Steve G.

Restoring the Libertarian Brand Name

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on November 8, 2008 at 8:58 am

In 1985, the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola committed one of the biggest marketing gaffes in history. After decades of establishing their product as “The Real Thing,” they accepted the findings of their research team that discovered a taste people preferred in blind tests, and proudly announced that they had improved the formula.

The New Coke was an absolute disaster. The anger of the consuming public was so great that they had to eventually accept hundreds of millions in losses and figure out a way of reversing their course. They announced the return of “Coke Classic”, to give people a choice, and then quietly shelved the New Coke once they had gotten rid of as much of the stuff as possible.

Now, far be it from me to describe the Libertarian Party of 1971 to 2000 as a best seller like Coke. Anyone who measures success by the election of LP members to office should have long ago given up and gone somewhere else (the Republican or Democratic parties, if they have any common sense). Still, it was a far more effective brand than people think it was: it served as a feeder organization for the entire movement, and many non-political libertarians of today can trace their first contact with libertarianism to the Libertarian Party. It had and has an intellectual respectability within the field of academia and the blogosphere, and some within the field of journalism.

Well, we blew it. In a year that screamed for an alternative, we were virtually ignored, and in a year that had thousands of young, idealistic people energized, we failed to convince them that we are the only logical home for the Ron Paul Revolution. I think it is because we failed to defend our brand.

Now, before someone thinks this is going to be a rant against the Reform Caucus, let me state clearly that it is not. I have substantial disagreements with Reformers on strategy, mainly because I think they have been insufficiently pragmatic and because most failed to implement their strategy consistently. Their preferred candidate should have been George Phillies, not Bob Barr or Wayne Root, and if the nomination battle had come down to Phillies vs Ruwart, I think we would have come out of Denver united and inspired, regardless of who was the final winner, with our brand strengthened and a lot of new, young activists making our future bright. Once Phillies was eliminated, Reformers should have switched to Ruwart, not Barr or Root.

We don’t all want exactly the same thing, but we’re reasonably close. What I want is a society with as little aggression as the real (not a fantasy) world can provide. In my view, the most practical society will be based on private property anarchism, but if you put me in a room with LP Founder David Nolan, who is explicitly a limited government libertarian, you’ll probably find that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference in our actual positions (with the possible exception of immigration), and our differences are mainly in how we predict societies with libertarian sensibilities will address security, dispute resolution, and collective defense. I think (I need more time to be sure) that I have more differences with, for example, Brian Holtz, but I also have differences with Rothbardians. None, in my view, is fatal to a successful alliance. In fact, as an admirer of Friedrich Hayek, I don’t think any of us CAN know how a free society will solve all the serious problems facing a free society, and I don’t trust anyone who claims to know. Even me.

What both Radicals and Reformers want is an appealing and DISTINCT brand that will attract people to libertarianism. Now, I happen to think that anyone who works within the LP has already made a decision to forego electoral success, but I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong and, in any event, neither an educational nor an electoral strategy has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding unless libertarianism is an inspiring and unique brand, incapable of being confused with either Republican conservatism or Democratic progressivism. I don’t think we’ve ever tried hard enough to brand it properly.

Our radical past is a myth. The LP before 2006 was NOT the product of decades of explicitly radical campaigns based on the Rothbardian platform of the LP. To this day, there has never been a presidential campaign that promoted anarcho-capitalism, and Radical Caucus candidates have, with rare exceptions, pretty much been as loathe to campaign on their ideal society as Reform Caucus candidates (I blame the misinterpreted and now-dead Dallas Accord for some of this, but not all). Similarly, the 2008 presidential campaign is NOT an example of the Reform strategy, as I understand it. Reform Caucus advocates are every bit as eager as Radical Caucus members to have libertarianism stand out, and not be viewed as merely a principled version of conservativism.

My view is that we must renew and strengthen our brand as the only consistent advocate of liberty, and that we must remain absolutely vigilant that we not appear to be a form of conservativism (or progressivism). To my fellow Radicals, I think it is time we accepted the less comprehensive platform on a permanent basis, working only to improve it where it strays from plumbline libertarianism (as I believe it does implicitly in the tax plank and explicitly in the immigration plank). To my friends in the Reform caucus, I think it is time you accepted the pledge and the Statement of Principles as keys to our brand, the Party of Principle.

Applied to issues, let me sketch out what I see the implications on a national level of a libertarian who wants a brand that is neither conservative nor progressive.

Foreign Policy – An end to military intervention in other countries AND an absolute stand in favor of global free trade.

Health – The abolition of restrictions on drugs and treatments AND the abolition of government subsidies for health care expenditures.

Economics – An end to coercively financed poverty welfare AND an end to corporate welfare.

I do think members of the Reform Caucus should acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences. I have enough respect for many of you to know that you didn’t want the absurd platform that came out of Portland in 2006 but, absent your strategy, it wouldn’t have happened. Many of you didn’t want Barr to be our nominee but, absent your strategy, he wouldn’t have been the nominee. Acknowledge that.

Let me also caution my fellow Radicals about People Who Live in Glass Houses. You talk a good game about other people not being open about the full implications of libertarianism, and you were eager to fight for a comprehensive platform in Denver, but I spent a lot of time browsing candidate web sites and reading newspaper clippings, and with rare exceptions, I couldn’t tell you which candidates were members of which RC if my life depended on it. When it comes to radicalism, either put up or shut up (for the record, you are all hereby invited to hold my feet to the fire on this issue as I expand my site, Anarchy Without Bombs, over the next several months: I’m human, and sometimes I’m weak, so if you catch me waffling at, I will be ever-so-grateful for your correction of my heresy).

This is not intended to be the final word on this topic, but to get us talking about the future. I’m more interested right now in hearing the views of others who care about the future of the LP than I am about defending this entire post. I think the Ron Paul Youth are still up for grabs, and that we still have the opportunity to inspire them to our side (especially once the Obama Presidency gets going and starts disappointing). How do we reach them?

  1. The Libertarian Party polled over 1,000,000 votes for its candidates for US House, for the 4th time, in 2008. Breaking the 1,000,000 vote for US House candidates is something that no other party (other than the Dems & Reps) has done since 1914. This was achieved in 2008 despite the fact that we had candidates in only 126 districts.

    The Libertarian Party is now ballot-qualified in over half the states. No other parties, except the Dems & Reps, can say that. Our presidential total has gone up 3 elections in a row, something that was never true before, except in the series 1972-1976-1980. Barr’s vote has topped 500,000; no other Libertarian running for president except Ed Clark did that.

    A Libertarian running in a partisan election carried Fulton County and DeKalb County, the two biggest counties in the Atlanta meto region.

  2. Rumors that the Reform caucus was supporting a Presidential candidate appear to be not based on reality. A few prominent reformers did.

    With all respect to Mr. Antman, if the Reform Caucus had actually supported someone actively, they might well have made that person the nominee, at least if that person had had a broader appeal beyond the reform caucus.

    We instead had a National Chair who recruited a Presidential candidate and did a great deal to ensure that candidate’s nomination. That includes using the front page of the party newspaper (April issue, the chair being responsible by LNC vote for all articles in the newsletter) to advocate for that candidate. So, where are the tens of millions of dollars that we were going to see, as discussed at national before and after the nomination? where are the millions of votes?

    As for my share, if every party member had invested as much in ballot access etc as I did (not counting NH), we would easily have passed 50 million dollars for the year.

  3. Perhaps the better “Coke” analogy is to view the LP as going through the testing phase in the1880s. The formula and brand are still not stabilized. My sense is that a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, anti-war party could be competitive electorally in the near to intermediate term.

