The Libertarian Party has nominated as the presidential ticket Bob Barr and Wayne Allen Root. This is not news to any libertarians, but what does it mean to the Libertarian Party?
That’s a good question, because of all the issues that Bob Barr refuses to discuss. Perhaps indications of his positions can be inferred by some of his most vocal advocates. That is a rather risky assumption to make, but given a lack of contraindicating evidence, and given the determined silence by candidate Barr, that assumption is all there is to work with.
Barr and WAR were most heavily supported by the Reform Caucus of the Libertarian Party. Among the positions advocated by the Reform Caucus is a support for continued occupation of Iraq. WAR originally was a supporter of the occupation until he realized he could never get the nomination that way and switched position. Barr voted for the war in Iraq, but now supports pulling the troops out of Iraq. The problem is he described it as reducing America’s Military Footprint in Iraq. He opposes a massive footprint, but is remarkably silent of how little of a footprint he is discussing. Has the anti-war LP just chosen pro-war candidates?
Now that the nomination is secured, will the ticket remain as non-interventionist as the majority of the Libertarian Party or will the ticket become as interventionist as the Reform Caucus? What if Barr actively campaigns on issues at variance to the platform of the Libertarian Party?
Also given that before the candidates entered the race they both endorsed Republicans this is a problematic ticket. This isn’t comparable to Barr voting in anti-libertarian ways several years ago, because these are current events. WAR endorsed McCain before WAR became a candidate. Barr’s PAC contributed to a Republican instead of a competing Libertarian while Barr was on the Exec-Comm. Barr has since given a bigger donation to the Libertarian candidate, but how could any Libertarian (or libertarian) ever support McCain unless the issue that mattered most was continuing the imperialist wars in the Middle East?
Then there are issues he has refused to discuss, and mention of those issues earns the sneering scorn of the Reform Caucus. What is his position on freedom of religion? Those who ask are derided as pandering to pagans, but if the lesser known religions aren’t protected then are any religions protected? Given recent events with the CPS in Texas this is a valid concern.
Given the polarization that occurred in the Libertarian Party in the lead-up to the convention between the Reform Caucus and the Libertarian Caucus, it might have been a good idea to have a unity ticket with a member of the Libertarian Caucus as the vice presidential candidate. A Barr/Kubby ticket would have gone far to allay worries among those in the Libertarian Caucus. A Barr/WAR ticket is the Reform Caucus telling the Libertarian Caucus how much their input is actively wanted.
On the other hand, the Libertarian Caucus did gain seats on the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party, which could help the LP ride this election no matter how disastrous it is to the cause of advancing liberty and enable a shoring of the weaknesses.
The hope is that the two sides can make amends and try to reconcile to each other. Given that Christine Smith and Robert Milnes are leaving the party (and maybe drawing support with them), and given that Bob Barr refuses to answer some of the difficult questions that causes the Libertarian Caucus to be hesitant about embracing him even after he won the nomination this will be a difficult thing to achieve. Steve Kubby has taken the first critical step by urging support of Barr/WAR, but no reciprocal steps have been taken yet.
This could result in the strongest LP ticket ever with Barr reaching beyond the LP and bringing in new LP voters. This could also result in the weakest LP ticket ever with Barr alienating a significant portion of the LP base who will resort to either writing in a more palatable candidate, voting for a different party’s candidate (such as the Constitution Party), or simply not voting for president while voting for down-ticket libertarians. It is not only the job of the Libertarian Caucus to unite; it is the job of the Candidate to unite the party and the job of the Reform Caucus to unite the party. Thus far there have been no indications that the candidates are willing to do so, if their supporters are any measure.