Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Libertarians sniffing themselves at the national convention

As the Libertarian National Convention gets set to kick off, there is--as usual--a flurry of internal discussion between two different camps:  those who view the LP as a vehicle to evangelize about libertarian principles, and those who want to win elections in order to put at least some of those principles into play.

Too often this is over-simplified as the "Neo-cons trying to buy the party" versus the "Povertarians who have strong libertarian principles," ala Libertarian Peacenick:

One of the Libertarian Party's many factional splits is that between its Povertarians (libertarians with little money) and wealthier members. Exacerbating matters is that these two groups tend to have different political priorities.

Povertarians are more likely to be Radicals, emphasizing peace and civil liberties. Rich Libs are more likely to be Reform types: pro-war, pro-Root, and more interested in economics. Thus, they are more likely to find common ground with Republicans, conservatives, and even Neocons.

I'm sure there are rich Radicals and poor Reformers. Ron Paul is no Povertarian, yet many (most?) Radicals love Paul.

But as a general rule, wealthier libertarians are less Radical. As radical activist Carol Moore once told me in an email, it does seemthe pro-war libs have all the money.

The nomination of the Bob Barr/Wayne Root ticket last time around was generally seen as a triumph for the neo-cons.

I need to go on record that http://delawarelibertarian.blogspot.com/2008/01/who-is-wayne-allyn-root-and-why-he-is.htmlI have long been nauseated by Wayne Allyn Root, although not to the extent of Carol Moore, who has an entire "Boot Root" campaign going on, with this catchy little number you can download and pass out to your friends at your next libertarian gathering:

Why the worry about all this when Wayne is pretty much 2008 news, and the presumptive LP Presidential ticket this year is Governor Gary Johnson/Judge Jim Gray?

Partly it's because Wayne Root was among those who tried to recruit Johnson to jump ship from the GOP, which inherently tarnishes the former New Mexico governor in the Povertarians' eyes.

To be clear:  I think the Povertarian vs Neocon dichotomy is incredible simplistic.  There are a lot of folks, like me, who consider themselves Libertarians and want to see the LP manage to field candidates who can garner enough votes to become visible, credible participants in the political discourse, and even (shudder to think) . . . win the occasional election.

I think that Gary Johnson and Jim Gray, whose records and whose positions on the issues are a far cry from those of Barr and Root, represent the best chance of doing that.


Thomas L. Knapp said...


I don't know anyone in the LP who says that Root's support is a major Johnson handicap for them. A lot of LPers who don't like Root at all are just fine with Johnson.

But, Root is not "pretty much 2008 news." He ran for chair of the Libertarian National Committee in 2010; after losing, he was elected to that committee, and also became chair of the Libertarian National Campaign Committee, a role from which he has basically launched a shadow party establishment clearly aimed at promoting him as the LP's nominee in 2016.

Ayn R. Key said...

Knapp, I do say that Root's support is troubling.