Barr the King Un-Maker?

Interesting! I’m catching up on correspondence and just saw the Libertarian Party Barr nomination on CNN. Will he keep John McCain out of the White House? If I were a GOP strategist, I’d be thinking that very thought right now. And kicking myself that I didn’t spend a little money to help defeat him. But, thank goodness, I’m not a GOP strategist.

25 Responses to “Barr the King Un-Maker?”

  1. Barr might draw off some support for McCain, but he’ll do more to kill popular understanding of libertarianism. His anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act,” his support for the war on drugs, his promise to aggressive close our borders, his anti-free trade stance, his connection to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, his defense of states’ “rights,” … he’d be a great candidate for the Constitutional Party, but he’s no libertarian.

    If Ron Paul was slightly tainted as a libertarian, Bob Barr is full strength poison.

  2. Greg N.

    The only thing a Libertarian Party candidate can hope to do is spoil it for one of the other major parties. Killing “the popular understanding of libertarianism” assumes there is such an understanding. And frankly, if there is, it’s probably not one of a noble band of brothers fighting against tyranny.

    I bet most people think of the LP as a rowdy bunch of kooks and 9/11 Truthers who want to legalize child porn and heroin, and who wear Guy Fawkes masks at their convention.

    Oh, wait…

    At least Bob Barr wears a jacket and tie. That alone ought to boost the public’s opinion of Libertarians.

  3. Re popular views of libertarianism, you’re wrong, Greg. News sources do give attention to libertarianism, and ofetn as not it is fair, although not as accurate as it might be.

    When populism and nativist conservatism is presented, by the LP, as libertarian, it will only make it that much more difficult for real libertarians to explain the case for liberty.

    But since you seem to find Barr’s racist connections, hostility to free trade and open borders, history of anti-gay legislation, and states rights advocacy unobjectionable, I can understand why this point is lost on you.

  4. Greg N.

    I once heard of something called the “fallacy of the excluded middle,” but I never bothered to look it up, Charles. Would you do it for me?

  5. I’ve talked to a lot a of folks one-on-one about libertarianism and the LP. If they are politically active they have usually heard of the LP and have some vague understanding of libertarianism. In the LGBT community, more often than not, their view of the LP has been “tainted” by Dr. Ron Paul’s ambiguous stances on “gay issues.”

    If the person is not politically active, then they usually respond something like this, “Oh, you’re a libertarian! I used to have a card, but I buy most of my books from now.”

  6. Carson Williams

    “I bet most people think of the LP as a rowdy bunch of kooks and 9/11 Truthers who want to legalize child porn and heroin, and who wear Guy Fawkes masks at their convention.”

    I feel really bad that I have a friend who was dressing up in a Guy Fawkes mask yelling libertarian slogans around my town.

  7. Sure Greg, I’d be happy to help you.

    The “fallacy of the excluded middle” refers to an error in thinking in which one assumes that there are only two alternatives, when in fact there are more.

    It’s not to be confused with the logical “law of excluded middle,” which is more applicable here: Libertarianism is a fairly well-defined set of ideas implied in strict respect for the rights of the individual. Closed borders, opposition to free trade, governmental discrimination against people on the basis of race or sexual identity, and the like simply aren’t libertarian. Clear?

    Just stick with me Greg, I’ll steer you right.

  8. Greg N.


    You’re confused, so I’ll help. I wasn’t referring to what is or isn’t libertarianism. Rather, I was implying you’d committed that fallacy, particularly with this statement:

    “But since you seem to find Barr’s racist connections, hostility to free trade and open borders, history of anti-gay legislation, and states rights advocacy unobjectionable, I can understand why this point is lost on you.”

    This, of course, is a false dichotomy: Either you’re opposed to Bob Barr’s nomination, or “you…find Barr’s racist connections, hostility to free trade and open borders, history of anti-gay legislation, and states rights advocacy unobjectionable…”

    Of course, those are not the only options. One could find all of those things objectionable (I do, except for “states’ rights” if what is meant is respect for the Tenth Amendment and enumerated powers), and still favor Barr’s nomination for other reasons (e.g., to help distance libertarians from those who wear Guy Fawkes masks and think 9/11 was a U.S. government conspiracy, to help stop John McCain from becoming president).

