Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Raising the Barr...

I just got home from my third Libertarian Party National Convention. In some respects, it was a lot like the first two. This one was in Denver. They always hold them in some big city where the posted speed limit is apparently merely a suggested minimum.

It's something you can count on at every convention. Just like you can count on one of our more colorful members from California to show up in what might be described as "unconventional" attire. This year for the first session it was pirate attire, followed by the ever popular Statue of Liberty, and then a couple of mystery outfits that I was unable to identify. He always manages to maneuver himself to be in front of the C-SPAN cameras, I guess in hopes of lending his own version of credibility to the party. This years costumes were at least less revealing than the mini-skirt that was worn a few years ago, a thinly veiled reference, I suspect, that the LP is simply too small to hide its nuts.

There was the usual mind-numbing by-law and platform discussion and rewriting, pitting the purists against the pragmatists, and the ever present argument over whether the LP should simply be working towards reducing the cost and intrusiveness of government, or spending its energy opposing the cult of the omnipotent state.

Also as usual, the attendees were treated to a long list of Libertarian speakers, some famous, and some not so famous. I was especially impressed by one of the not so famous, a certain Libertarian judge from Hagerstown, Susan Bell. When the convention committee first asked her to speak, she said she was inclined to decline. I'm glad I was able to convince her to accept the invitation. So was the audience. So was she, I think.

One thing that did happen at this convention, that usually doesn't happen, is that the delegates nominated a presidential candidate that people outside of libertarian circles have actually heard of. His name is Bob Barr. He was a United States Representative from Georgia. That was when he was a Republican. When he became disenchanted with the GOP, he joined the Libertarians. Like most everybody that was something else before they became a Libertarian, Barr brings some baggage from his past. He wasn't always accepting of individual rights.

A number of Libertarians are unwilling to forgive Barr of his past transgressions, and some question the validity of his transformation. Not me. Maybe because I used to be a Republican. I used to believe that since drug abuse is bad, the government's war on drugs must be good. I used to believe that government had the right to license marriage. I used to believe that government had the right to take something from someone and give it to someone else. I used to believe that government had rights. Now, not so much.

So I'm willing to give Mr. Barr the benefit of the doubt. Even though he may not be as far in his libertarian journey as some of the other candidates in Denver, and even though he may never get as far in his libertarian journey as some of the other candidates. Along with some past baggage, he also brings the ability to attract some badly needed press to a very worthy cause, and as I mentioned in this article before the convention, all of that could go a long way toward helping local and state candidates in their efforts to reduce government, and in opposing the cult of the omnipotent state.

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