Steve G.

Barr Campaign: Last Days

In Libertarian on November 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

My experiences with trying to volunteer for the Barr GOTV calling in the last days of the campaign:

  • I was initially blacklisted from volunteering to make calls because I had been a critic of Barr (this from Shane Cory to me in a phone call that I initiated). After I called the campaign to beg to be allowed to volunteer and promised to ‘behave’, I got the privilege of volunteering.
  • The Barr campaign used a database of “registered Republicans from Bob’s district in Georgia” (according to Austin Peterson). When I expressed an interest in calling NC voters, I got… ignored. I could call GA folks or no one I guess.
  • The call-script was as follows:

Hello, my name is [name] and I’m calling to ask for your vote for our former Congressman and Presidential Candidate Bob Barr.

Bob Barr opposed the McCain-Obama bailout scheme, opposed McCain-Feingold and has a proven track record of protecting both your tax dollars and your Second Amendment rights. According to the National Taxpayers Union, only Bob Barr will reduce federal spending.

May we count on your support for Congressman Bob Barr for President?

Notice a conspicuous lack there? No mention of the LP or libertarianism. Calls to Barr’s congressional ‘constituents’ in GA. Not surprising, but disappointing and another mis-step for the campaign. ESPECIALLY in light of a recent campaign email, which said, in part:

In 1992, both parties ignored Ross Perot. … But his votes had a huge impact and in 1994, just two years later, the Republicans
actively embraced much of the Perot agenda and swept out many Democrats in Congress, capturing control of both the House and Senate.

I believe that together, we can repeat this – either as Republicans or Democrats — and come next week, Congress will know that.

Which, taken with the calling ‘strategy’, indicated to me that Barr may be planning to run as a Republican (or Dem!) for his old house seat. Subsequent communications from Barr seem to indicate otherwise, though.

  1. What happened to ballotbase?

  2. This calling was done with the latest incarnation of BallotBase. Apparently the LP discontinued its interest in BB but Stewart is continuing to develop it for use by state parties.

  3. Ugh. Double Ugh.
    This is doing nothing to dissuade me from kicking Cory or Verney in the nuts (metaphorically speaking. for now.) should I ever meet them.

  4. The authenticity of Barr’s disavowal of DOMA, the Holy War on Drugs, and the Holy Crusade Against the Wiccans becomes clear.

    The utility of this effort for building our party is also clear:

    Give me a “Z”
    Give me an “E”
    Give me an “R”
    Give me an “O”

    What do you have?

  5. I praise Susan for having volunteered.

  6. That’s strange about BallotBase, since it was supposedly very successful in trial local races.

    I had heard that Barr was planning a senate campaign in Georgia as a Libertarian.

  7. It’s pretty much a proven fact that Libertarians do best in races that are non-partisan (i.e. no Libertarian label on the voting machine). The other parties frequently run ads or put up lawn signs that have no party affiliation mentioned. So what Barr was doing is not unusual. After all these years, we should recognize that the LP first garners attention (if at all) for the size of its vote not for the quality of its candidates.
    Quantity then quality attracts the media. The “Libertarian”
    label has a certain connotation, not always favorable (though more so than decades ago.) That’s why more than a few have suggested adopting the name “Liberty Party” instead.

  8. If Barr’s plan in the final months of the campaign was to raise his profile in Georgia for a possible senate or congressional run in 2010, then it wasn’t necessarily a bad strategy. There was ZERO chance that he would make any meaningful impact on the national election, so a good plan B would be to use the presidential campaign to set-up Barr for a smaller, more realistically useful future campaign. (Notice I didn’t say “realistically winnable future campaign.”)

    If the set-up was for Barr as Republican, then it would be a gross misappropriation of LP resources. However, there is no reason to think this will be the case from statements released by Barr since the election.

  9. It’s pretty much a proven fact that Libertarians do best in races that are non-partisan (i.e. no Libertarian label on the voting machine). The other parties frequently run ads or put up lawn signs that have no party affiliation mentioned.

    Those two sentences are not related in a simple fashion. The reason that Ds and Rs tend not to advertise their affiliation is that they *know* they can count on a base, and they *hope* to woo folks from the other camp. It works (often) because there’s really not much distinguishing Rs from Ds. Ls don’t have that built-in large base (hence the better performance in ‘nonpartisan’ races).

    So if, as a Libertarian, you want to appeal to Ds and Rs in a local race where personality is a main component of campaigning, you might reasonably eschew the Party label.

    But the presidential race (and other high-level races, such as senate, gov), are different. Libertarians are not running in these races with the expectation of assuming office, but of building the LP and getting people to consider freedom and it implications. In that case, running as an appealing ‘no label’ sort of guy might win you a few votes, but doesn’t do a BIT of good for the Party.

    Our goals in these races are VERY different from the goals of Ds and Rs, and so therefore our tactics should be different. A presidential candidate should advertising the Libertarian Party, not ignoring it.

  10. If Barr’s plan in the final months of the campaign was to raise his profile in Georgia for a possible senate or congressional run in 2010, then it wasn’t necessarily a bad strategy.

    Agreed that targeting his area would be a good strategy under that condition – although of course he should not have avoided the Libertarian label.

    HOWever, the impact of these calls – considering their low number (about 65 staff and vols that I could see, making 3-4K calls) – was low enough that the major emphasis should have been on the benefits to Party-building. It would have been good to have allowed volunteers to call within their own states, making joint Barr-local candidate appeals. Would have taken some more time and coordination to set up, but he *did* have a paid staff.

