Rep. Ron Paul, still running in Republican primaries, announced that he would not run a third-party race for President. This is understandable, since he wants to be re-elected to Congress as a Republican.
At the same time, John McCain is in the driver's seat for the Republican nomination, thanks to "winner take all" primary elections that some large states have, even though he was overwhelmingly rejected in the first caucuses after Super Tuesday. McCain lost conservatives long ago on issues such as his anti-First Amendment "campaign finance reform" bill
, joining the Gang of 14
on judicial appointments, and the McCain-Kennedy Immigration bill
. Libertarian-leaning Republicans, who want government out of our lives, have nothing in common with McCain, who from guns to steroids has shown he wants government meddling everywhere.
Aside from "moderates" and neo-conservatives, McCain has tepid support from traditional Republican constituencies, and will probably drive off every last libertarian from the GOP coalition. Nevertheless, in a two-way race McCain starts off with, at worst, a 45% chance of victory. That's about the size of the population that despises Hillary Clinton. And almost anyone can play the "experience card" against Barack Obama. McCain, though an extreme neo-conservative, has a reputation as a moderate and critic of the Bush Administration, making it appear that he's not so bad. A couple of slips by the Democrat in a hard campaign fight could turn the tide in his favor.
And America can not afford a President John McCain. Scratch that: the world
can't afford a President McCain. As I mentioned last week
, McCain imagines a 100-year occupation of Iraq and wants to start other wars. It is true that Hillary Clinton isn't exactly a dove, and Barack Obama will probably be tempted to indulge the traditional Democratic urge to police the world, but one can safely assume that either one will be more prudent than McCain, whose solution to every crisis is more "boots on the ground
." This election is literally about saving innocent lives, in places like Iran, Syria, and North Korea. It's about avoiding an unnecessary Cold War with China and a renewal of bitter relations with Russia. It is about saving America from war-induced bankruptcy. As best as one can guess, the Democratic candidate will be the "lesser evil" compared to McCain.
America needs another option, a candidate who would make a better President than McCain, Clinton, or Obama. And who, if he doesn't win, would draw more votes away from McCain than from the Democrat, assuring McCain's defeat.
If Paul isn't the one to do it, Bob Barr is.
Barr, the former 4-term Republican Congressman from Georgia, quit the GOP a couple of years ago in protest of President Bush's war on civil liberties. At one time at odds with the Libertarian Party over the War on Drugs, he now sits on its National Committee and is a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project. Once an arch-conservative, he now works with the ACLU. Barr now supports gays in the military and opposes a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage.
There is nothing wrong with flip-flopping, if you have an honest change of heart and end up on the right side. Barr was prominent in the Republican Party, having served as a Clinton impeachment manager, and had he been a staunch Bush supporter, he may have landed a cushy job at a conservative think tank and as a tv pundit. It appears that conscience, not self-interest, moves him.
But why should the Libertarian Party nominate Bob Barr? As of now, he's not even running, and other people are. As best as I can tell, they're good people, and they're working hard, traveling around the country to various LP state conventions. Should all their hard work go unrewarded by letting a celebrity candidate come in at the last minute to take the nomination?
I think so. The fact is, third party candidates are always at a disadvantage in the media. Candidates who aren't already famous are doubly disadvantaged. Barr wouldn't have the second problem. Although Barr is still new to the party, and probably not as ideological as some hard-core party members, veteran activist Stephen Gordon has said
, Barr is as libertarian as 2004 nominee Michael Badnarik, 2004 candidate and Freedom to Fascism
director Aaron Russo, and Paul, and that "his speaking ability is better." Barr is also a dozen years younger than Paul, and as Nick Bradley has noted
, Barr would also send a message that the movement Paul started won't end when his campaign does.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who had endorsed Paul and has spoken to the Libertarian Party Convention in the past, would make a strong running mate. A Barr-Johnson ticket will show America that the Libertarian Party is serious and ready to govern. It must also. however, be acknowledged that a Barr nomination might hinder Libertarian outreach to the Left, hurting the Party in the long-term. But it is still the right thing to do for the country. Former Mitt Romney supporters are apparently "very excited
" about a possible Barr run. Barr could attract the support of more prominent conservatives disgusted by the prospect of a McCain nomination. And once exposed to the Party, they may, like Barr, change their mind on some issues, saying good-bye to the Republican Party forever.
Or at least until after McCain is defeated. That's what counts.
If this only had to do with American domestic policy, I might suggest more patience for small-government principles to gain more traction, rather than pressure Barr to run. But this is about stopping McCain and his neoconservative advisers. I resent our practice of slaughtering harmless foreign peoples in my name and on my dime, and seek to keep it to a minimum. McCain must be stopped, even if it means swinging the election to a Democrat. Vote Bob Barr!
But before we can, we have to ask him to run. You can do so with this petition