Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bob Barr – Right Time, Right Party, Wrong Man

I attended Ron Paul's press conference yesterday expecting Bob Barr to be there. It was going to be as close to an endorsement as Barr could get from Paul. I almost came with a sign that said “Veterans For Barr.” Boy, am I glad I didn't.

Ron Paul had decided to throw some of his now considerable weight behind the electoral issues that marginalize third party candidates and got all four major third party candidates to endorse a four-point platform that included libertarian positions on foreign policy, privacy, the national debt, and the federal reserve.

When I think of the freedom movement, I think of it as broadly as possible. Everyone who thinks the government is too big, too intrusive, too burdensome, and not representing our will abroad with the current interventionist foreign policy is part of the freedom movement. We are a diverse group, and we do not need to be uniform in all of our beliefs to be unified against a government that is out of control. What Ron Paul did was put that down into four points of agreement and got a team united behind them in a very powerful way. It may not have been as dramatic as some people were hoping, but it was beautiful. Our founders would have recognized the importance of what Paul was doing, or as Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

Bob Barr just had to ruin it for everyone for his own selfish reasons. He had agreed to the platform, and agreed to be at the event, only to withdraw thirty minutes before it happened. There was an empty seat for him on the stage. Paul was gracious and kind, saying things like, “if he can make it,” but behind the scenes he was angry and hurt.

I went to Barr's own press conference right afterwards still giving him the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped that he had a good reason for not being there that I was not aware of. Maybe he would say he had a personal issue. But instead, I sat there and listened to him prattle on about Ross Perot and getting votes and forcing policy issues and “principled leadership.” Then he asked Ron Paul to be his VP.

I was fuming. I had reservations about Barr before publicly endorsing him, but I even offered my support in a letter that was delivered through the LP staff which was ignored by the campaign. I thought his transformation was genuine and that it was a powerful sign for the LP to elect a newcomer, as if to say “we will embrace anyone who comes around to our principles.” Unfortunately, we picked Barr instead. He has since shown himself to not fully comprehend or endorse the philosophy, having praised the troop surge, argued for intervention in Iran and South America, and advocated a national sales tax. He has also run as far from the LP as possible, and there is still no link to the LP on his website. His lack of willingness to work with other people on key issues (issues any true libertarian would be passionate about) is very revealing.

I raised my hand and stood up to speak when Russ Verney acknowledged me. Maybe he realized who I was when I did not claim any press credentials, but he interrupted me and tried to get me to sit down. One of his staffers actually got up and stood next to me, looking like he was ready to carry me out. I guess he realized that was not a good idea. I ignored him and pressed on, despite Verney's continued interruptions. I don't remember exactly what I said, but what I was trying to say went something like this:

“What Ron Paul was doing today was taking leadership on some issues that I know you agree with and your lack of willingness to be a part of a team and work with others on these issues is telling. You have spoken a lot just now about leadership and unity, but it is clear you care about neither, except when you are the leader, and people are united behind you. Good leadership includes good followership and today, you showed your lack of both, and a complete lack of integrity. I am retracting my endorsement.”

The freedom movement is bigger than any one party, and any one leader. The revolution of which I speak is a revolution of values, of political culture, and of the understanding of the responsibility of being a good citizen. When that happens, it will be reflected in our political system one way or another, be it through the Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Constitution Party, or an independent candidate. As a moderate libertarian, I still believe that the Libertarian Party will be the mechanism by which our movement will come to fruition and I will remain an enthusiastic lifetime member. More than the party or any one candidate, I am committed to this movement, my country, and my principles.


I have signed a petition to have Bob Barr removed from the Libertarian Party ticket. Please click here and sign this petition to join me in this effort. Please forward this to everyone you know who cares about the future of this movement and the Libertarian Party.


Russ Verney is full of crap. Click here to read his response to the events of the last day in which he praises Bush's leadership, exploits 9/11, and claims that Ron Paul's press conference was “about promoting a man.” Maybe their campaign strategy goes something like, “Screw liberty, screw the issues, screw the principles of the party of principle. If we can just get enough votes this year, we can get Bob back on the ticket in four!” He was right about Wayne Allen Root though: it was gracious of him to step off the ticket for Ron Paul, but of course if Barr gave a crap about the movement, he would have offered Ron Paul the top spot on the ticket.


