Sunday, May 18, 2008

Preppin': The LP National Convention is Decadent and Depraved

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ...

So, like, what's the down side here?

And what rough beast slouches toward Denver? Oh, yeah, that would be moi.

But theriouthly, folkth ... Looks like I'll be tagging on with a van full of Bob Barr supporters coming through St. Louis from Atlanta early on Thursday morning, and arriving in Denver some time Thursday evening. Should be an interesting ride. I'm planning at least one in-transit straw poll and podcast, of course.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on last minute campaign work, tentatively beginning my travel packing, that sort of thing.

Most of all, right now, I'm trying to break myself of the natural tendency to see this convention as Ragnarok, Armageddon, Stalingrad on steroids. It always feels that way going in, but somehow when it's all said and done, the party is still there and there's still work to do.

Nonetheless, the hardening of attitudes proceeds apace ... and frankly things aren't looking so good for Bob Barr.

It's not the ideological problems -- hell, everyone knew those would be there -- but rather his strategic positioning. PAC contributions to Republican, not Libertarian, candidates. Saying -- like it's a good thing -- that his candidacy will be good for down-ticket Republican, not Libertarian, candidates. Appealing to the "true conservative" vote rather than the "pro-freedom" vote.

Ideology is always a struggle for Libertarians. Partisan loyalty, not so much. Some of us will occasionally break ranks to support a candidate of another party if the pitch is good enough, but when it comes to our own candidates, we expect them to support the party at least as much as they're asking the party to support them. And Barr's line is "no ... I'm just here to use you."

The big mistake here (a mistake Barr wouldn't be making if he was listening to Steve Gordon, who's been down this road) is believing that the LP's presidential nomination can be won solely on the basis of external jazz (big name, big money, big media, etc.).

The people whom Barr has to convince -- a few hundred, a thousand or so at most, delegates in a room in Denver, Colorado -- chew candidates who take that approach up and spit them out on a regular basis in favor of candidates they're comfortable with and consider reliably Libertarian.

That's a tough nut for Barr to crack in the first place, given his pre-history with the LP. If you've seen the party's 2002 anti-Barr commercial (RealVideo format) and you have dry eyes after medical marijuana patient Cheryl Miller asks "why would you want to do that to me, Bob?" you're not a human being I care to know. Top that with his continued Republican flirtations, his evasiveness on core issues, etc., and I don't see how his candidacy is anything but on life support.

In my view, the main thing Barr is accomplishing right now (and I'm grateful for it) is stealng Wayne Allyn Root's thunder. That means that Mary Ruwart and Steve Kubby have an opening to appeal to the delegates not just on ideology but as party stalwarts versus takeover artists.

If we can beat Barr, we can beat Root.

And right now it looks to me like we can beat Barr.

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