Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bob Barr, Carpet-Bagger Extraordinaire

I've never been so disappointed with the Libertarian Party as I am right now. I just came from the California June Primary where I voted for the one LP candidate on the ballot, but that's not why.

In its better days, the LP has provided a voice for progressive-minded conservatives who felt the GOP had been hijacked by a small group of special interests, destroying free market capitalism under the guise of a moral agenda. By providing a home for that huge number of Americans who want limited government intrusion in our economic and moral lives (perhaps a silent majority?) the LP has always had the potential to be a spoiler - which, despite what grumblers in the media may say, is a good thing - because it forces the heads of the two major parties to at least consider incorporating the interests of real Americans that have boiled over into third parties, lest a smooth victory be threatened by third parties splitting their vote. This is what smaller third parties do. They might not be able to put someone in the White House, but they can certainly send messages to the parties that do. Just ask the Democrats. In 2000 Gore lost Florida by what, 5,000 votes? Nader got 90,000. Nader was never going to the Whitehouse, but the Dems knew after that that the Greens had them by the short-and-curlies.

Unfortunately, the Barr-Root ticket that the LP has selected serves neither as an alternative voice to the special interest/moral agenda crazies on the far right fringe of the GOP (because until 24 months ago Barr was one of them!), nor does this choice serve as a means to force either party to sit up and take notice of issues they'd rather ignore. I'm 100% in favor of the LP continuing to accept Republican and Democratic defectors, but sometimes those defectors really are just carpet-bagging careerists, and Bob Barr is a much more ham-handed carpetbagger than most. I'm also quite happy for politicians to change their positions when new facts become available to them, but Barr's recent conversion to Libertarian stances on some of the LP's traditional but superficial issues (like marijuana legalization) is a little too well-timed.

In short, all the LP in its current position can do is lose the election for McCain, WITHOUT challenging the major parties to adjust any of their positions, because Bob Barr and the people who voted for him are largely GOP refugees fresh in from wrecking that party with their irrational agenda. Bottom line to progressive conservatives: 2008 isn't the time to vote Libertarian, because it'll lose the election for McCain, and the LP hasn't put a progressive conservative on its ticket anyway.

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