Libertarian Convention

Posted by Katherine | May 30, 2008 – 10:49 am

Libertarians held their nominating convention last weekend in Denver, CO. They picked, as their candidate, former Georgia Republican representative Bob Barr. Apparent Libertarian Carlos attended the convention and recorded the scene on the floor:

Libertarian convention floor
[is a brahmin / Flickr]

Much of the post-convention talk seems to center on whether or not Barr will be a spoiler, drawing independents and disgruntled Republicans away from McCain. The Ralph Nader, so to speak, of 2008.

Robert Koulish, political science professor at Goucher College in Baltimore, wondered even before Barr was nominated whether he might, with an assist from Ron Paul, hand Texas to the Democrat in November (hat tip to Misa Dayson):

Fast forward to this November’s voting in Texas, a state from which Ron Paul is running unopposed for re-election. Ron Paul dislikes John McCain so much that he plans on using a good part of his remaining $5 million presidential war chest to mobilize his supporters into embarrassing McCain in Minneapolis this summer. Big Time! Not clear where Paul wants this to go, but he could easily stir some deep anti McCain sentiment. […]

Consider too that Ron Paul might then direct his supporters to vote for Bob Barr […]

Given Paul’s popularity in Texas, and the state’s guilt over being “W”s home, it is quite plausible that Paul and Barr could indeed give Texas to Obama over McBush.

Although McBush’s campaign already looks to be in greater disrepair than Gore’s back in 2000, the “Nader syndrome” could help spell the difference in a closely contested race in Texas.

University of Wisconsin philosophy professor Lester Hunt thinks about the spoiler problem from the perspective of a Libertarian. In other words, if you’re a Libertarian and know that your candidate won’t win in November, is it against your own interests not to vote for a big-party candidate?

There is actually one good reason to always go with the spoilers. […] If voters are going to third party candidates, the major parties will know that they are doing something to chase these people away. If there are enough of these votes, the majors will want to bring them back. If Barr takes enough votes away from Obama, the Dems will have a reason to nominate less socialistic candidates in the future. If he takes enough votes way from McCain, the Republicans will have a reason to nominate candidates who are less imperialistic than he is, next time around. As a matter of fact, both these things can happen at the same time.

So, though spoilers have a negative effect on the current election, they have a positive effect on the next one. […]

The reason to not be a spoiler has to do with caring who wins the current election. The reason to be a spoiler has to do with caring about the future. Right now, I am leaning toward voting for the future.

Independent voter John Scott resolves Lester Hunt’s question for himself by not overthinking it (thanks, Ann Raber):

Some say that voting for a third party is a wasted vote. I don’t think that way. I think that a vote for a third party is just that — a vote for a third party. I like voting for something, not against something.

Scott goes on to explain in some detail why he can’t bring himself to vote for a candidate in either of the major parties.


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