So, the LP convention is winding up in Denver today. (is it just me or is Wayne Allyn Root breathing too many of his own exhaust fumes?) Mercifully, I'm not there to witness it in person. Politics is like sausage, you really don't want to know what goes into it.
For a list of bloggers who attended the convention, go here, or you could listen to the mellow, bourbon infused tones of my friend Tom Knapp as he tries to assemble coherent sentences over the telephone for a Gcast from the convention:
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I'm watching the coverage on C-Span. Sixth round of balloting, Bob Barr facing off against Mary Ruwart. Root has just thrown his endorsement of Barr out to the convention, and he has enough votes behind him to give the nomination to Bob Barr. Like it or not, the days of the LP as an ineffectual debating society are coming to a close.
With the nomination of a prominent former Republican as the LP's candidate for president (Dr. Paul has never been prominent within the Republican party. He has gained some fame for his principled stands on controversial issues of late, but nothing like Barr was when he was sitting in Congress) as well as the back room wheeling and dealing and the public maneuvering that went into getting Barr his nomination, the LP has turned a corner in history. Clearly someone thinks that this nomination is worth something in the grand scheme of things.
Mike Gravel left his run for the Democrat nomination for President to also run as a Libertarian for President. For all intents and purposes, the LP has graduated into the level of serious politics.
The other thing that has occurred with the nomination of Barr, is that the LP has put forward a candidate, for the first time since I pulled the lever next to "L" on the ballot more than 10 years ago, that I'm going to have a hard time voting for. His track record in congress is not something to recommend him to people who are concerned with the growth of government, especially those of us who are concerned about the growing encroachment of religion in politics. Can a leopard truly change his spots? It remains to be seen.
What is clear is that the news outlets have no excuse not to cover the campaign of Bob Barr as it progresses. They have never failed to point a camera his way when he wore an "R" next to his name; is he less newsworthy now that the "R" has been replaced with an "L"? If he can poll double digit numbers (provided pollsters actually include his name) the major party construct that runs the debates will have a hard time leaving him out and making it look like they aren't excluding him.
All of this ultimately leads to growth of the LP, and potential success at the ballot box at some point in the distant future. Mr. Barr has promised that he will grow the party, and garner more votes for the LP than any candidate in it's history. Sounds good, right?
But not all growth is good growth. Libertarians should be well acquainted with this concept, since we rail against the growth of government on a continuing basis. Will a massive influx of disaffected Republicans be a surge for the cause of liberty, or a dilution of the principles that many of us already in the party embrace? A substitution of libertarian principles for the even more amorphous conservative thought, and all the baggage that group brings with it?
This is a reason to remain active in the party, if nothing else. Hold the line against conservative encroachment. I'm not interested in being associated with an LP that is nothing more than a GOP-lite. I come from the other side of the fence, harking back to the founders and their principles, the liberals of their time; not from the Goldwater era which (supposedly) redefined what conservatism was in the US.
I am not a conservative, not even vaguely. I'm a libertarian. The self-identifying conservative who carries my parties nomination is going to have to sell me on his worthiness to get my vote.