Thomas Knapp: The Libertarian Party’s Identity Crisis

The original article can be found here.

Two years ago I finally gave up on electoral politics, leaving the Libertarian Party after 14 years as an activist and occasional candidate. Each new crisis in the party’s ranks tends to confirm the wisdom of that decision. While I still have many friends in the party, and keep a close eye on its activities, these days I think of it more as an ongoing cautionary tale than as an organization that might (or even should) get turned around and pointed in “the right direction.”

Electoral politics is a competitive sport, a winner-take-all game in which score is kept not on the basis of accomplishing policy goals, but of winning elections. Sure, policy gets talked about a lot in the course of campaigns, but at the end of the day it’s vote totals and offices won or lost that everyone considers the metric of success.

The perception that “third” parties — the ones who aren’t Republicans or Democrats and therefore have little chance of winning elections — can afford to be more “pure” in terms of holding to their principles precisely because abandoning those principles would gain them nothing anyway, has some basis in reality, but not as much as you might think.

Every third party experiences continuous tension between its “purist” faction and those who urge it to run toward the siren song of popularity, choosing candidates whose positions drift from the party’s “plumb line,” but who are well-known, possess the credentials of prior political success, and so on.

When the so-called “pragmatic” faction prevails, we see something like 2008, when the Libertarians nominated former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia for President of the United States.

In fairness to Barr, he had moved quite a bit in a libertarian direction since his days as author of the “Defense of Marriage Act,” his vote for the USA PATRIOT Act, his admission that he’d rather watch his mother die in pain than see her use medical marijuana, etc.

And in fairness to the Libertarian Party, they took six ballots to settle on Barr at their national convention precisely because many questioned how extensive and real his “conversion” on principles was.

Ultimately, however, they did nominate Barr, and in a matter of days he went from apologizing for his previous authoritarian tendencies to justifying them on television with whoppers like “states’ rights is the essence of libertarianism.” Huge message fail, and a “pragmatism” fail as well — Barr ended up polling fourth best among the ten Libertarian presidential outings since 1972, middle of the pack, knocking down only about 525,000 votes that November. His candidacy produced no real increase in party membership or popularity. The Libertarians sold their birthright, and didn’t even get a pot of (the right) message for it.

So here we are in 2012, and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson looks set to easily take the party’s presidential nomination next month in Las Vegas. While a cursory examination of his record marks him as likely less controversial among Libertarians than Barr, he still bring significant deviations from the party line to his candidacy.

He’s wishy-washy (even, per his recent interview with The Daily Caller, downright incoherent at times) on foreign policy, leaving the door open to “humanitarian” war and continued US meddling in the Middle East.

He supports a tax plan (the so-called “Fair” Tax) that doesn’t cut government revenues, doesn’t ameliorate redistributionist effects, creates a universal federal welfare entitlement, and would likely destroy what’s left of America’s auto manufacturing and homebuilding industries.

He proposes to accept federal government “matching funds” for his campaign, something that all prior Libertarian presidential candidates have eschewed as “welfare for politicians.”

As usual, the “pragmatic” mating call comes down to “he will get more votes and more publicity for us than we’ve ever had before.”

The first claim is highly questionable. Johnson switched tracks to the LP after failing to rise above low single digits in the Republican primaries, and hasn’t exactly set the political world on fire since that change.

The second claim raises the Barr-like question “is all publicity good publicity?” Why run a candidate to gain publicity for positions that contradict your party’s platform? It’s like Coke running commercials for Pepsi.

The “pragmatic” approach sets up the offer as “sacrifice a little principle for a lot of popularity,” but always seems to end up demanding a lot of the former while delivering very little of the latter.

At some point the Libertarian Party is going to have to choose between being libertarian and being a (conventional, electoral) political party. It can’t successfully be both. And it’s pretty obvious that its strength lies in its principles, not its political acumen.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst and Media Coordinator at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

 

152 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: The Libertarian Party’s Identity Crisis

  1. Jill Pyeatt

    Good article, Thomas…but now I’m even more depressed about the state of our party. I’m afraid there’s nothing in this piece that I disagree with.

  2. Ken Moellman

    I do think principle and politics can mix. However, each of those hurts the other. The more principled you are, the less-apt you are to success politically. The more politically successful you are, the more likely you are to have no principles.

    The problem is the definition of each term. If a Libertarian were elected who was able to stop any tax increases — not lower taxes, just stop new ones — is that a philosophical success?

    Say that a theoretical elected big-L Libertarian stops a discriminatory piece of legislation. They didn’t return rights to anyone, they just stopped the state from taking more rights. Would that be a victory?

    Is stopping the erosion of liberty, even if only temporary, a victory?

    I would contend that it is. “It could have been worse” is often an excuse given by the talking heads from other parties when their candidate turns out to be a little less than expected (or a lot less, usually). But it could, indeed, have been worse. Not that we should be satisfied, or should declare victory because things weren’t as bad as they could have been. But, it is important to first stop the new travesties against our rights, before we start even thinking about trying to get back the rights we’ve already lost.

    One thing about the liberty movement that amazes me — whether it’s the Paul followers or LPers or whoever — is the “we will fix the world overnight” mentality. These forces have been taking our rights away from the very moment we got them from the Brits. Electing Ron Paul doesn’t fix everything. Electing Gary Johnson doesn’t fix everything. It is going to take a fundamental shift in the thinking of Americans to change the course we’re on. Partisan politics is a huge part of the answer, both from an education and policy standpoint, and from a “taking our government back from the bureaucrats” perspective. But it’s not the full picture. There’s a whole lot to do, and any newcomer should be made aware that this is a long-term task. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets.

    I’m in for the long-haul.

  3. Matt Cholko

    I tend to agree with Ken. However, while I agree that stopping further erosion of freedom is a good thing, and maybe even a victory, it simply doesn’t get me (or many others, I believe) excited. Not exciting one’s “base” leads to a lack of volunteer and donor support.

    Many RP supporters seem to have unrealistic expectations. In some ways that’s bad, as it leads to burn out and broken hearts. But, those unrealistic expectations are part of what allow RP to run serious campaigns – and that’s probably a good thing.

    We face the same thing right now in the LP, though on a much smaller scale. The eastern regional director of the (likely nominee) GJ campaign goes around saying “GJ is at 7% in the polls now, all we need to do is double that to get him in the debates in the fall.” I spoke to him personally, and he seems to believe that this is actually possible. So, he runs around saying it to everyone he can, trying to get them fired up for GJ. Does this fire up some volunteers and get a few more dollars in the donation box? Probably so. But, what happens when GJ is polling at 2% in September, and gets <1% on election day? I believe we have a bunch more people burned out, broken hearted, and heading back to the Rs or Ds.

    This, in my view, is one of the fundamental problems with alternative party politics. Setting high expectations leaves you screwed in the medium term, setting low expectations keeps you stuck on the ground in the short term, and no matter which was you go, success seems to be impossible in the long term.

  4. Brian Holtz

    Why run a candidate to gain publicity for positions that contradict your party’s platform?

    Can someone quote the LP platform and then quote GJ contradicting it?

    No editorials, no spin, no interpretations, just two cut-and-paste quotes.

  5. Richard Winger

    Gary Johnson is right to seek primary season matching funds. The FEC has said over and over that the money can be used for ballot access petitioning in the general election. Certain states have such unfair laws, it costs the LP hundreds of thousands of dollars to get our presidential nominee on the ballots of those states. Every state Libertarian Party that has been listed on state income tax forms (with a question asking the taxpayer which party he or she wants to help) always takes the money. The LP successfully sued the post office to win the same postal rates that the large parties have.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    @7,

    LP platform, 3.1: “The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world.”

    LP platform, 3.3: “We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention,
    including military and economic aid.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page on foreign policy:

    The U.S. must make better use of military alliances which allow greater sharing of the human and financial burdens at less cost of protecting national interests.

    Johnson’s “Our America Initiative” issues page:

    We support the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign country and believes that the United States should protect that right militarily if needed.

    Daily Caller, 0409/12:

    One intervention Johnson said he supports is the U.S. mission to help capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which Johnson believes is arguably the “worst terrorist” group in the world.

    “Based on what I know, yes,” Johnson said, indicating his support for the mission to capture Kony.

    LP platform, 2.7: “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page on immigration:

    Enforce a ‘one strike, you’re out’ rule for immigrants who circumvent the streamlined work visa process.

    Impose and enforce sanctions on employers for noncompliance with immigration laws.

    LP platform, 3.6: “We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties.”

    Gary Johnson, Google Plus:

    March Matching Funds Mania – double the size of your donation for liberty and help qualify Gary Johnson for federal matching funds.

    There’s a start for ya.

  7. Trent Hill

    “Many RP supporters seem to have unrealistic expectations. In some ways that’s bad, as it leads to burn out and broken hearts. But, those unrealistic expectations are part of what allow RP to run serious campaigns – and that’s probably a good thing. ”

    I’ve been calling this the “Paradox of Paul” for 3 years or so now. It’s absolutely true–their high expectations and enthusiasm is what makes them such a force and gives them the notoriety and electoral successes they HAVE experienced, but at the same time, it leads to a GIANT disappointment and a certain kind of disillusion when they lose.

  8. Robert Capozzi

    5 km, precisely! Principle and politics not only mix, they are interwoven. When we take the notion of lessarchy as the way, L politics loses the unfortunate abherration of measuring all things political against a simplistic, theoretical construct, eg, the NAP. L politics then becomes making compelling cases to roll back the State.

