Monday, June 30, 2008

That's it--I'm done (with Bob Barr)

While I will make no apologies about arguing in favor of a strategy that pushed forward the Libertarian Party candidate to disrupt the outcome of the general election, I have never made a secret about my own disdain for Bob Barr's past (and even present).

Despite the arguments of Waldo, Knappster, and others, I held course, because in general Barr was running what appeared to be a pragmatic Libertarian campaign.

OK, so shitcats don't change their stripes; and here is how Bob Barr is now spinning the Defense of Marriage Act:

[W]hat makes me a Libertarian is the fact that I deeply and truly believe in the Libertarian platform and what resonates with most Americans, and that is to shrink the size of the federal government.

Let’s take just one example there, the Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act simply stands for the proposition that each state can set its own definition of marriage and can’t be forced to adopt a different definition of marriage forced on it by another state.

That’s a very conservative principle reflecting the fundamental notion of states’ rights in our country.

I refer you to the comments section of that post at Last Free Voice for relevant responses by Tom Knapp, Brian Miller, Steve Kubby, and George Phillies. Brian Miller is in pretty much the same position I'm in, but the others--and Waldo--certainly have the right to say, "I told you so." Knapp's response most clearly agrees with my own position:

Yes, I realize that attempting to portray DOMA as having libertarian features, and basing that claim on a “states rights” argument, is nothing new with Barr.

What I found noteworthy about this particular instance of it was not the content, but the context.

To the best of my knowledge, Barr’s characterization of DOMA as not-un-libertarian in particular, and his appeal to “states rights” in general, has generally been defensive/reactive:

Q: How can you claim to be a libertarian … DOMA.

A: Well, if you look at DOMA this way, it’s actually libertarian, states rights, yada yada.

This time, Barr hit on DOMA and states rights virtually unprompted — not to defend his record on DOMA as not wholly unlibertarian, but to hold out DOMA’s “states rights” basis as definitional to what libertarianism IS.

If this is a trend and not an outlier, Barr is going proactive and explicitly harnessing his campaign to the cause of re-defining libertarianism as Dixiecrat states rightsism.

There are so many things wrong with Barr's statement that I lack the energy to beginning listing them.

From this point forward I will continue to cover Barr's campaign and its potential to influence the general election, but I will deal with Barr in exactly the same fashion I deal with Senators McCain and Obama--as fairly as possible regarding candidates for whom I will not vote. Speaking of voting, the question remains: what the hell do I do now? Move to Massachusetts or New Hampshire so I can vote for George Phillies?

From this point forward I will also continue to cover Libertarian candidates in State races. People like Dr Michael Munger, Allen Buckley, Scotty Boman, Tom Knapp, and Jason Gatties will bear the standard.

But Barr? Not the snowball's chance in hell anymore.


Brian Miller said...

Steve, I agree with you on everything except the "others have the right to say I told you so" bit.

Many of the people crowing about this were encouraging Ron Paul to run for the LP nomination. Paul is also a huge DOMA advocate and believer in so-called "states' rights." When I pointed this out for the better part of a year, the same people -- including Steve Kubby -- ignored the point and endorsed Ron Paul.

A major reason why we're now in this crisis is that a number of Libertarians put their own political aspirations and love of celebrity over principle. Ron Paul made the whole "states' rights" thing palatable in the LP and laid the groundwork for Bob Barr to run under that rubric.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is so libertarian about using the government to *force* individuals and businesses to treat two different things as though they are the same? About legally preventing people from making a distinction that they want to make, and retroactively changing the meaning of existing contracts and legislation? Businesses can, and do, provide benefits to same-sex couples presently (for example), even in states where there is no governmental recognition. Unless you are incedibly naive, you know that anti-discrimination laws will make it virtually impossible to provide benefits only to hetero couples once same-sex marriage goes through. Given that homosexual couples aren't legally prevented from doing anything under current law (besides filing joint tax returns), it seems like a rather un-libertarian path you are following.

Even if you disagree on this issue (and I don't claim to be representing Barr's position), are you honestly saying that this single thing is enough to make Barr worse than McBama?

