I am a Libertarian Party partisan.
What does it mean to be a Libertarian Party partisan?
It means having a sincere, facts-based belief in the platform of the LP — and a strong belief that LP candidates, broadly speaking, are better for America than the candidates of other parties: Democrat, Republican, Green, Constitution, etc.
It also means understanding the unspoken agreement of the Libertarian Party — that as a party, we have our internal debates and discussions, work them out in convention, and then unite around our candidates and the values of the platform that they stand for.
In Denver, we had a number of improvements to our party platform, including strengthened language on sexuality/gender/parentage and the role of government in abortion (nil.) These were victories for liberty, and for Americans everywhere.
We also nominated Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root as our presidential and vice presidential nominees.
I intend to vote for the Libertarian ticket, and promote it over the candidacies of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and Constitution Party, because in election 2008, the Barr-Root ticket is indisputably the best choice for America.
I am perfectly aware of the objections to the candidacy. I am aware of the concerns that many Libertarians have against the individual candidates, and I share them. But I could hardly expect the LP to unite around my preferred candidate, George Phillies, if I’m not prepared to have the same attitude to other Libertarian candidates.
Similarly, how could Ruwart, Kubby, Gravel, or Smith supporters have expected Libertarians to support their candidate if they’re not willing to extend the same courtesy to those who they otherwise don’t support?
The reality is, they couldn’t.
In America today, we have a Republican candidate castigating the Supreme Court for ruling that the government may not indefinitely detain individuals without charges or court hearings. We have a Democrat who thinks that energy prices are too high, and so we need to make them higher through tax increases on oil companies (and at the pump). We are in a disastrous and pointless war in Iraq, with casualties reaching difficult-to-contemplate levels. Government deficits spin out of control, and the answer from the old parties is that we’re not spending enough. Culture warriors use government power to remove books (and courses) they disapprove of from schools; transform legislative and judicial buildings into venues to display religious artifacts; and wage war against Americans who are the wrong gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, or other category.
With all these unpredecented predations inflicted on our citizenry, we’ve got nothing better to do than get into an argument about whether or not *any* of the Libertarian presidential nominees presented in Denver — including Mssrs. Barr and Root — aren’t an improvement?
Look, Bob Barr’s platform isn’t purely where I want to go. I don’t think it’s where most Libertarians want to go. But it represents the best platform in election 2008.
And I will work to help lobby the Barr/Root campaign to take more Libertarian positions whenever I can, just as I did with Bob Barr when he was an LNC member and I explained the effect of his DOMA law on average gay Americans. Barr changed his view as a result, and I applaud and respect that willingness to re-examine the issues and migrate to a more libertarian stance.
Here’s the record of our Libertarian ticket today. If Bob Barr becomes president, he’ll end the Iraq War, curb government spending, oppose efforts to nationalize health care, downsize military bases abroad, oppose the USA PATRIOT Act (and veto extensions of that), work to repeal the federal definition of marriage imposed on states in DOMA, work to end our foreign entanglements, oppose federal snoops in our e-mail and bedrooms, and carry the platform he’s cultivated at the ACLU to the White House.
That’s a Libertarian agenda.
Obama and McCain? Libertarians advocating their candidacies are camping in the middle of Bedlam, and cannot claim to have a serious place at the LP table when they’re willing to abandon the party in favor of those two statist nightmares.
Ron Paul? He is not a serious candidate, will not appear on the ballot, and has significant anti-libertarian stances himself that resemble many of the criticisms that his loudest purist supporters direct against Barr. He’s also a Republican with explosive positions on social issues — and an unwillingness to strongly denounce the unsavory political organizations (such as Stormfront) that have thrown their support behind him. (Incidentally, that issue is far more explosive than the “child porn” non-issue smear against Dr. Ruwart from last month).
Chuck Baldwin is a radical theocrat whose positions on the issues, and party platform, is diametrically opposed to the Libertarian Party’s platform on almost every issue. Anybody proposing that his platform is “more libertarian” than the LP ticket’s is camping out in another section of Bedlam.
Let’s face it — casting a “protest” vote in this election for any of those jokers (or worse, writing them in) means that you’re dropping out of the meaningful liberty movement — that you’re not serious about moving closer to liberty with the strongest resources that we have at our disposal today.
Is Bob Barr the radical’s dream, or the centrist’s perfect choice? No. Was I overjoyed when he was nominated? Many people at the convention who spoke with me can answer that question for me — I was undoubtedly concerned.
But the most important question from now until November is this: is Bob Barr the most Libertarian choice on the ballot in November? The answer is “undoubtedly.”
Regardless of where on the LP ideological spectrum you fall, ensuring a successful candidacy for our party’s candidates at all levels — including a strong Barr-Root turnout that is carried downticket to excellent candidates for state and local office — builds a stronger Libertarian Party.
And we can come back in 2010 to debate the future platforms, who we’d like to see as our presidential candidate, our mistakes as a party, and whether or not the 2008 candidacy was a “good move.” But it’s important that those of us who demand a place at the Libertarian table are willing to accord similar spots to those of us who might be newer, or disagree with us on certain issues — rallying around the values that unite us as well as debating the values where we disagree. Without that commitment to open debate and healthy partisanship, we cannot call ourselves a serious force in American politics.
I’m standing shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow Libertarians to put up a fight against the big-government, nanny-state (and police state) platforms of the Democrats, Republicans and Constitution Party. I invite all who are concerned about these big questions of our time to join us in the upcoming fight of our political lives.