  9. Tom Blanton

    The great LP thinkers need to do some serious thinking about why there are so many hard-core libertarians who won’t vote for Libertarians and want nothing to do with the LP.

    Oh, and I want to play the Brian Holtz game.

    Can someone quote the LP platform and then quote GJ supporting it?

    No editorials, no spin, no interpretations, just two cut-and-paste quotes.

    Who wants to play?

  10. Ken Moellman

    I know of a number of LP affiliates that use taxpayer subsidies to promote the party. For instance, some state LP affiliates participate in a primary. That’s a taxpayer subsidy of an internal party function. But, is it wrong to call for the end of something yet use that something until it’s gone to keep the playing field more equal? Kind-of like 10-term Congressmen calling for term limits….

  11. Ken Moellman

    Why there are hardcore libertarians who won’t vote for Libertarians?

    Because as I often quasi-jokingly say, “Libertarian” is a contraction of “Liberty” and “Contrarian”, and some libertarians take the contrary part to a whole other level. They’re so contrarian they vote against their own best interest. :)

  12. Michael H. Wilson

    Back some years ago before the LP became a reality it occurred to me that the costs of maintaining troops spread around the world was economically unsustainable in the long run. You do not have to be a purist to point out the costs of all these alliances and foreign deployments. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the U.S. is subsidizing our economic competition at the expense of workers in the U.S.

    Lee Wrights seems to get this and is one of the few in the LP who does. Why the other candidates or the hard heads in the LP don’t is beyond my thinking skills.

    The hard heads are against subsidizing some people but not other nations. Why does that not make sense?

  13. Tom Blanton

    L.P. Platform 2.9 Health Care:

    “We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page: Spending and the Deficit

    Identify and implement common-sense cost savings to place Medicare on a path toward long-term solvency.

    L.P. Platform 2.5 Money and Financial Markets:

    “We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page: Spending and the Deficit

    The role and the activities of the Federal Reserve are long overdue for examination, reassessment, and ultimately, thoughtful reform.

    L.P. Platform 2.10 Retirement and Income Security:

    “Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would
    phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page: Spending and the Deficit

    Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation.

    From the L.P. Statement of Principles:

    “People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others.”

    L.P. Platform 2.4 Government Finance and Spending

    “All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.”

    Gary Johnson 2012 issues page:
    The Economy and Taxes

    Enact the Fair Tax to tax expenditures, rather than income, with a ‘prebate’ to make spending on basic necessities tax free.

    In violation of the Holtz no spin rule, I’d note that the LP Platform does not call for eliminating the income tax and replacing it with something else.

    The Fair Tax contradicts the very principles behind eliminating the income tax.

  14. Tom Blanton

    They’re so contrarian they vote against their own best interest.

    Maybe they’re so libertarian they don’t vote at all and shake their heads in disgust. If they’re voting for Republicans or Democrats, they’re probably not libertarians unless you believe McCain-Libertarians, Obama-Libertarians, and Reagan-Libertarians qualify as being libertarians.

    Or does the word “libertarian” no longer have any meaning?

    Republicratarian?

  15. George Phillies

    “Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation.”

    This statement appears backwards. SSI is *currently* based on a computation of the cost of living index.

  16. Don Wills

    The principled vs. pragmatic linear measure that Knapp describes and commenters here accept without question is, IMO, not a valid reason to describe the why/how/what of the history of electoral failure of the LP.

    The reason that it is not valid is that today’s LP principles at the principled end of Knapp’s scale are totally unacceptable to 99% of American voters today. A different set of principles at the end of the scale would make all the difference in the world with respect to electoral success.

    If the principles at the end of the Knapp scale were constitutionalist principles like those embraced by Ron Paul, then LP candidates would do much better. Unfortunately, the anarchists of the LP are the group in charge of defining the end point principles, that is, what it means to be a “true libertarian”. It is these anarchist principles that are simply unacceptable to all but a very small number of voters.

    That said, Johnson *is* incoherent on too many issues. It seems to me that his primary guiding principle is to apply a cost/benefit calculation to every issue. That won’t sit well with any constituency – anarchist, constitutionalist or GOP-lite. I foresee that Johnson or whoever the LP Pres. candidate is will again get <1% of the national popular vote, particularly because it will most likely be a close election, and in close elections the "voting for a third party is like voting for the bad guy" meme gains traction, taking away votes that would likely go to third party candidates in not-so-close elections.

  17. Let the T-Rex of Talk Radio Entertain U2day

    GJ isn’t a 100/100 L. that was established long ago. But he will be the nominee shortly. Why? Because over 50% of the delegates will vote for him.

    He showed up at LP conventions all over the U.S. and to my knowledge few if anyone called him out on his flaws ! (except Bill Still of course and he received scorn from some for doing so) So quite frankly friends the LP is to blame for allowing him to skip through unquestioned to any great degree. So you here can bitch and moan but you should have been contacting your friends in the states he showed up and had them at each convention, to publicly question him on the issues that disturb you. If that would have happened he may have soften some or even “saw the light” on those issues. If only “YOU” would have done so, his flaws might be fewer and/or less grevious !

    I can live with Johnson as he’s ok on over 80% of the Platform. He has volunteer reps/staff in almost every state. He has some nice ads on youtube and has a decent website. No question he will be the most qualified person to ever have seeked the LP POTUS nomination. I won’t be abandoning ship to support the CP nominee in protest this cycle. In fact I plan to work for Johnson and the LP all the way to Nov.7 and I hope each of you will also!

    Burnout, disillusion, heartache, disgust, WHY ? Will Gary Johnson receive 5% of the vote ? Doubtful, but possible. My goal and what should be the goal of all serious LP members/activists for this POTUS race is to break the record of statewide votes for a LP POTUS Candidate in your state. That’s how you gauge success or failure in a third party. Break the record (for any office) and you can celebrate a VICTORY ! Most , but NOT all state records for POTUS were set in 1980 of course. We go after those records for votes and we should also attempt to DOUBLE our state LP membership this year. Two goals to aim for that can be reached, let’s see if we can do it !

    What % of Americans Are Libertarians? – http://libertarianmajority.net/libertarian-polling

    Battlestar Liberty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXnKoMQoBNU&NR=1

    Gary Johnson 2012: Meet Gary Johnson – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boHvCmRm3SQ&feature=related

    Gary Johnson 2012: End the Drug War Now – http://www.youtube.com/user/govgaryjohnson?feature=BF#p/u/16/MBOXUjHhrVM

  18. Michael H. Wilson

    re Don @ 20. I think the reason for the lack of electoral success has do do with the is because he inconsistency of the message. Besides a lot of the issues can be explained using costs benefit analysis. One great example is the drug war. Another one is urban transportation and third one is health care and I could go on. Government costs big money.

  19. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    @ 20: If the principles at the end of the Knapp scale were constitutionalist principles like those embraced by Ron Paul, then LP candidates would do much better. Unfortunately, the anarchists of the LP are the group in charge of defining the end point principles

    Many of the LP’s sell-outs are far more statist than is Ron Paul’s Constitutionalism.

    Ron Paul is anti-empire, anti-war, anti-police state.

    Many LP sell-outs support empire, war, and the police state (though they prefer to be called “pro-security libertarians” or “pro-defense libertarians”).

    Root even opposed the “Ground Zero mosque” and obliquely praised Mubarak (before he renounced him), for no good Constitutionalist reason.

    Many LP anarchists get along quite well with Ron Paul Constitutionalists, pragmatarians, and minarchists.

    It’s those imperialist, bigoted, LP statists that anarchists have a problem with.

  20. Thomas L. Knapp

    Don@20,

    “If the principles at the end of the Knapp scale were constitutionalist principles like those embraced by Ron Paul, then LP candidates would do much better.”

    I guess that depends on what you mean by “much better.”

    In electoral politics, there are two scores: “Plurality/Majority” is one of them. The other is “Loser.”

    Even setting aside arguments about just how tightly Paul embraces “constitutionalist” principles, you may have noticed that in three runs for the White House, he’s never come close.

  21. Thomas L. Knapp

    Addendum to @25,

    The point I was making didn’t have anything to do with a “Knapp scale.”

    The question is not whether or not Gary Johnson represents my principles well. It’s whether or not he represents the principles of the Libertarian Party — as crafted over time and continuously re-ratified in convention in the form of Statement of Principles, platform, etc. — well.

    Since nobody agrees with everyone on everything, there are always going to be trade-offs, but where do you draw the cost-benefit line between “hey, good enough, as long as he gets lots of votes,” and “what’s the point of running a guy who just doesn’t sounds much like us?”

    Johnson clearly disagrees with the LP’s platform on several issues that lots of Libertarians consider important, but the line is “he might get a million votes, or even more.”

    If a candidate comes along who can get 10 million votes, as long as you turn him loose to represent the party as standing for a 50% flat income tax, whole-hog “single-payer” health care, and a Middle East foreign policy of “nuke their ass and take the gas,” is that something you’re willing to buy, or no sale?

  22. Steven Berson

    Dunno about those three points you give hypothetically – but I got to tell you when a guy promises to give every American their own pony, that will mandate tooth brushing for all, and will solve any potential energy crisis by harnessing the power of zombies placed on treadmills with brains dangling in front of them – then I got to say – why wouldn’t you just go for it?

