The Bob Barr, Ron Paul Divide: Hearts and Minds

May 29th, 2008 10:31 pm  |  by  |  Published in Activism, Bob Barr, Election, Harry Browne, Libertarianism, Liberty, Maven Commentary, Philosophy, Politics, Polling, Ron Paul  |  6 Responses

The red heart placards being hoisted above the heads of the Mary Ruwart supporters at the Libertarian National Convention last weekend were a perfect representation of her purist libertarianism. She is, some say, a radical libertarian. Her positions reflect the hearts of libertarians. Her positions are my positions. The libertarian beliefs I hold close to my heart.

Bob Barr’s supporters held the standard “politician” signs we see during every convention and campaign. They represented the moderate pragmatic views within libertarianism. This is a perfect description of Bob Barr’s platform. His positions are my positions, but his positions are closer to my mind than my heart.

I’ve rather happily voted for the Libertarian nominee in 1996, 2000, and again in 2004. I always enjoy when anyone asks me who I voted for because it gives me the feeling of an odd superiority to be able to deny voting for either of the two media darling party candidates. My response was filled with the satisfaction that I didn’t have a hand in causing the mess because I voted for the principled Libertarian.

This year came a conundrum. Ron Paul won my mind and my heart over a year ago with his plain and truthful style, his impeccable history and his almost perfect voting record. It was with great disgust I watched the New Hampshire Primary election returns. I never really thought he would win the nomination. I did have hope he would win at least one primary though. That did not happen, and now he remains in the race, but only to spread his message and give voters an option besides McCain.

I always knew I had the Libertarian Party’s nominee as a choice as my backup plan. But little did I know what a division it would cause. Not only within myself, but amongst those that support Ron Paul. It truly came down to a battle between my heart and my mind. My idealistic heart loved Mary Ruwart’s pure libertarian views. My mind fought with my heart once Bob Barr entered the race.

Bob Barr was not pure. He used to be a Republican. He voted for the Patriot Act. He was a drug warrior. He voted for the authorization to go into Iraq. I also knew that he renounced these votes and claimed he was truly a libertarian, not just a Libertarian with a capital ‘L’. He introduced Ron Paul at CPAC. As a member of the Libertarian National Committee he introduced a resolution that unanimously passed requesting Ron Paul run as a Libertarian should he not win the GOP nomination. Ron Paul declined.

So in the end, the battle was won by my mind. My heart remains true to those radical libertarian ideals, but my mind realizes that to spread the libertarian message it is best to have a candidate who not only represents the message, but is also able to spread that message to the most people. My heart hates my mind for it, but my mind knows that candidate is Bob Barr.

The most votes a Libertarian candidate has ever received was just under a million votes. Bob Barr can exceed that and in doing so can spread Ron Paul’s message to the masses. No, it is not Ron Paul’s complete message, but it is pretty darn close. Barr has little chance of winning, but his name recognition, stature and media savvy can do wonders for the spread of libertarianism, which is in essence Ron Paul’s message. Perhaps enough to make the party a truly legitimate national player in future elections.

Perhaps Barr can open the door for a future “pure” libertarian candidate to be taken seriously in the national discourse. Perhaps not, but isn’t it worth taking the chance?

The Libertarian Party has not ever had this kind of potential. Purist candidates have always been the nominees and the party has faltered when looking at vote totals. Vote totals get attention and the higher they are the more legitimacy there is. Right or wrong that is the reality of politics in America.

At the risk of being presumptuous I believe if Harry Browne were alive today he’d be supporting Bob Barr as well. I’m sure the opposite can be argued, but Browne always had a way to remain pure yet pragmatic to me. I believe he would see a climate ripe for positive growth of the Libertarian Party in this election and embrace it. Since when has a Libertarian Candidate polled at 6% nationally, as Barr has?

And so with apologies to Lennon and McCartney: All we are saying is–give Barr a chance.


  1. Mickey Bennett says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 12:30 am (#)

    Ron Paul mentions Bob Barr in his latest book, “Revolution: A Manifesto”. Barr is one of the very few modern politicians that Paul speaks favorably of, though it was a very brief mention.

  2. wcasino says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 9:55 am (#)

    I was once a Big “L” puritan libertarian. I fought long and hard to try to elect libertarians to local, state, and national positions during my time in Georgia, to no avail. Of the 15 candidates that I worked for over the 10 year activity I had in Ga, exactly ZERO made it – exactly ZERO got close – puritans who do not take on a pragmatic attitude stand a ZERO chance of being chosen to represent the large cross section of views that the US public shares today. This nation is NOT a libertarian one – far from it. For anyone to be chosen to represent the masses, they must demonstrate pragmatic flexibility, not unrealistic uncompromising stubborn idealism. I am not trying to be rude, but this realization motivated me to move from the LP to the Republican Liberty Caucus, a more pragmatic libertarian leaning movement that stands, in my opinion, a much better chance of actually electing some folks into prominent and powerful positions within our government. I remember Bob Barr when I lived in Georgia and i was not impressed with his record, perhaps he has truly had a change in heart. I know that I once did. If not Ron, than who?

