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Thursday, November 6, 2008

How many LPs does Starchild want? 4 and counting...

Starchild wrote:
SC) Once again I see that you are cherry-picking my posts, deleting the parts you don't want to deal with from your response (sigh)... (SC
LOL.  My policy is always to systematically and selectively answer what I consider to be the STRONGEST points made by my interlocutor.  Otherwise, why bother responding at all?  Anything I don't respond to is either something I agree with or something that doesn't contradict anything I'm saying.
SC) When did Bob Barr ever say that he was running unapologetically on the 2008 LP platform? Let alone running on libertarianism? (SC
As the principle editor of the current Platform, my heart jumps every time I hear it mentioned on TV, and I've heard Barr mention his support of it in at least half a dozen interviews.  Barr mentioned the Platform four times in a single C-SPAN appearance, and used the word "Libertarian" 45 times in that appearance alone.  In the 15 other national TV appearances I've sampled so far -- all but two less than 4 minutes -- he used the term "Libertarian" 16 times, but used "conservative" only twice.
SC) at some point upward of 19%, up to and including actually winning, I  believe it *would* be worth it to have Barr/Root on the LP ticket,  assuming they were uniquely capable of pulling off such a result (SC
That's a bizarre caveat.  I presume you mean something like "assuming that only a ticket as non-radical as they...".
SC) You don't understand the importance of having the Libertarian Party associated with libertarian ideas (SC
You don't understand that libertarianism isn't synonymous with absolutist abstention from aggression.  My distinction between abstention and minimization is a point that I've been repeating to you for over a year and yet you systematically ignore it -- while whining above that I don't answer your points.
SC) and despite your talk of a big tent, you apparently don't understand the importance of building a mass movement. (SC
We'll have to agree to disagree about which of us -- the minivan-driving, lawn-mowing, diaper-changing, basketball-playing working dad, or the cross-dressing San Francisco erotic escort -- has a more intuitive grasp of how the LP might maximize its mass appeal. :-)  Of course, by "mass movement" you don't mean "majority movement".
SC) an LP county chair from Florida who said that government should be doing more to help corporations. (SC
Can you be more specific?  Don't you agree with eliminating the corporate income tax, plant closing rules, wage and hiring rules, laws against private discrimination in employment, etc.?  Or do you only support the aspects of libertarianism that are seen as hip/cool? :-)
BH) Ironically, most of your fellow radicals believe that a hypothetical candidate with all and only your own beliefs would  be instantly disqualified as unlibertarian (BH

SC) Yup, it's ironic. But I can live with that irony more easily than I can live with the irony of a Libertarian Party that prioritizes getting votes over proudly standing for libertarian ideas. (SC
How about the irony of answering my real-world example with a straw man?  The source of your confusion here is that you think that your ideas are the only libertarian ideas.
BH) Your vision leads to a freedom movement whose political voice is balkanized into scores of ineffectual little purity clubs. I prefer a vision in which we unite all the voters who seek both more personal liberty and more economic liberty (BH

SC) We've been over all this before. Suffice it to say I disagree. (SC
Yes, you've ignored the latter point several times before. :-)  However, regarding the former point, it was news to me that you now admit that even radicals are divided about what constitutes acceptably pure libertarianism, and that your vision would necessitate at least two self-proclaimed radical libertarian parties (one forbidding libervention, one not).  It's quite understandable why you don't want to extrapolate this along all the 20+ free variables in libertarian theory.  You can ignore this point, or you can whine about me ignoring your points, but doing both is not a good look.
SC) the failure to unapologetically stand for freedom of movement (open borders) is a pretty big one for both Barr and the platform. (SC
Actually, both Barr and the Platform defend freedom of movement -- as long as the people moving use the doors and are not a health or security risk.  I personally think this position is (like yours) suboptimally libertarian, because it doesn't worry about force-initiating impacts (polluting/consuming/congesting) on the commons that occur when there is a radical asymmetry of freedom at a border.  Not even all radical libertarians agree with open borders, so if this is a litmus test for you then you now seem to admit a need for at least four radical libertarian parties.  (I still don't know how you'd justify that only your party gets to use the name "Libertarian", but it doesn't sound like you'd be willing to share it.)
BH) Barr's percentage was 25% higher than Badnarik's, and his absolute total was one of our best ever. (BH

