Michael Munger is the Libertarian candidate running for Governor in North Carolina. He's polling around 4%. He's also the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Duke University. His regular blog (which I've just added to the blogroll on the left) is Kids Prefer Cheese.
Munger is a gentleman and a team player. It is fairly obvious if you read his positions on same-sex marriage, victimless crimes, and corporate welfare, that Michael and the new Richard Viguerie-Shane Corey-Bob Barr-Wayne Allyn Root party line is not necessarily his brand of Libertarianism.
Yet when Michael shared the keynote speech honors with Viguerie at the convention--even though I noted he gave quite a different type of speech--he went out of his way to say positive things about Viguerie after the fact.
Likewise, in the aftermath of the Bob Barr nomination, Michael published For Those Upset About Bob Barr, which is brief enough to quote in its entirety:
For those upset about the Bob Barr nomination, two things:
1. It was not that implausible. His responses in the debate helped him a lot.
2. And on the merits, check this. You may or may not find it helpful. But the "he voted for the Patriot Act" claim just isn't right. Or, at least, it's more complex.
In fact, now that I think about it, it's the heart of the matter. Bob Barr opposed the Patriot Act. He tried to compromise, and agreed to vote "yes" on the Patriot Act, in order to get some improvements in a bill that was going to pass anyway. Now, one can say that that was a mistake. In fact, it was. But it is not the same as "voted for the Patriot Act."
The problem with having a candidate who has actually held elective office is that it is likely the person has had to make some actual policy decisions. Whatever else are the merits of the Barr nomination, we are going to have to decide if we want to have some Libertarians who are actually IN office, or if we are just going to continue to be proud of our irrelevance. 'Cause we have a lot to be proud of.
I didn't vote for Bob Barr. I supported Mary Ruwart. But I'm glad Bob's the nominee, and I have already contributed to his campaign. I urge you to do the same.
I don't know if I can be as much of a good soldier as Michael Munger, but then I'm not running for governor and thinking that a well-known national ticket might be worth another 1-2 % and a chance to establish the Libertarian Party of North Carolina firmly into the state's political mix.
Yet he is right about this: real office holders have to deal with real politics and real decisions. They're going to make compromises and be faced with situations that ideology alone won't resolve. That's one of the reasons it's always so tough for Senators to run for President (this year, with Senators squaring off, will be an exception) because their records are filled with votes and compromises that are hard to explain later. Politics (unlike ideology) is always the art of the possible.
I want to listen to a Libertarian I respect, like Michael Munger, and the addition of Mike Jongozian as LP Vice-Chair, along with Mary Ruwart and Lee Wrights to the Libertarian National Committee, gives me hope that the disparate elements of my party are going to try to find a way to live and even campaign together.
None of which says I'm going to support Barr/Root. But in deference to Michael Munger, George Phillies, and a lot of people I respect, I'm going to give a lot of thought to my course of action in the general election.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
Thomas Knapp, the Kn@ppster, another prominent Libertarian whose opinion I value, has provided his own take on the situation (he supported Kubby and then Ruwart at the convention):
The Libertarian Party has selected its 2008 presidential ticket. It's no secret that that ticket does not consist of the candidates I had hoped it would include ... but that's not worth belaboring. The party's national convention is a caucus in form, and one of the rules of the caucus is that those who choose to participate implicitly agree to support the results. I participated, and I will keep that implicit agreement. I congratulate Congressman Barr and Mr. Root, and pledge to support their candidacy as best I can. I sincerely hope that my fellow Libertarians will do likewise.
Perhaps. I remain unconvinced as yet that Barr and Root will not go neo-con lite; the next two weeks should tell us about the major issues that concern Libertarians.
Put it this way: they've got a lot of people inside the party to win over, before they start prospecting elsewhere.