Monday, September 22, 2008

Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party

Given the Republican Party's failure of ideas under George W. Bush and the recent strides toward socialization of America's financial institutions, I now consider the Libertarian Party platform more seriously. I have supported John McCain until now, but I am less certain following the recent Bush socialization plan. They are causing me to re-think my heretofore solid support for John McCain.

According to the Libertarian Party's website, Bob Barr is at 8 to 11 percent in polls in late August in several states. These include Ohio, New Hampshire and Nevada. This is enough to make Barr a factor in the race. Voting for him is not throwing one's vote away as it would be if he were running at two or three percent across the board.

On September 17, the Libertarians passed a resolution supporting withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. I do not agree with that. In fact, it seems frivolous because they do not discuss how it will impact our defense against further 9/11-style attacks. It is nice to say that you are for isolationism, but Thomas Jefferson sent the navy to secure the Mediterranean from the Barbary pirates, who were enslaving our sailors. The Barbary pirates were similar to the crew we're fighting in Afghanistan. This is a strategic question that the Libertarians treat as a moral question.

On September 11, Bob Barr stated that a "surge" for fiscal responsibility is needed. He says:

“On my first day as president I will freeze federal spending...On day two, I will establish the Commission On Wasteful Government to develop a list of programs with no constitutional basis, which belong at the state or local level, or which don’t work. And I will go to Congress with a long list of programs to eliminate.”

This is a good position. I think across-the-board 35% cuts are a better idea, with a list of programs coming second, but a list is fine.


"Only Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party are saying no more bailouts. Only Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party are talking about controlling entitlements spending. Only Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party are pushing the surge in fiscal responsibility that the country needs.”

Barr made a 9/11 statement about terrorism on 9/10:

"The U.S. government can best mark the anniversary by continuing to target groups which threaten Americans, but also by respecting the liberties upon which our nation is based.

“The Bush administration deserves credit for having done much to disable al Qaeda as an effective terrorist organization...However, early on, the administration took its eye off of the ball when it shifted troops from searching for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to use in the unnecessary war in Iraq. Now, the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating badly.”

On the one hand the LP says that we should withdraw from Afghanistan, on the other Bob Barr says that we should focus on Afghanistan. This is amateurish at best.

As for Iraq, Barr writes,

"I will quickly withdraw U.S. troops, leaving Iraqis in control of their own dstinies.”

With respect to experience, Barr has more experience than Obama, with eight years in Congress. However, he has less than McCain and lacks executive experience, as do Biden, Obama and McCain. Only Sarah Palin has executive experience.

Barr, like Obama and McCain, strikes me as an imperfect candidate. Overall, I would rate them as follows. My rating depends heavily on how heavily I weight the Republicans' socialist strategy is:

I consider two different weighting schemes that reflect my personal preferences. In the first, I weight the economy 50%, defense and counter-terrorism 20% each and social issues 10%. In the second, I weight the economy 30%, defense and counter terrorism 30% each, and social issues 10%. If I weight the economy at 50% of my concern, then Bob Barr is preferable to me over John McCain. However, if I weight the economy at 30% of my concern, then John McCain is preferable. Barack Obama is not in the running.

However, there are several strategic and dynamic concerns. For instance, a McCain victory now would continue to give credence to the socialist/big business/ Progressive wing of the Republican Party, which has become dominant and has been successful at influencing conservatives. Four more years of drooling boobs on Fox touting claims of non-existent "emergencies" to facilitate socialism will be difficult for me to take.

Second, a strong showing for Bob Barr will give the Republicans pause about the socialist path that they have chosen. This will enable free market liberals and intelligent conservatives to regroup.

Third, laissez-faire conservatives can blame further steps toward socialism on Obama. This will create Republican antipathy against rather than support for socialism. This would be a good thing and would harm the Republican Progressives, who have become ever more dominant. (They were always dominant, but the Bush administration is a Progressive fantasy come to life).

The question of whether to support McCain or Barr hinges first on the importance of reduction in economic freedom due to the Republicans' socialist strategy versus the threat of terrorism and military attack. Second, it depends on electoral strategic factors, which militate in favor of Barr. A strong Libertarian showing will push the Republicans toward more laissez-faire policies. At the same time, a Republican loss will stall Republican Progressives. On the other hand, there are serious defense, counter-terrorism and social drawbacks to an Obama administration relative to McCain. However, it is possible that, given this week's events, an Obama administration will reflect an improvement over the Republicans with respect to laissez-faire and efficient government.

It has become a difficult call. I have previously contributed heavily to McCain (for someone on a professor's salary). I am not sure that I can continue to morally support him given the Republicans' choices at the national level. I have reached out to some friends for advice on this, and am interested in your thoughts.


J said...

I agree with your hypothesis, given it is such a close election, a vote for Barr would definately send a message for the misled republicans. The 1994 'revolution' shoud remind the RNC of what the republican base is looking for. Adding to that, since the republicans got off message, and themselves became the elites we so despise, we have been losing seats.

However (this was inevitable), there is an axiom, it is harder to take away after it has been given. With an Obama presidency, and a super majority in congress, they may enact social programs at will, creating dozens of '3rd rail' issues. Short of calling for a constitutional amendment, if the nation's healthcare were to become socialized, how could any future candidate's platform call for an end to the socialized HC? They would be buried, commercials, "Sarah Palin want to take AWAY your health care benefits".

Honestly, do I believe in bailouts? NO! But, the government caused this throughout the 90s, all in the name of homeownership diversity. Then the government didn't step in during the 00's when trouble was in sight. (Here is my dig, ALL DEMOCRAT driven). "You broke it, you own it" philosophy is in order here.

BTW, on the other side of the coin, as I've been saying elsewhere, an Obama loss will ALSO send a message to the DNC leadership, and bring this party back to the party of JFK. A more mainstream Democrat party and mainstream Republican party means MORE work done FOR the American people.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Yes, you're making good points.

TruthHurts said...

I didn't agree with everything you wrote.. but it was by far one of the most sound arguments that you've put together thus far..
It was actually founded in "reason" without a hint of blind "rage".

TIME has an article today reviewing much of what you've discussed and where we are headed.,8599,1843168,00.html?cnn=yes

Your nemesis,

Mitchell Langbert said...

Blind rage? Nemesis? Really? Check out my response to the Time article here: