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Bob Barr Criticizes Two-Party System

During an address at the Marvin Center on Tuesday night, Bob Barr said that America is being short-changed by fixation on the two-party system. He said, “There is more to politics in America than just those two parties. However, they are the current status quo of politics in America and we just sit and live with it.”

Here’s an exerpt:

America is being short-changed by fixating on a two-party political system said Bob Barr, 2008 third party presidential candidate, during an address in the Marvin Center Tuesday night.

“There is more to politics in America than just those two parties. However, they are the current status quo of politics in America and we just sit and live with it,” said the former congressmen and Libertarian Party member. He noted how the status quo apparently existed at GW as well, when he took a playful jab at Program Board’s advertisements, which featured co-sponsorship logos from both the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

Also a graduate of GW, Barr challenged students to always strive to change the status quo no matter what field of work they pursue.

“The status quo is the most powerful force in the world, and it is difficult to change it,” he said.

Voicing frustration about the quality of candidates available from the two party system, Barr said he felt the candidates were not articulate enough to earn their desired position. “A certain governor from Alaska refused to take some questions from the media…to make herself ‘look good’ in front of the public,” he said. “Sen. McCain was asked a question on education, and he started rambling that obesity in schools was a major cause for concern. That was not the question!”

You can read the full article here. Source: Daily Colonial.


  1. Erik Geib Erik Geib April 19, 2009

    (again, I don’t have time to read every comment, as I’m quite tired and just go home from work about an hour ago)


    Frederic Bastiat once said that “socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.” The Libertarian Party platform should reflect this sentiment more, as you’ve both stated.

    This whole “do away with this! do away with that!” platform is silly and unattractive. It’s much better to hammer home a message that most Americans can agree with: government spending is wasteful and inefficient. Then simply show free-market alternatives (something that Mary Ruwart, for example, is a pro at doing). The LP currently has a pamphlet in circulation called ‘Towards a New Liberty’ (I believe that’s what it’s called, I can check in the office on Monday) that promotes this idea pretty well, and it’s definitely something we should promote more.

    I think it’s one of the many reasons the radical caucus has also felt slighted by national – too much focus on Obama negativity that sounds like conservative rhetoric (regardless of intention). When libertarians and conservatives are using the same rhetoric, it certainly makes many in the party uncomfortable.

  2. James Witherspoon James Witherspoon April 17, 2009

    Well the LP got all of 500,000 votes in the last general election, I don’t think I would be too worried about offending people. People are sick to death of the status quo and are desperately looking for “Real” change, especially seeing what a Fraud Obama is turning out to be.

    Stick to the party principals. Ron Paul should join the LP in the next presidential election. He is 74 afterall, what is to be gained by staying with the republicans.

    As to Wayne Root (aka Colin Montegomery), I hope he stays off the ticket for 2012.

  3. paulie paulie April 16, 2009

    Here’s a rap that might appeal to the crowd the
    LP is currently pursuing (with limited success)…

  4. paulie paulie April 16, 2009

    I think we need an LP rap video. Someone with some talent ought to get on that…

    Good idea. Know anyone with talent?

  5. paulie paulie April 16, 2009

    The environment will only be an even bigger issue in coming decades

    I agree.

    Iraq and Afghanistan will be as distant a memory as the Bosnia intervention that sparked

    I disagree. I think war, imperialism, the military-industrial complex, increasing and spreading cycle of violence throughout more of the Muslim world and surrounding areas, war for control of natural resources (especially those connected to energy and psychotropic drugs) and wars created to give a temporary shot in the arm to ailing economies will only be more and more of an issue.

    I think that fitting Green and Libertarian ideas together is best done along these lines:

  6. mdh mdh April 16, 2009

    I think we need an LP rap video. Someone with some talent ought to get on that… 🙂

  7. Melty Melty April 16, 2009

    “SexPotGoldGuns Party” would not only mean something to the average person, unlike “Libertarian Party”, it would be one syllable shorter.