AmyB said...

Thanks for your take on the conference, for speaking up (ya trouble-maker!) and for linking to the petition.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Adam, for putting Barr in his place. You have to be a Bob Barr to offer Ron Paul the VP candidacy! Moreso when Ron Paul had long refused an offer from the Libertarian Party for the top post. And wasn't he listening to what Ron Paul has been saying these past months?!

Barr is just a minute component of the Revolution triggered by Ron Paul, yet for a while he thought he was above the wave. A miscalculation of great proportions which clearly shows he has no clue what the grassroots of this Revolution are up to.

Indeed, leaders must first learn to follow.

I'm a European who works in the critical field of politics, but Ron Paul is my political leader (even though I come from the so-called progressive Left).

Good work Adam, you are one of the leaders of this Revolution.

Kev in Brussels

Jason Gatties said...

Bravo Adam! Keep fighting the good fight.

BTW...I added your link on my campaign site. Glad I finally found your blog (thanks to IPR).

Brent said...

I agree with you 99%, except the very last part. Barr did indeed co-author the LP bill that would have automatically made RP the LP candidate, but he turned it down. At this time you can not change the names on the ballots for POTUS, just VP, which is why he offered it to Paul.

I will still vote for Barr, because I don't want to punish the next candidate 4 years from now by not allowing ballot access to them, and in California there really is no other choice. I can stand behind the principals he claims to have, but I don't have to stand behind the man.

Melissa Cato said...


Rebekah said...

As someone who, except for abortion, identifies much more with the Libertarian party than with the Constitution party, I totally agree when you say that Bob Barr is the WRONG choice. I'm a bit lost on why the party nominated him... he's not much of a Libertarian. I also think it's just a bit suspicious that a media which completely ignored Ron Paul would be giving him SO much positive coverage.

Even though it took awhile for me to get over the religious aspect of the CP, I fully support Chuck Baldwin. Once you accept that yes, he is a Christian pastor but that it shouldn't make a difference, it becomes obvious at least to me, that he's the right choice.

MJ said...

I'm not a fan of Barr, and he really showed his true colors here. He obviously just wants to capitalize on what Ron Paul started, he doesn't seem to care to continue the revolution. Thanks for speaking out!

Have you considered supporting any other third-party candidate?

ia said...

Thanks man! You're very appreciated, and when the time comes, you'll be surprised the numbers standing with you. God bless.

Chip said...

Bob Barr strikes me as an opportunist, but it is great that you stood up to him.

I'm still not entirely sure what happened (I've heard Barr's version which is complete BS), but I almost wonder if he planned it this way for all the extra media coverage he would get. I mean he we are after the press conference and what are we talking about, but Bob Barr who wasn't even there.

The other version that's being reported a lot of places is that Barr did not attend, because Cynthia McKinney was there. That strikes me as likely as well.

Stefan said...

Although I would've liked Barr to show up, I hardly believe not showing up is reason enough for him to be removed as the presidential candidate for the Libertarian party. Oh, so Wayne Allyn Root was okay for stepping down as VP is RP accepted, but Barr is now bad? What if RP accepted? Would Barr still be as bad?

If Barr believes (and found out) it was against his party's interest, views and agenda on Liberty not to show up, he has that right. Considering he wrote a letter to RP asking him to be his running mate, I'd imagine he'd have mixed intentions about attending. (He couldn't ask him to be the presidential nominee for ballot reasons), his agenda is a political one for Liberty, and Libertarian views; that's all. In no way does not showing up conflict with that.

In fact, all RP did was "hey, there are more then 2 political parties", leaving those in the C4L either confused on what to do next, who to vote for, or otherwise just following whatever the good doctor says like the enthusiastic followers they are.

I still find it odd that a socialist, a religious constitutionalist, an ecologist, and a Libertarian can all agree on the four main issues. RP is quite a fellow.

