not had an opportunity to do much in the way of research on the man. I intend to correct that in the ensuing weeks.

The major party election landscape is about as dismal and disgusting as it has ever been. I would not support John McCain (author of the infamous anti-First Amendment limitation on political speech McCain-Feingold Act) if he were running against the Satan-Cthulu ticket. Had Hillary Clinton been the Democratic winner, I might have given her luke warm support simply because she is a rational political animal and thus predictable. She would be less likely to do something immature and stupid. True, she would have been as bad for our ideals as McCain, albeit in different areas, but at least she is not John McCain.

I might add that the bitter pill would have been considerably sweetened by the probable ascension of a very old and dear friend to top policy wonk in space affairs. There is barely day light between her ideas and mine on what has to happen to NASA over the next 20 years. It would have been a joy to have her in a high position, but that is not to be.

So… I am firmly back where I have been as a voter for the majority of my majority: it is the LP candidate or nothing. So who is Bob Barr? Is he a suitable carrier of our banner?

For those who know even less than I about the man, he is a former Republican Congressman from Georgia who became a card carrying Libertarian about a year and a half ago and seems to have accepted our ideas and platform in toto. His legislative history prior to that has some flaws from our perspective but he does not appear to have ever been a truly hard core statist. He does indeed appear to be someone who was philosophically close to us on many issues and finally crossed the line, decided some of his prior stands were in error and ‘outed’ himself as one of us.

We know we are not going to put our man in the Oval Office so our candidate requirements are different from those of the Republicans and Democrats. We need a communicator and a teacher. We need someone who will attract reasonable media attention. Our candidates job is to move another slice of the citizenry towards a belief in the importance of individual liberty. He must educate the electorate on the death of a thousand cuts the ‘major’ parties have been applying to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Purity is not as important as effectiveness.

I will naturally make up my own mind but at this point it is Barr or stay home. I am leaning towards supporting him and I am interested in the views, pro and con, of other libertarians. Can Bob Barr reap what Ron Paul has sown for us? Can he consolidate those gains and extend them over the next five months?

45 comments to LP choses Bob Barr

  • Flash Gordon

    I decided some time ago I would vote for Bob Barr if that option were available, otherwise just leave that line on the ballot blank. I have to vote to support Bob Schaffer for Senate from Colorado, but I will never cast a vote for John McCain.

    I realize that my vote for Bob Barr will only help Barak Obama and he is much worse than McCain. But McCain has made it clear that he does not want me to vote for him, and I have never liked going where I am not wanted.

  • Ian B

    I realize that my vote for Bob Barr will only help Barak Obama and he is much worse than McCain.

    Here’s my justification for voting for a can’t-win candidate:

    The chance of the election being decided on just one vote is miniscule. The individual voter’s effect on the outcome is microscopic and effectively negligible. If your least-preferred candidate (e.g. Obama) wins by 2 or more votes, then you aren’t to blame for him winning, since your vote couldn’t have stopped that anyway. That’s effectively certain to be the case.

    As such the argument that you must feel obligated to vote for a candidate who can win falls apart, since whoever wins was going to win anyway. So you’ve nothing to gain by voting for a major candidate.

    However, every vote won by a minor candidate is more significant, for two reasons. Firstly, your vote is a larger proportion of his share, so your voting “mattered” more. Secondly, a good showing by a minor candidate is good publicity for them and their party or policies, so you can help promote those policies simply by voting for them. Additionally, that may encourage more people to vote for them next time.

    So, the logical decision is to ignore who is in with a chance of winning, and vote for your preferred candidate, however hopeless. That’s my take on the thing, anyway.

  • It’s not clear to me that McCain is better than Obama. It tough when you have to pick and choose which of your rights you want to have curtailed.

  • Scott Ganz

    As a California voter, I know for a fact that my vote won’t play any part at all in the Presidential election. If there’s even a chance that McCain could win California, then he is almost certainly going to win the rest of the nation.

    So, I have zero problem voting Libertarian to beef up their standing.

  • Flash Gordon

    Each of us can recognize that our single vote makes no difference. But the libertarian vote has elected Democrats all over the country in elections where the Libertarian candidate stood no chance. In those cases the Republican candidate might not have been attractive to Libertarians but at least agreed with Libertarians on several issues while the Democrat was hostile to everything Libertarians desire.

    Janet Napolitano as governor of Arizona is a ready example. She won by a hair in her first election and would have lost if even a third of the Libertarian vote had gone to the Republican. I can’t imagine any of the Libertarian vote would have gone to Napolitano. Other examples abound. Take Raph Nadar out of the 2000 election and Gore would have been president.