  4. Mr. Winger,

    No less than three LP candidates have done better than Mr. Barr, considering percentage.

    Ed Clark in 1980 got:

    Harry Browne in 1996 got:

    Ron Paul in 1988 got:

    Bob Barr in 2008 got:

    Harry Browne in 2000 got:

    Michael Badnarik in 2004 got:

    Andre Marrou in 1992 got:

    David Bergland in 1984 got:

    Roger MacBride in 1976 got:

    John Hospers in 1972 got:

    I believe vote percentage is more important to take into account, since the number of voters typically increase every four years, and since the population as a whole certainly increases every year.

    Alex Peak

  5. @Richard Winger

    It is also worth noting that Bob Barr received more than 3 times as many votes in 2008 as President Andrew Jackson received in 1824. Isn’t there a little adjustment to be made when making historical comparisons?

    Comparisons with other third parties correctly show that they are worse off than we are. Comparisons with other years correctly show that we haven’t pushed our brand well in other years, either. My argument is that we are a unique brand with lousy marketing, and need to restore the uniqueness and improve the marketing. You will note that my post wasn’t entitled “The Death of the LP” or anything like that.

    I believe that we can establish a powerful niche among intelligent and idealistic youth and traffickers in ideas (academics, bloggers, and journalists) that will give our ideas the opportunity to be widely transmitted over the following years. I think it could have happened in 2008, had we understood the difference between Ron Paul and the Ron Paul Youth.

  6. I agree that percentages are more useful than raw numbers.

    When it comes to Libertarian candidates for the US House, I am guessing the Libertarian median percentage this year is better than it has ever been, in the races with a Democrat and a Republican both in the race. But I’m not going to do all the work of calculating it until the final figures are out. There are millions of ballots still not counted.

  7. @George Phillies

    My main argument is that the Reform Caucus should have supported you this year, and didn’t. You clearly positioned yourself so that you couldn’t be confused with either conservativism or progressivism, and you avoided radicalism in the policy proposals you advocated. Ruwart was neither left nor right, but more idealistic in her policy proposals (which I think is more pragmatic, but we can argue that issue out separately). Barr and Root clearly were going to be perceived as conservative by the general public, and Gravel and Kubby as progressive (unfairly in the case of Kubby, but inevitable given the special issue that has gained him notoriety).

    The bottom line is that I supported Ruwart, but would have been proud to tell others you were the nominee of my party and would have been comfortable promoting your candidacy among my friends, acquaintances, and general public. I think the reformers should have had a reciprocal view of Ruwart. It isn’t that hard to say, “but I would go further than Phillies on this issue” or “I wouldn’t go as far as Ruwart on this issue” for those who felt the need. But I was completely on the defensive with my progressive friends with Barr/Root, and my conservative friends dismissed Barr for the same reason they dismissed Baldwin: the Nader 2000 (or Perot 1992) argument about throwing the election to the “other” side is a natural result of being seen as being on the same side as one of the major parties.

    As to who the Reformers and Radicals actually supported, I’d say most effectively stayed on the fence until it was too late: Radicals voted for Ruwart at the end, but her campaign got almost zero active help from them prior to the Denver convention. I do think a good number of Reformers identified themselves with Root and worked for him for several months, and that most saw Barr as the most viable alternative to Root. I think too many of them confused Reform with Republican Lite, and only gave their “Big Tent” an entrance on the right. I respect (although I respectfully disagree with) the Reform strategy, but do not respect the Republican Lite strategy. Anyone who brags about being the margin of difference between McCain and Obama has totally missed the point about branding. It WOULD be the death of our party to feed the perception that all of our votes are being drawn from the Republican side.

  8. @Richard Winger

    Your analyses are always interesting and well done, and I look forward to them. I suspect that 1980 is going to be the challenger on the issue you mentioned, although I still think it is beside the point, as we are trying to figure out who was the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs in the Snow White story.

    We are in a position to have a major breakthrough: the RP Revolution made that clear, and also made clear that it was idealism and radicalism that would attract the largest number of enthusiastic new activists: not conventional respectability.

  9. @Robert Capozzi

    You’re probably right about where we stand in relation to Coke. Obviously, in my view the proper debate is between your correctly formulated view of what the Reform version of the brand ought to be, and my belief that branding and attraction are stronger when we are seen as Radicals, at least among those we are capable of attracting at this time. Once we dispose of the Republican Lite approach, we can talk about Reform vs Radicalism properly conceived.

    My view is that people who are concerned about electability will always abandon us on election day, no matter how much they respect us, while the “idea people” who will vote their conscience (and, more importantly, talk about our ideas with others) are less attracted as we become more conventional. The Reform Party itself was a well-funded attempt to appeal broadly to people claiming to be disgusted with the 2-party system. They’re dead: we’re not.

    Nonetheless, your formulation is a plausible one that we should be debating.

  10. There are a number of simplifying assumptions here.

    People did not give to Ron Paul for only one reason. Many liked Ron Paul for his idealism and radicalism, but many donated and volunteered as much as they did because in addition to his ideology Ron Paul was perceived as being a good speaker for liberty and the Constitution and for having a record of experience that made it plausible he could win the nomination and the presidency. They also donated because their donations became a message to the media: cover this guy. So his ideology at best was a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition.

    Also Ron Paul managed to unite an eclectic mix of libertarians, anti-immigration advocates, conspiracy theorists, gold buggers, etc. I agree the majority were libertarians. A Libertarian presidential candidate running on a libertarian ideology (which of course I believe he/she should) may not attract the others in that Ron Paul mix.

    Similarly, people did not vote for the libertarian presidential nomination candidates on purely ideological lines. Most people who voted for Barr (from the first ballot or on the last ballot) did not do so because he leaned more conservative, but rather in spite of the fact that he leaned conservative. Many of Barr’s votes were for perceived media savvy, perceived fundraising prowess, and credentials. Many of Root’s votes were for his public speaking ability. Many of Phillies’ votes were for his long record of activism and clear plan to grow the party’s membership through his campaign. The fact that Ruwart did not win the nomination did not mean that delegates rejected her ideology — all it meant is that other qualities were more valued this particular election. And now many delegates (myself included) regret voting for Barr on the last ballot.

    Should the we Libertarians engage in introspection and reevaluate strategies? Sure. We should always be looking for ways to improve ourselves. However, if radicals want to have a radical presidential candidate in 2008, in my opinion they should heed some simple lessons from economics and allocate their time equalizing the marginal value per hour of all activities rather than putting all their eggs in the ideological basket.

    Mary Ruwart would have won the nomination in a landslide if she had improved her speaking the way Phillies did traveling around the country to LP state conventions pre-nomination (or by joining Toastmasters for a year or two). Perhaps she should have called every single delegate on the phone before the convention the way Root did. Perhaps she should have had a tricked out booth with two plasma screen TVs and clear branding for supporters the way Barr did (in the latter case I’m referring to the cowboy hats).

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t find the perfect plumb line anarchist candidate… I’m just saying getting the nomination is hard work and we’d better make damn sure that candidate also happens to be the best speaker of the bunch and out campaigns his/her opponents by leveraging all the latest technology (website, blogging, text messaging delegates, etc.) and all the tried and true conventioneering standbys (booth, hospitality suite, branding, stickers, signs, giveaways, etc.).

  11. Sometime Less is more. Less writes;” My argument is that we are a unique brand with lousy marketing, and need to restore the uniqueness and improve the marketing.”

