Barr it is
I learn via Radley Balko's blog that Bob Barr won the nomination for president at this weekend's LP convention. Balko counts this a good thing, and I'm very much inclined to agree. Balko sums it up nicely in one of the comments:
Barr has quite a bit to atone for. But I believe him when he says he has come around. Really, do you think he's going to change all of his positions once the campaign starts?
Second that. Can't quite explain it, but I believe him too. More than that, it's important to keep in mind that the LP candidate will NOT be winning the election. We are not yet an electable party. The goal at this point is to gain enough recognition to become an electable party, and the best way to do that is, if I may be blunt about it, to start throwing elections for the Republicans Ross Perot style. George Bush Sr. may have lost in 1992, but small government won big time in the 1994 congressional mid-term elections, and probably in no small part because the loss in 1992 woke up Republicans to the fact that Rockerfeller "Red Tory"-type candidates were NOT what the base wanted (as should have already been made clear to them by Goldwater's nomination in 1964 (actually against Rockerfeller himself) and most especially Reagan's primary and later general election win in 1980). There IS a small-government, pro-constituion lobby, and it is the current task of the Libertarian Party to make that voting block viable.
Bob Barr may not be the best choice to represent our interests in the White House, but that's a moot point because neither Bob Barr nor any other Libertarian is actually going to the White House - not this time, not next time, and probably not even the time after that. If we can't win the White House just yet, something useful we can do in the meantime is do our best to put the brakes on the expansion of state power. The best way to do that is dragging the Republican Party back in our direction. And a good way to drag the Republican Party back in our direction is to split their vote - prick them enough to get them to notice us and cater to us in 2010. Bob Barr, as a popular former Republican with national name recognition, is the best-positioned to do that. Best of all, it is his stated intention to do that. And, like Balko says, whatever Republican instincts Bob Barr may privately still harbor, he's unlikely to change the tune he's been singing for the past five years once the campaign starts. His political relevance at this point depends entirely on making a good showing in this election, something he is not going to do by recruiting Republican voters at the expense of driving away the core LP voting base.
So good on the party! And a great relief for me. Many of the candidates on the ticket this year were simply unacceptable, and I was seriously thinking about just not voting this year - beacuse John McCain and Obama/Clinton are obviousy unacceptable too. Given who the other parties are running, and especially given the task at hand, Bob Barr is definitely someone I can vote for. Time to take down the Ron Paul ad.