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/01/10/vermin-supreme-the-presidential-candidate-who-promises-free-ponies/

  23. Steven Berson

    Matt –
    Sorry – no tax break, because it’s also a National ID pony. You have to keep it with you at all times or be subjected to incarceration, and you’re required to scoop up all the pony poop and collect it for the Federally run pony-poop-to-methane conversion plants that is also a key part of our nation achieving “energy independence”. But still – how can you not want a free pony? :P

  24. Robert Capozzi

    26 tk: The question is not whether or not Gary Johnson represents my principles well. It’s whether or not he represents the principles of the Libertarian Party — as crafted over time and continuously re-ratified in convention in the form of Statement of Principles, platform, etc. — well.

    me: Oh, c’mon on TK. Surely you recognize the difference between “ratification” and “rubber stamping.” Surely you know the difference between the posted speed limit and the speeds people actually drive at.

    When it says “55,” it means “you can drive between 50 and 65 ish.”

    The SoP and platform (which have all sorts of procedural impediments such that they do NOT represent anything like a collective agreement in succeeding conventions, but rather organizational inertia) are signals of general intent, not math formulas.

  25. Scott Lieberman

    Gary Johnson ain’t perfect, but he’s pretty damn good. Note – this is not an endorsement – I am just making a reasonably objective observation about the probable front-runner in the race for the Libertarian Presidential Nomination.

    If Gov. Johnson wins the LP Nomination for President, and pretty damn good isn’t good enough for YOU, then instead – go work on the campaign of an LP member running for a winnable office in your community, or work on your state’s ballot access race.

    Say SoS is one of your ballot access retention races. Raising $50,000 for your Secretary of State candidate might mean the difference between maintaining ballot status and losing ballot status for the LP in your state.

    I understand that for some LP members, complaining about the Presidential Nominee is much more fun than working on the campaign of a candidate that you like. I hope that State Chairs will do their best to ignore those LP members whose think complaining is more important than doing volunteer work on campaigns that the member supports.

  26. George Phillies

    @31

    Johnson wants to put a new 30% tax on my money, a few years down the road.

    That’s 30% more than any of his other-party opponents, such as Rmoney and Obama.

    And with respect to Obama’s Buffet tax, I would count that as a tax reduction relative to my current marginal bracket.

  27. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@30,

    “Oh, c’mon on TK. Surely you recognize the difference between ‘ratification’ and ‘rubber stamping.’”

    Yes, I do, and what the LP does is clearly and unambiguously the former.

    There have been many campaigns to modify the platform, and some have succeeded (in 2006, the convention deleted 3/4 of the platform outright). That’s not rubber-stamping.

    Yes, there is a high bar to get over to modify the statement of principles. Presumably the party’s founders set that bar high because they wanted to found a particular kind of organization and have it remain that kind of organization.

    But there have been real attempts to get over the bar. The fact that you don’t like the low ratification threshold doesn’t mean that it’s rubber-stamping rather than ratification, because the distinguishing factor between the two is whether or not it’s done thoughtfully, not what the threshold is.

  28. Don Wills

    Knapp writes “Even setting aside arguments about just how tightly Paul embraces “constitutionalist” principles, you may have noticed that in three runs for the White House, he’s never come close.”

    What about the fact that RP won election to congress numerous times?

    And I never said it was Knapp defining the “principled” end of the scale he writes about, I said it was the anarchists that run the have run the LP into the ground over the last 30 years that define that endpoint. Folks like WAR and GJ define the other end.

    My point is that the pure, strict constitutionalist principle is far more palatable to a larger number of voters than is pure strict anarchism.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    Don @34,

    Yes, Paul has won election to Congress numerous times.

    And yes, Paul has used his alleged “embrace of constitutionalist principles” to raise money to fund his campaigns.

    Of course, he’s also used racial politics, immigration politics and sexual politics, all from a “social conservative” and arguably anti-constitutional direction, to raise money to fund those campaigns.

    And in campaigning to his actual constituency, he’s been a solid “social conservative” and a business as usual “bring home the pork and the votes will flow in” career politician.

    In point of fact, Paul is a much better example of the phenomenon I’m trying to describe — the futility of trying to achieve liberty through electoral politics — in the essay above than Johnson is.

    I chose Johnson because there’s a pretty good chance that Johnson will be a candidate in the general election this November, while Paul is retiring from Congress and isn’t very likely to be a presidential candidate by November.

  30. Robert Capozzi

    33 tk, then all I can say is that it appears to me that you are missing the forest for the trees. Even the platform has very high hurdles for adjustment. In my brief tenure on PlatComm, it was clear to me that no one on the committee, much less in convention, found it to be a perfect embodiment of even the individual committee member’s biases. I surely didn’t. Holtz I don’t believe did, or Mattson, or Dan Grow or Henry Haller. Everyone thought the document was sub-optimal in some way.

    If my interpretation of the states of mind of the committee was correct, it seems reasonable to me to assume that the convention didn’t, either. Almost everyone would quibble with one or more planks. Almost everyone might have a different interpretation of what the plank means and how to apply to plank to current prevailing state policy.

  31. Tom Blanton

    My point is that the pure, strict constitutionalist principle is far more palatable to a larger number of voters than is pure strict anarchism.

    It would seem statism, authoritarianism, welfare and warfare trump strict constitutionist principles for the vast majority of voters.

    Perhaps if the LP moved even more in those directions, it would win more elections. It would mean that the ruling establishment that controls election laws and the wealthy elite that fund the media and campaigns might embrace the LP and allow it to win an election – especially at a juncture where the mainstream parties don’t want to hold office, like when economic collapse or war on American soil is imminent.

  32. Wes Wagner

    TB @39

    I wish that everyone who read your suggestion realized what an absurd proposition it was… but unfortunately I think there are some people in this party who would follow that path.

  33. Tom Blanton

    The bottom line is if LP members truly desire a more libertarian society, they will advance a libertarian message as opposed to a “true conservative” message or a strict constitutionalist message, or a message that is a little bit conservative and a little bit liberal.

    The simple truth is that third parties don’t win elections in America and no combination of magic words will ever change that. In fact, the only hope of ever winning an election would be to radicalize those who don’t vote at all because the mainstream parties don’t represent them.

    I’ve yet to hear why “libertarians” shouldn’t advance a true libertarian agenda other than voters aren’t ready for it. Of course they aren’t ready for it, they don’t know what it is or understand it. If they don’t hear it, they will never be ready for it. Knowing full well that the LP isn’t going to win any important elections, there is no point in advancing anything other than a libertarian agenda using the excuse that it is about winning an election that can’t be won.

  34. Robert Capozzi

    39 tb: Perhaps if the LP moved even more in those directions, it would win more elections.

    me: LOL! I assume this is a joke, since it seems on its face completely non-serious. If not, obviously there is no need for such a party, since there are already 2 doing just those things.

    Imagine the US as a car, with three people in it. One R wants to drive straight and take right forks in the road. The other D wants to drive straight and to the left.

    Third driver L wants to stop and turn in the other direction. At the moment, L doesn’t get to drive.

    Near as I can tell, your counsel amounts to monitoring the car from Pluto and, through a tin can telephone, suggesting the car up be blown up so as to bring about the Golden, Post-Apocalyptic Age of The Road Warrior.

  35. Brian Holtz

    George @19, the baseline of SS benefits is first indexed to wage growth before annual inflation COLAs are added.

    This is a key component of the Ponzi nature of SS: it pads your benefit by the increased contributions that the next cohort of suckers are bringing into the system.

    In between bricks thrown at dreams of a hypothetical “Fair Tax”, Libertarians would do well to study up on the facts of the existent nanny state whose all-too-real boot is currently on the necks of our children.

    From http://www.ssa.gov/oact/COLA/Benefits.html:

    When we compute an insured worker’s benefit, we first adjust or “index” his or her earnings to reflect the change in general wage levels that occurred during the worker’s years of employment. Such indexation ensures that a worker’s future benefits reflect the general rise in the standard of living that occurred during his or her working lifetime.

  36. Tom Blanton

    Here’s another bottom line. If you don’t agree with libertarian principles and ideology, you dislike the LP pledge, you can’t stand the LP Statement of Principles, you don’t call yourself a libertarian but rather some bizarre hyphenated version, why did you join the LP and how can you consider yourself a part of the libertarian movement?

    If you think libertarians are anarchists and too radical, too conspiratorial, too contrarian, too anti-authoritarian, too far from the mainstream, and too unwilling to compromise their beliefs, then why would you join the LP.

    Do you join churches to convince Christians that they should convert to Judaism? Do you join a vegan co-op and insist they sell meat? Do you join a Jazz Society and insist they promote heavy metal bands? Do you join a bird watchers club and insist they go duck hunting?

    WTF?!?!

  37. Brian Holtz

    I’ve yet to hear why “libertarians” shouldn’t advance a true libertarian agenda other than voters aren’t ready for it.

    If “true libertarian agenda” == anarchism, than the answer you’ve been refusing to hear is that anarchism is not liberty-maximizing.

  38. Tom Blanton

    Near as I can tell, your counsel amounts to monitoring the car from Pluto and, through a tin can telephone, suggesting the car up be blown up so as to bring about the Golden, Post-Apocalyptic Age of The Road Warrior.

    Near as I can tell, you lack the skills to comprehend anything other than the moderate absolutism dogma that exists in your twisted and paranoid imagination.

  39. Robert Capozzi

    44 tb, as I’ve explained to Brother Knapp, when I became a L 30+ years ago, I was totally down with all the absolutism and the holding high the banner.