    The failure of the LP and the Barr campaign to effectively develop a marketing campaign, or call it public relations, or advertising campaign is a major problem that keeps this party in the hobby category instead of the activist category.

    Until we decide that public relations and outreach are important tools that must be developed we are never going to get ahead.

    Regardless of where we stand on an issue we have to get that information out in front of the public. Mr. Barr published a couple of piece on Huffington post, but did he ever try to get published in the N.Y. Times, or the Washington Post? Do any of the officers of the LP try to get simple Letter to the editor published in either of those papers?

    Quite frankly I feel let down by the Barr campaign. I spent a couple of hundred bucks going to a weekend event and had Barr signs there, but it looks like Barr spent a bit of his campaign money on expensive cars and consulting fees. I would have been more than glad to give him some advice for a fraction of the cost he paid.


  12. On the issue of voting percentages, I’d prefer to see the percentage of votes received as a percentage of potential voters. Why? Because none of our candidates have ever had a significant impact on turnout. I do believe turnout was MUCH higher this time, where the primary choice was between a domestic-terrorist consorting socialist vs. a trigger-happy erratic old man with running mate who didn’t know that Africa is a continent, bluntly. LOTE was pronounced this time, way more than any election in memory. To normalize for that, look at the entire pop.

    Peeling back the numbers Peak posted reveals another curiousity: Browne did far worse in 2000 than 1996. All else equal, one would think they would IMPROVE as he was more seasoned in 2000.

    This tells me the raw numbers don’t really tell us much at all. The dynamics of the election cycle seem to inflect the LP’s vote totals in ways that few yet understand.

    Using Peak’s numbers, Browne 96 got 26% better than Barr as a percentage; Paul got 17%; and Barr got 24% better than Badnarik. I suppose these are BIG numbers on one level, but on another, they are all within 0.2 percentage points of one another.

    In short, not significant one way or another.

  13. Michael, it appears Barr’s emphasis was on electronic media, not print. Good call, IMO. Print’s influence is falling like a stone, IMO.

    Also a good call on Huffington Post. There was an attempt to get progressive money for obvious reasons, which was wise, although it didn’t work out too well.

  14. Oh, yes, on #12:

    Barr was the first to have to deal with a renegade LP presidential candidate.

    Other swing factors include OTHER 3rd party candidates of some consequence. There were several this time, more than 00 and 04, less than 92 and 96 (Perot was quite consequential, esp. in 92), a lot more than 88, as I recall.

    Any good financial or marketing analyst will tell you that qualitative factors often trump quantitative ones.

  15. Moulton not withstanding, Ruwart peaked near convention in terms of vote-getting ability. Her books are full of absolutely bizarre claims and proposals, such as her proof that air pollution could not lead to the polar ozone holes. This deficiency had only started to be noticed. If the race had gone on several more months, her budget and campaign organization — rather, lack thereof — would have become visible.

    Her description of alternative methods for dealing with local cross-border pollution, including the proposal to send police forces across the border (in the real world, this is called an invasion) to collect damages (in the real world, ‘across the border’ is apt to call this ‘loot and plunder’) is apt to lead to unanticipated (by her) consequences, namely the folks on the other side of the border are apt to organize a reaction, also known as a general war and invasion to suppress the local Viking raiders.

    Her proposal that we can defend ourselves as the Swiss do with a militia armed with rifles does not survive comparison with the TO&E of the Swiss military. (If you do not know what TO&E stands for, you are probably incompetent to have an opinion on military policy.) In addition, in a country that cannot survive without foreign oil imports, a defense policy based on a rifle armed militia is substantially at the mercy of any country that can blockade our shores while out of rifle range.

  16. Robert here are the circulation numbers for the countries newspapers and yes they are dropping, but not using them to get the word out is a best foolish. While it may be difficult for me to get an op-ed published it would probably be easier for the LP Prez candidate, or an official in the party to do so and it doesn’t cost much. And I believe all these papers have websites that also carry op-eds. So ya’ get two fer one.


    Avg. paid weekday circulation of the 20 largest newspapers, 6 mos. ended March 31; change from a year ago.

    1. USA TODAY 2,272,815 up 0.09%

    2. Wall Street Journal 2,049,786 down 1.00%

    3. New York Times 1,142,464 up 0.50%

    4. Los Angeles Times 851,832 down 5.40%

    5. Washington Post 724,242 down 3.70%

    6. New York Daily News 708,477 down 3.70%

    7. New York Post 673,379 down 0.70%

    8. Chicago Tribune 579,079 up 0.90%

    9. Houston Chronicle 513,387 down 3.60%

    10. Arizona Republic 438,722 down 2.10%

    11. Newsday (Long Island) 427,771 down 2.70%

    12. The Star-Ledger (N.J.) 398,329 up 0.90%

    13. San Francisco Chronicle 398,246 down 15.60%

    14. Boston Globe 397,288 down 8.50%

    15. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 365,011 down 6.70%

    16. Star Tribune (Minn.-St. Paul) 362,964 down 2.90%

    17. Philadelphia Inquirer 350,457 down 5.10%

    18. Detroit Free Press 345,861 up 0.04%

    19. (Cleveland) Plain Dealer 343,163 down 1.60%

    20. St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times 323,031 down 4.40%

    Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations
    The Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Sun-Times deferred filing for the period.

  17. Okay George what is TO&E? as in “(If you do not know what TO&E stands for, you are probably incompetent to have an opinion on military policy.) ”

    And I do have an opinion on the miltary and I am not incompetent.

  18. Pardon the spellin’ errors. Guess I am incompetent 🙂


  19. Michael, thanks for the stats. For all we know, Barr did try to place op-eds. Hard to get partisan op-eds published, but, sure, great if it can happen.

  20. TO&E (also referred to as TOE) stands for table of organization and equipment.

    Not knowing what the acronym means in no way renders anyone incompetent to render an opinion on military policy.

  21. Thanks ENM. I thought George was gonna put me in the trash bin since I didn’t know. 😉


  22. “Barr was the first to have to deal with a renegade LP presidential candidate.”

    In 2000, the Arizona LP ran its own slate (L. Neil Smith and Vin Suprynowicz), having been disaffiliated from the national LP and unrepresented at the national convention. So if being a Libertarian candidate other than the LNC-designated one confers “renegade” status, then Barr is not the first.

    On the other hand, in 2008, George Phillies supported Bob Barr’s substitution suit in Massachusetts, and took no action to keep Barr off the ballot in New Hampshire — hardly the actions of a “renegade.”

    So, either way one looks at it, you’re just flat wrong in your claim.

  23. I’m enjoying reading the other comments. My failure to respond is not a sign of lack of interest, but of the sheer number of comments. Also, many of you are going off into areas unrelated to my post, and that’s fine, since I want to see open discussion (depressed silence is not a worthwhile alternative!).

    @Chuck Moulton

    There are certainly several reasons people supported Ron Paul, and that is why I try to distinguish Ron Paul from the Ron Paul Youth. The polls I saw at Ron Paul Nation suggested that his younger supporters were more likely to be pro-choice, unafraid of immigrants, and primarily enthusiastic because of his non-interventionism in foreign policy. Those are demographics we can reach (still).

    Of course, there were lots of reasons people voted for different candidates, and I’m doing my best not to question motives. I’m only relating it to the critical issue of branding, and why I think Ruwart and Phillies were the best in that critical regard (Kubby, based on the actual words, also should fit the bill, but it was impossible to shake his image from his prior activism of being primarily a drug legalization advocate).

