Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mending the Cracks

My editorial from the July 2008 California Freedom:

"I hope they have ambulances parked outside," joked one reform delegate at the 2008 LP national convention. I knew what he meant. Many of us were expecting long and acrimonious floor fights. Instead, the convention turned out to be surprisingly civil, despite some angry moments.

Like when those Barr delegates held an impromptu placard parade, marching past the C-SPAN cameras in the middle of Bill Redpath's speech. Anti-Barr delegates hissed and booed. Barr campaign higher-ups later blamed the parade on over-zealous delegates, acting on their own.

Presidential contender Christine Smith returned the favor during her "concession speech," lashing out at Barr. Now it was the Barr delegates' turn to hiss and boo.

At least C-SPAN viewers weren't bored.

Smith also thanked her supporters. All five of them. She'd gotten six votes on the first ballot, one presumably her own.

Rumors abounded. Some said that Barr would bus in bogus delegates. A similar rumor reportedly circulated about Kubby. Neither rumor materialized into fact.

It seems Mary Ruwart suffered a last-minute dirty trick. I'd asked Senator Mike Gravel's daughter, Lynne Moiser, to vote for Ruwart after Gravel fell from the ballot. Lynne agreed, since I'd assisted the Gravel campaign. But Lynne confided an unsettling rumor she'd heard on the floor: the Washington Post was about to break a story on the LP nominating "child pornographer" Ruwart.

That false smear was old news, based on an out-of-context quote from Ruwart's book. Both Wayne Allyn Root and Christine Smith had pounced on Ruwart months earlier, demanding she withdraw. Yet Ruwart's candidacy survived.

But Lynne was new to the LP, unfamiliar with our blogs and channels of communication. The smear was news to her.

And this Washington Post twist was entirely new. The Post "was about to break a story" about the LP nominating a child pornographer? Really? Where did that come from?

It seems someone (or a group of someones) was spreading lies on the convention floor, during the voting. Of course, by the time lies are refuted, the balloting is over.

Barr/Root won. It's no secret, they're the reformers' preference. Will radicals support this ticket in November?

Radical is a broad term (not all of us are purists), encompassing several factions, mostly supportive of each other, but with different priorities. Mine, as everyone knows, is antiwar.

I spoke with Barr before the voting. I said I'd heard that he supported war with Iran. He denied this. He said he'd lived in Iran, he knew the Iranian people, and he did not believe war was necessary.

That was good to hear.

Even better, weeks after the nomination, Barr continues to speak publicly against war with Iran. He's called for negotiations. So far, so good.

Outright Libertarians caucused after Barr/Root's victory. These gay libertarians were less than happy. While in Congress, Barr authored the Defense of Marriage Act (a position he recanted during Saturday's C-SPAN debate). Likewise, Root opposed gay marriage before he supported it.

"How can I ask my non-Libertarian gay friends to vote for Barr/Root?" lamented one OL member.

Nevertheless, OL Chair Rob Power proposed a motion to invite Barr and Root to "personally attend" future OL events. Gay libertarians are ready to support Barr/Root, provided that support is publicly reciprocated.

Still less happy are LP pagans. While in Congress, Barr urged the Pentagon to deny recognition to Wiccans. I saw several pagan delegates wearing anti-Barr buttons.

Pagans remain upset weeks after the convention. A longtime LPC Wiccan told me he may not vote LP, explaining, "I'd contacted Barr's campaign several times since the convention, asking for his current views on religious freedom. No one's responded."

While Barr/Root have offered partial loaves to peaceniks and gays, pagans remain unfed. As for the open immigration and anti-drug war radicals, from what I've seen, they consider Barr/Root less than "pure," but will mostly give the ticket a chance.

To paraphrase one radical blogger: "The reformers got everything they wanted. The president. The vice president. The platform. If the LP doesn't get votes, reformers can't blame radicals for holding them back. If the LP fails, it will be the reformers' strategy that failed."

Some troubling news: An LNC member wants the 2010 convention held in Hawaii, despite complaints that this would price out many povertarian radicals. One blogger says current round-trip air fare is $1,500 to $2,000.

Some suggest that if there is a Hawaii convention, povertarians hold an alternate convention. If more delegates attend the alternate than the "official" convention, it will (1) throw into question the "official" convention's legitimacy, and (2) potentially split the party.

This past convention leaves the LP not broken, but cracked. I urge the LNC not to risk breakage by holding the next convention at a location beyond the means of many loyal Libertarians.

Newly re-elected LNC rep Angela Keaton dishes "inside scoops" about the LNC at:

Angela's blog is still silent, but I hope it would be for long.

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