    This might seem a bit harsh, but sometimes, when someone joins a cult, they then realize that while the cult has some helpful stuff, the cult leadership missed something and from that corrupt error strange dysfunction flows. Sometimes the cult member just quits. Other times, the cult member stays around trying to help those still under the sway of the cult leader.

    I’m the latter. Murray and Ayn made some colossal mistakes, IMO, which The Nolan & Co. etched into the L Gospel Tablets.

    Is it POSSIBLE that my diagnosis is correct? If not, then that means we are not communicating, since you are apparently certain that you have found the Holy Grail of NAP/ZAP Truth. Certainty – esp zealous certainty – crowds out the ability to conduct open-minded, radical inquiry, yes?

    Myself, I’d rather be happy than right.

  40. D. Lou Shenol

    “Keep your powder dry” or is that “the Nuke under the shed in the backyard”?……..

    Guess I’ll have to buy another case of shells this week. Don’t really know why, they’ll just be sending a drone out to take me, Knapp and Blanton out and we won’t know what hit us………

    @31 is a great post, one of the best this year !!!

  41. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    If “true libertarian agenda” == anarchism,

    Not at all.

    True libertarianism has always included both anarchists and minarchists, and the two have long gotten along just splendidly.

    It does not include Neocon Statist Lites who masquerade as “pro-security libertarians.”

  42. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@42,

    You think I’m missing the forest for the trees.

    I think you’re missing my point entirely, seeing as how everything in your comment tends to confirm that point.

    Yes, everyone thinks the platform is “sub-optimal in some way.” And few candidates are likely to support it 100%, any more than most members are.

    Yet they’ve formed, and continue to operate, a party for the express purpose of selling that platform to the public in the form of candidates who support it.

    The gap between the party’s platform and the varying (by evaluating individual) point at which any given candidate’s positions deviate far enough from that platform to make the candidate unacceptable is the opening door to the “pragmatic” idea of substituting “this person is well-known and has an impressive resume” for “this person will represent our ideas in the public square well enough to advance adoption of those ideas” as the criterion of candidate selection.

    Those two criteria don’t co-exist very well. The former tends to increasingly give way to the latter. Which is why electoral politics is a poor instrument for achieving change.

  43. Ted Brown

    I have been an LP member since 1978 and have run for office 15 times on the Libertarian ticket. In 2008 I had the highest LP vote total in the country in a congressional race with Dem and Rep opponents. And I consider myself an extremely radical libertarian. I have observed over the years that our most radical candidates score better vote totals than wishy-washy moderate libertarians. This is because moderates don’t offer much of a contrast with the Dems and Reps.

    My daughter, who is more liberal than libertarian, wonders how I can advocate such radical positions. My view is that, in politics, you have to ask for a lot and be willing to accept a lot less. For example, you should demand a $1 trillion budget cut. More moderate types will say, that’s a bit much, but let’s cut $100 billion. But if you only demand a $100 billion cut in the first place, you’re likely to get way less than that. The same goes for drugs. I advocate full decriminalization of all drugs, where they can be advertised on TV and sold at Rite-Aid in colorful packages. More moderate types will be horrified, but will say, we can’t do that, but we can legalize and regulate marijuana. If I only sought the legalization and regulation of marijuana to start with, I wouldn’t even get that.

    The moral of the story is, the LP must be there to advocate the most radical freedom-oriented solutions. Otherwise we are unlikely to see any change in our direction at all.

    In the presidential race, I fear that our candidate will get very little media coverage. Gary Johnson may get a little more than Lee Wrights would, but remember, Johnson couldn’t get any coverage as a Republican. It’s even harder to get coverage as a Libertarian. We need to consider, is it better to get very little coverage for a moderate Libertarian, or very little coverage for a radical Libertarian?

  44. Don Wills

    TB @52 writes “The moral of the story is, the LP must be there to advocate the most radical freedom-oriented solutions. Otherwise we are unlikely to see any change in our direction at all.”

    These two sentences nicely summarize the fatal conceit of the LP: a belief that societal change toward more individual liberty can be made through electoral irrelevance.

    As we’ve seen over the last 40 years, the electoral approach featuring a radical platform has not resulted in any positive change. Rather, things have gotten much worse.

    Politics is about the art of the possible and of compromise. But to be able to compromise, one has to be at the table. The LP simply isn’t at the table, and thus doesn’t have influence. It’s really that simple.

  45. Mark Hilgenberg

    Ted #52

    I agree that we need to promote radical solutions but I feel will will get much more traction if we promote the benefits of those solutions first and the features second.

    We need to help people see that out solutions won’t lead to death and destruction for all.

    You are one of the main reasons I am a Libertarian today, your ballot arguments were always informative and helped me see other options.

  46. Mark Hilgenberg

    Don @54 I don’ think it is the radical goals as much as it is the language. Libertarians don’t know how to communicate properly, they lead with features first, not benefits.

    I am very radical, more than most, yet people, especially the left and the middle understand me.

    Here is something I wrote on this.

    Why are Libertarians so hard to understand?
    Why do they all sound alike?

    Why do they all get into arguments over everything?

    It all comes down to communication style.

    Most people active in politics and the largest segment of society are concrete communicators. Here is how Dr. David Keirsey describes this type of communication. “Some people talk primarily about the external, concrete world of everyday reality: facts and figures, work and play, home and family, news, sports and weather — all the who-what-when-where-and how much’s of life.”

    They are also cooperative in action, “they try to do the right thing, in keeping with agreed upon social rules, conventions, and codes of conduct, and only later do they concern themselves with the effectiveness of their actions.”

    “As Concrete Cooperators, Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others.” They make up 40-45% of the population.

    Most Libertarians are abstract communicators: “This group of people talk primarily about the internal, abstract world of ideas: theories and conjectures, dreams and philosophies, beliefs and fantasies –all the why’s, if’s, and what-might-be’s of life.”

    They are often Utilitarian in action: “act primarily in a utilitarian or pragmatic manner, that is, they do what gets results, what achieves their objectives as effectively or efficiently as possible, and only afterwards do they check to see if they are observing the rules or going through proper channels.”

    As Abstract Utilitarians, Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and conventions if need be.

    This group makes up 5-10% of the population, yet they are the vast majority of Libertarians.

    How does this work out in a typical political conversation.

    Libertarian: “We need to cut government by 50%”

    Now in their thought process they are thinking abstract and tangentially, they see millions of forks in the road. Paths leading to various solutions, ideas abound in their vision of this simple statement. All of the benefits of the various liberty oriented ideas are wrapped up in that statement.

    Guardian: “What!!? You want chaos in the streets and people dying?”

    There thought process is concrete, they “hear” cut government and they immediately envision the removal of things they feel help (police, Fire, defense, etc.). No forks, no alternative paths or solutions, just an immediate thought to the worst case scenario.

    Unfortunately few rational will look into this stuff being that they think it isn’t scientific but more like astrology. It is ironic considering that for the most part “they do what gets results, what achieves their objectives as effectively or efficiently as possible.” Maybe more of them will realize that they are not being effective or getting results.

    This must be why I am an idealist.

    “As Abstract Cooperators, Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics.”

  47. Tom Blanton

    Is it POSSIBLE that my diagnosis is correct? If not, then that means we are not communicating, since you are apparently certain that you have found the Holy Grail of NAP/ZAP Truth.

    Capozzi, there you go again, projecting your erroneous perceptions of what I think onto me. The only absolutist around here is you – the moderate absolutist.

    Come back and diagnose me after you’ve perfected your ability to read minds. Meanwhile, quit projecting your own inflexibility and misperceptions onto others.

    You are quite right about us not communicating. That would require the ability to comprehend what others write and you only seem to be able to respond to what you believe others think. Go play that game with someone else. I’m tired of it.

  48. Thomas L. Knapp

    Don @ 54,

    “These two sentences nicely summarize the fatal conceit of the LP: a belief that societal change toward more individual liberty can be made through electoral irrelevance.”

    The conceit is equally fatal if you substitute any other word for “irrelevance.”

  49. Kevin Knedler

    One could say that “radical” is also driving this country to insolvency, getting into foreign battle engagements (not declared a war), and taking away our freedoms. Just saying. My LP journey continues.

  50. Joe Buchman

    Ted @ 52

    “The moral of the story is, the LP must be there to advocate the most radical freedom-oriented solutions.”

    I agree, except to add that the moral basis for this is NOT in “maximizing votes in the next election” or “winning in the short-term” — but in building a political movement with REAL solutions to REAL problems (the answer is Liberty, what was the question type solutions, BTW) — and NEITHER of the the DemoPublicanCrat parties are doing that.

    THAT is the kind of Libertarian Party I want to belong to/am increasingly committed to creating! (as opposed to the “we’re slightly better than the GOP” marketing of the LP that I’ve seen recently.

  51. Brian Holtz

    Blanton: The term “liberty-maximizing” is meaningless.

    So which do you not understand, “liberty” or “maximizing”?

    Your notion of maximum liberty is most likely my idea of minimal liberty, Holtz.

    Ah, then your notion of maximum liberty is to put a zero in each of these boxes:

  52. Tom Blanton

    TB @52 writes “The moral of the story is, the LP must be there to advocate the most radical freedom-oriented solutions. Otherwise we are unlikely to see any change in our direction at all.”

    Don Wills @54 writes “These two sentences nicely summarize the fatal conceit of the LP: a belief that societal change toward more individual liberty can be made through electoral irrelevance.”

    Don Wills confuses government and society. Most changes in society are not made by government. However, government changes in response to society, usually after many years and after much kicking and screaming by politicians.