    That’s all opinion on strategy, though. I don’t especially fault the Atlanta-area calling. I do fault avoiding the Libertarian name and (especially) I fault treating Party activists like dirt with paranoid stories of “Nader infiltrators” and blacklisting volunteers who ‘have a history of criticizing Barr’.

  11. That’s all opinion on strategy, though. I don’t especially fault the Atlanta-area calling. I do fault avoiding the Libertarian name and (especially) I fault treating Party activists like dirt with paranoid stories of “Nader infiltrators” and blacklisting volunteers who ‘have a history of criticizing Barr’.

    I can understand the reasoning behind the lack of party “branding”. Barr’s “base” for any future local endeavor will most likely be the disgruntled Republicans that know him from his days in the congress. It may not be best for that particular future race to flaunt his association with a pro-drug, pro-abortion party. I’m not suggesting I agree, just that I understand the reasoning.

    If any future run was actually winnable, then sure, screw the party label. If Barr is the only Libertarian congress-creature, then people will know and it will be quasi-national news. That in itself will serve as a party-building mechanism (party building in the way we would like, though, assumes Barr actually votes like a libertarian!) However, if the race is not winnable (and I doubt a congressional or senate race would be), then you’ve got to build the party, which means flaunt the brand.

  12. “If Barr’s plan in the final months of the campaign was to raise his profile in Georgia for a possible senate or congressional run in 2010,”

    Mind you, I do not find the arguments in favor of the hypothesis to be at all convincing, yet.

    If delegates in Denver had known that this was Barr’s plan, which I am not currently inclined to believe that it was, he would have found it a challenge to collect the tokens he needed to be nominated, and his supporters making nominating speeches would have found it difficult to be heard.

    Walking away from the Presidential campaign, namely a campaign to run for President, as hypothesized above, would be a gross act of fraud, and in the hypothetical case that our Presidential candidate did it, he should be expelled from the party.

  13. It is fraud to have a plan B? Come on George. If a strategy is failing miserably (namely, raising a bunch of money from Ronulans, hitting near 15%, getting in the debate), are you suggesting that changing the strategy is not only a bad idea, but a fraudulent one? That is beyond asinine.

    That said, I have no idea what the Barr campaign’s strategy was and what it changed to if it actually did change. However, had the campaign decided to change the focus of the presidential campaign towards raising Barr’s (and the LPs) profile in Georgia for a possible future senate or congressional run, then that is not necessarily a bad strategy. It certainly isn’t a fraudulent one.

  14. No, Mr. Moore, it is true. If Barr cut and run on his Presidential campaign, which I do not view as proven, he had the option of removing himself as the candidate. Wayne Root would automatically have been our candidate, and I absolutely do not believe Wayne would have done anything other than give the campaign his best college try.

    Changing strategies in mid-campaign, for example, to move from the 2nd amendment to attacking McCain for being against gay marriage, would be legitimate because it would remain a campaign for the office for which Barr was nominated. Stealing the income from your Presidential campaign to launch a Presidential campaign would be a gross act of total fraud, an act so dishonest that even a Republican would not contemplate it.

  15. > Roscoe
    It’s pretty much a proven fact that Libertarians do best in races that are non-partisan (i.e. no Libertarian label on the voting machine).

    MG: No. The LP did a study in 2002 with LIO of all past named elected candidates and discovered that trained, non-paper candidates who did their community homework were elected slightly more easily than Dems and GOPs, generally after 3 tries. Countries like Costa Rica where they do it right do very well and have a problem keeping people out of their ‘hot’ Libertarian brand who don’t belong there There is in addition no difference in electability in Liberal (low-government) versus strict Libertarian (voluntaryist) platforms; it all depends on community issues and needs.

    It may help to realize that only some 3% of political offices are partisan elected; 7% are non-partisan elective and the rest are adlective (appointive) including the US Presidency, where much of the real work is done. Also, some states as a matter of policy have few elective partisan positions. The real problem is training enough Libertarians for the positions available.

    >That’s why more than a few have suggested adopting the name “Liberty Party” instead

    MG: Usually by pseudo-conservative fascists who wish to conflate us with right-wing European parties. No thanks. There was a debate to call us the ‘New Liberty’ party though.

  16. MG: Try this experiment (which was actually done in a high school classroom). Create three candidates for a minor office.
    Create credentials for each so that the Libertarian candidate is obviously more qualified for the position. Have one group decide which to vote for on non-partisan basis. Have another group vote but put a party label on each candidate. The Libertarian should win the non-partisan ballot and come in third on the partisan ballot just due to the second group’s preconceived notions about the major parties and a third party.

  17. Stealing the income from your Presidential campaign to launch a Presidential campaign would be a gross act of total fraud, an act so dishonest that even a Republican would not contemplate it.

    Are you kidding?! Everyone in Virginia knew that Jim Gilmore ran for President briefly to boost his future Senate campaign in Virginia. Reps and Dems run for higher office (at least in primaries) knowing that they will not win for the exact purpose of raising their profile (and money) for some other purpose.

    If the goal of the LP Presidential campaign is to build the party, then such a strategy could be reasonable. I’m not claiming that such a strategy would be optimal, but it certainly would not be a “gross act of total fraud”. Especially considering that if this was Barr’s strategy in the waning days, he was having volunteers call and ask for votes for his PRESIDENTIAL bid. How would targeting GOTV efforts in a very narrow region amount to a “gross act of total fraud”, especially in light of very limited resources?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: