It seems the Barr campaign only belatedly realized that while the Ron Paul R3volution has lots of libertarians in it, it is not quite a libertarian movement. Ron Paul’s team seems to have more ties to the Constitution Party than to the Libertarian Party. Despite all the complaints LP radicals have about Barr, do any of them seriously suggest there was ever any chance that Paul would have endorsed Mary Ruwart and thus snubbed all his CP and leftish donors?
I fear there is a bit of truth to the insinuations from the Barr campaign that Paul considers himself and his Campaign For Liberty to be too big/important to stoop to endorsing anyone else for President this year, no matter how ideologically aligned that candidate (or his party) may be. Ron Paul appears more interested in being a power broker for generic protest votes than in maximizing the vote counts for liberty — or even for constitutionalism. That’s extremely disappointing. The Greens and Naderites of 2008 are like the Socialist Party of 1928, who went on to have almost the entirety of their nanny-state economic platform enacted in the subsequent decades. For Paul to suggest any kind of moral equivalence among these third-party choices is simply disgraceful. As David Weigel sarcastically wrote on Reason.com: “I’m sure Ron Paul’s campaign got $35 million in donations because people wanted him to advocate for Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader getting into presidential debates. Not because people wanted a libertarian-minded candidate to succeed or because they wanted to reform the GOP.”
Still, the Barr campaign appears to have badly fumbled the question of attending Paul’s press conference. I too loathe socialist Greens and Naderites, but Paul’s “presser” was prima facie about coming together on Paul’s 4-point manifesto and calling for broader participation in the two-party presidential dialogue. The Barr campaign was tone-deaf to think that Barr is too big a “player” to share a stage with McKinney, or to think it could erase this mistake by making a VP offer that Paul would never accept. However, in Barr’s defense it made Ron Paul look somewhat ridiculous to turn a microphone over to Ralph Nader and have him prattle on for multiple minutes about how devoted Nader is to the Constitution. Somebody needs to point out Article I Section 8 to Ralph. I haven’t seen McKinney’s remarks, but I doubt they were any better. If Nader could use his mic time to hypocritically embrace the Constitution, then Barr could have used his mic time to make the case that voting Libertarian is the right choice for true liberty lovers.
It’s unlikely that any of this will have much impact on the Barr’s vote totals, which I still predict will be a little over a million. The mainstream media covered this story as “Paul rejects McCain, urges 3rd-party vote”, and only a few thousand voters will ever hear otherwise about this dust-up. It was already clear that Paul was not going to put his Campaign For Liberty behind the only pro-liberty party on the ballot, no matter who our nominee was — and that’s a very sad commentary on both the C4L and the LP. This underscores why the freedom movement needs to unite all the voters who seek both more personal liberty and more economic liberty behind the single choice will most move public policy in a libertarian direction — the Libertarian choice.