    But, screw it. I’m voting for Bob Barr.

  • Flash Gordon

    I know, I know. Ralph Nadar is a left wing kook, not a Libertarian. But he was a third party candidate who took votes from one of the major parties, that’s why he represents the same phenomenon.

  • Ian B

    Nonetheless, your individual vote makes no difference to the outcome in all but the most vanishingly rare cases. If thousands of people vote for the minority candidate, then they would have done anyway regardless of how you voted. So it isn’t your fault whatever happens (it would be different of course if you bloc voted by agreement with many other people, so the key thing here is to keep your choice private 🙂

  • Dale Amon

    I actually want McCain to lose and lose big. I want the Republicans to be screwed to within an inch of their existence for aiding and abetting him so that when the smoke clears and the few survivors show up for work in DC, they will have learned a lesson they will never forget: Do Not Screw With Our First Amendment.

  • I’ll be voting for Bob Barr for the same reason I was planning to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. That is expressly to split the Republican vote and hopefully cost McCain the election. I agree that Obama is much, much worse. President Obama will give us a second chance to see what the world would have been like if McGovern had pulled it off in ’72. But if the LP is going to shine this is its moment. McCain is widely hated on the right, and Bob Barr is the closest thing we’ve ever had to a mainstream candidate. If the LP is going to start being a for-real kingmaker as a third party in American politics, this is when it begins. It helps that Obama is the evil return of George McGovern. That discourages people from thinking they can vote Democrat as a viable alternative to McCain.

  • Wil


    And if Obama wins , say goodbye to the First Amendment and wave adieu to the Second Amendment . We got two choices , one has a problem with Free Speech and one has an anti-American problem running to be elected US President .And Bob Barr is there to help Obama . I’m sorry to disagree , but the US and the world can survive the Ass , but the free world cannot survive both Obama and the Democratic controlled Senate and Congress at this time .

  • If you really want to elect a democrat to “teach the republicans a lesson”, vote for McCain. If you really think that Obama, led by Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi, would be better, be honest and vote democratic.

    Libertarians are like locusts who come out of the ground every 4 years, trash the political landscape, and disappear again. If they would work on their party a bit in between elections and start pushing somewhat more sane candidates. they’d do better in the general elections.

  • Rich

    What I don’t understand is how casting a vote for Barr helps Obama. As far as I know, Libertarian votes do not get transferred either to the Republicrat nor to the Demican at the end of the day.

    Now if the idea is that McCain is somehow entitled to my vote, then that’s just crap. The damn Republicans had control of the whitehouse and congress, and government grew faster than it did under Clinton. Fuck the Republicans.

    The difference between the parties? The Democrats tell you they’re going to rob you blind, grow government, put you out of work, and start pointless wars.

    The Republicans do the same thing, but they lie about it as well.

    Personally, I’d love to see the Republican Party split, collapse, or be boiled in it’s own filth. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Saladman

    There’s an argument here(Link) that besides taking votes directly from one candidate, a third party campaign also moves the center of what voters consider to be moderate, thereby returning some of the lost votes. In this instance making McCain seem centrist instead of right-wing, and Obama seem far-left rather than moderate-left. (I do consider McCain to be a statist centrist and Obama to be a radical socialist leftist, but that’s not how they’ll be painted in the media.)

    I haven’t decided yet if I accept the argument. It’s plausible, but Dondero doesn’t really provide a proof. Carried to an extreme, it would imply that Perot didn’t cost George HW Bush the 92 election and Nader didn’t cost Gore the 2000 election. The first at least seems doubtful to me; perhaps the second could have been the case but gone unrecognized.

  • If you really want to elect a democrat to “teach the republicans a lesson”, vote for McCain.

    A vote for McCain is a license for the Republican Party to nominate more like him in the future. I’m with Rich on this one. The Republicans had their chance and they blew it big time. It’s up to them to convince us they’re not Democrats at this point. Needless to say, nominating McCain has done absolutely south of nothing for their case.

    If they would work on their party a bit in between elections and start pushing somewhat more sane candidates. they’d do better in the general elections.

    Agreed – but I consider nominating Bob Barr a step in this direction.

  • Dale Amon

    First I want to make something clear: I do not hate John McCain, the private citizen, and in fact he is a somewhat admirable human being.

    But as to John McCain the politician… I wish fire and hellstorm upon his head. If you reward the Republicans for trashing the Constitution the way the have been doing the last several years, you will simply get more of the same behavior. I do not know if even temporary marginalization is enough to cause their leadership to be put to pasture and a more American crew in to take their place. They may well be past saving.