  8. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz April 16, 2009

    The future of freedom is green. If you have a kid in public elementary school then you know how our youth are subject to total immersion in green ideology. The environment will only be an even bigger issue in coming decades, while Iraq and Afghanistan will be as distant a memory as the Bosnia intervention that sparked

    To appeal to the Left and the youth, the LP should embrace the Green Tax Shift:

    Here is how to fit that appeal onto a handout:

  9. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes April 16, 2009

    I have no problem with Paul & Barr in leadership positions in the party & movement & even elected. But not exclusive leadership positions & trying to pull the LP right & GOP left(reform). Rather forsake the GOP & pull the LP left> outreach to the left/progressives & ADD the Libertarian vote + the inclusive progressive vote. that would include the socialist vote with the understanding that progressivism defers from socialism to individualistic capitalism. e.g. TR was NOT a socialist. Debs got 6% of the 1912 vote. In 2012 that 6% could go to the progressive/libertarian ticket.

  10. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes April 16, 2009

    We need a left progressive allied with the inclusive libertarians. Or, in Teddy Roosevelt’s case, he-a left libertarian, allied (vp) with a supportive democrat. But…he selected a fellow republican progressive. Too right tilting for most democrats to forsake their party.

  11. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes April 16, 2009

    And Obama is a liberal. Installed by the Massachusetts mischief & mayhem makers. The election year strategy started with misleading the progressives into supporting him-partly as a consequence of having no other VIABLE progressive to support. Gravel, Kucinich, Nader, McKinney being seen as not viable-not able to win.

  12. paulie paulie April 16, 2009

    “My own notion of politics is that it follows a straight line rather than a circle. The straight line stretches from the far right where (historically) we find monarchy, absolute dictatorships, and other forms of absolutely authoritarian rule. On the far right, law and order means the law of the ruler and the order that serves the interest of that ruler, usually the orderliness of drone workers, submissive students, elders either totally cowed into loyalty or totally indoctrinated and trained into that loyalty. Both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler operated right-wing regimes, politically, despite the trappings of socialism with which both adorned their regimes. Huey Long, when governor-boss of Louisiana, was moving toward a truly right-wing regime, also adorned with many trappings of socialism (particularly public works and welfare) but held together not by social benefits but by a strong police force and a steady flow of money to subsidize and befriend businessmen.

    An American President could be said to move toward the right to the extent that he tended to make absolutely unilateral political decisions, with no reference to Congress, for instance, or to the people generally, and when the legitimacy of the regime was supported or made real more by sheer force, say of police power, than by voluntary allegiance from the people generally. Such a regime, also, would be likely to suppress or to swallow up potentially competing centers of power such as trade unions. Major financial interests, however, if Adolf Hitler’s relations with industry, for example, can be considered instructive, would be bought off, rather than fought off, with fat contracts and a continuing opportunity to enrich their owners. Joseph Stalin, of course, had no problem with anything such as independent trade unions or business, since both had been killed off earlier.

    “The overall characteristic of a right-wing regime, no matter the details of difference between this one and that one, is that it reflects the concentration of power in the fewest practical hands.

    “Power, concentrated in few hands, is the dominant historic characteristic of what most people, in most times, have considered the political and economic right wing.

    “The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.

    “Just as the scale along this line would show gradations of the right, so would it show gradations of the left.

    “Before getting to a far-right monarchy or dictatorship, there are many intermediate right-wing positions. Some are called conservative.

    “Somewhere along the line, for instance, a certain concentration of power, particularly economic power, would be acceptable in the name of tradition. The children of the rich, characteristically, are accorded very special places in the regimes of the right, or of conservatives. Also, there is a great deference to stability and a preference for it rather than change — all other things being equal. Caution might be the watchword toward the center of this right-wing scale, simply a go-slow attitude. That is, admittedly, a long way from the far right and dictatorship, but it is a way that can and should be measured on a straight line. The natural preference for law and order that seems such a worthwhile and innocent conservative preference is from a political tradition that came to us from kings and emperors, not from ancient democracy.