    The fatal conceit of the LP is actually thinking the LP can win elections against the major parties without a large segment of society embracing libertarianism, bankrolling the LP and its candidates, and voting in numbers large enough to win elections.

  53. Brian Holtz

    Ted Brown: you have to ask for a lot and be willing to accept a lot less

    Don Wills: to be able to compromise, one has to be at the table

    I don’t see any empirical evidence that supports either of these naive bargaining strategies. When has policy ever changed through bargaining with either Libertarian candidates or Libertarian office-holders?

    Minor-party politics isn’t about bargaining, it’s about promoting ideas and signaling the level of support they have, so that the ideas spread and get co-opted.

  54. Tom Blanton

    Holtz, the answer you’ve been refusing to hear is that anarchism is the only way to achieve maximum liberty.

    I can put a “10″ in each one of the little boxes on the Holtz test, and I could easily add more boxes. This in no way conflicts with anarchism.

    It is you that that desires something less than maximum liberty because you in fact desire to have a government that uses force in situations that you approve of.

    Your invented jargon of liberty-maximizing is meaningless unless the context is given. What you really mean is that you want the most freedom possible within the the context of the type of government you desire – a government that is able to tax others to pay for the things you want.

    Then again, you aren’t a libertarian, Holtz. You are a geo-libertarian. A dated ideology based on an agrarian model.

    But you shouldn’t fear a stateless society, Holtz. You would be allowed to live in an all-white gated community and you could keep all the money you earn.

  55. Don Wills

    TK @ 58 writes “The conceit is equally fatal if you substitute any other word for irrelevance.”

    Irrelevance is the best word that describes LP electoral history, so it fits in the sentence. Try the word “success” instead of irrelevance – it might make you feel good, but the sentence no longer reflects reality.

    TB @64 has it right when he writes “The fatal conceit of the LP is actually thinking the LP can win elections against the major parties without a large segment of society embracing libertarianism, bankrolling the LP and its candidates, and voting in numbers large enough to win elections.”

    The question is why doesn’t a “large segment of society embrace libertarianism”. The answer is: libertarianism == anarchism in the mind of the voters, and anarchism is extraordinarily unpopular with voters. Anarchism is a nice dream, but as history shows, it has no chance of ever being the guiding principle of society.

    Besides, what would such a government be called? An anarchist government? Whew – an oxymoron on steroids!

  56. Tom Smith

    “The answer is: libertarianism == anarchism in the mind of the voters, and anarchism is extraordinarily unpopular with voters. ”

    That is a common excuse used by libertarians to justify their poor showing, but it simply isn’t true.

    The vast majority of Americans simply don’t agree with libertarian principles. They agree with the idea of a smaller government in general, but they don’t agree with cutting federal funding, cutting defense spending, or legalizing all drugs.
    _____________________

    I also left the party, but for the exact opposite reasons of the author. The party’s members are filled with people who do not understand the purpose of party politics. By nature, politics is tailoring your message to the recipients which will sometimes encompass compromise. That is simply the nature of the game. Remaining a debating society is not the purpose for a political party.

    The LP will never be relevant on the national stage. Not as long as you continue to push radical ideas (for the majority of Americans) that they will never embrace. They will simply disregard the rationale behind the positions due to the manner of its presentation.

  57. Tom Blanton

    The question is why doesn’t a “large segment of society embrace libertarianism”. The answer is: libertarianism == anarchism in the mind of the voters, and anarchism is extraordinarily unpopular with voters.

    I’m not sure how you can know what is in the single “mind” of “the voters”. But, from a more realistic perspective I would say that libertarianism = Ron Paul, Wayne Root, Bob Barr, Neal Boortz, and even Glenn Beck who often says he is a libertarian butt.

    These people have been seen and heard by millions of people who identify them as libertarians. Organizations like Cato, the tea party groups, and astro-turf groups paid for with Koch money are often identified as “libertarian” by the media.

    These people are not hard-core libertarians, much less anarchists. I’m quite aware that the conventional wisdom among disgruntled conservatives that flirt with the LP is that the LP is ruined by anarchists and will never win elections because it is run by anarchists. But, the evidence just isn’t there.

    Don, I think what you mean to say is that your right-wing friends would think libertarians are anarchists if you told them what libertarianism is.

    Talking about oxymorons, how is it that so many right-wingers talk of secession, but when you suggest abolishing the federal government, they go into a conniption fit about anarchy? Is it OK for Texas or Vermont to secede, just not all 50 states?

  58. Robert Capozzi

    51 tk, I see the platform NOT to have a disciplinary function. Its function is to give a flavor for what Ls stand for and how we might legislate and govern.

  59. Tom Blanton

    The LP will never be relevant on the national stage. Not as long as you continue to push radical ideas (for the majority of Americans) that they will never embrace.

    I suppose Tom Smith has no idea that the LP was founded by people who did not expect to win elections. Their agenda was to advance the cause of freedom.

    Apparently, Mr. Smith would have advised African-Americans to forget about seeking freedom and then equal rights because a majority of Americans disagreed with those positions.

    So, libertarians just need to pack it in and go home. Americans don’t accept their ideas, even if they really haven’t gotten a decent presentation of these ideas. Mr. Smith thinks it is pure folly to try and change minds.

    Best to shut up, pay your taxes, and do what your government tells you to do. Forget those crazy ideas about freedom and accept the fact that Americans are against freedom. There’s no sense in trying to change their minds.

    I guess if Mr. Smith goes to Washington, it will be as an authoritarian fascist just like all the others Americans send there.

    I’m wondering if Tom Smith is any relation to Winston Smith – they are an awful lot alike.

  60. Brian Holtz

    you in fact desire to have a government that uses force in situations that you approve of

    Yes: I want government to use force to prevent/punish aggression. You, by contrast, would leave broad categories of aggression unprevented/unpunished.

    And that is why I’m more libertarian than thou.

    You would be allowed to live in an all-white gated community

    Thanks for letting us know that your worldview is so fragile that you cannot confront mine without feeling a desperate need to impugn my tolerance for minorities.

    geo-libertarian: A dated ideology based on an agrarian model

    Geolibertarianism indeeds dates all the way back to Locke, and is implicit in his axioms about property.

    agrarian adj. 1. relating to land 2. rural; argricultural

    Geolibertarianism is indeed related to land, in the sense that geolibertarianism recognizes that all production occurs at sites and that sites cannot be produced.

  61. Don Wills

    Tom Smith – I too left the LP. I originally became involved because I believed the party was about being successful in electoral politics, while moving the country toward less intrusive government. I found out I was wrong. The LP is not about electoral politics. It’s about education. Quite frankly, voters don’t want no ejookashun.

    My experience should be a wake up call to those who remain in the LP. Instead of having new members sign The Pledge, they should have newbies sign a disclaimer that they fully understand that the LP is about education, not electoral politics. The LP would have a lot less churn if they were to forewarn newbies.

  62. Don Wills

    As an extension of my previous comment, I think history has also shown that efforts in electoral politics to educate folks is not fruitful.

    If education is your thing, you would most likely have a better chance if you work on the next generation – in the schools, in music, in churches, on social networks. Trying to (re)educate adults is a fools errand.

  63. Tom Blanton

    Holtz, no desperate needs here. I just recall your intolerance for immigrants as you claim they spoil the commons.

    While I am perfectly OK with you living in a gated community with little Zimmermans running around preventing Mexicans from spoiling your common area, I’m not OK with paying for it.

    So, you want government to run around using force to prevent aggression and you want me to pay for that? We already have that.

    My problem is that government uses more aggression than it prevents. Of course, unlike you, I’m not a genius that has devised mathematical formulas to determine things that you talk about like net freedom, net aggression, and liberty-maximization.

    Perhaps you should develop some graphs and nifty little web banners to educate us all about the concepts of net freedom, minimizing-aggression, and liberty-maximizing.

    It seems the only desperate needs around here are those of hyphenated libertarian control freaks with their antiquated ideologies and racist attitudes.

    Yes, Brian, you a quite a bit more libertarian than me, if your definition of libertarian is what the LP has become.

  64. Tom Smith

    Mr. Blanton:

    Your extreme hyperbole filled response really demonstrates my point.

    I have no desire to argue as it is clear those within the party have engaged on a losing road for more than 40+ years.

    I agree it is not all about winning elections, but the party has completely failed at educating Americans about libertarian ideals. If you feel they have done a good job of spreading the libertarian message then the vast majority of Americans have simply rejected those ideals.

    Now, you may continue with your hyperbole as it simply makes you look silly.

  65. Tom Smith

    Mr. Willis:

    ” The LP is not about electoral politics. It’s about education. Quite frankly, voters don’t want no ejookashun.”

    Completely agree. If you want an irrelevant political party that accomplishes nothing more than spending thousands a year on a useless building, pamphlets, and running uncompetitive candidates then they are free to do so.

    If the true goal was education, and not winning elections, then the LP would focus more of the money on educating Americans and not running candidates.

  66. Brian Holtz

    Tom Blanton: I just recall your intolerance for immigrants as you claim they spoil the commons.

    Here’s what I say about migrants:

    “Migration of persons should be without constraints, provided that migrants 1) do not trespass, 2) pay for how much they pollute, congest, or deplete the commons, and 3) are sponsored by someone (perhaps themselves) who can afford to assume the same responsibility for their subsistence as parents do for native children.”

    For you to suggest that makes me racist or intolerant is, again, a fascinating window into your character and intellect.