    The idea that I even *care* whether a Democratic statist or a Republican statist is in power, other than on very rare occasions when I see a ‘Clear and Present Danger’ from an outside force, is ludicrous.

    But all that aside: I really would like to know more about Barr. I know there are negatives as well as positives and that the positives seem to strongly outweigh the negatives. But I’d like to hear the debate.

  • I find the argument in Saladman’s link convincing. Here it is in different terms:

    The voting public doesn’t get to pick who’s running, it only gets to pick from among who’s running. Since politics isn’t the main concern of the majority of the public, they tend to take whatever choices they’re given at election time as representative of the whole political spectrum. The two parties define the range for them. That’s why Bush passes for an arch-conservative in most barroom discussions – not because he is one in reality, but because he’s filling the “right-wing” slot in the media’s coverage range. If Bob Barr gets any kind of media attention, then suddenly the scale is wider. Now there’s someone to the “right” of McCain – and so McCain, who would’ve been some kind of major hard core “conservative” in the public imagination otherwise, is now not one of the bookends on the scale. He comes across as moderate. By contrast, Obama seems pretty far left.

    In reality, of course, all these people’s positions are what they’ve always been. But to the average voter, who doesn’t know how to place people on the scale, the two parties define the range.

    In response to Saladman: I don’t think it follows from this that Ross Perot didn’t hurt Bush in 1992. There’s a crucial difference in the fact that Bush was running for a second term, and the election in general was a mandate against him. Any way you slice it, 2008 is also a rejection of Bush the Son, but since Bush isn’t on any ticket, and since the media does a pretty good job of stressing that McCain is not Bush, the same associations don’t apply.

  • lpcowboy

    The media also ignores the fact that in 2000 the reform, libertarian, constitution and other parties might have offset much of Nader’s vote had they been stuck with two choices.

  • Papa Ray

    Obama is a loser from crooked Chicago politics, but that is not what will make me vote for McCain.

    Michele Obama will make me vote for McCain.

    She will insure that all of her pent up hatred for white Amrica is soothed. Don’t think that she has the clout? Well, talk to those that know Obama and her, she calls the shots, she leads him around and tells him what to do and when, who to kiss up to and who to ignore. And more.

    Believe me when I tell you I am afraid of her influence and don’t want her in the White House. She is dangerous, bitter, spiteful and determined to make up for the real and imagined slights done to her and her “people.”

    Don’t say you were not warned.

    Papa Ray

  • Britt

    I’m thinking now is the time to hold your nose and vote for John McCain. I know, I know, the libertarian battle cry (paraphrasing Frederick the Great) is “purity, purity, always purity”. I think this election is far too critical for that. Obama is the most left wing Presidential candidate since George McGovern. He has a very good chance of taking power not just with a friendly Congress but with a filibuster proof Senate. President Obama would be a collectivist to make FDR or Wilson proud. He will expand government, raise taxes, encroach on liberty to what I think is an unimaginable degree. It’s been thirty years since there was a statist President with a friendly Congress. All the hard fought victories of the Reagan years and the Gingrich Congress (those that compassionate conservatism hasn’t pissed away) will be gone in an instant. This guy thinks that reasonable gun control includes microstamps and handgun bans. This guy (if we are to judge by the company he keeps) is someone who despises the country he wishes to rule (and make no mistake, he means to rule, not to serve)

    John McCain on the other hand, offers significant advantages, especially in terms of sane fiscal policy and taxation. I think McCain-Feingold is a travesty, but an Obama Administration will have a federal “hate speech” law, a federal gun control law, higher taxes, more regulation, and less freedom. I think when he talks about service, he means it. He is an honorable and an honest man. What you see is what you get. He doesn’t hide a collectivist agenda behind “hope and change”.

    I also think in 2012 the Democrats will nominate Clinton or some other marginally better candidate. Then I want the Republican Party to head off into the wilderness and recover it’s soul. President Obama is too much of a threat to the Republic. I love my country more then I hate John McCain, and that’s why I’m going to hold my nose and pull the lever.

  • Ian has it right. At the end of the day, those of use who are able to actually vote for our respective candidate regardless of the outcome SHOULD vote for the candidate that best represents the defense of individual liberty.

    It’s downright depressing that the Libertarian party has fallen this far.

  • Dale Amon

    The idea that we have somehow been better off with the Republicans and that the Democrats are going to be worse is one I do not buy.

    Patriot Act; Warrantless Wiretapping; Real Id…. the list goes on and on. The GOP has been busily turning the country into a frigging Police State. Why on Earth should I believe a word they say?

    The answer? I don’t.

  • “The idea that we have somehow been better off with the Republicans and that the Democrats are going to be worse is one I do not buy”..