    Hence, by neglecting to entertain that other option (or any others), you’ve committed the fallacy of the excluded middle in your argument above.

    I guess logic wasn’t a course requirement at NYU.

  9. Spot on that one, Greg, formal logic is in the Courant School, not the Econ Dept. Very good, you’re making progress!

    But you seem to be unable to follow an argument. Barr isn’t a libertarian, supports unlibertarian things, therefore isn’t a good choice for a Libertarian candidate. You don’t seem to be able to respond to this argument.

  10. Greg N.

    I follow that argument, Charles, it’s just not a very good one. It assumes that the LP is the vehicle through which libertarianism is best and most often learned and taught. It isn’t. Cato, Reason, Stossel, hundreds of books and thousands of blogs have a much bigger impact on spreading libertarian ideas than does the LP.

    However, none of those entities has a direct impact on electoral politics like the LP does. That said, the LP’s impact is still quite small (so small, of course, that it’s a pipe dream (or, in the case of Badnarik, a nightmare) to think that an LP nominee could win a presidential election.

    Hence, the greatest (only?) value of the LP is not to produce the most “radical” libertarian to show the world what our philosophy is all about, but rather to spoil the election for one of the major parties, and in the process to have those parties take our ideas more seriously.

    If Barr costs McCain Georgia by winning, say, 8-10%, and as a result swings the election to Obama, then two things happen. One, we are spared the nightmare of a McCain presidency. Two, it will send a signal to the GOP that they can no longer hope to win national elections using the Bush 2000/2004 coalition, or with “national greatness” conservatism.

    And those are good things, whether Bob Barr supports heroin legalization or not.

  11. OK Greg, I fully agree the LP is not a good vehicle for spreading libertarianism. You’re quite right on this.

    Unfortunately, the LP is one of the most visible “libertarian” organizations, and whatever it promotes will be reported as being “libertarian.” Barr is not even vaguely libertarian, nor is his running mate Root; they are states rights conservatives. Root is just another pro-war Republican, and Barr a drug warrior, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, theocratic Republican. They are going to make it increasingly difficult for real libertarians to explain the libertarian vision, in the same way that the “fever-swampers” do. (So frequently documented here.)

    As for defeating McCain, it’s unclear to me why this is more important than defeating Obama; I think at the margin it’s a tough call which will be a worse president (at least neither is Hillary, thank heavens!). I won’t argue it one way or another. Perhaps you are right that McCain would be worse. I suspect he’d be less likely to completely socialize 1/7 of the U.S. economy (health care) but I’m not that assured of it.

    But more importantly, if McCain loses because of Barr, what the GOP will learn is this: “we should have been more anti-immigrant, and done more to appeal to the religious right.” Ugh.

    And so our national nightmare will continue.

  12. Greg N.

    I guess we just disagree on how important the LP is in advancing liberty. I say “not much at all,” and you apparently think the answer is “quite.” Because I’m just not convinced that the LP is all that important, I don’t think it’s necessary to have, say, a thorough Rothbardian on the ticket.

    Beyond that, I just disagree that Barr is (at least now) so far off the libertarian radar that he’ll completely warp the philosophy. Sure, he’s wrong on some important things, but does that mean he’s not a libertarian? He seems to think he’s one. Randy Barnett supports (or at least supported) the Iraq war. If he ran for president on the LP ticket, would it be a “tragedy”? Is Barnett not a libertarian? There are all manners of “libertarianism,” not just one. Compare Charles Murray’s brand with David Boaz’s. Which is the “true” libertarianism?

    As far as Obama v. McCain, they might be a wash on most things, but Obama is clearly better on international relations, and he’s expressed some fairly strong support for medical marijuana. Those are enough to tip the scaled for me.

    Finally, I am afraid you are probably right that, should McCain lose, most of the GOP faithful won’t be persuaded that they weren’t libertarian enough.

    At least all the Cato folks won’t be out of a job soon (though I’m sure they’d all give up their HUGE salaries to make the world a freer place).

