26 May 2008

Party of principle?

Yesterday the Libertarian Party nominated Bob Barr for president.  Barr was chosen on the sixth ballot over Dr. Mary Ruwart, my first choice.  I think the LP is making a mistake; the Libertarian nominee can't win the election, so it's more important for him (or her!) to be a principled and passionate advocate for liberty than to be a compromising waffler with a questionable past.  When in Congress, Barr was one of the most determined drug warriors and an opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion rights.  He also voted for the USA PATRIOT Act and the Iraq war.  It was only after the LP helped to get him out of Congress that he changed his mind and became more consistently libertarian.  I admire that, but I'd have preferred someone like Ruwart, who has always been principled and is an excellent speaker and author.  She also has a Ph.D. in biophysics and is a loud opponent of government intervention in the drug industry.  Barr's only advantages over Ruwart are name recognition and perhaps fundraising ability.

It's also a shame that Wayne Allyn Root, another former Republican (with unfortunate initials!), got the VP nod over Steve Kubby, a long-time cancer patient who has controlled his symptoms with marijuana and has been persecuted by the federal government for it.  It's hard to believe that the LP could nominate two people less consistently libertarian than Republican hopeful Ron Paul, who's still my candidate until he officially drops out.

At least we Libertarians fund our own convention and this year's vote was fairly tight and exciting.  I think it's so stupid that DNC chair Howard Dean declared that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama must drop out of the race well before the convention.  He basically admitted that the convention itself is completely meaningless.  So why are we taxpayers helping to pay for it?  (The convention may cost more than $100 million.)

Besides, I very much doubt that the fight between Obama and Clinton will significantly hurt the eventual nominee.  They may be using campaign funds against each other, but once the nominee is decided almost all supporters of each will surely prefer the other to McCain.

Speaking of McCain, today I finished reading Trail Fever, an account of the fight for the 1996 Republican nomination by the author of Moneyball.  Most of the Republicans featured in the book seem like typical politicians, unprincipled and opportunistic, but McCain comes off as a true independent and genuinely good guy.  He now seems less independent than he used to be, though, and forced to choose among him and Obama and Barr, I think I'd go with Barr.


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