Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, please run for President

Dr. Ruwart:

Libertarian Party members need someone they can trust and respect to run for President. We need someone who can effectively communicate our principles with the public. You're increasingly looking to be the best person who's potentially willing and available to represent the Libertarian Party in 2008.

I know it has not been your ambition to run for President. You, like so many others, have stood by patiently waiting and watching and hoping for someone else with the right principles, experience, skills, and motivation to emerge as a strong candidate to represent the Libertarian Party.

I can tell you with confidence based on my observations and conversations with many Libertarian activists that no such candidate has emerged, yet many Libertarians who have heard your name mentioned (and who haven't yet) as a potential draftee would be thrilled if you were to step forward.

You've been a long-time Libertarian Party activist. Your book "Healing Our World In an Age of Aggression" has on the back cover an endorsement from Congressman Ron Paul: "Healing Our World bridges the gap between conservatives and liberals, Christians and New Agers, special interests and the common good, with practical solutions to our economic and societal woes."

I recently re-read the first two chapters to reassure myself that your book has the ability to reach out to people outside of the Libertarian Party and that's what we need to do to grow the Libertarian Party.

Of course your book "Short Answers to the Tough Questions" remains an excellent resource to help all libertarian activists communicate with others. You've done so much more, but I won't go into greater detail right now.

I was hoping Ron Paul would seek the Libertarian Party nomination and I know you've been actively supporting his campaign as a volunteer, but I think he's made it clear now that he's going to stay in the race for President as a Republican and won't consider a Libertarian Party nomination. I still hold out hope that former Congressman Bob Barr, who's serving on the Libertarian National Committee, will consider entering the race. If he does, I think he'd make the strongest candidate and I'd support him, but he has not indicated a willingness to run.

About a dozen others are seeking the LP nomination, but based on the Presidential debate hosted last weekend by the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance in Las Vegas, none of the current contenders are inspiring enough support. Like many others, I came away from that debate with the feeling "is this the best we can do?"

Here's a rundown on some of the top contenders who participated in that debate.

Wayne Allyn Root

I had high hopes for Root, but he has let me down. While some are put off by his aggressive sales approach, I actually like his enthusiastic presentation style even if at times it seems over the top. Root justifiably claims to be a Barry Goldwater conservative and free market supporter. Nevertheless, Root's comments continue to show he instinctively supports the so-called "war on terror" and foreign intervention. He made comments at the debate that the war on terror was real but that the Iraq War was mismanaged. I beg to differ. Our military readily and efficiently conquered the Iraqi military and facilitated the execution of Saddam Hussein. The issue is that America should follow a policy of non-interventionism and should not have invaded Iraq in the first place, regardless of how well it could be managed. Doing so was unjust and likely has added to the instability in the Middle East and has served to recruit even more terrorists. The unjust invasion of Iraq is not made just by attempts at nation-building. We need to get the US military out of Iraq now. Root has ignored advice from Libertarians on this issue. Perhaps he's received bad advice from misguided Libertarians on how to handle the terrorism issue. Nevertheless, he's unlikely to gain the support of a majority of Libertarian Party delegates.

Additionally, Root wrote a book titled "Millionaire Republican." When asked how much of his own money he would spend on his campaign at the debate, something he's been asked many times before, he responded that he would donate five thousand dollars of campaign contributions (not his own money) to a Libertarian political action committee.

Steve Kubby

Steve Kubby is a well-known cancer survivor who successfully led the passage of a medical marijuana initiative in California. By all means he's a heroic activist and a proven warrior for freedom, but his performance at the debate showed he wasn't going to be a strong articulate spokesman for the party. He gives a good stump speech explaining the oppression he's endured under the heavy hand of government, but when asked questions, his responses aren't sharp and on topic.

George Phillies

George Phillies scored some points on humor at the debate, but his constant attacks on fellow Libertarians over the years continue to alienate him from potential supporters. He's his own worst enemy. He's run for National LP Chair four times and lost every time. While I respect his tenacity, he continues to wrack up ever more enemies, few supporters, and is unlikely to get enough support to win the nomination. Additionally, he's taken positions on numerous issues that Libertarians disagree with, and his presentation style is that of a brainy physics professor, which he is.

Michael Jingozian

I originally wrote him off as a flake and considered him bottom-tier. But Jingozian has assembled a strong professional campaign organization and appears legitimately to have raised and spent more on his campaign than any of the other candidates. He's a very successful businessman and a likable guy. He actually scored points with me at the debate which is why I now rank him up with the other top contenders mentioned here. But I have doubts that his vague policy prescriptions and feel-good presentation style will resonate with enough Libertarian Party members to garner the nomination. He's the Barack Obama of the Libertarian Party without the oomph!

The Others

Several other candidates have been campaigning but none of them are serious enough or credible enough to be likely nominees although several provide ample entertainment value.

In Conclusion

Dr. Ruwart, I'm confident that if you are willing to seek the nomination for President, you will win the nomination and will represent the Libertarian Party well. I don't think Libertarians are expecting miracles this time. But many of us are concerned that our current cast of characters just aren't going to do justice to our party as our Presidential nominee.

You're someone with a proven track record of successful libertarian activism, generosity, sincerity, and a complete understanding and dedication to the principles of freedom. I'm offering you my support and encouraging others to support you if you're willing to carry the torch for the Libertarian Party as our Presidential nominee in 2008.

And despite all of the hard work and burden involved with running a Presidential campaign, I bet you'll have a damn good time if you decide to do it.

Please let Libertarians know if you're willing to run and do so soon. Many of us are eagerly awaiting for a highly respectable candidate like you to support.

Sincerely:

--Wes Benedict

(Wes Benedict is the Region 6 Representative to the Libertarian National Committee, serves as Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Texas, and is a candidate for Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.)