Leaders don't follow; they lead. If anything, they need to follow the will of their followers. That's what the C4L needs, the Libertarian party needs; it's what America needs. A leader to rally under.

You may not agree with Barr not showing up; neither do I. However, it is absolutely not a reason to get him out of the position of presidential candidate for the Libertarian party.

He and his running mate had the balls to ask RP to join them. That was a bold move of leaders; if RP accepted, the revolution would be coming much faster.

5s said...

I wasn't sure if I could vote for Bob Barr after he came out in support of bailing out Fannie and Freddie -

Now there's absolutely no way. He is a despicable worm!!! Still, I want to boost the Libertarian Party for a better run in 4 years....


Andi Hayes said...

You are very perceptive. I had an instinct that Bob Barr was up to no good when I heard of his nomination. I could never trust a former CIA and pro-drug warmonger who "came to see the light."
There was a sudden stampede of anti-Ron Paul people who supported Barr that then flooded the Internet, which seemed very suspicious.
The Libertarian Party sold out when they nominated him and now they're getting the blowback.
I signed your petition to get him out. Do you think there is enough time before November election to replace him on the ticket??
The perfect replacement should be his runner-up, Mary Ruwart, whom I have heard nothing but great things about.
March on, Revolutionary Patriot.

Craig Combs said...

Thanks again for your stance, my man.

I am so disgusted with Barr that this will be the first time in my life that I WON'T be voting Libertarian! He really threw water on the Libertarian fire this year - distraction and obfuscation.

Petition you linked to: signed.

Ventura/Kokesh 2012?!

Chris F. said...

I preferred Christine Smith or Mary Ruwart as the LP's choice. I'm leaning towards Chuck Baldwin at this time.

Dave Nalle said...

What Ron Paul did at his press conference was to endorse third parties which support everything from forced redistribution of wealth to giving up US sovereignty to foreign powers. It was a betrayal of everything the liberty movement has tried to achieve. Paul rendered himself irrelevant once and for all.

Barr, on the other hand, did the right thing by not playing along with Paul's egotistical grandstanding and he deserves our support for putting liberty ahead of political opportunism.


Elle said...

Keep up the good work. Hopefully it will be better therapy than any government-run veteran's program would offer.

You are an inspiration.

Brian said...

Thanks for being there and voicing what many of us felt!

On a side note, you are starting to attract a decent amount of attention for yourself. You can get an Aiptek 1080 HD camera for $100 off amazon or walmart now a days, I for one know I'd be interested in seeing things more through your eyes so to speak.

Doob said...

You are a true Patriot. I think Bob Barr is a plant who was meant to bring the LP down. Never again.

By the way, your speech at the Rally in Minneapolis made me cry like a baby.

Quaerendo Invenietis said...

My response to the delusions of Mr Barrs campaign.

"I find the actions of Mr Barr to be reprehensible. Failure to attend Doctor Pauls press conference unifying the third party voice of the american voter has cast an undeniable pall on the face of your campaign.

Dr. Paul exceeds Mr. Barr as presidential in every aspect. This clearly egotistic and self serving move has highlighted that clearly to the entire body politic revolution.

Epic Fail.
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is
that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
- Plato
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759"

Anonymous said...

Adam, thank you again for everything you have been doing since your return from Baghdad. I am not happy that you had to go thru this situation, however, if McCain wins, we all will have many many more 'situations' to go thru... Please, a vote for Obama may hurt, but hey, if Ann Coulter can stomach a vote for McCain, whom she loathes, surely you can spare a vote for the man who is promising to bring home our brothers and sisters.


Jeff said...

I'm glad you spoke up, Adam. Barr is not the man we thought he was.

A recent blog post on the Barr campaign's web site links to his interview with Lou Dobbs (also posted by the campaign). They edited the video to remove a reference to Ralph Nader. See the unedited video at CNN's web site. Any attempt to post the unedited link to the comments section won't get past the moderator. So is this what they meant by "Principled Leadership"?

Anonymous said...

Barr knew what he was doing, he is not stupid, he knew he would upset a lot of Ron Paul supporters. He must have another plan.

Anonymous said...

Adam....Haven't talked with you in a while. I was watching the Rep. convention on TV and saw a glimpse of you up in the balcomy when McCain was speaking.

