Libertarians: The Party of Bob Barr, Jason Pye, and…Mike Gravel?

March 26, 2008 9:00 am

by Andre · 13 comments

After reading the news that former Democratic Sen. Mike Gravel (D/L – Alaska) has announced that he will compete for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in Denver this summer, I thought some good-natured ribbing would be in order for the Georgia Libertarians in our midst.

Fed up with being excluded from the debates and otherwise marginalized, former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska announced today that he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination for president.

Skyler McKinley, a Gravel spokesman, said that Mr. Gravel would try to pursue the Libertarian nomination at the party’s convention, which will be held in Denver on May 22-26.

Source: 3/26/2008 New York Times article “Gravel to Run for Libertarian Nod”

As the resident Democrat around these here parts, I want to thank the Libertarian Party for taking this certifiable nut-case off of the Democrats’ hands.

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who switched from the Republican Party over to the Libertarians in 2006, welcomed Mike Gravel with open arms saying, “It is a distinct honor to have another former member of Congress within the Libertarian Party.” [Source: 3/26/2008 Baltimore Sun/The Swamp blog “Gravel now seeking Libertarian nod”]

Seriously though, I don’t mean to knock the Libertarian Party because I believe that we need more than just two political parties engaged in the debate over the direction or our nation. However, with Mike Gravel now in the Libertarian Party’s ranks, it makes it a bit more difficult for the Libertarians to be considered as a viable third option for disenchanted Republicans and Democrats. You need more Bob Barrs and Neal Boortzs and less Mike Gravels.

Jason Pye March 26, 2008 at 10:39 am

Judging from some of the comments I’ve read since yesterday afternoon, Gravel wouldn’t have much of shot at the nomination. Bob Barr would have a hard enough time getting it and he is the party’s biggest backers.

I still don’t know how to react to it. The party needs to do more bring in libertarian-leaning Democrats into the fold, but Gravel’s joining and jumping immediately into the race for the nomination is a bad idea.

StevePerkins March 26, 2008 at 10:59 am

“Dog the Bounty Hunter” could declare himself a Democratic Presidential candidate, and Michael Jackson could declare himself a Republican Presidential candidate. Neither scenario means that the Dems or GOP would accept them as such.

The history of third parties is filled with quasi-celebrity candidates looking to piggyback off them for resources and ballot access as a matter of convenience (e.g. Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, etc). Smart parties keep their distance when the “candidate”‘s views or motives are out-of-sync… dumb political parties (e.g. the Reform Party with Pat Buchanan) embrace the quasi-celebrity and wind up imploding in the process. I predict that Gravel got a higher percentage of the vote toward the Democratic nomination than he will end up getting toward the Libertarian nod.

Hank Reardan March 26, 2008 at 11:42 am

As a libertarian i welcome him. If like Bob barr he moves down the path to a better uderstanding of Liberty I welcome him with open arms. I will not vote for him in Denver at our convention but I think he will make the convention more exciting.

Buzz Brockway March 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Gravel just wants an excuse to keep making You Tube videos.

Bill Simon March 26, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Speaking of Libertarians, whatever happened to Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura?

joe March 26, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Jason,

Why isn’t “libertarian-leaning Democrats ” an oxymoron?

Icarus March 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Joe,

libertarian-leaning Democrat = legalized drugs

Jason Pye March 26, 2008 at 10:06 pm

There is a group similar to the RLC in the Democratic Party. I think they’re called Freedom Democrats. They mostly focus on civil liberties.

Speaking of Libertarians, whatever happened to Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura?

One thing that Ventura proved during his time as Governor was that he is no libertarian.

Chris March 27, 2008 at 7:16 am

Democrat Freedom Caucus.

John Konop March 27, 2008 at 9:08 am

Jason

FYI

Reason: You’ve been called a libertarian. Is that an accurate characterization of your politics?

Ventura: Sure. I am a libertarian. I’ve taken the libertarian exam and scored perfect on it. There’s this 10-question quiz that the Libertarian Party puts out. They give you 30, 20, or 10 points, depending on how you answer the questions. I’ve gotten all 30s.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/30973.html

Jason Pye March 27, 2008 at 10:41 am

Konop,

I aware of what he has said, and took some libertarian positions on some issues with regards to drugs. However, he did not govern that way when he was in office.

He is best characterized as a democrat (notice the small “d”).

SpaceyG March 27, 2008 at 11:19 am

Whatever party, I hope he raises enough cash to go back and get that perfectly good rock back out of that lake.

StevePerkins March 27, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Yeah, the Dems’ version of the RLC is the Democratic Freedom Caucus. Actually, their platform is one of the most sensible set of position statements I’ve ever read. If the DFC were the slightest bit relevant within the Democratic Party (or even had a state affiliate at all in Georgia), I might send them the occasional check and establish some contacts in Democratic circles.

Unfortunately though, their relevance within their party is essentially zero. Thus, if I want to participate or have a say in one of the two major parties, I have to stick with the RLC… whose relevance in the GOP is just slightly greater than zero. It’s a shame too… I agree that libertarians are usually seen as just a subset of conservatives, and it would be good to see some Dems find some common ground under the umbrella also.

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