    “This hardly means that every conservative, if pressed, will go farther and farther right until embracing absolute dictatorship or monarchy. Far from it. It does mean to suggest only that the ghosts of royal power whisper in the conservative tradition.

    “The left shows similar gradations. The farthest left you can go, historically at any rate, is anarchism — the total opposition to any institutionalized power, a state of completely voluntary social organization in which people would establish their ways of life in small, consenting groups, and cooperate with others as they see fit.

    “The attitude on that farthest left toward law and order was summed up by an early French anarchist, Proudhon, who said that ‘order is the daughter of and not the mother of liberty.’ Let people be absolutely free, says this farthest of the far, far left (the left that Communism regularly denounces as too left; Lenin called it ‘infantile left’). If they are free they will be decent, but they never can be decent until they are free. Concentrated power, bureaucracy, et cetera, will doom that decency. A bit further along the left line there might be some agreement or at least sympathy with this left libertarianism but, it would be said, there are practical and immediate reasons for putting off that sort of liberty. People just aren’t quite ready for it. Roughly, that’s the position of the Communist Party today…

    “At any rate, at some point on the spectrum there is the great modern American liberal position. Through a series of unfortunate but certainly understandable distortions of political terminology, the liberal position has come to be known as a left-wing position. Actually, it lies right alongside the conservative tradition, down toward the middle of the line, but decidedly, I think, to the right of its center. Liberals believe in concentrated power — in the hands of liberals, the supposedly educated and genteel elite. They believe in concentrating that power as heavily and effectively as possible. They believe in great size of enterprise, whether corporate or political, and have a great and profound disdain for the homely and the local. They think nationally but they also think globally and now even intergalactically. Actually, because they believe in far more authoritarian rule than a lot of conservatives, it probably would be best to say that liberals lie next to but actually to the right of many conservatives.”

  13. Thomas M. Sipos Thomas M. Sipos April 16, 2009

    Root and the LNC reaffirm the left/right paradigm, but reaching out only to the right side.

    I wouldn’t mind supporting “right” issues like abolishing many taxes, if only the LP would balance that with equally loud support of “left” issues.

    But neither Root, nor the LNC, wish to offend Fox News.

  14. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph April 16, 2009

    #18: you seem to be stuck in the false left right paradigm. sad.

    There is only one scale, anarchism – statism, and I know where I’m at.

  15. paulie paulie April 16, 2009


    If we do that on peace/foreign policy, AND on social issues like privacy, the drug war, sexual freedom of all sorts, keeping an eye on out of control cops, migration rights, etc., I think we can certainly do well with the people Ron Paul drew from the left. A more radical End The Fed policy seems to be a hot button these days – something I wouldn’t have predicted.

    We might even get the hip hop set if we market ourselves as the Sex, Marijuana, Gold and Guns Party. That’s practically the key elements of a successful rap video, and we’re the only party that supports them all!

  16. Thomas M. Sipos Thomas M. Sipos April 16, 2009

    Ron Paul did it because he attacked the GOP from the left, specifically, by embracing the antiwar stance.

    Root, by contrast, panders to the GOP right. He tells Mike Savage and Fox News what they want to hear. Root is careful not to offend his right-wing hosts.

    Paul offended the GOP right-wing, blatantly and loudly, in the debates, when he stood up to Rudy “9/11″(TM, c.) Giuliani.

  17. paulie paulie April 16, 2009

    Yes, he is – but the LP is singularly bad at reaching libertarian-leaning Democrats and those libertarian-leaning independents who – if the vote at all – tend to vote for Democrats and Greens. (Not smart, when 90% of people don’t switch their party after age 30 and when the single biggest cluster on college OPHs is left-center-libertarian).

    Almost all the LP rhetoric presents libertarianism in a conservative way.

    Ironic that Ron Paul, despite being a Republican as well as more conservative than the LP on several social issues, nevertheless was able to tap into a lot of this vote/support, and the LP can’t figure out how to do it.

  18. mdh mdh April 15, 2009

    The LP’s best target audience is and always has been libertarians. There are libertarians currently registered Republican, and libertarians currently registered Democrat. The task we’re faced with is finding a way to convince them to become active Libertarians. Bush did it for us, to an extent, by alienating a lot of libertarian Republicans. Now Obama’s doing it for us again, by alienating libertarian Democrats.

