Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meeting Bob Barr

Tonight I attended a meeting where I was able to meet Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for President. Someone asked him a question that seems relevant to hard-core libertarians who question his move from the GOP to the LP, which is how he could reconcile some of his votes while Congressman and his position now as a Libertarian. The bottom line is that people can grow and change. His answer was a bit more specific. He admitted that as a Congressman he had voted for some things that resulted in decreases in freedom, thinking those small losses weren't much to worry about. But then 9-11 happened, and he witnessed the massive power grab our government made in the aftermath, using it as an excuse. He said it then became clear to him that one could not lose any ground when it came to liberty, that you had to fight to roll back the government everywhere, and not give any ground, that it was important not to lose any liberty. Indeed, one can lose one's liberty through the slow creep of gradualism just as much as through a massive power grab. Worse, when it happens gradually, few if anyone notices. So I'm thrilled to learn Barr has evolved into a true libertarian.

Along those lines, it seems more than odd that there are Ron Paul supporters out there who plan to vote for John McCain rather than Bob Barr. The people who would do that are more loyal to a party that isn't interested in having them than they are to their own beliefs. John McCain is no friend of liberty. And don't let people scare you off with Obama and arguments about supreme court justices. Clinton polarized the true conservatives of the GOP; Obama could do the same thing. McCain will keep both conservatism and libertarianism asleep while he goes about appointing false conservatives to the Supreme Court. (McCain voted for Ruth Bader Ginsberg, after all -- so how can you trust him to put good people on the court?) If Ron Paul supporters are serious about liberty, they need to throw all their support for Bob Barr. If nothing else, a strong showing by the LP will show the politicians in power that there is a significant number of people who do support liberty. Why throw your vote away on someone who does not agree with you? That makes no sense. Quite frankly, if everyone actually voted for the candidate whose ideas most resembled theirs, Bob Barr would win. People need to vote what they believe and not "strategically." Voting strategically is what got the GOP John McCain.

In the meantime, if I were able to advise the Barr campaign, I would advise them to allow Ron Paul to have his moment during the GOP convention, and then immediately thereafter cheerfully announce that Bob Barr is taking up where Ron Paul left off, that he is taking Paul's baton, and that he welcomes all Ron Paul's supporters. ANd if an interviewer were to ask about ron Paul supporters, I would answer, "Why wouldn't they support us? We believe in the same things as Ron Paul. John McCain doesn't. We believe Paul's supporters are wise enough to vote for the candidate who believes what they believe rather than support a party that doesn't even want them around. Except on voting day, of course."
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