    I think I am saying something that needs to be said, because if the delegates understood the importance of libertarianism being distinguishable from conservatism and progressivism, and just chose Barr because for reasons of presumed respectability and media access and because of the non-ideological issues related to other choices, then they should have chosen Kubby by acclamation as the VP candidate. A Barr-Kubby ticket would have strengthened our brand. The fact that the delegates failed to see the Republicanization risk of a Barr-Root ticket tells me that more attention must be paid to the issue of protecting our brand.

    I do hope it is clear that my comments are about the need to avoid tilting the party image to the right or the left. This is an issue TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the Reform vs Radical issue, and that is why I’ve emphasized that Reform is NOT equivalent to Republican Lite. Virtually all the deviations that I saw in the Barr campaign were also deviations from our platform, which had overwhelming support from the Reform Caucus people, and all of Barr’s were deviations to the right. Contrast it with the campaign of Mike Munger in North Carolina, which also deviated from the platform in ways that I dislike, but didn’t consistently do so to the right (his support for government education spending was clearly perceived as a left-wing deviation, while his deviation on drug laws was to the right). I don’t approve of these deviations, but they are not consistently in the Republican direction or the Democratic direction, and so they do not threaten our brand in the same way.

  24. S’funny, I read Bob as talking about Ron Paul, but of course he must have meant Phillies. George’s ballot presence made the LP look silly, but surely had no significant impact on our bottom line. Paul’s impact was significant, but not as large as many might think. I’d guess that a Baldwin-style endorsement from Paul would have given us at most 50K votes, and a balls-out annointing of Barr in Minneapolis would have added only another 50-100K.

    If it weren’t for Nader’s 2000 result, I’d say that the electoral needle just doesn’t really move for non-billionaire alternative candidacies. So who can explain Nader 2000?

  25. Less, you’re making me start to question my free will. Yes, I voted for Phillies on the first ballot, and yes, I voted for Kubby on every VP ballot even though Root got all but my first and last POTUS-ballot votes. (In talking to Root at our LPCA rally in Sacramento, it was clear that he is committed to the LP for the long haul. Witness his email blast today.) I loved the idea of a ticket balanced via giving the repentant drug-warrior a (very gracious!) drug-war victim as a running mate. But the delegates surely didn’t choose Root as VP for his conservatism; they chose him for his dynamism.

  26. Also I believe the LP delegates chose Root because Barr asked the delegates to make that choice. And I assume (perhaps wrongly) that Barr asked for that choice because, really, Root guaranteed Barr’s nomination after the 5th ballot.

    I do like and appreciate Root’s mass message today.

  27. I agree with all of comment 24.

  28. @Brian Holtz

    I never said you didn’t have a clear understanding of the Reform strategy. But you saw the votes, so it is obvious that you were a distinct minority on the voting for the ticket: more so than I was. The fact is that a party which understood there is no point to an LP that isn’t clearly different from conservatism and progressivism (the alternative party niches for these are already taken by the Constitution and Green parties) would have started by eliminating those candidates who threatened our existence, then chosen, concerns and all, from the remaining candidates. I think the Radicals did that, the Reformers (though not you) didn’t, and that is why we ended up getting Barr-Root.

    Those who think this was a good thing will obviously have no interest in my thesis, but how anyone could think that a former Republican Congressman and a man who operated the web site Millionaire Republican would not be viewed as being a more principled but unelectable version of Republican is beside me. Are we really shocked that Barr started using the line about not leaving the Republican Party but the Republican Party leaving him, or that we started hearing “margin of difference” arguments that clearly implied he has taking votes almost entirely from McCain?

    And, yes, you deserve enormous credit for supporting Kubby for VP. Nearly all the Radicals did, so the fact that Root won pretty much establishes that most of the Reformers went for Root for VP.

    I don’t want people to apologize: I want us to review the results and consider a better future strategy. Heaven knows I have made enough mistakes to have no cause to be high and mighty about anything. I also understand that there are many reasons for the votes, but I don’t want to get into trashing each of the candidates personally to defend votes for others, because that just emphasizes that people didn’t think the libertarian brand was the most important issue in the selection, and that is my point. Note that my comments about Barr and Root have been about the perception they were obviously going to have with the public (and which they then did have). I have not questioned either their sincerity or integrity in this thread.

    I understand the various reasons many people didn’t vote for Phillies or Ruwart or Kubby (who, to be fair, doesn’t personally lean left, and is a victim of his heroic service to liberty on the marijuana issue). If you ran, a Reformer might not vote for you because you’re an environmentalist, while a Radical might not vote for me because I’m a consequentialist and would not do justice if it really did mean the heavens would fall.

    But this is about the viability of the LP: we’ve been taking on water on the right side, and it has to stop, or we’re done. NOBODY should be considered in 2012 who isn’t, first and foremost, committed to avoiding a clear bias toward conservatism (I don’t think there is a danger of our moving too far toward progressivism in 2012, although I reserve the right to change my mind if future evidence justifies it).

    You and I certainly have a battle on the pragmatism of Reform vs Radical strategies. But I don’t think we are in disagreement on the branding issue. I want everyone on board on this issue, and then we can fight about other stuff.

  29. A sound case can be made that George Phillies had the best credentials of the contenders for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination this year. At this point, that looks like faint praise. Still, he demonstrated no ability to get a sizable political audience to pay attention to him. And, we continue to ignore one immutable fact.

    Everyone not already conversant with internal LP activity, and many of us who are, would take one look at

    Phillies 2008

    and immediately think: Baseball.

    Then if they take a second look, because of interest in the team that would go on to win the World Series, and instead find (let’s face it) obscure political ideas and no sports news, they will turn away.

    Did those of you, who were interested in his candidacy this past spring, discuss how he might address this special name recognition problem?

  30. Given that the Phillies won the World Series this year a few days before election day, he probably could have made good use of his name.

  31. Thanks, Tom. Yes, the Smith fiasco slipped my mind. That may partially explain Browne’s performance in 00 v. 96 to some extent, too.

    “Renegade” may be a bit harsh, but you don’t mention NH. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall Phillies claiming that he was duty-bound or some such to stay on the ballot there.

    And, yes, the Paul factor probably hurt Barr’s results to some extent.

    No one has challenged the THRUST of my point, that statistically none of our presidential candidate votes have been appreciably different, with the possible exception of Clark. Tenths of percentage points and hundreds of thousands of votes are subject to a wide variety of factors beyond the LP’s control.

    So, I’ll assume that we have concurrence.

  32. Less: …that people didn’t think the libertarian brand was the most important issue in the selection, and that is my point.

    Me: Barr/Root was an experiment. It wasn’t perfect, but one thing it DID do was raise the exposure of the LP dramatically. If very few hear about a brand, the brand is destined to be an niche player at best. Politics is a winner-take-all enterprise, one that requires the consumer/voter at least hear the message.

    It’s a trade-off, like anything else. On net, Barr/Root created positive brand-name awareness at many orders of magnitude more than past campaigns.

  33. @Robert Capozzi

    I appreciate your perspective on the Barr-Root campaign, even though I see it differently (and think most LP activists do as well). I certainly agree that, statistically, nobody could look at the results and see an appreciable difference, including the current one, so I’d question the “orders of magnitude” claim. There were 2 million reasons that Clark did much better than anyone else, and his name was David Koch. The enthusiastic endorsement of Ron Paul for our candidate might have made a statistically significant difference, and I can argue that he was most likely to endorse someone he’d ALREADY endorsed as FDA Commissioner and for her Libertarian introduction, but I don’t want to hang my hat on that possibility.

    For the future, what matters is the base of activists and idea people attracted to our movement: the raw numbers of such people are measured in the thousands, so I don’t believe much can be learned from studying presidential election totals closely (for now).

