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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Advice for Mary Ruwart

I meant to type "Mar 31" instead of "May 31".  Good thing Steve LaBianca is on hand to help me when I commit the "major mind lapse" of thinking that I'd engaged in time travel.
Steve, the most prominent supporters of the Ruwart campaign say that her campaign is not about shining a light onto every corner of her "plumbline" anarchist worldview.  That makes those corners metaphorically "dark".  If you think you're helping Ruwart's campaign with your hysterical denunciations of anyone who disagrees with Ruwart's anarchism or even just wants to understand it better, then keep up the good work.
Your powers of inference fail you regarding my presidential preferences.  I withhold judgment on Barr until he gets a lot more specific on what makes him a "100/100" libertarian and how sharply he plans to distance himself from his legislative record.   My two favorite candidates so far are, in alphabetical order, Phillies and Root.  Phillies is a belated Restore04 signer who is on record as dissenting from some of the extremist positions of a 2004 platform that he has sharply criticized, and he has engaged in the Platform and ideological debates of this convention cycle more deeply and more seriously than any other candidate.  Root explicitly has declined to try to shape the Platform and says he will support what the delegates decide; I think the delegates should seriously consider trying him as our spokesman.
By contrast, and directly contradicting her supporters like Less Antman and Tom Knapp, Dr. Ruwart says "we’re not just talking about who is the best spokesperson for liberty", but rather says the nominee should "have the full picture" and not be one who "may not be yet fully attuned to the Libertarian philosophy".  Well, I've looked at the anarchist "full picture" that Ruwart paints -- no legislation against child prostitution, no Sixth Amendment right of subpoena, checkbook justice via pure restitution, personal secession -- and I reject it.  If Ruwart were running merely as the "best spokesperson for liberty" i.e. consensus libertarianismthen she would join Root and Phillies in my top tier of preference.  But since she's explicitly running to be the LP's ideological standard-bearer not just for this campaign but for the next four years, she is in effect asking us to hold an LP referendum on her "plumbline" anarchist brand of libertarianism.  That's an easy vote for me to cast.
She can't have it both ways.  She can't both 1) run on her reputation as a "plumbline" ideologue and 2) say that her personal ideology doesn't matter.  That would be a neat trick to pull off, but I think the delegates will be smart enough to notice.
I suspect that the only way she can win the nomination is to clearly announce that a vote for her should not be interpreted as a vote for her "plumbline" ideology, but only as a vote for her (formidable!) ability to make consensus libertarianism sound very non-threatening to the average voter (who is innocent of things like free riders and negative externalities and public goods theory).  However, I hope she doesn't announce this, because if she does and thus wins, then many radicals will still claim that her election was a referendum on her ideology after all.
The next best advice I could offer to Ruwart would be to get Ron Paul on the record as saying that her theoretical views on child prostitution/pornography should not be held against her ability to sell consensus libertarianism to voters.  That would completely undercut the already-tenuous argument that the LP would by nominating her be taking an unusual risk to its external image -- as opposed to its long-term internal ideological identity.