    That is unfortunate because this idea is all that is currently for sale.

    You can tip your cap to the various undertrimmings, but they aren’t for sale.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I urge commenters to get a copy of Matt Welch’s recent book about McCain if you want to know about the claims that McCain has tried to make that he is some sort of heir to the traditions of Barry Goldwater. That is rubbish. Goldwater did not like him one bit. Okay, BG was an irascible old bird but his judgement on most issues was pretty sound.

    Ok, McCain has been okay on trade, has made lots of noises about pork spending and various budgetary horrors, and has pledged to extend the Bush tax cuts, but he is totally unreliable when you get into details.

    On pork, his bark is worse than his bite; on spending, he has not come out fully against many of the moves of the last decade; on healthcare, he is quite good, but not great; on free speech issues, he is terrible. He has actually gone on the record saying he values clean government more than free speech: in other words, the ends justify the means and screw the Constitution.

    And the whole “national greatness” crap is scary and cuts against the idea that the government, first and foremost, is there to protect the individual and his freedoms, not for some collectivist objective.

    I admire his military record and bravery but frankly, I worry about what his own “meta-context” is.

  • Ian B

    You can tip your cap to the various undertrimmings, but they aren’t for sale.

    Nonetheless, but as I explained above, voting for likely winners is a waste of time, anyway. So you may as well stay at home, or vote for your actual preferred candidate. A vote for the winner is just as great a wasted vote as a vote for the loser.

  • Paul Marks

    It seems that some liberatarians are determined that the Marxist WOODS FUND Senator Obama should be the next President of the United States – to go along with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House (who has shown that the supposedly conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats always obey her) and Harry Reid (or some other cardboard cutout acting as a front man for the Class of 1968 radicals) as Majority Leader of the Senate.

    As I do not believe that there is a “Plan B” for the West if the United States falls (and please no talk about 2012 – as the left’s first order of business will be to eliminate or castrate that minority of the media that they do not already control, so there will be no come back in 2012) I am rather irritated by this, in spite of being a nonAmerican.

    If Dale (or someone else) could get me to another Earth like planet I might be less unhappy – but I doubt that is going to happen any time soon. The fate of humanity is tied (at least for now) to what happens on this planet – and if the United States falls to the Comrades there is little hope for the rest of the world (“international action” against evil tax havens and so on, would only be the first step).

    As for John McCain:

    I do not believe in “Campaign Finance Reform” (indeed I believe it to be uncontitutional) – but the majority of the voters did believe in it, so to have a special hatred of John McCain for this issue is absurd (nor was it an “incombants charter” as the Cato Institute claimed – November 2006 rather showed that).

    Overall whilst the man has MANY faults, Senator John McCain has a generally good voting record and is much better on such things as government spending than President Bush – although being better than this wild spending nonenity is not exactly difficult.

    For people, to have voted for Bush but to refuse to vote for McCain makes no sense at all.

    As for the war – the policy of Senator Obama is (of course) to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Because to him the defeat of the United States and the West in general would not be defeat – it would be victory. Most of the hard left has long decided that “Islamism” is useful in their war against the West – on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” grounds.

    But still what is the importance of giving aid and comfort to the enemy (treason).

    After all even if Satan was running some people would not support John McCain – they have said so.

  • Paul Marks


    John McCain has not “made noises” against earmarks and other pork he has VOTED AGAINST THEM FOR MANY YEARS.

    He also voted against President Bush’s new entitlement programs (although I admit that might come under the same thing as the votes against the tax rate reductions – hatred of Bush, because of the smear campaign of 2000, meaning that he could not support anything he suggested).

    Senator McCain also voted against the 305 billion Dollar farm bill where so many Republicans stabbed him, and themselves, in the back by stupidly voting for it – not understanding that pro spending people will vote Democrat and anti spending people will stay home.

    McCain even opposed the eth subsidies during the Iowa Caucus and opposed the government “insurance” scheme during the Florida primary.

    Have you forgotten those stands J.P.?

    John McCain has also long been in favour of reform to hold back the out-of-control entitlement programs.

    On taxation – in spite of the opposition to the Bush proposals of 2001 (McCain says that was because of the failure to include spending reductions – but I admit that the above reason is more likely although perhaps McCain does not admit it to himself) John McCain has never voted for a tax increase in all his years in the Senate.

    Weak on details:

    O.K. how about these details.

    Keeping down the Captial Gains Tax.

    Keeping down the higher rates of Income Tax (which fall on many small to medium business enterprises – whose owners file as indiviudals).

    An optional flat rate personal Income Tax (to deal with all the vast amounts of complexity in the tax code).