    The question remains what we can do NOW and in the FUTURE to attract such people.

  34. Less, the orders of magnitude refers to major media coverage. Do you dispute that Barr got FAR more of media than any previous candidate, including Clark? (Stats will be forthcoming…I believe Brian’s compiling some, and his flash reports indicate this is a fact…in spades!)

    All people are “idea” people…we all live by ideas, by definition. Some ideas are toxic. For ex., L. Neil Smith publicly suggested Carl Milsted “walk into traffic.” Now there’s an idea I’d just as soon not associate with.

    Vin Suprynowicz has publicly stated that there’s a right to private nukes. Again, a toxic notion, IMO.

    Of course, attracting people who are activists and serious about advancing liberty is, I’d think, be something we’d all favor…I certainly do. The Socialist Workers Party seems to attract activist, idea people, but I’d not suggest it as a model for the LP brand for a host of reasons.

    You need to make the case that extremist (absolutist and deontological) L-ism is at once virtuous and effective. Emitting small amounts of hot air may feel good to some, but not all Ls are absolutists; some are more moderate; some of them are activists and “idea” people. Some of them are the “many non-political libertarians of today can trace their first contact with libertarianism to the Libertarian Party,” that you cite, who now look back in shock some of the charmingly simplistic ideas one sees from some quarters in the LP.

    It seems obvious to me that the LP needs to be a home for moderate Ls, too, those who prefer Hayek to Rothbard, Cato to VMI. I’ve seen some membership numbers that indicate that lead me to believe that some of the moderates are coming back to the LP. Time will tell how many and whether they are — on balance — interested more in advancing liberty or in holding high the banner.

  35. @ Thompson

    OF course, if the name effect were true, it would be an advantage, namely the name would magically bring to the site people who otherwise would never have heard about the campaign.

    The webstats and awstats data rejects the hypothesis.

    The inquiry rate drifts upwards and peaks on election day, exactly, and drops swiftly.

    The search string data, which is rather skimpy, says between AWSTATS and WEBSTATS that the search strings at the top end were

    31% george phillies
    11.00% libertarian for president
    6.13% libertarian president
    3.84% libertarian candidate for president 2008

    and not, e.g., Phillies world series or Phillies blunts.

    There were, however, a considerable number of links from Phillies sports sites, including a Philadephia Eagles site, that were actually sending traffic. These are set up by someone who found the site at least slightly interesting, but only appear to have been significant in November.

    @ Capozzi Given the vast increase in accessible media outlets — Clark had only four TV channels, e.g., you would need to quote viewership data. Also, Badnarik did substantial TV advertising, while Barr does not seem to have done so.

  36. Some comments:

    1. In the 60’s libertarianism appealed to only a small percentage of youth. Now, 67% of the 18-29 age group voted for Obama’s hope and government nannyism. Nothing has changed as libertarianism continues to appeal to only a small percentage of youth who think with their rational facilities.
    This is, however, to say that the LP needs to cultivate campus groups, urge them to affiliate with Students For Liberty, and take the ideological fight to the other side as Pres. Obama begins to toss out policy prescriptions.

    2. David Koch’s millions had less effect than did the fact that Clark became known to most voters through long political infomercials on network tv that could be purchased for very little money [compared to what ads cost today, not to mention all the other viewing choices that didn’t exist in 1980.]

    3. Delegates to the Denver convention had little time to caucus and mull over implications of the veep selection. I’ll bet many were attending their first convention, and decided to go along with what their new presidential nominee wanted.

    4. It is pretty obvious the LP needs to have its presidential selection in hand well before 2012 so the candidate can build a campaign organization in every state, appear at state conventions to raise awareness and money, etc. etc.

    5. Agree that the Barr campaign did little, if anything, to reach out to Ron Paul voters. For instance, the state chair in Penna. never replied to a request to have Barr speakers appear at RP Meetup groups. Subsequently, many decided to write in Baldwin or RP rather than vote for Barr.

    6. In any case, it is time to de-emphasize the presidential campaign. Let each state pick whomever it wishes to run for president with a “contract” to spend three or four weeks touring the state, meeting with media, and speaking on campus.

  37. I’d be interested in reading Root’s email ‘blast’ mentioned above.
    Could someone provide a link or perhaps post it here on LFV?


    – Bill

  38. George, good point. The media was different in 1980. Clark also had the money to have excellent paid staff and he might even have taken limos.

    TV requires repetition to be effective. A few spots infrequently run is generally considered ineffective in the ad biz. Free media is the way to go for the LP for the foreseeable future, IMO. A case could have been made for radio, where production costs are substantially lower and absolute dollar costs are generally low.

  39. I just did a Google search on “Phillies 2008”. On the first screen, there was one reference to the George Phillies candidacy. All the other links referenced the baseball team and/or related merchandise or apparel. Like you, Chuck, I celebrate the sound of:

    Phillies 2008 World Series Champions !

    It came to reality the week before the general election. Could a candidate use a similar name to divert fan attention to a political alternative? Maybe it could be done, but getting them to look once is the easy part.

  40. I think this could have been summed up rather simply:

    1. Barr/Root = New Coke. Bad idea, bad marketing, total flop.
    2. Reformers = Coke Classic. Not the Old Coke–different formula–but they claim it’s the same, and you only notice if you bother to read the ingredients, but it’s too syrupy and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. caused many Old Coke drinkers to switch to Pepsi.
    3. LWOTLP = Old Coke. Much better than the Classic junk, and it had real sugar in it, not the corn syrup garbage. Goes down smooth, no aftertaste, and established brand name. Harder to find nowadays, but still better stuff.

    Where Diet Coke fits in is left to someone else to figure out.

  41. It’s indeed fun to fantasize that the decisions of the LP have the same impact on the electoral market as the decisions of the industry-leading Coca Cola Company have on the soft drink market. The reality is that the LP market footprint is more like Jolt than like Coke, and voters have heard no more about the LP’s different offerings than you have heard about Jolt’s formula changes. Yes, there have been Jolt formula changes, but if you think they explain Jolt’s market share, then you simply don’t understand the soft drink market.

    Our challenge is two-fold — 1) market the 6-month-old reformed ecumenical LP to opinion leaders who’ve known for decades about the old quasi-anarchist personal-secession LP, and 2) market the idea of dramatically more personal and economic freedom to the 13% – 20% of Americans who want more such freedom — most of whom have no idea what “L/libertarian” refers to. Both jobs will take years of work. There are no silver bullets. We can either work together promoting our shared direction of drastically smaller government, or we can waste another quarter century arguing about whether our goal should be minimal government vs. no government. Meanwhile, the Nanny State has just swallowed much of the financial services industry and has its sights set on the automobile industry, the energy industry, and the remains of the healthcare industry.

  42. 6-month-old reformed ecumenical LP

    Thank you, Brian, for the reminder. I need to get writing those sample platform planks for the Platform Committee application.

    It’s a bit annoying they had the call for sample planks so soon after the election; it seems a bit of a handicap for people who have been working hard on campaigns and could use a break.

  43. I take it, then, that you’re not going to be repeating David Nolan’s strategy of copy and pasting your plank submissions from the 2004 platform. 🙂

  44. Yes, Brian, Jolt’s the better analogy. In the near term, wouldn’t it be GREAT if the LP was at least Red Bull. Perhaps purity tests could be conducted on both for the next few decades….

  45. Question Brian. What is your intended meaning when you use the ecumenical as in “1) market the 6-month-old reformed ecumenical LP”.

