Steve G.

Libertarian Party featured in The Economist

In Libertarian on June 2, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Economist political cartoon of Bob BarrThe Economist, an influential highbrow news magazine (and one of the few magazines that I bother subscribing to) ran an opinion piece on the Barr campaign in this week’s print issue.  As you would come to expect from reading the news coverage so far, the column is full of factual errors and outdated stereotypes (e.g. the main division in the LP is between between a radical “gun wing” versus a radical “drug wing”.  Take heart, radicals!  Most people still don’t know that we even have pragmatists at all!).  The piece is also heavily focused on the “spoiler” storyline, like most other mainstream coverage.

However, there is some positive coverage of Barr’s poll numbers and the percentage of Americans who self-identify as “libertarian”.  Also, the fact that the Economist is giving exposure to the LP at all is probably a positive thing.  Ron Paul got a couple of paragraphs worth of side note during the GOP primaries months back, but to my knowledge this is the first time in its history that the Economist has run a full-page feature on the Libertarian Party.  First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, etc.

  1. Someone needs to get together a petition requesting Bob Barr to officially sign an open letter to the US Government and the people of the US repealing each, item by item, of his major anti-libertarian historical positions.

    I don’t mean things like repealing the FED — I wouldn’t go that far. But certainly to sign off on an oath to never increase a tax that isn’t absolutely required to avoid immediate total social collapse; an oath to at all times find ways to make any taxes or incises as voluntary as possible (i.e.; not on blanket income but on relevant goods such as gasoline taxes for roadways, etc.); an oath to sponsor a bill repealing the DOMA, an oath to sponsor a bill repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, an oath to issue an executive order ending the Drug Prohibitionist proclivities of the FDA (which is something that can be done directly by executive order, let’s not forget! It would simply require a re-scheduling of the drugs in question which isn’t even under Congressional lock and key!)

    I’ll be frank: If Barr were to sign off on those things and make them public statements, I would be perfectly comfortable supporting him as a Libertarian Party Presidential candidate. I might even donate.

    Right now, he doesn’t stand a chance of getting my support.

  2. Gotta take the good with the bad. We could be getting NO PRESS.

  3. Ehh… what’s a Libertarian Party to do? The problem with libertarians in general is two-sided:

    (1) They’re the most fiercely independent people on the entire political map, and virtually impossible to rally under a common umbrella. Everyone stands outside the tent, waiting to come in “if only” the LP would go balls to the wall in one of a million different directions to suit their own tastes. The small-L libertarian universe is huge (Cato, Lew Rockwell, Reason, Liberty, etc), but it’s just near-impossible to get all them to support ANY big-L Libertarian ticket.

    (2) When they’re not fiercely independent, then they’re fiercely collectivist people make-believing that they’re fiercely independent. The small-L universe is hardly immune to cult-of-personality thinking. The overwhelming majority of Ron Paul supporters probably couldn’t articulate half of Paul’s positions (and would likely disagree with him if they knew), but continue throwing resources and effort into a Don Quixote quest of stacking more delegates at the GOP convention. The Ayn Rand collective has historically spent half its energy arguing over who should be “purged” for not sleeping with Ayn and/or writing essays that Peikoff disagreed with. Half the anti-Barr comments have no logical analysis behind them… it’s just a hash of “neocon” and “hijacker” labels thrown together for the sake of online flamewars.

    There’s nothing that any big-L candidate can do to unite all the small-L’s at the same time. I’m tired of going around in circles trying. Give me the manstream spotlight for at least one cycle so we can put as many libertarian messages as possible before the general public, rather than arguing about them in private while the world ignores us.

  4. Steve,

    In implicitly urging people to support the Barr/Root ticket in your comment above, you suggest that going after the “mainstream spotlight” is something we should try for “at least one cycle,” and imply that the alternatives to being willing to support Barr/Root are either an unreasonable independence that will only pitch in if everything goes its way, or an unreasonable collectivism that wastes its energy on pointless arguments.

    From my perspective as a libertarian radical who is disapointed with the ticket and does not intend to support it, I would be more convinced to do so if you and your fellow moderates stated a workable plan for how you intend to reign in this experiment — actually more the culmination of long-term trends in the party toward moderation and conservatism.

    Your plea for “at least” one term is completely open-ended. What is your proposal for making sure the LP gets back on track consistently promoting the Non-Aggression Principle and libertarian positions after Barr/Root is history? Or do you in fact wish to continue down the Barr/Root path indefinitely?

  5. Starchild, I personally never had a “plan” for getting Barr the nomination, or for the reformers getting the Platform majority report passed, in the first place. I don’t have a formal plan for reigning things in, either.

    It happened because most social systems behave like pendulums. I’ve been saying mostly the same things for my 16 years in the LP. For a long time, I was saying these things in opposition to the majority. Right now, in this particular moment, I’m saying them as PART OF the majority (I haven’t said this out loud before, but this honestly is a strange and unsettling new experience for me). Down the road, the pendulum will keep swinging. Whether it’s further to the right for awhile, or back to the racial side, I can’t predict. But it will keep swinging, and I’ll be saying things in opposition to the majority again (a small part of me looks forward to it because I’m so familiar with that). I’ll still be saying the same things I’ve always said, though.

    I’m not interested in changing who you are, or what you believe in. I know what it’s like to not be standing where the pendulum is, and I suspect that it will one swing away from me and back your way. All I’m trying to say is that I’ve been supporting LP tickets since Andre Marrou… even when I sometimes had to hold my hand over my nose to do so. I try my best (sometimes unsuccessfully) to be respectful to everyone in the Party, so honestly it’s just hard for me to understand why other big-L’s can hold their hands over their noses too sometimes when they’re in the same boat.

  6. “can’t hold their hands over their noses”, rather.

  7. Gotta take the good with the bad. We could be getting NO PRESS.

    Which, in this case, would be MUCH better considering Barf is making the LP look like the Republican-lite party.

  8. […] Libertarian Party featured in The Econom […]

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