Brian Miller said...

Government marriage licenses aren't about "forcing" anything. Anybody who insists they are is being fundamentally dishonest.

And yes, if you're going to tax me the same, regulate me the same, patronize me the same, then you'd better damn-sight give me the same access to the stuff you're forcing me to pay for.

I know plenty of anti-gay-marriage campaigners. NONE of them are campaigning to allow gay people (or single people, for that matter) to pay vastly reduced tax rates due to the demand that they subsidize the system yet not be permitted to participate in it. And that's telling.

Given that homosexual couples aren't legally prevented from doing anything under current law (besides filing joint tax returns)

Perhaps you'd like to explain to me how one gay American can sponsor his foreign same-gender partner for immigration. Can't be done. If they were straight, no problem.

Doesn't stop our tax dollars from being poured into the INS though.

Maybe you could explain how a gay woman's same-sex partner can collect Social Security after she dies. Can't be done. If they were straight, no problem.

Perhaps you could tell me how to legally avoid testimony against my same-sex partner in most states? Can't be done. If you're straight, no problem.

What if two same-sex partners want to transfer property to each other without taxes, or inherit each other's property without the death tax? Can't be done. If you're straight, on the other hand, no problem.

Perhaps you could explain to me how two same-gender partners can share one partner's health insurance without those benefits being taxed by the feds. Can't be done. Straight couples don't pay taxes on their family health insurance benefits.

If my partner is hit by a bus and shipped to the hospital, I have no right to see him and sit by his side as he possibly dies. Not the case for married heterosexual individuals.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Not that you care too much -- obviously, your concern is with the "right" of the government to define personal relationships, rather than the rights of individuals in relationships.

Jason Gatties said...

For president, I plan to "write in" Charles Jay/Thomas Knapp of the Boston Tea Party. That is, unless they can convince the Michigan Natural Law Party to hand them their ballot line.

I'm vote Libertarian Party across the board, as we have several great candidates here in Michigan and several who are just running as "paper" candidates, which is much better than Barr.

I tried to justify supporting Bob Barr and I can no longer do so. I switched my endorsement to Charles Jay and I've slept better at night ever since.

Steve Newton said...

Hey, Jason
Since you've dropped your endorsement of Barr you might want to drop by and tell them to take down your blog from his blogroll of endorsing blogs... Just a suggestion

To Anon
Even if you disagree on this issue (and I don't claim to be representing Barr's position), are you honestly saying that this single thing is enough to make Barr worse than McBama?

If you have read anything here in these posts you'd know that I denounced both McCain and Obama thoroughly long prior to Barr receiving the LP nomination.

This "single thing" amounts (a) to a sell-out of the position he took to win the nomination [that DOMA was fundamentally flawed and at least part needed to be repealed]; (b) represents an attempt to redefine Libertarianism toward social conservatism rather than to run a Libertarian campaign; and (c) represents the last straw following his support of GOPers with LP opponents, his racist immigration policy, his refusal to recant his attacks on freedom of religion, and now his Orwellian backtrack on DOMA.

I had hopes for Barr because his foreign policy pronouncements were far closer to my own beliefs than anybody else's in the campaign. And in case you did not notice, I have taken great amounts of shit on Barr's behalf from people I respect, like Waldo, Knappster, ElNinosMom and others.

I am willing to go a great deal further in pursuit of a national political party than most Libertarians; but at some point personal integrity has to kick in.

Tom Knapp reached that point.

Jason Gatties reached that point.

Now I'm there.

Trust me, within the Delaware blogosphere especially, you have no idea what this costs me.

Brian Miller said...

OK, now it gets surreal.

The *same weekend* that Barr made these comments -- and Wayne Root was in the San Francisco Pride Parade on the LP float -- Barr gave this interview to GQ Magazine, where he contradicted his contradiction:

Talk to me about the Defense of Marriage Act. You were one of the authors in 1996, but your position has changed on that, too.

