Pauls, and Baldwins, and Barrs ... Oh, My!

There has been much debate among Libertarian and libertarian leaning voters as to which way to vote in the coming election. I wanted to share the thinking which led me to my decision. Firstly, I should state my minimal criteria for considering a candidate:
  1. The candidate must argue for shrinking government significantly.
  2. The candidate must not argue for growing government in any area at the level at which he is running (e.g. a candidate who argued for State regulation of abortion would be acceptable as a candidate for Federal office, but not at the State leve.)
  3. The candidate must not have any clear mental incapacity, such as bigotry.
  4. The party platform must be acceptable.
  5. If the election of the leader in question is likely, he must have sufficient credibility to convince me that he is likely govern as he campaigned.
There have been three men suggested as potential candidates for libertarian voters:
  1. Ron Paul -- Write-In
  2. Chuck Baldwin. -- Constitution Party
  3. Bob Barr -- Libertarian Party

Clearly, neither Obama nor McCain deserve a second thought. Each has devoted his life to the growth of government, albeit in slightly different directions. If I'm on a jury considering their fate, I might vote for them -- to hang -- but that's the only way they'll get a vote from me without changing virtually every position they hold.

Paul is not a candidate, and although I would frankly prefer him to either of the others on the list, I will not write-in a candidate. It's cheaper and easier to simply stay home on election day. Write-ins are meaningless — they will not be counted, tabulated, recorded, or announced. Nobody will ever know how many people write in Paul's name, or anybody else's for that matter.

Baldwin fails #2, and #4. His party’s platform welcomes only Christians, which is unacceptable to me, both as a matter of policy and a matter of strategy. He also wants the Federal government to control abortion. This does not mean that I consider him a bad guy. I consider him to be a generally Liberty oriented candidate. None the less, I cannot support him.

Barr meets all my criteria. He is the only candidate who does, and therefore, I can elide the more subjective process of choosing between multiple acceptable candidates.

There have been some recent criticisms of Barr, which deserve consideration, so I'll address those briefly.
  1. Barr is a recent convert to Libertarian who may not be sincere
    This would be a serious issue, if it was likely that Barr would be elected. It is much less important in this election. It will be at least a couple more cycles before we have grown the party enough to have to worry about that. I'm looking forward to it!
  2. Barr is a recent convert to Libertarian who may not have the best interests of the party in mind.
    This is an important issue during the primary season. It does not much matter at this point. Barr's what we've got. Votes for Barr will not make him president, but they will make our party credible, if they arrive in sufficient number.
  3. Barr is a recent convert to Libertarian who may not have the best interests of the party in mind.
    This is an important issue during the primary season. It does not much matter at this point. Barr's what we've got. Votes for Barr will not make him president, but they will make our party credible, if they arrive in sufficient number.
  4. Barr's strategy has been poor when dealing with Ron Paul and/or the Campaign for Liberty.
    This is an important issue during the primary season. It does not much matter at this point. Barr's what we've got. Votes for Barr will not make him president, but they will make our party credible, if they arrive in sufficient number.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that we who value freedom must rally behind Barr, regardless of whether we supported his nomination, because he is the nominee we have. For this election cycle, he's the only nominee we have. It is what it is.
Never forget, as you consider your vote in the next election, the words of a wise Libertarian thinker, Ron Paul:
It's not about me, it's about the MESSAGE.


john bryan said...

I would have to agree. Barr is the nominee. The way third parties have been influential in American politics, is not by winning a majority, but by winning enough to influence an election. Usually the major parties run a very tight race. Once a third party begins to pull 5 to 10% of an election, usually a major party will modify its position to attract the third party voters. It worked for the Prohibitionists in the nineteenth century, and for the Progressives earlier in this century. You could say that the Republicans were once a third party, but they were more of a renamed Whig party.

Look at it like this. If Obama gets 48% and McCain gets 45% and Barr gets 5%, Obama wins. But the Republicans will probably be less hostile to libertarian-leaning candidates in the next election cycle, because they want that 5%. Possibly even the Democrats would lean our way, but it is more likely that the Republicans would.

They want that 5% because they want to win. You'll probably see a lot less arrogance in 2012.

So, we don't have to win 51%. If we get 6%, we should see some changes.

I really like Baldwin. I think he'd do a good job. I'm a Christian, and what he says does not bother me that much. But lots of other people are not Christian. Or nominally Christian. Or they belong to another faith. The President has to consider everyone. If it hadn't been for Huckabee, we'd have seen more Christian voters for Paul in the primary, because Paul has a good stance on abortion. And his position is one the left could live with. They might not like it, but they could live with it. After all, States' Rights means California does not tell South Carolina what to do, and South Carolina does not tell California what to do. Californians would probably appreciate that as much as we would.

The Constitution Party,while I agree with probably 90% of its positions, just isn't going to appeal to non-evangelical Christians.

The Libertarian Party has an appeal to many people of different backgrounds and beliefs.

Even though I don't think Barr is the best candidate, I'm voting for him because he is the Libertarian candidate.

cxx_guy said...

The only position I changed due to Ron Paul was my position on Abortion. I was pro-choice, and had always been leery of Paul because he was pro-life.