  13. Re Greg N.’s second paragraph: I get your point. But even if there’s not much difference, when the whole political spectrum is considered, between Charles Murray-style and David Boaz-style libertarianism (assuming that Murray’s immigration platform is closer to the one he advocates in “What It Means to Be a Libertarian” than the one he advocates in “The Bell Curve”), one be far more likely to be a PR disaster. I trust I don’t have to explain which, or why.

    Barr…I don’t think it HAS to be a disaster. I know he changed his position on marijuana on pretty short notice; I hope he’ll quite publicly disavow his other previous culture-war ways the way Ron Paul did his newsletters (or, for that matter, the way Goldwater did). If he really wanted to stay on the cultural right, he could have run for the Constitution Party nom, no?

    Here’s what I’m still wondering: The average libertarian, demographically, is a tolerant, charitable person — one could almost say “cosmopolitan.” Why are the most prominent ones nowadays (it seems) disproportionately likely to have bigotry in their not-too-distant pasts?

  14. Greg N.

    I feel you, L.R., and I wish I had an answer for that completely legitimate question. That said, I’m more than confident that the enormous majority of DC libertarians have nothing whatsoever to do with the bigots in the movement, and generally despise that sort (see Palmer, Wilkinson, Sanchez, Boaz, reason…)

    I wouldn’t look for Barr to publicly come out too strong against his past culture war rhetoric at this point. He’s already locked up the Lib. nomination, and now I’m sure he has his sights set on pulling disaffected conservatives from the GOP. I’m sure he’ll beat the federalism drum, which is fine with me since it’s probably the best we’ll get from him on a range of issues. My guess is he’ll hammer McCain on all the things conservatives don’t like, and focus on abuse of power type stuff: enough to keep the libertarian base and peel off some GOP voters as well.

    Finally, let’s not forget Barr is the only candidate who wants to end the federal drug war, which would be the single greatest step toward restoring some of our freedoms. Could he do more? Sure. But let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the not as terrible as the other two.

  15. I fear Barr will be much worse on the campaign trail than Greg & L.R. do. But there’s no sense in debating this, we’ll just wait & see. Hopefully you’re both right and I’m wildly wrong.

    But Greg, I think you still don’t fully follow my point. I think the LP is really *not* a very good way to spread libertarianism. However, it *is* a high profile exponent of ideas that are labeled libertarian. If the LP candidate advocates closing borders, cracking down on immigrants, DOMA, etc., most observers will conclude “oh, that’s what libertarianism is, a kind of populist-conservativism.” (Barr himself has recently said that libertarianism is conservatism).

    Hence true classical liberals will find it that much harder to explain that libertarianism is *not* conservatism, but something quite different.

    Mises & Hayek both repeatedly argued that one of the hardest things for the classical liberal to overcome is the corruption of language that confuses and erases the very concepts the libertarian needs to make her/his case. And that’s the process that’s furthered when a non-libertarian like Barr is publicly identified as a Libertarian.

  16. Greg N.


    I have followed your point; I just disagree. I don’t think the LP really is well-known enough to act as any kind of standard-bearer for the philosophy. An average person who has heard of libertarianism but doesn’t self-describe as such is more likely, I think, to have come across something from Cato (or another think tank), or reason, a libertarian blog, or one of the hundreds of libertarian-oriented books and magazines (or a student in class using arguments taken from one of these places) than she is to have followed the Libertarian Party presidential candidate closely enough to make her judgments about the philosophy based on the candidate’s platform.

    Barr will be running on one variant of libertarianism. Cato, reason, and other similar places will be pushing a different, but related message. I think people are smart enough to realize that, like conservatism, liberalism, and every other political philosophy, libertarianism isn’t monolithic.

    At least I hope they are…

  17. Bill Woolsey

    LR writes that Barr changed his view on marijuana “on short notice.”

    I guess it all depends on what you mean by “short.”

    Barr’s awful record in Congress on social issues, (and moderately bad record on the economy and moderately good record on privacy) were between 95 and 2003. That ended five years ago now.

    Since he left Congress (five years ago) he has greatly strengthened his position on civil liberties. Strongly attacking the Bush administration’s attack on protections of those accused of crimes, attack on separation of powers, and privacy rights. He has worked with the ACLU, as well as more conservative groups skeptical of the Bush administration. Are you familiar with the Barr’s debate in 2006 at the NCAP?

