Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bob Barr joins the LNC. Is he just another Neal Boortz?

Much to the surprise of Libertarian Party (LP) members throughout the US including myself, Bob Barr was just elected to fill a vacancy on the Libertarian National Committee (LNC), the body that governs the national LP. As a former Republican Congressman known for supporting many anti-libertarian initiatives in the past, might Barr turn out to be just another Neal Boortz?

I certainly hope so.

Let’s take a closer look at radio talk show host Neal Boortz first. Boortz is widely known for claiming to be a libertarian, for supporting the LP on air, and for voting for LP candidates. However, he’s significantly despised by many libertarians for his adamant support for the War in Iraq.

As a libertarian who is against the War in Iraq, where do I see the positive impact of Neal Boortz? Purely and simply, Neal Boortz helps to publicize the LP. Even though he supports the War in Iraq, I can’t think of another person in 2006 who has done more to advertise the LP, and quite paradoxically, to advertise the LP’s opposition to the War in Iraq, than Neal Boortz.

As a former Cobb County LP Chair (a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, home to Neal Boortz) and activist, I found that a huge percentage of people that would come up to me at LP outreach booths would mention that they first heard about the LP through Neal Boortz’s talk show. Similarly, now as an activist in Austin, Texas which has a widely followed Boortz syndicated show, I find more and more that people are finding out about the LP in Texas through his popular talk show. Sure, Boortz frequently espouses his rabid support for anti-terrorism methods and his so-called “War on Terror against the Islamofascists,” but the net result in Austin is that with Boortz on the air, more people know about the LP, and similarly, more people know that the Libertarian Party opposes the War in Iraq, even if Boortz supports it.

As a former Republican Congressman, it’s almost assured that Bob Barr will be faced with many questions about his passed support for issues that conflict with the LP platform (current or past versions). Whether or not Barr now fully agrees with the LP platform, the simple fact that he is well-known and will likely gain national media coverage discussing these issues to me is a good thing even if he ends up spending significant time explaining what most Libertarians support and how he doesn’t agree with all of it. We Libertarians need all of the publicity we can get.

As a former Republican, I used to oppose abortion rights, opposed gay freedoms, supported the War on Drugs, thought privacy advocates were simply getting in the way of prosecuting criminals, and I also supported most military actions in our recent history. However, I wasn’t diehard on those issues. I mostly supported them because I was a Republican and the Republican Party held those views. I was a Republican because I was a diehard supporter of free markets, lower taxes, free trade, and opposed welfare.

After Bush One broke his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge and Gingrich’s “Contract with America” failed to make government smaller, I stumbled upon the Libertarian Party. I found the Libertarian Party’s consistent support for smaller government on all issues, including civil liberties and social issues, quite compelling. After studying the social and civil liberties issues in more detail, I found compelling evidence to support them, and became an avid supporter of all libertarian principles.

Regarding the War in Iraq, ten years ago, as a knee-jerk Republican, I would have supported it. As a more open-minded and rational yet pragmatic person now, I'll have to prepare a separate posting to list the overwhelming arguments against the horrible mistake of invading Iraq.

As an LNC member, I look forward to working with Bob Barr. Perhaps he’s seen the light on many issues and now supports all Libertarian Party issues as I do. Or, perhaps he still holds faith in government solutions on too many issues. Either way, I expect the net effect of his decision to join the LNC will be more publicity for the diehard libertarian view, even if some of the publicity is in the form of his expressed opposition to some of those views.

Former Congressman Barr, welcome to the Party and thanks for joining us. For now, I'll give you some leeway on social issues. However, if you come out in support of something economically ridiculous like socialized healthcare, well, that would be the last straw for this Texan.

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