I can't believe you're still running around with your IVAW t-shirt on acting like you're going to get anything accomplished in stopping the war in Iraq.

You and every member of IVAW are a non-issue, just like Ron Paul and Bob Barr.

We're on our way to Victory in Iraq, no thanks to any of you anti-war pukes. Or haven't you all figured that out yet?

My advice? Get rid of the t-shirt and move on with your life. Nobody in Washington, or the rest of the country for that matter, really gives a shit what you think. Stop lying to yourself that they do.
They don't !!!!

Mike Blankenship
USArmy Vet

Roberto de Sonora said...

Bob Barr is a vehicle of the NeoCons. He was sent to us to get nominated and then sit on his hands.

All Barr's sponsors are a narrow part of the same machine that supports McCain and Obama. Big Oil and its ally, The Military Industrial Complex.

Libertarians need to ignore noise coming from the L.P. machine at the Watergate and think for themselves. It was the machine that elected Barr before any convention was held. People were fooled that there was some kind of consensus going in and they closed their eyes and minds from that point forward.

There Was no consensus, unless one counts friends of Big Oil, who own Reason Foundation, CATO, CEI, and other so called Free Market Foundations.

People need to get a clue, be suspicious of authors who come out of those foundations when they start whispering a few weeks before a convention.

Barr should be removed from Endorsement by Libertarians everywhere.

Doug Burlison said...

Thanks for your service to your and out of uniform (both then and now). As a U.S. Army (82d Abn Div)veteran myself, I am compelled to respond to Mike Blankenship's post: Mike, I'm glad you enjoy your 1st Amendment right to "speak" freely, although if you and your political brethren are allowed to continue in power, our recognized rights will soon disappear entirely.
Adam, I do not know you, you do not know me, but as a fellow lover of Liberty, I urge you to reconsider the status of your Barr endorsement. Granted, those of us in internet land are not as close to this issue as you are, and perhaps that gives us a different perspective about this whole matter. I am saddened by how things have tarnspired in both the Barr and the Paul camps, and I feel that in the interests of Liberty in America, it is time for some bilateral leadership from both sides. It seems that you are in a unique position to make this happen. We are all frustrated by the obstacles placed in the system that squelch any real debate on real issues...and I think we are all suffering from the stress of the battle for freedom this election cycle. I'd say feelings have been hurt, people offended, and things have been "said" that both sides regret. As I would tell any of my eight kids when they are immersed in dramatic controversy, get over it! I remember what George Phillies said at the convention in Denver, and it still rings true, "The real enemies are out there, not in here." I do not believe the invitation extended to Dr. Paul is an insult, and if he were to accept, it is not unimaginable that he could be in the same position Dick Cheney is now! Also, who is better qualified to keep a handle on a Bob Barr administration than Ron Paul. Out of this entire episode, the only shining light that I see is Wayne Root. He is willing to sacrifice his own ambitions and his own "Root agenda for freedom" to advance the cause liberty nationwide. I would hope to see more of this type of attitude, than the infighting of the last few days. None of us are perfect, yet somehow, we need to come together. Can you help this struggle by providing that kind of leadership?

Doug Burlison said...

My apologies, line 16 should read, "...TRANSPIRED in both the Barr and the Paul camps,..."

Anonymous said...

This will be the first time since 1988 that I didn't vote Libertarian. This athiest is voting for Baldwin, a Constitutionalist that happens to also be "superstitios" I won't hold that against him.

mariana said...

First of all Adam, great stuff. I've been circulating and promoting the petition to remove Barr, and I've actually lost some "friends" because of it. Whatever, seriously, no loss at this point.

I wanted Mary Ruwart or Mike Gravel (though he's not a "pure" Libertarian) on the ticket and was never happy with the LP nomination of Barr: I was at best uneasy with his status regarding same-sex rights, marijuana, the Patriot [sic] Act and the fact that he was ex-CIA. And now I'm thinking that he hasn't really changed and is indeed just a Neo-Con tool. Seeing his endorsement of the Fannie/Freddie bailout has just absolutely erased any respect I had of him. It's so Big Government - classic transfer of wealth! Ugh!

