More than half of likely voters nationwide - 55% - want Republican-turned-Libertarian Bob Barr to participate in presidential debates this fall, while nearly half - 46% - said they think Ralph Nader should be allowed into the on-stage fray, the latest Zogby Interactive polling shows.
Among political independents, 69% said Barr should be at a lectern with Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, and a majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed. Among Democrats, 52% said they think Barr should participate, while 50% of Republicans agreed.
Thirty-nine percent of Democrats and 41% of Republicans said they did not think Barr should be included in the debates.
The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to say that Barr should be included. Those at each end of the philosophical spectrum were more supportive of the idea of including Barr and Ralph Nader in the debates, while those in the middle were less supportive.
As for Nader, who has run unsuccessfully in the last two presidential elections, 45% overall said he should be included in the debates, including 59% of independents. Among Democrats, 41% said Nader should be included, while 42% of Republicans agreed.
Meanwhile, as my friends over at Delawareliberal ponder the advisability from the progressive/liberal viewpoint of holding the first presidential debate of the season in a church, Bob Barr is now seeking an injunction against said church to force his way into the debate via campaign finance laws.
Barr's people make the case that he doesn't like the campaign finance rules, wouldn't support such rules, but that they're in place and in a campaign you play to win with the tools at hand.
A lot of Libertarians are condemning him for this, characterizing this as an unlibertarian attempt to use the force of the government to make a church comply with his wishes.
While I understand where they are coming from, I respectfully disagree (and, please remember, I'm not a Barr supporter). If it is acceptable to sue the government over ballot access (as the LP has found itself forced to do in a number of States), then it is only a difference in degree and not kind to sue the Saddleback Church. But wait, I hear people saying, the church is a private organization; that's different from suing the State.
This church, like 99.9% of all churches in the country, routinely avails itself of government-issued privileges and protections that are not available to every citizen or organization. Implicit in that contract (they choose to receive certain tax breaks in exchange for following certain rules; a completely voluntary agreement, as they could do whatever they wanted if they didn't apply for preferential status) is the church's agreement to abide by Federal election laws.
Maybe I'm alone on this among Libertarians, but I have always seen government hand-outs like a vampire asking to come into your house. As long as you don't take the bait and invite the vampire in, you're pretty much immune to most of his evil. Once you let the monster in, you're screwed.
I have absolutely zero tolerance for corporations or churches that accept government special privileges and then whine about government intervention.
Barr should sue; Nader should join the suit. The polls suggest that a majority of the American people agree with them.