It started off as a silly little conspiracy theory -- too far-fetched to take seriously, almost (but not quite) too silly to discuss publicly even in the age of Art Bell and Alex Jones.
But it bugged me, and I said so. And, over the last week or so, it's gone from far-fetched conspiracy theory to all-but-proven fact:
The Libertarian Party is under attack. Its 2008 presidential nomination is the target of a "hostile takeover" bid by social conservatives, fronted by a former congressman of that persuasion and honchoed by two past practitioners of the art of the party raid, Richard Viguerie and Russ Verney.
How organized is the takeover plot? How deeply are its claws already buried in the Libertarian Party? I don't know.
I do know that one of its principals, Viguerie, was inserted as the convention's keynote speaker when Barr himself withdrew pursuant to setting up his presidential exploratory committee.
I do know that Viguerie bought the premier "third party news site" on the Internet over the weekend and the the new management immediately memory-holed an article (by me) casting Barr in a negative light vis a vis an article which appeared above the fold in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In fairness, TPW seems to still be giving other candidates fair coverage, although it has given a different spin to the AJC article.
I do know that Viguerie has hired -- and appointed as interim editor of TPW -- the former executive director of the party, who resigned shortly after using his party position to boost a smear campaign against one of Barr's opponents, Mary Ruwart with an official LP press release calling for expanded (!) federal government powers (a release which seems to have now been memory-holed from both the LP site and Viguerie's new, improved Third Party Watch).
I do know I've received forwards of emails soliciting ringers to meet in Columbus, OH for a bus ride to Denver to support Barr -- arriving immediately before the presidential nomination vote and leaving immediately after.
In my opinion, this effort is highly organized, enjoys support within the LP's national office and national committee, and has been in motion for some time. No telling what surprises await in Denver.
It can, however, be derailed.
Regardless of whom you support for the presidential nomination -- including Barr -- if you are an alternate to the convention for your state, I encourage you to confer with other state delegations and, if they are amenable, take a seat as a full delegate with them. I further encourage you to do whatever it takes to close your delegation to packing by last-minute ringers for any candidate.
Regardless of whom you support for the presidential nomination -- including Barr -- I urge you to carefully consider how you handle your delegate tokens, which determine who gets to participate in the Saturday evening candidate debate. In order to participate in the debate, each candidate must collect tokens representing a number of delegates equal to 10% of those who voted in the last presidential nomination contest. That means about 80 tokens.
It is in the party's interest that all the "serious" candidates (in alphabetical order, that list, in my opinion, consists of Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, Steve Kubby, George Phillies, Wayne Allyn Root and Mary Ruwart) receive the opportunity to present their messages, make their arguments, and demonstrate their ability to debate the issues. Before you hand over that token, ask how many tokens the candidate has already collected. If your candidate is already over the threshold, do the party a service and help make sure that the others make it as well.
The Libertarian Party could survive a Barr nomination. There are reasonable arguments that it would even benefit from one. That it could survive a complete takeover of its infrastructure by an outside political bloc is much less certain.
Regardless of whom you support for the nomination, please join with your fellow Libertarians in preserving the party as "a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements."
Regardless of whom you support for the nomination, insist that it be a nomination -- not a coronation.
The thousands of LP members and millions of Americans whose interests we go to Denver to represent deserve nothing less.