The changes are best understood when one recognizes that DOMA has two parts. The first part is the federalism part, and it essentially says that each state can decide, using the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution, to impose its own definition of marriage, free from the other states& But it did seem & appropriate for the Congress to say we have an important social relationship and we want to make sure that each state is free to set its own definition. It's federalism&


But that was just the first clause, which I still think has validity and I still support. The second provision, I've come to view as both unnecessary and disruptive. It has the federal definition of marriage as being "a lawful union between one man and one woman only."

Which is definitely not the Libertarian position.

Right, and I've committed to repeal that part of DOMA. Because as I've come to understand, that part of DOMA is being used as the tail wagging the dog. I don't believe, for example, that the federal government should play a role in defining marriage. It has been, and should be, up to the states.

But how can you say it's "being used" to define marriage? Wasn't that the point of DOMA, to define marriage?

Well, yes, for federal-law purposes. But we now have states like Massachusetts and California that have changed their definition of marriage, and the federal government says, "Well, you still can't do all sorts of things defined by federal law." So you're undercutting the decision by the people of that state to decide for themselves& it provides a disincentive for the states to pass same-sex marriage laws, because they can't guarantee protection under federal law&

Has joining the Libertarian Party allowed you to change your position on these issues, or did you change party after your positions changed?

It isn't a function of which party I'm inalthough in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act, it's been the result of lengthy conversations with Libertarians who feel very passionately about it. There's a group called Outright Libertarians who are passionate about that issue&

But I came to the conclusion that the Republican Party had changed, from two perspectives. One, the Republican Party cares nothing about real substance anymore. I couldn't tell you the last time, when I was a member of the Republican caucus on the Hill, that there was a discussion about the substance of government. It was all about getting elected and reelected. It was all about process. The Republican Party is no longer a party of any substance. It is simply a political machine, a mechanism for election. That's all it is. And secondly, the Republican Party has bought into the notion that when the president decides what he wants to do, nobody can interfere. The courts can't interfere, and the Congress can't interfere.

Jason Gatties said...

Well I never asked to be on Barr's blog roll to begin with. I only figured it out one day after I got a couple of incoming hits from his link.

I've asked for it to be removed almost the minute it was put up, as I never wanted it up there. So far, no luck getting it down. Perhaps I'm emailing the wrong person.

Steve Newton said...

Glad to know that about the blogroll.

You're not emailing the wrong person; you're emailing the wrong type of campaign.

Becky C. said...

That has really been my point. Even if Bob Barr causes some electoral disruption he is not really promoting a libertarian message--so how will that splash further the cause of liberty?

The majority of voters he is attracting are not, for the most part, libertarian minded (though they may agree with some features such as being fiscal conservatives)--but they are unlikely to ever again vote libertarian--because what appeals most to them about Barr is his very unlibertarian leanings.

He beleives the states should be able to hide behind federalism and officially disciminate against a whole class of people.

He is not against the drug war--though he feels the states should be permitted to experiment with medical marijuana.

While libertarians can disagree on certain issues, the latter is a litmus test as far a I am concerned--no person can seriously call themselves a libertarian if that is their position on the War on Drugs.

Since you follow the actual politics of the Libertarian Party--I am interested in learning the nuts and bolts of how he secured the nomination.

I understand the appeal of a D List politician who can get some real votes. But just the same--how was this marginal guy able to get the nomination of the "Party of Principle?"

Incidentally, I noticed that the platform of the party has been watered down so much, and is so nonspecific, that this alone makes it imperative that they quit claiming to be the "Party of Principle."



Seth Cohn said...

what the hell do I do now? Move to Massachusetts or New Hampshire so I can vote for George Phillies?

Certainly, if you want to move to NH, the real 'Free State', you'd be more than welcome. In fact, let's make that a public welcome: If you wish to not vote for Bob Barr yet vote Libertarian for President, right now NH is the place to be. And I'm sure we can find you a place to live, and ways to help on Election Day.

Jason Gatties said...

If people visit my campaign site from Barr's site, he will see a "Charles Jay For President" graphic. Once Jay's site is updated, perhaps then they can see what a LIBERTARIAN presidential candidate looks like.

Jason Gatties said...

errr..mean "they" will see...I just had a drink, haha.