The Economist reports on Libertarian convention


June 8, 2004, 03:00 PM
Jun 3rd 2004

The Libertarians choose their man

SINCE 1971, when it first appeared, the Libertarian Party has been one
of the stranger creatures roaming America's political landscape.
Anti-tax, pro-liberty and pro-dope, it regularly fields candidates for
local office in nearly every state. But the political mainstream
remains far distant: the party has fewer than 20,000 members, and its
presidential candidate in 2000 received just 380,000 votes.

At last weekend's party convention in Atlanta, the mostly white,
middle-aged members enjoyed swapping their experiences of living in a
police state. After the first round of voting, the delegates watched a
video message from a former Libertarian candidate and marijuana-grower
in California who had fled to Canada, claiming political asylum.
Visitors could munch on hemp-seed pretzels, exchange their limp
greenbacks for silver "Liberty Dollars", or sign up to join the Free
State Project, which recruits libertarian-minded voters to move en
masse to no-income-tax New Hampshire.

Yet the Libertarians could be in better shape this year than at any
time since 1980, when their presidential candidate got nearly 1m votes.
The party's platform, which revolves around curbing government, could
appeal to fiscal conservatives disillusioned with spiralling spending.
It is pro-choice, and dislikes laws governing sex between adults; it
generally favours immigration, opposes the Iraq war and abhors the
Patriot Act. It could draw a number of Republicans who have either
become disillusioned with the war and the neo-conservatives, or who
never liked them in the first place.

So who should lead this vital force? The favourite going into the
convention, having won the party's five state primaries, was Gary
Nolan, a genial former Republican talk-radio host from Ohio; his main
opponent was Aaron Russo, a former movie producer who once ran for
governor of Nevada. (Libertarian presidential candidates tend not to
have served much time in office.) Mr Nolan struck most of the delegates
as solid but unexciting. Mr Russo, by contrast, promised professional
TV commercials and greater exposure for the party--which might have
worked, had his campaign promises not included abolishing the Federal
Reserve, and his campaign literature not been bundled with a newsletter
called the Western Libertarian Alliance, which included tips on how to
make sure your new baby does not receive a Social Security number.

The third candidate, Michael Badnarik, a computer-programmer from
Texas, entered the convention as a dark horse: unlike the other two
hopefuls, he had not even rented a room for his campaign headquarters.
But since January 2003 Mr Badnarik has been criss-crossing the country,
making speeches and teaching a freelance class on the United States
constitution to anyone who will listen. He impressed the 800 delegates
so much that, on the third round of voting, he won easily.

That stunned him. Earlier, talking to supporters, he had sounded more
like a college professor than a politician. Did he think al-Qaeda was
behind the September 11th attacks? He was not sure: "I know I don't
necessarily believe everything the federal government tells me." From a
Libertarian's point of view, an excellent answer. Elsewhere Mr Badnarik
has promised, if elected, to wear his handgun during state-of-the-union
addresses, blow up empty United Nations buildings and require violent
criminals to lie in bed all day for the first month of their
incarceration. But he received a standing ovation and a pledge of
support from Mr Russo, who begged the audience for more money to
promote the presidential campaign.

Mr Nolan, sorely disappointed, seemed to be the only candidate to
realise that the Libertarian Party's lack of draw has something to do
with its message. "You can't tell a guy with two cars in the garage,
'This is a totalitarian government'," he said before the vote. "He'll
think you're nuts." It is a truth Libertarians have been wrestling with
ever since they began.

See this article with graphics and related items at

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June 8, 2004, 03:21 PM
Vote Libertarian. Don't overanalyze the situation and conclude the LP doesn't have a chance. What do the other two parties have a chance at doing, besides screwing this country up more than it already is?

Both intend to increase the national debt, continue spending ridiculous amounts of money on Homeland Security, and continue harassing innocent citizens who are trying to do nothing more than live in peace. Neither have a good plan to keep Iraq democratic that doesn't require permanent U.S. presence. When we leave, the terrorists will turn Iraq into a socialist hellhole just as they're doing with Spain, or they might be able to destroy the government and establish a theocracy no better than Saddam's.

Vote Libertarian.

June 9, 2004, 10:16 PM
The alternative is Kerry!:eek:

The LP is going nowhere.;)

I couldn't resist...:D

Standing Wolf
June 9, 2004, 11:27 PM
I can at least tell the Libertarians from the Republicrats and Democans.

June 10, 2004, 02:45 AM
Thats pretty great that the keynesian socialists in the economists wrote a (largely) positive article about libertarians. I hope it opens a few fence-sitter's eyes.


June 10, 2004, 07:51 AM
I heard somewhere that a third party takes about 50 years to gain enough support to chalange the major parties. Maybe this election will shorten the time.

Bartholomew Roberts
June 10, 2004, 09:01 AM
Thats pretty great that the keynesian socialists in the economists wrote a (largely) positive article about libertarians. I hope it opens a few fence-sitter's eyes.

And why do you think socialists wrote a positive article about Libertarians? Because they have suddenly seen the error of their ways or because this is likely to be a close race and they hope the LP will draw enough support from the Republican party that they can put Kerry in place?

June 10, 2004, 09:22 AM
People here thought that article was positive?

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