    Similarly, Barr has worked for several years with the Marijuana Policy Project. Kampia endorsed him for the LP nomination and gave a nomination speech. As he explains, having a former federal prosecutor and drug warrior on their side creates great credibility.

    Barr endorsed Badnarik over Bush in 2004. (which suggests either ignorance of Badnarik or great dislike of Bush.)

    Barr has been on the Libertarian National Committee since 2006.

    Barr’s campaign is about withdrawing from Iraq, cutting federal spending, and protecting privacy rights.

    He hasn’t emphasized immigration much. His position is control the borders and cut out social spending for immigrants, but allow them
    to work here. (In reality, “social spending” means education for the children of immigrants and
    emergency room care for immigrants and their
    families. They are already ineligible for

    He isn’t running on social issues at all. The
    “culture warrior” agenda is constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and abortion. He
    does reject those. And he does say that all of
    these issues should be settled state-by-state.
    And generally avoids those issues.

    Cross tabs on Paul primary voters, and exit polls, showed that Paul’s support wasn’t based
    upon his hardline (ish) immigration views or else
    pro-life views. It was the war and the general size of government business. I anticipate that
    Barr will emphasize those things. While Paul
    promoted his money and banking views and pro-life
    agenda as a matter of conscience, Barr is going
    to continue to slam the Bush administration about
    privacy rights for the same reason. (Which is

    Barr’s issues of opposition to the war, real cuts
    in govenrment spending, and civil liberties covers
    all three “legs” of the libertarian stool.

    For the vast majority of Americans, that will be
    just about all they will know about Barr.

    Barr generated strong opposition within the LP
    for a variety of reasons. He was opposed by
    some of the same people who led the anti-Clark
    backlash. In trying to build a coalition to
    oppose Barr, they were no more honest than they were in 1981.

    About 20% of the LP delegates support a candidate who will preach about libertarian philosophy and libertopia. And 20% of LP delegates want a candidate who will promote an incremental program for liberty (like Clark.) About 60& have
    supported an “incremental” program of immediate
    reduction of government to “Constitutional” levels. The key element of this is abolish the income tax now and replace it with nothing and cut spending enough to balance the budget.

    Barr is running on a more moderate economic program–like Clark. And so, massive opposition.

    Root, on the other hand, was a neo-libertarian
    until very recently and is backed by the neo-
    libertarians in the party. With the war in Iraq
    being massively unpopular and McCain being a
    pro-war extremist, Root’s recent conversion to
    nonintervention (and his criticism of Paul on
    the issue) made him a poor choice.

    Ruwart, the choice of the radicals to stop
    Root and Barr, gave every impression that she
    would be the first candidate since Bergland to
    run on preaching nonagression and libertopia.

    There was no candidate of the LP “center.”
    Like Browne.

    As for the war on drugs, Barr is running on
    the same “program,” as Browne. Each state
    can have its own policy. But the war on drugs
    was a key issue for Browne and his position was
    against. Only in the fine printe would you
    discover the federalist position. (Browne was
    trully a states rights extremist.)

    Barr isn’t running on the issue at all. And,
    for many LP activists, opposition to the drug
    war should be the signature issue of the LP.

    In my opinion, the “signature” issues of a
    campaign should be selected based upon place
    and time.

    The war, out of control spending, and the
    woo theory of Presidential despotism all look
    like key issues of today. Barr is running on them, and taking a libertarian position on each.

  18. “Libertopia” is a dishonest slam on those of us who advocate a society that consistently respects individual rights. The self-described “reformers” of the LP use “purist” and “extremist” as epithets, and target consistent libertarians with these. Bizarre.

    Barr and Root both say social issues ought to be left to the states to decide — that is *not* a libertarian position. Presumably Barr, Root, and their supporters oppose the SCOTUS decision in Virginia vs. Loving, in which states’ “rights” to determine who may and may not marry were overturned.

    Barr is still waffling on decriminalizing drugs and on DOMA, still supports closing our borders and persecuting those who commit the crime of working w/o a government permit, and still calls himself a “true conservative.” He’s not libertarian at all, but a conservative political opportunist.