But Paul played it beautifully. He introduced a new category into my thinking: "Pro-Life Federalist". In other words, he was pro-life, but did not want the Feds involved. Since he was running for Federal office, this was just fine for me!

So my position on abortion is now "Pro-Choice Federalist". I agree with Paul that the Federal Government has no business on either side of the issue.

It is such a divisive issue that we should just agree to disagree on it.

Thane Eichenauer said...

Mr. Rad Cen,

I would like notify you that in Arizona (and I presume 1+ other states) that there IS a process to count write-in votes and that in dozens of contested elections in Arizona, the votes are counted and the candidates are "officially" counted (whether they are counted well is an issue for another post). I myself was a write in candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for Arizona's first congressional district and that as a result of 43 concerned voters who wrote in my name I will be a printed ballot candidate come November 4th.

Official statewide write in list.

Write in candidates have many challenges but there is no need to exaggerate them.

John Bryan, I would recommend that you take note that your reasoning in voting for Bob Barr is near identical to that made by 90% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats..

"Even though I don't think Jorack McObama is the best candidate, I'm voting for him because he is the Demopublican candidate."

cxx_guy said...

Mr. Eichenauer:

Perhaps I should have qualified "national election".

I'd be happy to bet you 50 ounces of silver that no major media output will report the national write-in vote total of Ron Paul.

Even if they did, since many states, like my own, simply consider the ballot 'spoiled' if there is a write-in candidate, the total would not be selected.

As for your comments to Mr. Bryan, I consider it perfectly valid to vote for a party, rather than for a man, especially if you are voting for a candide who is unlikely to be elected.

When I vote Libertarian, I may not expect my candidate to be elected. I may, instead, be voting for my party to be taken more seriously in the next election.

As for the "best candidate", my position is that although Barr is not the best candidate the LP could have nominated, he is the best candidate running. Therefore, he -- or rather, the party -- will get my vote. I expect that in the next election the Libertarian candidate will be much better, as many of us who were spending all of our time working for Dr. Paul will be spending at least some of that time, even if he runs for the nomination again, keeping a much better eye on the Libertarian nomination process.

john bryan said...

Well, the president is not chosen by the voters. He is chosen by the Electoral College. When you vote for president, you are really voting for electors who have pledged to vote for your candidate. When the Constitution was written, it was generally agreed that the voters would not be adequately informed of the candidates because of the limited communications available at that time. So the Electoral College was put in the Constitution. In the early Republic, many states' electors were chosen by their legislatures, not the voters. This was the original plan in the Constitution. South Carolina was the last to change over.
If you write in a candidate for president and there are no electors pledged to vote for him, they probably won't even count the vote because in reality you have voted for electors who don't exist.
Ron Paul is not running anymore. He ran as a Republican and did not get the nomination. He declined to endorse McCain for the obvious reason that McCain has no intention of honoring his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

So who to vote for? Obama is out of the question. The only positions he had that I liked he has abandoned. He voted for the FISA extension and is rattling the saber at Iran and Russia. That leaves third parties. In the past I have voted Libertarian and sometimes Constitution when voting third parties because their positions are most consistent with mine. It is the only way to say "You could have had my vote if you would just follow the Constitution." The major parties are free to hear or ignore that. If Barr were likely to win, I would have to think twice, but in any event, even with his flaws, he is better than the other Republicrat candidates.

I have had friends tell me not to waste my vote because by voting for Obama or McCain, I would be effectively voting against the other candidate. THAT is the real reason Republicans will vote for McCain and Democrats will vote for Obama. Not to support a candidate they believe in, but to vote against the other guy. You're probably getting e-mails from friends: Republicans smearing Obama and Democrats smearing McCain. I mean, there is plenty of dirt but that won't stop them from making more up. Why? Fear and hatred of the other side is what sells major party candidates. I'm not falling for that. There is no reason to chose between two evils when there is a third choice.

Bottom line: Barr is not the ideal candidate. but he's the closest. There is no perfect candidate. There is no perfect man or woman. There was one, and he got nailed to a cross for it. Barr is the best choice in my opinion. Not perfect, but the best going. Baldwin is good, but I think the Libertarians have a broader appeal. Even Nader would be preferable to McBama.

In the meantime, there will be a pile of House and Senate seats up for election in 2010. We need to find candidates for them. Even if we got Ron Paul elected President, what could he do? Not much without Congressional support. It's time to move on to the next phase of the Revolution. We need to find and promote and elect congressmen who will vote with Paul.

ryanshaunkelly said...

The American Ruse &
when Black Friday comes.

Honesty or lies?
Compassion or greed?
Intelligence or narrow-minded?
Guts - or go along to get along?

Ralph Nader
Cynthia McKinney

Ron Paul
Mike Gravel
Dennis Kucinich

Jesse Ventura
H. Ross Perot
President Carter

Josie said...

Barr is getting my vote this year as well. Like you, I've had to weigh which direction to take my vote based on who is most likely to make the biggest impact on the election as a whole. There is no way I'm compromising myself again to keep a democrat out of office. If that's what the country ends up choosing, than give it a few years and they will see what "change" means. It'll just make a stronger argument for the lib platform next time around.