From Amateur Economists:
“Libertarians are Republicans who smoke pot.” So goes the saying. And most Americans know little else about the Libertarian Party, America’s third largest, or the libertarian political philosophy. So when former Republican congressman Bob Barr announced his candidacy for the LP’s presidential nomination on May 12, the mainstream media assumed he was a shoo-in. After all, he was a Republican and now lobbies for the Marijuana Policy Project—how could someone better fit the popular definition?
But what the media failed to recognize is that many party members don’t consider libertarianism to be a branch of conservatism but, instead, its diametric opposite. These libertarians refused to embrace Barr and, instead, rallied behind the candidacy of party stalwart Mary Ruwart during the Libertarian National Convention on May 25. It took six ballots before Barr was finally able to win the party’s nomination with just over 51% of the vote, and the rift now between the “reformers” who backed Barr and the “radicals” who supported Ruwart is bitter—and largely economics related.