    I don’t ask you to pay for anything — except for what you take from others.

  67. Joe Buchman

    This was, and remains, the best formulation of a place to start deriving politics –

    “I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another, nor ask another to live for mine.”

    If that’s anarchy, then I’m all for it.

  68. Wes Wagner

    JB @82

    Rand despised anarchists … and considered libertarians anarchists as well.

    She definitely had to be somewhere on the scale between minarchist and constitutional republic… I just don’t know exactly where.

    But she was quite clear in her interviews how she felt about libertarians.

  69. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    @ 54: As we’ve seen over the last 40 years, the electoral approach featuring a radical platform has not resulted in any positive change.

    @ 69: The LP will never be relevant on the national stage. Not as long as you continue to push radical ideas…

    One of the Moderate’s favorite myths is that the LP has been losing for 40 years because it’s been controlled by Radicals. Not true.

    For decades now, the LP has frequently run both purists and moderates (or whatever name you want to give to those factions).

    Purists failed at the polls, but they’ve never held back the moderates.

    The moderates have always run their own campaigns and crafted their own message. They failed entirely on their own.

    The LP’s moderates have proven that a moderate libertarian message can and will fail just as spectacularly as a radical libertarian message.

    You moderates want to blame someone for the LP’s failures? Go look in the mirror. The blame is at least 50% yours.

  70. Thomas L. Knapp

    @81,

    “are sponsored by someone (perhaps themselves) who can afford to assume the same responsibility for their subsistence as parents do for native children”

    Do you have any idea how disgusting that notion is?

    Look around. You really think anybody’s gonna put these boys into real combat Do you? They’re little children, for God’s sake. They’re little monkey children. You just gotta know how to control them. — Col., Robert Montgomery, US Army, as portrayed commenting on black Union soldiers in the movie Glory

  71. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Holtz: “For you to suggest that makes me racist or intolerant is, again, a fascinating window into your character and intellect. I don’t ask you to pay for anything — except for what you take from others.”

    You seem to be suggesting that people have no right to be born, unless they can afford to live on this planet.

    How dare any baby “take” from the commons, unless that baby has a sponsor to pay for what the baby takes.

    You do sound like Ebeneezer Scrooge whining that the surplus population should just up and die.

    And since poor babies who cannot “pay for what they take” are more likely to be colored babies, well, you can see how someone may infer racism in your geo-libertarianism.

  72. Tom Blanton

    The LP’s moderates have proven that a moderate libertarian message can and will fail just as spectacularly as a radical libertarian message.

    Ahh, but at least those sensible moderates didn’t alienate their Republican friends with a bunch of crazy libertarian talk, or risk exposing the ignorant masses to radical ideas that could catch on.

    There’s just no better place for moderates, reformers and true conservatives to battle those nasty libertarians than from within the LP.

  73. Robert Capozzi

    84 teeth: The LP’s moderates have proven that a moderate libertarian message can and will fail just as spectacularly as a radical libertarian message.

    me: Failure is a state of mind. It’s true that few Ls get elected, and it’s true that there is little difference in the results between the fringy L and the edgy L candidate in terms of vote totals. My sense is the fringy Ls tend to temper their messaging when they run for office, recognizing that push-the-button hypotheticals just sound “off” in the Public Square.

    The fringy L seems interested in presenting an entirely different philosophical paradigm to voters. The edgy L seems interested in planting seeds of new ideas.

    These are not “failures,” just the use of a communication channel — elections — for somewhat different purposes. When the L candidate for Congress suggested the right to private nukes, the purpose was likely to shock. Contrast this with how GJ is campaigning. It appears he’s doing his best to attract voters to the message of liberty.

  74. Eric Sundwall

    @84

    In your estimation would there be a qualitative or quantitative difference between the advocacy of a private nuclear weapons and a private nuclear reactor?

    My bleary recollection is that some date you were on was the reason the whole private nukes thing keeps coming up.

    As fringy or edgy, radical or moderate as any campaigns that I have ever seen, my recommendation is always emphasize three prime issues and don’t be afraid to talk about anything.

  75. Robert Capozzi

    52 brown: I have observed over the years that our most radical candidates score better vote totals than wishy-washy moderate libertarians. This is because moderates don’t offer much of a contrast with the Dems and Reps.

    me: Do you have empirical evidence of the fringy doing appreciably better than the edgy?

  76. Eric Sundwall

    @92 Try Steven Rosenstone’s Third Parties in America.

    He makes a decent case that third party activity is a result of major party frustration and that the attraction thereof can be measured.

    While it might be hard to correlate with Brown’s assertion @52, identifying the difference between candidates who can be adequately described as fringy or edgy seems equally as tenuous.

  77. Robert Capozzi

    91 es: In your estimation would there be a qualitative or quantitative difference between the advocacy of a private nuclear weapons and a private nuclear reactor?

    me: I think you’re asking me that question. Yes, weapons are different than reactors. I’d think that’d be obvious.

    I have a portfolio of extreme examples of how absolutist thinking goes to loopy places. I share these examples for those who’ve been — in effect — brainwashed by absolutist L philosophers. Time to REALLY check premises. In my process of deprogramming, I’ve found it helpful to let go of absolutism to checking with these extreme examples undermine the absolutist stance. I find they do. If there is ONE exception, then the absolute is no longer absolute.

  78. Brian Holtz

    You seem to be suggesting that people have no right to be born, unless they can afford to live on this planet.

    The person being born is not the one deciding where to be born.

    The rights that I’m denying exist are the rights to a) trespass, b) pollute/congest/deplete a commons, and c) deposit an indigent person (such as oneself) on the commons without the ability and responsibility to support him.

  79. Brian Holtz

    @88, thanks for the link to that excellent thread, where I systematically demolished a series of attempts to infer that my position on migration is about nationality or ethnicity and is not symmetric with respect to how natives use the commons.

  80. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH @97,

    “The rights that I’m denying exist are the rights to a) trespass”

    Which you define as crossing imaginary lines, drawn on the ground by the street gang which prevails in the neighborhood where you happen to live and having nothing whatsoever to do with anything resembling “property,” without said street gang’s permission.

  81. Wes Wagner

    “Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” — Samuel Clemens

  82. Brian Holtz

    TK@99 Which you define as crossing imaginary lines

    Nope, I’ve never used “trespass” with reference to anything other than the preferences of property owners.

    Swing and a miss — adding delicious irony to @100.

  83. Ted Brown

    @92 Good question about the vote totals. I probably reversed what I should have said. In the past, many LP candidates have tried to moderate the message in an attempt to win votes, but have not gotten higher vote totals as a result. I recruited LP candidates in California for 22 years and signed up people of all types – from moderate to radical, as long as they had libertarian views on the issues. Sad to say, good vote totals often came from circumstances, rather than anything our candidates did during the campaign. Most LP candidates didn’t have much money to spend and thus remained unknown to voters. Hence most votes are protest votes. A good example is the California Lt. Governor’s race in 2010. Our candidate, Professor Pamela Brown, was and is an incredibly qualified professor of economics and spokesperson for our cause. She received half a million votes statewide mostly because active Republicans hated their candidate, Abel Maldonado, and were willing to protest with a 3rd party vote.

    Those who write about our electoral problems are correct. It is very, very hard for a Libertarian to win an election, except for non-partisan local elections. But we need to be there to present an alternative, and a true alternative, not just a tiny shift away from the status quo. Otherwise, how are voters going to hear about alternative points of view? Most don’t pay any attention to politics except between Labor Day and the general election in presidential years.

  84. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@101,

    On what basis do you assert a legitimate power to require “sponsorship” (along the lines of treating them like children) to cross your preferred street gang’s imaginary, non-property-related lines?

  85. Brian Holtz

    TK@103, on what basis do you assert that anyone has a right to deposit an indigent person (such as oneself) on a commons without the ability and responsibility to support him(self)?

  86. Be Rational

    Thank you Ted Brown for your comments.

    The LP has two major problems in explaining and selling Libertarianism to the American public – which is our first step on the path to Liberty: first educate, then lead to action, then elect officeholders and then change policy.

    1) We need more money to spread our message, which requires more members and donors, which requires spreading our message to aquire more members and donors – This is not a catch 22 problem, though it may appear to be. It is an exercise in growth rates and the principle of hard work, slow steady growth – just like compound interest.

    2) We are always infested with difficult people: a) nut cases who are not libertarian and don’t belong, such as the geo-fascist earth nazi with his looney ideas, b) the negative ramblings of armchair critics who prattle on about private nukes but never donate, campaign or lead in any way, c) quitters who come and go because the LP is too radical so they start another single state party doomed to fail, waste time and money and then continue to blame others for their own failures, d) and quitters who complain the LP isn’t radical enough and quit and form other splinters, waste time and money and also blame others for their own failures.

  87. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH,

    I assert no such power. But I do question your method of dividing the commons such that “your” commons is separate from all other commons for no reason other than that the Latin Lords or the San Jose Crips or whoever say so.

  88. Thomas L. Knapp

    RP @106,

    I’m not sure whether that there is a formal non sequitur or just so completely unrelated to anything as to be complete white noise.

    I’m going to charitably go with the former and just note it does not follow from my support for the right of anyone to move anywhere they DO like so long as they don’t trespass on legitimate property while doing so, that I myself should move somewhere I DON’T like, even if you think that forwarding the latter notion scores some kind of cheap point against the former notion.