    Since the word is most often used in a religious context I feel it is only fair to ask is there a religious meaning implied, or perhaps you were meaning to imply some form of liberalism, or perhaps it is universal that you mean? A little clarity would be appreciated. 🙂


  46. By “ecumenical” I mean unity through respect for and inclusion of the various denominations or schools of libertarianism. More details are at , along with a link to a census of the major schools of libertarianism.

    The religious connotation is intentional, as all of us should take care not to be too dogmatic and intolerant and eager to declare schisms over heresies. Periodic re-watching of The Life Of Brian is encouraged. 🙂

  47. You all forget the local candidates, many of which put forth a great deal of effort and personal energy, not to mention personal finances only to be left to die by no support of the LP. No money or anything to help with thier efforts. Example: Lani Connoly of San Antonio, Texas was left out high and dry by the LP. This woman had more going for her than anyone considering her her credintials and write ups prio to the election. As a result she will most likely never run again as a LP candidate. We cannot let this one or others like her go. Lani will be in office one day. Whom she will represent is up to us.

  48. Bob,

    You write:

    “No one has challenged the THRUST of my point, that statistically none of our presidential candidate votes have been appreciably different, with the possible exception of Clark. Tenths of percentage points and hundreds of thousands of votes are subject to a wide variety of factors beyond the LP’s control.”

    The main difference between Clark’s campaign and the others in terms of performance was money — he spent around $10 million in 2007 dollars.

    There are, indeed, a wide number of factors beyond the LP’s control that we can’t effectively track the impact of on our vote totals.

    In my opinion, however, the Barr campaign differed significantly from past LP campaigns in one was that affected the result, with the effect covered up by counter-balancing effects.

    To one degree or another, every LP candidate except Barr has run a “libertarian” campaign. Barr overtly ran a “conservative” campaign.

    Prior LP candidates have had the advantage of a small LP “base” of 200,000-300,000 votes. To that, they’ve added the people they were able to convince on the campaign trail.

    Barr probably lost some of the base, and the people he added to whatever part of the base he kept were persuaded by “states rights” conservative rhetoric, not libertarian rhetoric. He ended up with a similar vote total numerically, but a very different one in terms of composition.

    Typical LP presidential result: 200k “base” + 200-300k voters persuaded by libertarian positions

    Barr presidential result: 150k “base” + 350k voters who didn’t think John McCain was conservative enough

    With other campaigns, there was always some chance that some of those added votes could be converted into “base” votes or even activists. Barr’s campaign was basically empty calories, not potential nutrition.

  49. Jean,

    I appreciate Lani’s effort and all 173 Libertarian Party candidates in Texas. Unfortunately, our party membership is small so there’s not a big base of people standing ready to make contributions like with the Democrats and Republicans. When recruiting candidates, I encourage them to do what they can to take advantage of free media, but don’t give them expectations money will come forth. A couple candidates took advantage of our offer to let them use our database for sending fundraising letters. Candidates who did that raised the most money.

    If Lani runs for office as a Republican or Democrat in the future instead of as a Libertarian, I wish her the best of luck and hope she keeps libertarian principles in mind.

  50. Tom, I’m confident that Barr did NOT run an “overtly conservative” campaign. He prominently made the case against the Iraq War, for ex. He frequently mentioned the LP and that he’s now a L. At some point, I suppose we could score his TV appearances, citing the number of times he said “L,” but I watched them enough to be sure that that is a fact. To say otherwise lacks credibility.

    If Barr had Clark money (and calendar), he’d surely have done far better. So would’ve Andre Marrou, but between Barr and Marrou, I’d speculate that Barr would likely have exceeded Clark, and Marrou, perhaps not.

    Clark once off-handedly said that Ls are “low tax liberals.” This sent L Godfather Murray Rothbard into a hissy fit, and eventually back to the GOP’s Buchanan wing. Tactically, I think low-tax liberal was smart rhetoric, for he was running against Ronald Reagan, a man who used libertarian rhetoric skillfully, effectively, and I’d say somewhat sincerely as a general matter.

    Barr, a former conservative Republican, did evoke his roots, again smartly, by and large. I think you’re probably right: It did probably alienate an element in the historical (and tiny) L base, people like you, whom I hear tell voted for Cynthia McKinney. That’s your right, of course, but a decision that – IF TRUE – is beyond me. (My apologies in advance if this is not a fact.)

    Were I in Russ Verney’s shoes, I’d probably have suggested a similar tack, although I’d have used somewhat different rhetoric. In 2008, the GOP was weak, and some types of conservatives are libertarian-leaning. There are MILLIONS of them. We SHOULD reach out to them, even target them. (If there were MILLIONS of Tim Penny Ds, I’d have different counsel, but there aren’t, near as I can tell.) They probably can’t be reached with personal-secession; kiddie porn production; private nukes; immediate legalization of crystal meth; etc.

    That element of the L base – holding charming and in some ways admirable views – are unlikely to be of much help in rolling back the State, in my estimation. I personally agree with a few of those types of positions; some I find interesting theory; but none of them are relevant in the game of politics, now or in the next few decades, at least. Perhaps Barr could have nuanced better some of his positions to less alienate the absolutist deontological element of the L base, but I doubt it. In my experience, that mindset leads to pronouncedly oppositional thinking…opposition for opposition’s sake.

    Perhaps in 2012, you can get McKinney to run for President on the BTP line. I would enjoy watching that, and seeing how you might rationalize her views on, say, socialized medicine. Or would you turn on her. And, Heaven’s to Betsy, I hope she NEVER uses a limo!!! 😉

  51. Bob,

    Yes, I voted for McKinney.

    My on-ballot choices in Missouri were McCain, Obama, Barr, Baldwin or Nader. McKinney was the only certified write-in candidate, i.e. the only write-in candidate for whom votes would be noted and tabulated.

    Of those candidates, McKinney:

    a) Took a line resembling the libertarian position on several issues I considered important in this election.

    b) Didn’t falsely advertise herself as a libertarian.

    In both of those respects, she excelled Barr. In races where the LP doesn’t sell itself as the libertarian option, I respond appropriately by declining to treat it as the libertarian option.

  52. — Freud explains why the more libertarian positions you take, the lower the odds that Tom Knapp will vote for you.

    So I guess Tom didn’t consider any of the following issues to be important this election:

    * “a universal, comprehensive, national single-payer health plan”
    * “all people have a right to food, housing, medical care, jobs that pay a living wage, education, and support in times of hardship”
    * “tuition-free post secondary (collegiate and vocational) public education”
    * “a universal, federally funded childcare program for preschool and young schoolchildren”
    * “contraception and abortion must be included in all health insurance policies in the U.S”
    * “full public financing of elections”
    * “require minimum pensions for all workers”
    * “workers’ right to elect representatives to sit equally with management on the Board of Directors”
    * “no permanent replacement of striking workers”
    * “adopt a reduced-hour (30-35 hours) work week as a standard. This could translate into as many as 26 million new jobs”
    * “labor has the first right to buy out a company that is for sale or is going bankrupt, or being outsourced”
    * “management’s unhindered right to close its workplace and move to a lower-pay locale must be circumscribed”
    * “allowing municipalities to approve or disapprove large economic projects case-by-case based on environmental impacts, local ownership, community reinvestment, wage levels, and working conditions”
    * “phase-out man-made pesticides and artificial fertilizers”
    * “increase CAFE standards to 60 MPG for cars and 45 MPG for light trucks by the year 2010”
    * “eliminate free parking in non-residential areas well served by mass transit”
    * “maintain free community bicycle fleets”
    * “consolidate housing into such structures as ecolonies, to free open space, and to move about by bicycle, train, bus and on foot so that roadways may be converted to parkland and agriculture”
    * “economic growth, as gauged by increasing GDP, is a dangerous and anachronistic American goal. The most viable and sustainable alternative is a steady-state economy”

    Then again, Tom says that his laser-guided write-in vote for McKinney in Missouri wasn’t a vote for the Green party’s nominee because GP doesn’t have ballot status there. Thank goodness Tom’s theory wasn’t tested in the electoral college…

  53. Brian, you miss Knapp’s point, it appears. He seems to say that he agrees with McKinney on a few points that he believes are key. He might agree with Barr more, but the, say, 10% of the time where he doesn’t makes Barr not a L.