    And on deregulation:

    Such things as the health plan – for example putting health cover finance in the hands of individuals (rather than third parties) and allowing the buying of health cover over States lines.

    Sorry there is no policy reason not to support John McCain, he is far from perfect on policy (nor was he the best man running on the Republican side in 2008 – for example Fred Thompson was better) – but he is much better than George Bush (not that is difficult).

  • Ian B

    I’d suggest the following Paul-

    Whoever is the next president of the US, from either of the biparty cartel, the West will continue its slide into oblivion. While Obama may be the greater bad, McCain will do nothing to arrest the slide into leftism. This is why I’m pessimistic. The West is falling, in my opinion, and my gut tells me we’re like 2nd Century Romans- everything seems fine, but the collapse is already underway and future historians will see us similarly to how we see those ancients, as people in the midst of an historical process (if we want to stretch an analogy too far in fact, 2nd century is too early and we’re now in the stage at which Diocletian temporarily pulled the Empire back together by the imposition of a massive bureaucracy and ultimately disastrous regulations that probably seemed a necessary imposition at the time to many 🙂

    But maybe if there is to be any chance to get out of this terminal slide, and I say this without glee, then perhaps it will only be when the true horror has descended and thus enough will is found to overthrow it; just as people in the Eastern Bloc had to experience the horror of communism before they got rid of it.

    So perhaps we should stop resisting. “Bring it on”. While things are still bearable it’s hard to convince people where we’re heading, especially as we don’t really know. With the political class deliberately boosting Islam as one of their tools, it may even make sense to get things over with quicker while the nascent new Islamic Empire is still weak and divided. If our collapse takes several more decades, it may well be Islam that gets the spoils. It may be that the only chance to avoid the worst case is to have the whole process run as fast as possible, rather than trying to hinder it. Whether we’re prepared to suffer that to give our descendents a chance is a big question, of course, especially considering the uncertainty of such a risky prediction.

    Apocalyptic stuff I’m writing here. But if we are on the road to oblivion, it may make sense to put our foot on the accelerator rather than scraping off our nails trying to grip the tarmac as we’re dragged along, our confused metaphors trailing behind us. It may be that only when people actually experience the horrors the progressives have in store for them that they’ll find the will to build something else. But honestly, if I were writing a speculative “future history”, I’d have it say that liberal democracy was a brief experiment in world history, because sown within it were the seeds of its own destruction, kind of thing.

    If this sounds extreme, I suggest that if one had suggested to those 2nd century Romans that within a scant few lifetimes their entire civilisation would have disappeared, they would have found that thought equally unbelievable. (Yes, I know Byzantium staggered on for a quite a while).

  • toolkien

    Had Hillary Clinton been the Democratic winner, I might have given her luke warm support simply because she is a rational political animal and thus predictable.

    Unfortunately the “rational” course for politicos has to be hardline socialism to replace the softcore socialism we’ve had up until now. As the economy shrinks, the dollar loses its value in the world, and the boomers move onto the dole, the only choice will be a combination of higher taxes and much greater behavioral control of the masses. This will require much harder government intervention into people’s lives, and, yes I think Hillary is the most likely candidate to make peace with the jackboots on people’s necks. If that is comforting because it falls into the current trajectory we have two entirely different views of where we are headed. It isn’t comforting to me to have predictability; the prediction is a dark future, one the Ice Queen will be most apt in ushering in.

    Of course that’s not to say that Obama or McCain won’t stoop to such measures either. It is the only logical course for anyone who is a statist, it is just a matter of time. Unfortunately the whole process is now a taken over by the 45% of the population who are State lovers and those they find electable.

  • Flash Gordon

    The conservatives in the Republican party believe in liberty, individual freedom, limited government, low taxes and generally support a political philosophy close to libertarian goals. They may not be pure enough for many libertarians but as long as the two-party system controls political outcomes in America they are certainly preferable to Democrats who offer nothing to libertarians.

    The problem this time is that the Republican party is in danger of being taken over by the Rockerfeller blue bloods who believe in big government and Bill Kristol’s “national greatness” nonsense. McCain is their candidate.

    If they are successful in ousting conservatives from the Republican party the two-party system will become something closer to a one-party system. The new Republican party under their leadership will not fight the Democrats. It will do what McCain is famous for doing, making deals with Democrats in which the Democrats get all of their agenda implemented and the Republicans get snookered. The new Republican party will truly become the stupid party.

    Unless the LP can become a new national party, the libertarian agenda will become even more remote from the political landscape. One might think that the conservatives that have been ousted from the Republican party will join with libertarians and a new birth in the LP will take place. That is possible, I suppose. But it might also be a pipe dream. More likely, I think, is that conservatives will do the same as they have done in the past when similar events have befallen them. They will retreat into their private lives and largely ignore national politics.