    Finally, Bill, “reformers” like you need to explain why a position of “strict respect for individual rights” needs reforming, and why the Barr-Root “reform” of “let’s abandon consistent advocacy of individual rights and leave it all to the vagaries of state political processes” is an improvement.

  19. Anonymous

    I count as libertarian the 10% to 20% of the population who favor increased personal and economic liberty relative to the status quo. I would like to see a political party aimed at organizing and leading this group of the population. I think the Libertarian Party should be that party.

    I believe that the best way to procede is to have a political movement based upon specific reforms that reduce the role of government. The Cato Institute generates many such reform proposals. A selection of such proposals would do. Natually, 3 to five issues with the positions being libertarian reforms.

    For example, close the Department of Education and privatize amtrak, not close and privatize everything, or even, close and privatize everything introduced after 1800. Get out of Iraq, not adopt a hard and fast rule of never allowing US forces outside of U.S. borders….

    I think it is important to cover the three legs of the libertarian stool–less intervention in the economy, less intervention in personal lives, and less intervention overseas. But again, with some kind of specific proposal. The more popular the better, but the key is popularity among the 10% to 20% of the voters who support more personal and economic liberty.

    In my judgement, the vast majority of libertarians (the millions of people in this 10% to 20% of the population) have no concrete political philosophy or well worked out ideal society.

    However, there are many libertarian thinkers, with a variety of political philosophies and more or less specific visions of an ideal society.

    I strongly believe that a libertarian movement and Libertarian Party should be inclusive of all variants of libertarian thought. Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, and Friederich Hayek are at the top of the list. But, of course, minor thinkers like Murray Rothbard and Any Rand too. (And even a popularizer of Rothbard, like Mary Ruwart.)

    I think that it is foolhardy to try to have a political movement and political party devoted to promoting the political philosophy of Rothbard and Rand against that of Friedman, Hayek, and Buchanan. (Purist–people who want to insist that Friedman and Hayek aren’t reall libertarians; people who carry on Rand’s and Rothbard’s irrational hatred of these thinkers who were more accepted in the mainstream.)

    Similarly, having a party devoted to describing the nature of an ideal libertarian society is foolish. Not only does that require trying to settle which version of libertarianism is best, it also gives up the potential support of all of those millions of Americans who want more personal liberty and economic liberty but would not be willing to buy into whatever “ideal society” is proposed. (libertopians–people who spend time imagining how things will work in their varient of the perfect society.)

    What is the alternative we have? Tiny numbers of ideologues devoted to various versions of libertarianism can vote on party documents, with one varient “winning” over the others. Then one can try to make sure that only those who agree with one specific political philosophy (consistent application of individuals rights?) and who share one vision of an ideal society use the term “libertarian.”

    It is a sad waste.

    I think we needed a libertarian movement and Libertarian Party that includes those who agree with Friedman and Hayek.

    Less important than that, I believe we need a Libertarian Party that runs politicians who campaign on a limited number of issues with specific positions that reduce government intervention in the economy, personal affairs, and foreign affairs.

    I think a Libertarian Party should devote no effort to settling questions of political philosophy, especially through voting. Similarly, I think a Libertarian Party should devote no effort to working out the details of an ideal society, again, especially by voting.

    Call me crazy, but I think political philosophers should debate political philosophy and, if they want, describe ideal societies. Rather than having a political party “settle” the differences by voting in conventions, the usual scholarly process of books and articles, replies, and consensus will do just fine. Even for settling differences among varieties of libertarian thought.

    The voting within a political party should be about on which politicians will run, and, of course, the specific program they will run on. What positions on what issues. This, of course, involves taking positions on various issues.

    But it should never even cross anyone’s mind that once these particular reforms are implemented, the resulting changed status quo would then be “ideal.” The political philosophers and the think tanks have their role. And the role of the political party and the politicians should be to run with the policy proposals for which the time is ripe.

    So far, Barr has emphasized cutting government spending, getting out of Iraq, and privacy rights.

    The proposals to cut government spending is a bit vague, but good. Getting out of Iraq is great. And reversing the violations of the bill of rights involved in the war on terrorism is good.

    I think Steele’s characterization of Barr’s position on immigration is over-the-top. Barr is calling for controlling the borders, preventing security threats and those with communicable disease from entering, cutting out welfare spending for immigrants (which is free schooling for children and emergency health care, really,) and allowing people in who want to work.