    Therefore, Barr is falsely and fraudulently holding high the banner. Therefore, he couldn’t vote for Barr. With no (in his mind) L in the race, he looks for the candidate he agrees with on some issues EVEN IF he strongly disagrees on many, even most, issues.

    I get that, and it seems to cohere. If I disagreed with an L a LOT of the time, I might do the same. Further, if the L candidate strong on the issues from my perspective, but was a racist and homophobe, I might not vote for him or her, either.

    What would be interesting is if Knappster has a level of disagreement with the L candidate at which he WOULD support, or does he require 100% compliance to HIS take on what is L and what isn’t? Say, for ex., Knapp is pro-choice and anti-private nukes, but a L candidate is pro life and pro private nukes…can he vote for him or her?

  54. I take Tom to be suggesting that he might well have voted for Barr if in Missouri Barr had been, like McKinney, a write-in with no party ballot line (or, like Nader, an independent). If Tom is consistent, then he would not have voted for McKinney if her views were the same but she had the LP nomination. Thus there is a domain of Tom’s voting function over which the more closely you identify with libertarianism, the less likely Tom is to vote for you.

    Tom reminds me of Apathy Party Guy on Futurama:
    Fry: “Now here’s a party I can get excited about. Sign me up!”
    Apathy Party Guy: “Sorry, not with that attitude.”
    Fry: “Ok, then screw it.”
    Apathy Party Guy: “Welcome aboard, brother!”
    Fry: “Alright!”
    Apathy Party Guy: “You’re out.”

    And all radicals remind me of this hilarity:
    [audio src="" /]

  55. Obviously Holtz @44 missed the analogy completely. So what else is new?

    And besides, what about the Pepsi drinkers like me, or the (shudder!) Diet Dr. Pepper drinkers like Wes?

    Oh, yeah, we go Keaton/Shinghal in ’12!

  56. Let’s see, the Moon just transitioned from waxing gibbous to full, so it must be time once again for Michael Seebeck to vouch that he thinks more clearly and more insightfully than I do.

    Bob, even my analogy to Jolt may give the LP’s branding efforts too much credit. The LP’s historical brand is perhaps more like Slurm — compellingly addictive in its own fantasy world, and nearly unheard-of in the real world.

  57. Holtz, you are so deeply insightful that nobody in reality knows or cares what you are saying. Incomprehensible beyond words and in your own world, philospohizing as if anybody cared. That’s you to a T.

    Only thing missing is the French Fries.

    I never said that I think more clearly. I just speak more clearly. Why? Because I don’t put on the philosophitarian condescension routine that you have perfected that makes you so adored by your fan club, which is only you.

    I know what I know and I know that I don’t know what I don’t know, and you have no idea what I know and don’t know, so don’t pretend to know what I know and don’t know, because you don’t know and you never will know.

    Now, after that last Holtz imitation, I will now seek higher quality entertainment by petting my dogs.

  58. If you interpret use of libertarian philosophical vocabulary as “condescension”, that reveals more about you than it does about me.

    I’d ask you for an example of my “incomprehensible” writing, but I’ve learned it’s futile to make such requests of character assassins armed only with rubber bullets. 🙂

  59. Sorry, Holtz, were you writing something? I was busy petting my dogs. That higher entertainment thing again, you know? Also good on the stress release with that LA traffic issue.

    Later I’ll be preparing the picket signs for the local part of the Saturday nationwide Anti-H8 protest. Gotta do that activism thing again–it refreshes the body and soul and mind, especially after dealing with your tripe. Do us all a favor and go to your local city hall Saturday between 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM and be productive for once, OK?

    I see no reason to respond to anything you have written. You’ll just ignore it, misunderstand it, jump to the wrong conclusion, or try to abstract it in some gobbledygook manner like you always do, then go drink more New Coke and Coke Classic anyway. Don’t forget the rum!

  60. Yesterday evening I spent four hours at a meeting of the water board on which I just started a four-year term. If you want to compare activism resumes, mine’s at

    Of course you see no need to try to defend or substantiate your personal attacks on me. The kind of people who need to issue such insults never do; it’s a package deal.

  61. I am a Conservative in the “classic coke” sense, which would actually make me a classic liberal I suppose. That said, the problem for Libertarians and Conservative Republicans alike is when it all comes down to it, political theories and academia are all well and fine but money makes the political world go around. In this circle I may not therefore have much “cred” but I am a political heretic and want what is genuinely best for America.

    I honestly want to see the demise of the Republican party as it is today. It is a monstrous behemoth of a machine and I can guarantee that no Republican presidential candidate will ever participate in the public financing system again. I am not on board with several prominent Libertarian platform issues such as the Swiss defense theory or no licensing of doctors etc. That aside, I have far more in common with Constitutionalists and Libertarians in terms of how our government should work than not. One can win the philosophic or academic battle, but lose the war for reform. The only answer to accomplish this would be to break the back of the campaign finance and electoral system as they are today. Until such time as George Soros, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet come around to that kind of philosophy and are willing to stake their entire personal fortune on a Libertarian Presidential candidate or block of Congressmen, the change we seek will never come.

    I look at the political landscape in terms of the free market. What we have now is a biopoly of the Democrats and Republicans over the free market of political ideas and elected representation. In a free market, the market would dictate to the producers rather than the other way around. In a free market the collusion would be litigated and punished. We do not have a free market of politics in this country.

    Of course by Constitutional right, third parties may exist and may actively participate. But by no means, will either the Democratic or Republican parties allow significant gains to be made because they control they make the rules, control exposure and will gleefully crucify third party candidates when it is in their interests to do so. Look what the parties can do to control their own members much less “wacko fringe candidates”. The only way to succeed is as a coalition to elect Republicans like Ron Paul who may not be purists but that represent similar enough values. The Democratic party is far too liberal and lockstep for change to be possible. The Republican party is open to be divided on conquered, either by the “neo-CONS” and RINOS or by true conservatism. The core focus must be to bring down the election system the way it is. The only way that will happen is with a critical mass to make it happen both at a grass roots level and in Congress. Only then, where equality of political opportunity exists, will the free market of ideas succeed. I have drafted a platform for reform of the campaign finance and electoral system as it is today and would genuinely welcome the input and comments by interested Libertarians.

  62. Good Lord, why do people keep pushing Ron Paul after his so-called “revolution” fizzled?

    Pastor Chuck, the Paultard candidate, barely fought off Cynthia McKinney for fifth place in the presidential election. THAT is a “solid base” for a “revolution?”


  63. I honestly want to see the demise of the Republican party as it is today. It is a monstrous behemoth of a machine

    I have a longstanding theory that Libertarians are politically four years behind the times. In 2008, we “fought” the 2004 election — and this comment sorta underscores my point.

    The GOP is not a behemoth — it’s a shattered coalition with no future in its present form.

    Under 30s, voters making over $50K a year, and other key constituencies all abandoned the GOP en masse. The trend has been there for 2 cycles now and is accelerating.