    To prevent what I believe would be a tragedy for the country, especially for anyone of a libertarian mindset, the forces now attempting to take over the Republican party need to lose. It will mean tough times ahead for all who love liberty, but a better world for their children and grandchildren.

    Something happened last week that may harbinger a silver lining in the dark cloud ahead. A determined Republican minority completely stymied the Democrat majority and it’s “cap and trade” scam. With an Obama presidency and a Democrat majority in Congress, I predict we will see a new fighting spirit in the Republican party.

    With McCain as president the Republican minority will be a limp-wristed bunch of girly men helping the Democrats stall the economy and enslave the last vestiges of liberty. The Republican triumph over the Democrats can not possible occur under a McCain presidency because McCain will be supporting the Democrats.

  • Flash Gordon

    A legitimate criticism of my argument for voting against McCain is that the next president will appoint some 3,000 bureaucrats in the government. These people silently and regularly make little policy decisions that erode our freedom. In an Obama presidency it will mean 3,000 left-wing radicals, crooks and gangsters will be making decisions on a daily basis that affect our lives in profound ways we don’t even know about until it’s too late.

    With this stark truth staring me in the face, I’m still for toughing it out. I’m still voting for Bob Barr. I’m still hoping that McCain and the Big Government fools in the Republican party lose.

  • Dale Amon

    I basically smile when I hear the quadrennial declarations of the horrors that will be visited upon the nation if candidate X of the other party gets in. I have heard it for basically every election of my life, from members of both parties. And you know what? They have always been wrong. The end result of the election of candidate X or candidate not X has just been a few more nibbles out of the Constitution. Well, mostly. The worst bites out of the Constitution in my life have come under the Republicans this last 8 years. I supported them after 2001 anyway, simply because of the war and that I disliked Kerry the way I dislike McCain (except I also disliked Kerry as a person as well as a politician.)

    So do not be surprised if calls that “the sky will fall!” are going to drop on deaf ears. No matter which candidate is elected, the US will be a little less free in 4 years than it is now. The ways in which it is less free will differ but the result will not.

    I notice that commenters supporting McCain do not seem to mention the large body of police state powers that Republicans have been gathering into the Federal Government and White House. Perhaps their protests are more out of fear that someone they do not like will use those un-Constitutional powers against them?

    You guys are rapidly solidifying my vote for Barr.

  • toolkien


    We are likely on a course in the short term that will be somewhere between the 1930’s Depression and the 1970’s malaise. And that is before the economic contraction coupled with/scotched over by inflation that has occurred after every war we’ve been in (so we are already going into a major doldrum with the likelihood of an even further dampening yet to come). We have a $53 Trillion accrual basis debt and in less than a decade we will be turning solidly negative on the unfunded benefit programs. We are in the process of sending out “rebate” checks (and running up even more debt) in a collectivist attempt to restart the economy, something that has the air of desparation about it (how many other times in our history have we sent checks out made out of whole cloth?)

    Our economy is basically maxed out, growth is negligible, we sit on a mountain of central bank created paper, we have boomers now moving from productive to subsidizee status, and a war bill to pay. This is a set of circumstances not yet faced by the US. We won’t be able to grow, tax, or inflate our way out of what is ahead. We have two choices, use old fashioned conquer and transfer methods of times past, or fall on our own people with rationing and behavioral control.

    The sky was indeed falling, but rickety artificial props were used to keep it up for a little while. It certainly began to fall in the early 80’s as the effects of socialism began to come full circle. But then we just papered and inflated our way to a sense of good times and wealth. Well, that credit card is maxed and the balloon mortgage is a relatively short time away (about one two term president away at best). I fear the sky is about to drop on us in one big boom. If the US passes any sort of environmental policies that are currently being discussed, that will be the kill shot. I would be interested in hearing about some other period that had as much in the offing that worked out rosey that didn’t involve using tools that will no longer be at our disposal (interest manipulation, inflation, taxation – and again proof that these tools are no longer useful is the rebate check scheme).

  • Andrew Roocroft

    Paul Marks:

    “Most of the hard left has long decided that “Islamism” is useful in their war against the West – on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” grounds.”

    Which is never a tactic that was employed by… oh, wait, didn’t the United States sponsor Islamism on precisely the grounds that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

    If Obama’s intention is to create a socialist state and deny people their liberties – as you seem convinced he wants to – there’s a tried and tested way of doing so: war. That he opposes the war doesn’t prove that he isn’t a socialist, just that there’s no connection between the two; to contrive one as vague as your offering is incredibly tenuous.