    While this is on Barr’s web site, I doubt whether this will be emphasized much. It just isn’t that much different than McCain and Obama’s positions.

    I count Barr’s position as a liberalization of immigration policy. It liberalizes the “official” policy. If one prefers the status quo of an official policy aimed at protecting jobs, but that isn’t really enforced, then fine.

    Barr isn’t running on the drug issue at all. When asked, he says that the current policy has failed. And he makes the incremental proposal that the federal goverment stop harrassing sick people in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

    If a politician proposes changes in policies that further restrict freedom, I cannot support them.

    But I feel no need for a politician to endorse my pet reforms. If a libertarian politician is covering the three legs of the stool, opposing anti-libertarian policies by the opposition or proposing some libertarian reform… I am OK with that.

    Barr supports allowing each state to define marriage as it sees fit. He supports repealing the part of the DOMA that created a federal defintion of marriage.

    Every LP Presidential candidate since Paul in 1988
    has taken the “states rights” position on these things.

    Only about 10% of libertarians self-describe as libertarians. 90% call themselves other things. Many of them call themselves conservatives. I think this is the perfect time to have a candidate to reach out to them. This is partly because of the Paul campaign (which I supported,) but also because the Republican, McCain, is committed to a highly unpopular war.

    I admit that I knew very little about Barr before his campaign began. It was only during that campaign that I discovered that Barr was a bogeyman among pagans, gay marriage advocates, and medical marijuna activists– all based upon a things he did more than five years ago.

    Is Steele still worked up about things that happened years ago?

    Or is it that he insists that the LP Presidential campaign focus on his pet reforms? Is gay marriage that important?

    To me, Barr is clearly opposed to the “right wing” position of a Constitional amendment to outlaw gay marriage. In those places were gay marriage exists, Barr isn’t proposing it be banned. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t proposed that those states that currently prohibit it, should continue to do so. He isn’t talking about that.

    But.. that’s not good enough for you? He has to go further?

    I am an economist. I think the minimum wage is a terrible idea. So far, Barr hasn’t run on ending the minimum wage. I still support him…

  20. Anonymous: if I have a pet reform, it is reversing the completely unsustainable debt position of the Federal government. The growing debt is the single greatest threat to the country. Barr seems clueless on the subject.

    Barr is not a libertarian, not in the tradition of Friedman/Hayek/Mises/Buchanan. Neither is Root.

    It’s one thing to have priorities, reasonable strategies for transitions, for what can actually be accomplished, etc. Establishing an ideal libertarian society, however one might conceive of such, cannot be done “big-bang.”

    It’s quite another to not have a libertarian vision, to suppose it’s just fine (“states’ rights”) to discriminate against some citizens, or it’s just fine to close borders and conduct mass arrests of people for working w/o proper government papers.

    The LP has no more chance of winning a presidential election than does my labrador retriever. But every four years it has an opportunity to get a little public attention for its ideas… which makes abandoning libertarianism for conservative Republicans like Barr & Root a very bad thing to do. They’ll not win, and they won’t help spread libertarian ideas.

    It’s tragic that we don’t have a candidate who (1)is a consistent libertarian and (2) has a thoughtful, reasonable strategy for advancing libertarianism.

    Barr fails both tests.

  21. One additional point… you defined: “Purist–people who want to insist that Friedman and Hayek aren’t reall libertarians; people who carry on Rand’s and Rothbard’s irrational hatred of these thinkers who were more accepted in the mainstream”

    This is not the way that the term has been used by during the recent takeover of the LP by conservatives. This term, and “extremist” as well, has been used against people who consistently defend individual rights, and don’t compromise on this principle simply because on some issues it might lose votes. I’m a fan & student of Friedman and Hayek, and no Rothbardian. I know number of other libertarians who are as well — and we’ve been labeled “purists” because we oppose watering down the libertarian vision with religious conservatism and nativist populism.

  22. Bill Woolsey

    I explained why the LP needs to be reformed.

    That is independent of whether Barr is a good LP candidate or not.

    “purists” are people who define libertarian to be deductions from noninitiation of force, and who want to make sure that the Libertarian Party remains dominated by people who hold to that view.