SC) The David Nolan quote that you deleted deals with that very subject (SC
Huh?  The Nolan quote CONFIRMS my "25% higher" point, and doesn't talk about absolute totals AT ALL.  If you're going to whine that I'm deleting your points, at least make sure that they don't CONFIRM my data.  Here's one thing Nolan says that I ignored because it's so obviously false:
DN) The argument that by going 'mainstream' the LP could improve its results by a factor of ten or more proved to be completely false. (DN
Nolan needs to crack a dictionary and look up the difference between "could" and "would".  No serious reform leader predicted that Barr would improve on the standard 0.39% "by a factor of ten or more".  Barr's result does not "prove" that a mainstream libertarian candidate could never get us a third of the 13% to 20% of voters who want more personal and economic liberty.
SC) "A post-platform reform, post-Barr LP has been on the grow in terms of dues-paying national members, according to the LP's official figures. From December 2007 to now [writing October 22], the party membership has grown by 1,656 members; that's nearly 11 percent. But how impressive is this? In 2004, the year of unknown Michael Badnarik as their candidate, with a Party burdened with that crazy- radical old platform, the party grew from December 2003 to December 2004 by 2,814 in whole numbers, and by 14 percent, from a much higher base." (SC
Unless you have some apples-to-apples data, we'll have to wait until the December 2008 numbers are available to assess this.  Also, I said "during the Barr/Badnarik campaign", so the part of the curve I was talking about was from convention to election day.
SC) I wouldn't say Barr ran a completely un-ideological campaign, but from what I saw it was pretty spotty. He often seemed to be more focused on Bob Barr than on the LP or libertarianism. (SC
I agree.  His campaign wasn't as bad on this as my worst fears, but I would have preferred the way a Root or a Phillies would have more sharply distinguished us from the Right.
SC)  I am unaware of Barr *ever* talking about the Non-Aggression Principle. Can you quote him saying anything about it? (SC
No -- and you can't quote Tom Knapp or Susan Hogarth mentioning it in their campaigns either.  By contrast, I distributed nearly a thousand campaign cards that talk about it:  My campaign site ( advocated clearer and more radical policy specifics than that of any radical I checked -- Hogarth, Knapp, Grow, Straus.  As I wrote in early May:

Why nominate a zero-state abolitionist if she's not going to promote and defend that position?  If we want a middle-of-the-libertarian-road campaign, why not nominate a middle-of-the-libertarian-road candidate, like Phillies?  Radicals criticize reformers for allegedly advocating a stealth campaign strategy of disguising their libertarian principles, but Ruwart's anarchism is so stealth it's simply invisible -- at least to anybody who can't do a web search.
I have a theory that goes like this: you can lead an anarchist to the voters, but you can't make her preach anarchism to them.  I offer a challenge to every radical Libertarian reading this: nominate for us a YouTube video of an anarchist/radical LP candidate giving the most abolitionist pitch you've ever seen offered to a general-voter audience.  Any takers?  It's easy to be an anarchist in the cozy little confines of Third Party Watch, but I advocate exactly the same-sized government in PlatCom debates as I do in local League of Women Voters debates.  How many anarchist Libertarian candidates can offer video evidence that they do too?
The Radical Caucus agenda points one and two are "Rights Are Primary" and "Radical Abolitionism".  However, Ruwart's pitch is famously consequentialist, and her campaign message thoroughly obscures her radical abolitionism.  The Radicals demand that "Libertarians must always make clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is our ultimate goal."  Ruwart doesn't make that clear at all, and Rothbard must be turning over in his grave.  I've been re-reading the vicious criticisms published by Rothbard and David Nolan about the rhetoric of 1980 Clark campaign, and that rhetoric sounds quite similar to Ruwart's -- right down to the heresy that eliminating welfare will be painless because Ruwarchotopia will eliminate poverty.  I guess that's a hopeful sign of the continuing de-radicalization of the LP, but I fail to see why we should want such a disconnect between 1) our message to the voters and 2) the actual positions buried deep in our Platform and in the writings of our nominee.  Steve Kubby even ended a recent campaign video with a graphic that proclaimed "Less Government" -- another Clark line viciously criticized by Rothbard/Nolan.   If we're all moderates now, then why is there going to be a Platform fight in Denver?
The most plausible explanation remains that a shrinking but still-powerful "cadre" of deontological abolitionists still want to claim the LP's Platform as a sort of ideological tattoo, advertising to each other (but not to the voters) their political iconoclasm and non-conformism.  That's nice, but some of us have a nanny state to dismantle.