    Barr is far from perfect, but he’s the most presentable candidate the Libertarian Party is likely to get, and will have the opportunity more than ever to spread libertarian ideas widely. Last week he spent a full hour with Glenn Beck, precisely the sort of small-government conservative for whom Barr can win over: there’s a good summary, and the video,
    . Barr is more of a federalist than an outright libertarian, but is quite good on foreign policy (non-interventionist – slightly more vague on Iraq than Ron Paul, but withdraw elsewhere, talk with Iran) and very good on civil libertarian matters. His biggest asset is his name-recognition (30+%, according to recent polls) and his popularity within the Republican Party: it’s difficult to dismiss the chap who brought the Impeachment of Clinton as an extreme leftist, and so he gets to make points otherwise closed off to libertarian leaning Republicans by partisan bias.

    If, after the preceding 8 years of Republican control (in which big-government tradition, contrary to Paul Marks’ claims, McCain firmly stands) they’re stuck back in office, the lesson will be clear: the Republican Party can always count on the support of small government libertarians, regardless of its stance on privacy, civil liberties, foreign adventurism and economic matters. The contrary message can only be sent by sufficiently many people voting for Barr, so that he makes a detectable difference in the election.

  • What I still don’t understand is people who hate McCain appear to hate him for being too similar to democrats.

    This is dangerous, because they are different.

    As Paul has noted, McCain is significantly different from the democrats in terms of goverment spending and national security. These two issues are the most important issues for me as a voter. The laundry list of libertarian priorities tends to group each issue as equal in importance when they aren’t. The right to smoke weed is not as important as the right to not be attacked by Islamic lunatics.

    If you want to find out what life would be like with the Democrats running all three branches of government, then vote for someone other than McCain. At least you will then have ideological purity.

  • Rich

    I didn’t like Bush the Father.

    I didn’t like Bush the Son.

    I wouldn’t like Bush the Holy Ghost — a.k.a McCain. He’s not as stupid as Bush, but imagine how much damage a non-stupid neocon could do!


    If government spending fell under Bush, why is it so much higher now than when he took office? Is this the “new math” I’ve been hearing about?


    If you want to find out what life would be like with the Democrats running all three branches of government, then vote for someone other than McCain. At least you will then have ideological purity.

    I had democrats telling me that there would be “ideological purity” if the Republicans got control of all three houses. So what we’ve seen in the last 8 years is exactly how the Republicans want it? I guess so.

    The reality is that so long as only Republicans and Democrats get elected, we will have idealogical purity in Washington, because although they try to appear to be two parties, the reality is it’s all just one big party at our expense.

  • Laird

    As a “big-L” Libertarian, I have been and remain skeptical about Bob Barr. I remember cheering when he lost his House seat in 2002; he was the epitome of a Republican statist. Nonetheless, it does appear that he has had an epiphany; certainly he is now saying the right things (for the most part) and has repudiated the most egregious of his former positions. So at this point I plan to vote for him.

    Barr is clearly the most presentable Presidential candidate the LP has fielded in a long time. With his name recognition and political connections he will receive more media coverage than any other previous candidate. (The mere fact of his nomination made the national news; when was the last time that happened?) He might even be able to wangle an invitation to some of the presidential debates, which hasn’t happened since Ross Perot ran. Furthermore, the other aspirants to the LP nomination were total losers. I wasn’t able to attend the convention in Denver, but if I had gone (and this is what I told our state’s delegates) if it hadn’t been for Barr I would have voted for “None of the Above” on every ballot. At least Barr won’t (or at least shouldn’t) embarass us, and he just might demonstrate to the country that the LP is actually ready for prime time.

    One more point: Many posters on this thread have made much of Obama being the worst of the two major candidates; he’s a Marxist disaster waiting to happen, so we should hold our collective noses and vote for McCain despite our objections to many of his stances (McCain-Feingold, “cap & trade” legislation, tax issues, immigration control, etc.). Perhaps that’s true (although I’m not convinced, and think that institutional lethargy tends to restrain most governmental excesses, and in any event the Republicans seem to function much better as a minority party). However, no one here is focusing upon the US electoral process, or the fact that the popular vote is largely irrelevant. Only the Electoral College matters. There are only about a dozen “battleground” states where the result is likely to be even close. For most of us, even those who would prefer a McCain win, this is an ideal time to vote Libertarian. My state (South Carolina) is solidly Republican, so even a large number of “protest” votes for Barr won’t affect the result. But it will serve notice that there is a substantial minority of electors who are fed up with the choices being foisted upon us by the big-party duopoly. Perhaps it will embolden the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. I think that’s the best we can hope for, and that’s certainly worth a Barr vote.