  89. Brian Holtz

    BR, I’ve set (and broke) records for third-party results in my congressional district, I’m president of the local water board, I got my town’s council to enact my market-based alternative to the state’s onerous default water-conservation ordinance, and I’m getting closer to having a majority of our water board be self-described libertarians.

    Meanwhile, you sit in your armchair anonymously calling libertarians “fascist” and “nazi”.

    When have you led in any way?

  90. Thomas L. Knapp

    Addendum,

    But, for the record, three of the four countries you allude to are on my short list for residency when and if I am allowed to leave the United States.

  91. Brian Holtz

    TK@104, I didn’t ask about a “power”, I asked about a “right”. If you’re not going to assert that people have the right I described, then you have no basis to complain when that pseudo-right is denied.

    I do question your method of dividing the commons such that “your” commons is separate from all other commons for no reason other than that the Latin Lords or the San Jose Crips or whoever say so.

    Strawman. I’ve already told you my method, and that ain’t it.

  92. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@111,

    Sorry about that — in the original of the comment, I went into discussion of the power you assert, then when I cut it I somehow left the word “power” instead of “right” in with respect to my own assertion. I meant “right” in that particular sentence.

    As far as your alleged method, there’s one major problem with it: It includes the word “would.”

    The commons you describe in your method doesn’t actually exist, it’s just something you’d LIKE to exist.

    Why should the rules for your hypothetical commons be held applicable to the existing street-gang pseudo-commons?

  93. Brian Holtz

    The commons are definitely real — they’re just not managed the way geolibertarians would recommend. However, that doesn’t mean that various migration policies can’t be more or less aligned with geolibertarian ideals.

    Again: if you’re not going to assert that anyone has a right to deposit an indigent person (such as oneself) on a commons without the ability and responsibility to support him(self), then you have no basis to complain when that pseudo-right is denied.

  94. Michael H. Wilson

    Moderate Libertarians need to put together a platform so that the rest of the world has a clue as to what they want specifically.

  95. Don Wills

    The phrase “Moderate Libertarian” is another oxymoron, particularly in the minds of voters. You can try to disguise the anarchism, not talk about it, profess disagreement with parts of the LP platform, even generally run away from it, but if you put (L) behind your name, it’s about as acceptable to the unwashed today as an A on your forehead was in puritan New England.

  96. JT

    Blanton: “The fatal conceit of the LP is actually thinking the LP can win elections against the major parties without a large segment of society embracing libertarianism, bankrolling the LP and its candidates, and voting in numbers large enough to win elections.”

    I agree with this sentiment, except to say that I don’t think that it’s the fatal conceit of the LP as such, but of a sizable percentage of people who join the party & even run for office. They expect Libertarians to win major partisan elections soon. When it doesn’t happen, they feel very disappointed. That eventually turns into great frustration & resentment. Then those individuals quit the LP.

    Reversing the tide of government from much greater centralization of power to much greater individual liberty is an incredibly enormous undertaking. It can’t happen in a few years–perhaps not even in a few decades–regardless of whether the ideas being advanced are “pragmatic” or “pure.”

    Of course, I have my own viewpoint about which ideas are acceptable for Libertarians to espouse & which aren’t. But I don’t believe that we’d have dramatically less government now if only Libertarians had been more radical or more moderate over the past couple of decades.

    What can happen after a few years is having a Libertarian Party that’s significantly stronger than it was, instead of smaller & weaker. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case throughout the LP’s existence.

  97. Tom Blanton

    Yes siree-bob, Mister Wills, you got that one right! The first thing that comes to the minds of voters that hear Wayne Root on their favorite talk radio show spouting off about reverse discrimination, building Mosques on the sacred Ground Zero, and regressive income tax rates (reverse flat tax) for the wealthy is anarchy with a capital “A”.

    Same way with that character Bob Barr who tries to fool people by endorsing Newt Gingrich – he’s a damn anarchist and is hiding it. But when plain folk hear that he’s a libertarian, they’re smart enough to know he’s a stinkin’ anarchist and hates America.

    No doubt about it, voters know that those slick talking people at that Cato Institute and those Koch boys are card carrying anarchists.

    Yep, there ain’t no such thing as a “moderate libertarian” because they is all radical anarchists in the minds of voters just like them liberals is all secret Moozlum Marxists. You can’t fool the minds of voters because they is all smart.

  98. Robert Capozzi

    wills: if you put (L) behind your name, it’s about as acceptable to the unwashed today as an A on your forehead was in puritan New England.

    me: Not my observation. The Libertarian brand in recent years I suspect is roughly equivalent to “Ron Paul.” I’m noticing that non-political people I run into will say something like, “Libertarian? I kinda like Ron Paul.”

    This is not to say that L branding hasn’t been “wild-eyed anarchists,” or that the residue of fringy extremism doesn’t taint the LP in the public perception. If GJ is the nominee, his rhetoric and style could be important in transitioning the LP’s perception from “Crazy Uncle in the attic” to “interesting, thoughtful people with some good ideas.”

  99. Gary Who?

    If GJ is the nominee his rhetoric and style could be important in transitioning the LP’s perception from “Crazy Uncle in the attic” to “interesting, thoughtful people with some good ideas.”

    If GP is the nominee, he’ll disappear without a trace. Sink without a ripple.

    Only in your fantasies can GP overshadow Ron Paul.

  100. Robert Capozzi

    who: Only in your fantasies can GP overshadow Ron Paul

    me: Sorry, that wasn’t my intent. The point is that the Crazy Uncle positioning of past decades has been moved away from largely because of Ron Paul. GJ could continue that trend. It’s not likely that GJ will “overshadow” RP; he’ll stand on RP’s shoulders. I do think GJ’s more socially liberal positioning and tone could tweak L-isms positioning in a positive directon.

    Paul has done a lot of the heavy lifting.

  101. Don Wills

    The (L) after a candidate’s name on the general election ballot is a kiss of death. I have first-hand experience that backs up my claim that it doesn’t matter if the candidate is GOP-lite, Ron Paul or a “true libertarian”. Unfortunately, labels matter very much in elections, and the (L) label is poison.

  102. Robert Capozzi

    dw, that’s a different question, I suggest. OF COURSE Ls are not winning elections. My guess is that the first Country Party candidate won’t win, either. Third party candidates almost never win.

    Winning would be nice, but I happen to think in most endeavors you have to walk before you run. Despite its power, the freedom philosophy(ies) have been almost entirely inconsequential since the approach came together into a movement in the 70s. Unfortunately, it was dominated by absolutism and construct-based thinking, leading to a political approach that was doomed to failure by any metric.

    Thanks largely to the efforts of RP, the past 5 years have seen somewhat of a change in the soil. While the toxicity is still there, RP has amounted to political Miracle Gro. Indeed, with NewsletterGate, RP had his own contribution to the toxicity, and yet the power of his ideas and his personal character MAY mark the beginning of something bigger.

    Whether the LP can change course and complete a regimen of detoxification remains to be seen. Perhaps your approach — to leave and start over — may be optimal path.

    We shall see.

  103. Michael H. Wilson

    The problem is the LP’s failure to be consistent with the message. Wishy-washy just don’t get it.

  104. Robert Capozzi

    125 mhw, “failure to be consistent” sounds like a problem on its face. But then one stares at it, and considers the implications. Are you suggesting cookie-cutter L campaigns? Every L website looks the same, saying the same thing?

    Business marketing attempts to maintain consistency of message. But is politics a business?

  105. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert if you read the platform it calls, or did call, for abolishing the income tax. Then we get people who want to replace that with a flat tax on income with a couple of deductions. Similar bait and switch games go on with the foreign policy and even gun control.

    I have seen people water down the platform in order to get an extra couple of points in votes. The end result is that the candidate does not get elected and the public has no idea where the party stands on many of the issues.

  106. Robert Capozzi

    127 mhw, right. Abolishing the income tax could be viewed as a long term goal, not something a candidate runs on.

    Until a few years ago, the platform had language that opposed regulating any arms…what I call the right to private nukes clause.

    Knowing that the platform was a mess and in many ways is still a mess, liberty-minded candidates can and should disregard it as a specific prescription for campaigns. The platform’s utility is to give outsiders a sense of what a L approach might look like.

    It sounds as if you want to use the platform in a disciplinary, punitive manner, Others apparently don’t agree with your approach….

  107. Michael H. Wilson

    No Robert. I just think it is important to stay on message. But over the years I have met Libs who are for the government schools, government light rail, who have told me we shouldn’t mention the drug war and I could go on. But that would be of no value.

  108. Robert Capozzi

    129 mhw, you’ve met another, then. I am FOR government schools until a plausible alternative is ripe. Closing all government schools tomorrow seems like an awfully bad idea on every level I can think of.

    Surely you recognize that what you believe is of “no value” is just your opinion, just as my beliefs are just my opinions, yes?

    I’m down with a candidate “staying on message.” It’s Communications 101, a course much tougher than it appears.

    But what you seem to be pointing to some sort of L Message Hall Monitor function. This would require a level of command-and-control model that – on its face – seems unattainable and unattractive.

  109. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert I don’t intend to argue with you. I have two meetings to go to and need to do some prep work, so enjoy the day here in the sandbox.

  110. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@28,

    “Abolishing the income tax could be viewed as a long term goal, not something a candidate runs on.”

    Why is it that only Libertarians are forbidden to offer short-term solutions of sweeping scope?

    Eliminating the income tax would reduce federal revenues to what they were only a decade or so, but that’s “too radical.”

    Yet every four years, Republican presidential candidates promise to try to reverse 40 years of abortion law, Democrats propose to completely remake the US health care system, etc., and that’s “mainstream.”