  3. djcoe says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 11:14 am (#)


    I would be remiss not to convey the difficulty true Libertarians have in believing that Dr. Mary Rwart’s political positions are, as you said, “my positions and the positions I hold to close to my heart.”.

    You better check where you disposed of your bath water. You may find the “pure” Libertarian political platform, along with your heart, (not sure where your mind resides) is exactly where you threw out the bath water. I must ask, insist you stop your naïve, [however well intentioned] attempts to continually compare Ron Paul and Mary Ruwart with your boys, Bob Barr and his sidekick, Wayne Root the SOB [Son of a Butcher].

    To support my hypothesis, I will reference an article on Red Pills

    In case it’s taking way too much of your time to locate the discarded bath water, here are a few excerpts from above mentioned article:

    • Once billed as “The Party of Principle” those principles were sold down the river. On Sunday, May 25, 2008 the principles were abandoned, and the party was last seen gasping for air before expiring.” Far Right Republican congressman Bob Barr was nominated for president and the loudmouthed, huckster, Wayne Root, an odds maker from Las Vegas, traded with Barr in order to become his running mate.
    • Realize that neither man is a libertarian, both are conservatives. Both endorse foreign interventionism. Root gave $l,000 to the campaign of Joe Lieberman and Barr gave around $100,000 to Republican Right-wing candidates. Almost all of those candidates were on the far Right of the party and advocates of war. The people Barr supported, for the most part, were the absolute worst among the Republicans—those least likely to respect libertarian principles.
    • Barr brought in his own people to Denver, people previously not affiliated with the Libertarian Party. Like him they were conservative Republicans looking for a vehicle to use. And the LP, with its ballot status in numerous states is a prime target for plundering. We have to remember that these dogmatic Rightists have one goal in mind and it isn’t the promotion of libertarianism.
    • They want to defeat John McCain. While there is little to say in favor of McCain the Far Right doesn’t perceive him as one of their own. He is not theocratic enough, authoritarian enough, or vicious enough to satisfy them. They want to take votes from McCain. And how will they do that? By arguing that McCain is not a “true conservative’ and that Barr is. And exactly how will that be sold to the public? Bar will have to campaign, NOT AS A LIBERTARIAN, (my emphasis) but as a Far Right conservative.

    A question is then asked in the article: “How did this revolting coup take place?” There are three suggested answers, but the one want to bring to your attention is as follows:

    • Second, the party members just felt that ‘winning’ recognition was more important than seeing the values of liberty spread. The party was started by people wanting to us it to push for liberty. The party was the means to an end. But these desperate individuals reversed things. The party was the end in itself. The goal wasn’t promoting liberty, but holding power. They thought that losing an election was worse than losing their principles. Bob Barr took them to the mountain top and showed them the baubles that politics and offer and they were seduced.

    • Many in the party were shocked and horrified at what happened. These reformed “libertarians” , many of whom were just recently in the Republican party, were taker over. Long-time party activists were angry and felt that a coup had been purposely staged. Unity in the party was threatened and some suggested that the vice presidential slot should go to a principled libertarian.

    • [Standing firmly on her Libertarian principles] Ruwart did not want to share a ticket with a non-libertarian [Bob Bar]

    Marc, you not only need to apologize for using Lennon’s lyrics [by the way, “Give Peace a Chance” was written by Lennon – though McCartney was originally given credit]

    You need to apologize for continuing to try to align your faux libertarian candidates with Ron Paul and Mary Rewart.

  4. Marc Gallagher says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 11:33 pm (#)


    First, I have to apologize for the blog not posting your comment immediately. It was picked up by the spam filter (I suppose because you posted it twice in a short period of time, not sure). I only noticed it was sitting in the moderation queue tonight.

    When I google searched for “Give Peace A Chance”, a page containing the lyrics came up. At the top it said by “Lennon and McCartney” so that is why I put it there. Thanks for the correction.

    For a response to the meat of your post, see the other article where you posted it:


  5. Mickey Bennett says:

    June 1st, 2008 at 1:03 am (#)

    “We’re allies…” –Ron Paul speaking about Bob Barr.

  6. FormerLPMember says:

    June 1st, 2008 at 11:57 pm (#)

    For those who call themselves Ron Paul Republicans and to those Harry Browne Libertarians, if you are like most Americans who do not agree with the choices for president, Act Responsibly: Don’t Vote!

    It was a pipe dream to believe that Dr. Paul could have pushed his platform to the forefront of a brokered GOP convention. At best, the party may have been able to promise to work towards restoring individual rights, balancing the budget and calling on future congresses to declare war in future conflicts. That said, the presumptive nominee John McCain would have just not followed the party line once again as he has proven in the past.

    “Viewing the nation as divided into two camps ignores the largest single group of Americans, namely, those who don’t vote at all. In the 2000 election only about 54 percent of eligible voters actually turned out to vote. In 2004, despite expensive get-out-the-vote campaigns by both ideological camps, the percentage who voted rose only a few points from the previous election. In fact, in 2004, an all-time record was set when more than 80 million eligible voters failed to vote; this number was far greater than the votes secured by either Bush or Kerry, by a substantial margin. In fact, no Republican or Democratic nominee has attracted as much as 30 percent of eligible voters since Ronald Reagan in 1984.”