And everything that transpired with the press conference has confirmed my opinion.


Stefan said...
[snipped for relevance/brevity]

"In fact, all RP did was "hey, there are more then 2 political parties", leaving those in the C4L either confused on what to do next, who to vote for, or otherwise just following whatever the good doctor says like the enthusiastic followers they are.

I still find it odd that a socialist, a religious constitutionalist, an ecologist, and a Libertarian can all agree on the four main issues. RP is quite a fellow.

Leaders don't follow; they lead. If anything, they need to follow the will of their followers. That's what the C4L needs, the Libertarian party needs; it's what America needs. A leader to rally under."

Stephan, I do understand most of what you're getting at but I think you're missing the primary point of Dr. Paul's announcement. There was a very important point to not endorsing one particular candidate, and its actually two-fold:

1. Paul can't get behind any one single candidate since none of them represent *his* views and vision thoroughly enough for Dr. Paul to give his whole-hearted support. Its possible if there had been another LP nominee such as Mary Ruwart, he might have been able to get behind her, but certainly not Barr. That should be obvious.

2. The real reason (IMHO) that Paul can't endorse anyone and needs to ask us to vote for *any* third party candidate is that the electoral system is BROKEN. Without better ballot access and/or instant run-off voting, campaign finance reform and broader media access (open debates!) to third party candidates, none of these candidate has a prayer! But they're *where we have to start*.

Since Dr. Paul has often said there is very little significant difference between McCain and Obama (and boy, it's getting closer and closer to being painfully and obviously true) here Ron Paul is saying, listen, you're screwed no matter what. Either mainstream candidate will poorly represent people who agree on the issues that Nader, McKinney, Baldwin (and at some point, Barr) agree on. SO you might as well send a message. That's why he mentions the "League of Non-Voters" as being principled. Franchised in *name only*, there are those who will not vote for ANYONE simply because the electoral system (full of fraud and unreasonable hurdles) and the media (colluding with big business to steer their agenda), make it too hard to achieve visibility and efficacious candidacies - those voters feel locked out of the process and rightfully so.

Ron Paul *doesn't want followers.* He wants us to govern ourselves. He wants us to work from the bottom up, not the top down, as this will bring lasting "change". By working at the local and state level, educating others and running for office *ourselves* Ron Paul hopes we can take responsibility for our own leadership.

Ron Paul was always a reluctant candidate. It's never been about him, no matter how much those of us in the Freedom movement adore him for his opinions and unflinching integrity. I love Ron Paul. But he's just a man. An incredible man, but the idea of Liberty, now that's something you can't keep down. Liberty is an eternal principle, has no lifespan, and is only limited by *our resolve* to bring it to the fore.

Ron Paul wants us to lift ourselves up, to embody Liberty. That's not the same thing as rallying "under" anyone.

I'm not a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Labor, Socialist or other party member. I'm a free human being. I'm not even sure if Anarcho-Capitalist suits me. I want maximum Liberty, maximum personal responsibility, and to be divested from a "Government" that uses the fruit of my labor to oppress, occupy and murder hundreds of thousands of people. Ron Paul came the closest, but I'm not giving up because I have no one to "rally under".

Don't get me wrong. I'll certainly promote candidates who support my dreams and vision for America (indeed, the world). But I won't blindly associate with a party (such as the Libertarian party), vote for a candidate as sleezy as Barr, just to assure ballot access for the LP candidate in four years. There's so many better ways to go about getting what we want.

Campaign for Liberty supporters aren't lost if they associate their freedom with responsibility. They're only lost if they think they need Ron Paul to lead them or tell them what to do.

I don't :)

To quote an awesome bumper sticker, we don't need leaders, we need Liberty. I don't mean we shouldn't get behind those who stand a chance of representing us. I'm just never going to hand my power over completely to someone else and expect them to do the whole job. It's my job. It's your job. Jump in, the water's fine.

Quaerendo Invenietis said...

I give a shit, so your comment is absolutely flawed, as is the rest of your "logic", universal soldier Mike Blankenship.