    Purists often try to build support for their position by appealing to special interest groups.
    (Their strategy is to build a coalition of speical interest voters who they think will support an extremist position on some particular issue or other.)

    In reality, reformers favor a “big tent” Libertarian Party, including anyone who favors more personal and economic liberty. This would include advocates of all the various schools of libertarian thought, including the Rothbardians and objectivists, but also more moderate libertarians like Friedman and Hayek. However,
    the reformers generally don’t want the LP limited to ideologues. People who just generally want more personal and economic liberty and less government should be welcome.

    The second issue is one of incrementalism. The reformers believe that the LP should promote a set of reforms that reduce government and expand liberty. Generally, they advocate policies that could plausibly be implemented during the next term of office. The set of reforms adovcated can vary from election to election.

    Libertopians insist that instead the Libertarian party and its candidates need to promote the ideal society.

    There aren’t that many libertopians in the LP. Most are incrementalists, but they are generally quite radical, in that they want the LP to promote a very large increment. Abolish
    the income tax and replace it by nothing.

    Anyway, if you really are a moderate libertarian along the lines of Hayek and Friedman, then you aren’t a purist. (I kind of thought that was true.)

    I think you are very much wrong about the “states rights” business. Many libertarians believe that the Federal govenrment should be very limited and should not intervene in the states to protect individual liberty. They believe that state courts should undertake that task. And, of course, reforming state and local policies is why libertarians should be involved in state and local government.

    Harry Browne took that position. I don’t. But I think it is wrong to claim that people holding to such a view are not libertarians.

    I supported the Clark campaign. I was mortified by the “purist” reaction. Clark sold out our principles, acording to Rothbard and David Nolan.

    Yes, I use “purism” as a pejorative term and I
    started using it to refer to Rothbard and Nolan
    when I read their response to the Clark campaign.

    I have always thought that Rothbard’s “hold high the banner of principle” was a mistake. And further, Rothbard (and Nolan’s) view that abolishing the income tax immediately and replacing it with nothing was a mistake. Rothbard
    explained that the purpose was to keep the LP radical because it would require proposing that the Federal government be cut back to just about nothing.

    I was involved in the Committee for a Libertarian
    Majority in the early nineties and also the Libertarian Reform Caucus. These groups were not especially right leaning. The Libertarian
    Reform Caucus was dominated by people who thought
    that the LP should lean left. (I prefer centrist
    moderation, myself.) Recently, however, the Reform Caucus came to be dominated by a neo-libertarian. (A hawk.)

    The notion that LP reformers are noting more
    than supporters of Barr or Root is crazy.

    In 2004, the reformers backed Russo. He was
    very “socially-liberal.” Pro-choice and
    pro-gay rights. He supported a national
    sales tax to replace the income tax.

    The purists stopped him… (in retrospect, there
    were some advantages to that. He was very anti-
    immigration. But worse, he supported just about
    as many crazy conspiracy theories as Badnarik. This became obvious in the years after the election.)

    I support Barr because he is running on cutting government spending, getting out of Iraq, and rolling back the Bush administration’s spying.

    I think his emphasis on cutting spending and the
    size of governent is a more than adequate approach to government debt.

    Barr isn’t campaigning on promoting social conservatism. He isn’t running on states rights.

    I strongly disagree with the view that because the LP candidate won’t win, the goal should be to
    educate people about what they should know.

    As I explained, I think it essential that the LP candidate not be running anti-libertarian policies. And, I think it is a waste if they don’t run on some pro-libertarian policies. That can be opposition to anti-libertarian policies promoted by major parties. But… the goal should be to pick things that are the most popular, and especially the most popular among the 10% to 20% of voters who want more personal and economic liberty.

    The goal must be to receive high favorables, high polling, and a large number of votes.

    Getting less than one percent means that the campaign will be ignored, making it a waste of time.

    I do think Barr is a good candidate, and if he
    continues as he has been, he will be better than

    Anyway, if you can find a liberal Democrat who is willing to propose deep cuts in Federal spending while saying that it is up to the states to maintain or expand social spending…. you can count on me to support him or her for the LP nomination. (This will be especially true when it is President Obama on the rocks.)

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