  111. Robert Capozzi

    133 tlk, “forbidden”? Did I imply such a thing?

    The Ds have a range of thought on health care. Some Rs put a lot of focus on Roe v. Wade, others don’t.

    Given the debt and deficit, I’d say now is not the best time to advocate eliminating the income tax and replacing it with nothing. I just don’t think that’s good politics in this time and place, as I think Ls should present a strong, plausible path toward liberty…

  112. Don Wills

    In the minds of voters, the Libertarian Party is in favor of elimination of the income tax, completely open borders and heroin for sale at the 7-11.

    Guess what. The voters have it right. And they soundly reject (by >95%) those three positions, therefore they reject anyone with an (L) after their name on the ballot.

    You guys can debate freedom, morality, what should be, and the LP platform all you want. Out in the real world the voters have figured out that the LP is far too radical, and therefore they will not vote for anyone with (L) after their name.

    Again, the LP should fess up and say that they’re simply an educational and debating society, and aren’t really interested in electoral politics other than to further the debate and education purposes of the party.

  113. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@134,

    “Given the debt and deficit, I’d say now is not the best time to advocate eliminating the income tax and replacing it with nothing.”

    Actually, the debt is one of the best reasons to eliminate the income tax and replace it with nothing.

    Since it is never going to be paid off, and is eventually going to be repudiated either openly or through some kind of inflationary legerdemain, why continue taxing people to make “minimum payments” on it that don’t reduce the principal?

    You may or may not have noticed that Gary Johnson’s proposed budget cuts come to almost exactly the amount borrowed (36.x%) plus debt service (6.x%) circa 2011. Sounds to me like he has repudiation in mind as well.

  114. Robert Capozzi

    136 tk, is that a fact? Seems possible, but you seem to be an outlier, or perhaps ahead of your time.

    Has GJ said he’s on the repudiation bandwagon?

  115. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@137,

    I’m not sure what you’re asking.

    If you’re asking whether or not my claim that the US will repudiate its debt is a fact, well, obviously it’s a prediction.

    I was an outlier/ahead of my time when I first predicted repudiation several years ago (and Brian Holtz giggled at me for it).

    These days, I know of no one who thinks that the debt will ever be honestly paid off. The US government will formally repudiate it, or the US government will pull some kind of silly trick to “pay it off” at nothing resembling its actual value, or the debt will disappear when the government that incurred it is deposed and the subsequent regime says “hey, WE didn’t borrow it.”

    So far as I know, no, Johnson has never said he wants to repudiate the debt. But when (your proposed budget) = (previous budgets less deficits and debt service), it’s not unreasonable to suspect that that’s on the agenda.

    While I don’t support/endorse candidates for public office, I’d certainly think well of Johnson if he did come out for repudiation.

    I personally doubt that the issue will have to time to ripen to the benefit of the LP to the extent that marijuana legalization has over the last three decades — I don’t expect the US government as we know it to last another three decades — but it’s certainly a public conversation worth starting.

  116. Robert Capozzi

    138 tk, yes, you understood my question correctly. I think anything’s possible, but I am skeptical of your prediction, too. The FedGov has a lot of resources/tools to repackage/restructure as necessary, ie, kick the can down the road.

    I see some Rothbard and some Rothbardians have talked up the repudiation concept. I wonder if others will….

  117. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@139,

    The politicians’ accrued debt now stands at more than 60% of US annual GDP and they’ve been borrowing one of every three dollars they spend, while continuing to spend more and more.

    And yet they squeal like stuck pigs even at attempts to slow down the growth of their spending (the fight over the “draconian cuts” to the defense budget under the “SuperCommittee tripwire” was over whether the “defense” budget would grow by 10% or by 18% over the next five years; no actual cut was ever on the table).

    At some point, there’s just no more road to kick the can down.

  118. Steven Berson

    I will argue the likely result of default would end up with the vast majority of American citizen’s liberties and prosperities being vastly diminished. I’d agree with Thomas Knapp that this (or similar ends via hyperinflation) is likely where we’re heading any way – but to choose to enter this immediately without attempts at mitigation to try for what is most likely a long-shot at a “softer landing” seems to be pretty callous and likely self undermining.

    Anyway – since it was brought up – I’ll refer everyone to Dmitri Orlov’s excellent article and must read on “The Collapse Gap” between the current USA and the former USSR at – http://www.energybulletin.net/node/23259

  119. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 133 TK wrote Yet every four years, Republican presidential candidates promise to try to reverse 40 years of abortion law, Democrats propose to completely remake the US health care system, etc., and that’s “mainstream.”

    Great way to put it!

  120. Thomas L. Knapp

    Steve,

    I agree with you that it’s likely that repudiation of the debt will have bad effects, including bad effects on liberty. It certainly did the two times that the US defaulted/repudiated its debt in the 20th century (1933 and 1971).

    I disagree, however, that not repudiating the debt will “likely” have similar effects. There’s no doubt whatsoever that it will.

    When the politicians borrow money, every American’s labor and property is the collateral. The more they borrow, the more they’re promising to take out of our hides.

    I have no problem if the politicians want to pay the debt that they’ve run up … as long as they do it with their own money. But that’s not what they propose to do. They’re dine and dash artists. They eat, we get stuck with the check.

  121. Robert Capozzi

    141 sb: …but to choose to enter this immediately without attempts at mitigation to try for what is most likely a long-shot at a “softer landing” seems to be pretty callous and likely self undermining.

    143 tk: I have no problem if the politicians want to pay the debt that they’ve run up … as long as they do it with their own money.

    me: SB puts it quite eloquently. “Self underming”…I may borrow that in the future.

    TK, the notion that “the politicians” will pay back the debt seems absurd. How would this be done? Some sort of Reign of Terror court proceeding?

    I don’t care for what politicians do for the most part. But I can’t imagine how Knappster justice would be effected.

  122. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@44,

    Nice field-expedient strawman build!

    I never suggested that the politicians be forced to pay back their debt.

    In point of fact, I suggested that they will almost certainly repudiate their debt.

    I just noted that if they do want to pay back their debt themselves, I have no problem with that. The problem comes when they run up the debt then expect everyone else to pay it back for them.

  123. Eric Dondero

    If it’s a purist Libertarian Party for president you want look at 1984. David Bergland. About as pure as you could possibly get. And the very worst Libertarian Party presidential campaign in history. Down from 1 million votes with Ed Clark in 1980 to 223,000 with Bergland in 1984. I fail to see how that helped build credibility for the libertarian movement and libertarian ideals.

    I was Ron Paul’s travel aide in his 1988 run. I cannot tell you how many bigtime editorial boards (NY Times, San Fran Chronicle, Boston Herald, ect…) asked Ron, “Dr. Paul, why should we take your Libertarian Party seriously when you dropped from 1 million votes in 1980 to 223,000 in 1984?”

    The media cares about the horse race, and bottom line numbers. You don’t gain credibility by running purist non-celebrity nobody candidates like Bergland.

  124. Eric Dondero

    I find it rather curious that Tom disses Bob Barr so severely, when it was one of his closest friends – Stephen Gordon of Alabama (along with another Knapp ally Chuck Moulton) – who recruited Barr into the LP in the first place.

    Kind of bad manners for Libertarian Party folks to incessently bug some former congressman to join the Party and seek the Party’s presidential nomination for months, and then turn around and bad mouth him after it was all over.

  125. Eric Dondero

    Libertarians do get elected to public office.

    I live in Brazoria County, Texas (south of Houston). 20 miles south in the corner of our County is a tiny town of Quintana Beach. There’s a Libertarian Party member who serves on the Town Council. It’s kind of cool.

    There’s some 150 elected Libertarians, including a State Rep. in Rhode Island. Having an ‘L’ by one’s name is not the kiss of death. Libertarians do run for public office, and sometimes they win.

  126. Chuck Moulton

    Eric Dondero wrote (@147):

    I find it rather curious that Tom disses Bob Barr so severely, when it was one of his closest friends – Stephen Gordon of Alabama (along with another Knapp ally Chuck Moulton) – who recruited Barr into the LP in the first place.

    I didn’t recruit Congressman Barr into the LP or convince him to run for President. I did serve with him on the LNC though and found him to be a good guy who genuinely wanted the Libertarian Party to succeed and the country to move in a libertarian direction.

    I believe Barr started out conservative but trended more and more libertarian as he hung out with Libertarians. He would have been better off waiting an election cycle or two to run for public office until that transformation was further down the line.

    I was disappointed in the Gingrich endorsement. And I think some of Barr’s presidential campaign staff led him astray. He made a great personal sacrifice financially to run for President and I think he gets a bad rap from many for his troubles.

    In 2008 I voted for Wayne Root on all but the last ballot, which I cast for Barr. In my opinion speaking ability and media was the most important criteria for a presidential candidate. After seeing the Barr campaign’s Ron Paul press conference gaff and Root’s many statements about swinging the LP right, I regret not voting for Many Ruwart.

    I still consider Bob Barr a friend and a Libertarian.

  127. Thomas L. Knapp

    Eric @ 147,

    I have lots of friends. I don’t always agree with the things they do.

    George Phillies is a good friend of mine, but I discouraged him from seeking the presidential nomination in 2008 and handled him pretty roughly during his campaign with respect to issues positions and such (but I’m happy to admit that he did run hands-down the most professional campaign of that cycle, not excluding Barr’s post-nomination fiasco of a campaign).

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