  • Dale Amon

    Laird: thanks.

    To those who are upset that Libertarians won’t vote Republican I say that if the Republicans really wanted our vote they would act like it. But they do not.

    All they need to do is start acting small government; start repealing at least the egregious parts of Patriot, PAA, Real Id and other anti-American laws they have been responsible for over the last decade.

    Quid pro quo.

  • “So what we’ve seen in the last 8 years is exactly how the Republicans want it? I guess so.”

    Actually, there hasn’t been a three way majority for 8 years. You could argue that from 2000 to 2006 there was both a president a congress controlled by repubs, but not the Courts. Democrats have held up judge appointments to the degree that even with Roberts appointment to the SC, there has been no clear majority.

    When did the economy start hitting the shits again?



    I would agree that no one party is responsible for the mess though. There are several economic realities that would have caused the economy to tank no matter who was in charge, either Dems or Repubs.

    And I can’t argue with Laird about the electoral college in terms of what my vote is actually worth. He does have a point that Barr votes would help to raise awareness of the Libertarian party and the ideals that they stand for and I’m all about those- except for foreign policy.

    I’m not voting for a party that continues to view the threat of Islamic fundamentalism through rose colored glasses. This isn’t just about al-qaeda or hezbollah- it’s about how the post WWII world evolves.

  • Jonathan

    I actually want McCain to lose and lose big. I want the Republicans to be screwed to within an inch of their existence for aiding and abetting him so that when the smoke clears and the few survivors show up for work in DC, they will have learned a lesson they will never forget: Do Not Screw With Our First Amendment.

    The Republicans may not get your message. Meanwhile, the Democrats and other statists are likely to get a message that you support their policies. After all, you will have voted for the more-statist candidate.

    Elections are exercises in selecting the lesser evil. Some elections offer worse alternatives than other elections do. This is one of those worse elections.

    As Paul Marks pointed out, McCain is clearly the better candidate on national defense and govt spending. I would add that McCain, for all of his weaknesses, is also a man of mature judgment. Obama, by contrast, seems to possess neither adult judgment nor a developed sense of history. I would much rather have as president a pro-defense statist of otherwise good character and judgment than a principled libertarian with a thin record and a history of poor decisionmaking.

    I wish that I could vote for someone like Steve Forbes, Phil Gramm or Fred Thompson. Unfortunately, and I think this is the central problem, my fellow voters have different ideas. In this context, I suggest that we will do best to vote for the least-bad alternative who remains.

  • Ian B

    Elections are exercises in selecting the lesser evil.

    The problem with looking at things that way is that if you keep voting for the lesser evil, you’re still getting steadily more evil, just a bit slower. Which isn’t much to shout about really.

    And as I pointed out above, however you vote it won’t make a difference to the outcome. And as someone else pointed out, in most states the outcome is a foregone conclusion anyway, as with most electoral college systems. So you may as well not vote Evil.

  • Flash Gordon

    The Volokh Conspiracy has a post today on Bob Barr’s changing his mind on the war on drugs.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B.

    You may well be correct – but, of course, I hope you are wrong.

    As for John McCain – his voting record is generall good )(much better on such things as opposing corrupt subsidies than most members of Congress – not that this is a high standard to go above) and his policy proposals are generally good also.

    Andrew Roocroft.

    No the West did not promote Islamism.

    I doubt you even know what Islamism is – from the 1920’s onwards.

    Dale Amon “you guys make me more likely to vote for Barr” or words to that effect.

    You were going to vote for Barr anyway – you were not open to reason and said so.

    After all you would rather that Satan (or some mythological monster) become President of the United States and the West was utterly destroyed than support the man you hate so much (John McCain). You said that in your original post.

    I remember you Dale.

    You are the man who wanted to go into Iraq and then said how horrified he was when you saw a video of a American soldier shooting someone who turned out not to be carrying a firearm.

    You demand war and then get all upset over how war has to be (one can not take risks on people who come close).

    I did not support going into Iraq, but once in I accept that hard things have to be done to win – war is not some sort of game or tea party.

    Fair weather friends are not friends.

  • Paul Marks

    Indeed two of my objections to John McCain are that he opposes both Gitmo and waterboarding.

    War is not a game – and it is not some honourable duel between noble knights either.

    And was not even when knights in armour were the mainthing on the battlefield.

  • Dale Amon

    I am going to ignore most of that comment (which pushes my limits of self-control severely) as it leads nowhere. In another day and age it would mean white gloves and seconds.I will note however that I do have a clear option, which I stated clearly. If I find Bob Barr unsatisfactory I will not vote at all.