    The GOP is a regional southern rump party with a base of aging fundamentalist Christian white lower-middle-class voters. It is, if present trends continue, headed for extinction.

    Unless they come up with some new ideas and some new fresh faces (i.e. not Palin or Romney or Paul or any of the other aging right-wing fundamentalist anti-intellectuals), they’re headed for the garbage dump.

  64. As I said…ignore it, misunderstand it, jump to the wrong conclusion…didn’t even recognize a dismissal when you saw it…and they’re not insults when they’re facts, and they’re only personal when the person reading them makes them that way. Controlling one’s own reactions is the heart of libertarianism.

    I choose to respond for the laughs.

    I’m off to evangelize libertarian principles to a natural constituency in the No on H8 movement.

    I hope all LP members nationwide to the same. We have a party to build.

  65. Brian Miller, you said,

    “I have a longstanding theory that Libertarians are politically four years behind the times. In 2008, we “fought” the 2004 election — and this comment sorta underscores my point.”

    That’s intriguing. Can you elaborate further?

  66. @ Brian the GOP may indeed be a shattered coalition just like the Democratic party is a coalition (albeit fairly unified since 2005) but they are behemoth political machines and there is enough lobbyists and special interests floating around to keep them well funded. Regardless of ideological issues and values, the two parties will continue to punt around independents and moderates on this wedge issue or that, its in the interests of special interests to only have to pander to a or b rather than have to pander to a, b, c, d, e and f. The realpolitik situation is that there currently are no viable third parties to stage a massive uprising in Congress or pull out a presidential upset regardless of the quality of the 3rd party candidate. Yes there are times where 3rd parties may play a spoiler role, but that just serves as a lightening rod and a tool to demonize the 3rd party. “ohhh see Nader cost Gore Florida…Barkley cost Coleman in Minnesota..Buckley might hand Democrats a filibuster proof majority etc.”

    I am by no means a Republican apologist. Their campaigns have been by in large horrible. Moderates are a dying breed and have been consistently voted out since 2006. But special interests will not allow a total implossion of the party leaving a massive power vaccum for 3rd parties. Libertarians and Constitutionalists have far more value and policitical insight than to be spoilers. So long as lesser of two evils pragmatism survives there will be no meaningful value to the 3rd party movement. I cannot envision a day under the current political reality where there would be a Libertarian Supreme Court Justice.

    For all the naysaying about Paul, he’s done more at least from my perspective, to advance awareness and knowledge of conservative and libertarian principles to Republicans than anyone else in the party in the recent past.

  67. Mr. Seebeck, what I did above was respond to these New Coke analogies with a Jolt analogy and an explanation of why it’s more apt. You replied “Obviously Holtz missed the analogy completely. So what else is new?” I leave it to the audience here to decide whether there’s any evidence that I missed the New Coke analogy, and whether your response was 1) a clumsily boorish insult or 2) “a fact”.

  68. CW: For all the naysaying about Paul, he’s done more at least from my perspective, to advance awareness and knowledge of conservative and libertarian principles to Republicans than anyone else in the party in the recent past.

    Me: Agreed. Guess we have to take the good with the bad, because I felt all the good Paul did in the debates was canceled out by his poor handling of NewsletterGate. There was also a nativist tinge to Paul 08 I could do without.

  69. Brian M: Unless they come up with some new ideas and some new fresh faces (i.e. not Palin or Romney or Paul or any of the other aging right-wing fundamentalist anti-intellectuals), they’re headed for the garbage dump.

    Me: Agreed. The GOP is a case study on why litmus-tests generally don’t work in coalitions/parties. The GOP got far for a while appealing to a kind of Know Nothing element, cobbling that together with suburbanites who’d like their taxes lower. They blew it with corruption, hubris, and bloodthirstiness, IMO.

    The real question is: Does the LP want to challenge for the smaller-government centrist set, or does the LP want to hold high the NAP banner?

    There are other ways to frame it, of course, but where do you come down on the question?

  70. we failed to convince them that we are the only logical home for the Ron Paul Revolution

    Here’s the reality, kids — the Radicals have been as big a genesis for the LP’s death as the Reformers.

    While the Reformers and their Republican-lite stuff have been a disaster, all the apologizing for Republicans coming from Radicals has facilitated a huge migration to the right for the LP.

    Ron Paul’s numerous unlibertarian positions were overlooked and even apologized for.

    I even heard David Nolan, founder of the party and an undeniable radical, saying nice things about Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks group on the right-wing Lew Rockwell blog (Rockwell being the likely genesis of all the most controversial Ron Paul newsletter stuff, if the buzz is to be believed).

    Radicals have also been largely silent. When the pro-war faction sought to have Angela Keaton ejected, they couldn’t be depended on. When LGBT Libertarians cast about for assistance in the gay rights thing — when the national party was largely silent in the face of prop 8 and the Ron Paul newsletter scandal — many Radical leaders rewarded them with a few knives in the back.

    The reality is that the LP is going through all the symptoms of an organization about to collapse. It has lost its differentiation with the GOP on most issues, has de-emphasized Libertarian positions that “embarrass” people who seek some sort of kumbaya relationship with the right wing, and has spent most of its organizational resources ejecting members and suing members off the ballot in an era of record-breaking bailouts and predation against civil liberties from Sacramento to DC.

    There’s precious little time to fix it, but the first step is for both “sides” who have been claiming to be the answer to step back from the brink.

    Reformers demanding further Republican rhetoric in the platform and in the party tagline need to stop. Radicals who want to hail Ron Paul as a purist libertarian hero rather than a right-wing Republican who was right on the war and little else also need to stop.

    There also needed to be some renewal of a truce between both sides back in 2006. Instead, the Reform Caucus pushed forward with its platform purge, and the Radicals responded with… well… nothing productive.

    Meanwhile, longtime libertarians have given up and walked away from the LP, preferring to focus on the issues that motivate them the most. They have made the decision to stop wasting 80% of their energies on internal debates, and devote 100% to issues.

    Just compare the results. Who has more sustaining members — or the LNC? Who has been hiring? Who has been laying off staff?

    At this point, the internal debate is rather meaningless — the LNC is showing every sign of sloshing around the toilet bowl. If it cannot be motivated to start taking positions of Libertarianism, regardless of how “offended” Democrats and Republicans are by those positions. Otherwise, it’s already pretty much dead.

  71. he’s done more at least from my perspective, to advance awareness and knowledge of conservative and libertarian principles to Republicans

    Except I am not a conservative, I am a Libertarian.

    Dennis Kucinich advanced awareness and knowledge of liberal and libertarian principles to Democrats, too. Where’s the LP “radical” embrace of him?

    It doesn’t exist, because too many people in the LP, including so-called “radicals,” don’t understand the difference between conservatism and libertarianism. And they don’t CARE to understand it either.

    At this point, Ron Paul fawning is hero-worship. It’s counterproductive in the sense that it’s hailing a candidate as perfect who isn’t perfect on libertarian issues, and it also provides a fig leaf for the right wingers in other parties who agree with Ron Paul on his beliefs involving government management of individuals’ personal lives.

    That’s an LP that lots of people don’t want to be part of… and surprise, surprise, the LNC is going broke.

  72. Brian, sounds like you have a lot of grievances with various elements in the LP.

    Am I curious what you consider to be “Republican rhetoric” in the new platform, as most of the language is taken from earlier platforms?

    More important, why not criticize by creating? If you believe the LP is failing (despite the fact that membership is growing), what do you propose to reverse that trend? Please be specific.

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