  19. Bryan Bryan April 15, 2009

    Long story…heres the short version…myself…I was running for County Council on the Green ticket…they went in a direction I had problems with…As I was reading LP and Barr info I realized that most of my campaign platform would fit in with the LP. I had been familiar with the LP, but never considered them as “my” party.

    I approached members of the local LP, and aside from “political” wording, they didn’t have a problem with my platform. This basically sealed the deal.

    Obviously I was already on board with most of the social planks of the LP agenda, but also many of the “local” aspects of the economic agenda. In my “Green” campaign I did call for deregulation of small business, property rights, and public/private partnerships. (This was before I had explored the LP platform)

    All of this, along with some personal issues, “turned me”. I will admit that there was some aspects of the LP platform which caused me some concern, however, when I looked at the “whole” platform…it made sense. I have always believed in personal responsibility…which comes with freedom.

    I don’t know if it’s available online, but my “story” appeared in the most recent SC Libertarian newsletter.

    As I said…long story, but I basically came to the LP on my own. And it was largely based on my “change of heart” due to two life threatening illnesses, and my political activism.

  20. paulie paulie April 15, 2009

    BTW I was a Democrat before 1992 – probably would have been a Green if they had been more active then.

  21. paulie paulie April 15, 2009



  22. Bryan Bryan April 15, 2009

    As someone who came from the “left” (the Greens) I would suggest explaining LP economic policy as a whole…not as individual planks of the platform.

    If you tell an American you are seeking to abolish social security, they will react negatively (most will) but in the larger context, by having the money that would have been paid into a failing system available to them, each person could “create” their own individual plans for retirement.

    The average American will balk at the idea that you want to deregulate medical care, and make it a free market system. But if they understand that taxes will drop…a lot…and a move to individual rather than employer based insurance coverage, would allow for lower drug costs, and lower insurance costs, and a choice in your personal care, all of which is paid for by a portion of tax savings…they are accepting of the idea.

    This same “tactic” can be used for any of the various planks of the LP which are difficult for liberals. BUT…this is not just a tactic…If the entire platform is in place, the benefits of these changes would “equal out”, and at the same time allow for greater individual freedom…and…responsibility.

  23. paulie paulie April 15, 2009

    I think that the LP can appeal to the left.

    Absolutely. Young peace and civil liberties advocates, who often have little or no opinion about economics or only take big government economic views (if at all) as part of a package deal, are by far the best prospects for libertarianism.

  24. paulie paulie April 15, 2009

    At least with conservatives our social ideas could be accepted under the idea of government staying out of peoples’ lives.

    Which is what conservatives are against.

  25. Morgan Brykein Morgan Brykein April 15, 2009

    I can only hope, derkel. I fear every day that the Libertarian Party gets taken over by social conservatives. I think that the LP can appeal to the left.

    The two major parties are “big tent parties” with many different ideologies. The same can happen with the LP. For one thing, my fiscal ideas are center-left, while socially I’m a moderate libertarian.

    We need to point out to people that you don’t need to entirely agree with the LP platform. Democrats for Life certainly doesn’t agree with the DNC’s stance on abortion, yet they’re Democrats.

  26. derkel derkel April 15, 2009

    How was Paul part of a two party LP system when he didn’t even come close to considering running for the party’s nomination?

    I just never really see the LP reaching as many on the left. Our economic policies fundamentally go against every single thing they represent. At least with conservatives our social ideas could be accepted under the idea of government staying out of peoples’ lives.

  27. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes April 15, 2009

    I criticize the two man libertarian party system. I ran up against it-Bob Barr & Ron Paul-last year. Hopefully libs will start to listen to me & others. Outreach to the left. Vote coordinate with the GP for 40% bloc vote. That plurality could possibly win EVERY BALLOT.

  28. Donald Raymond Lake Donald Raymond Lake April 15, 2009

    The George Washington University is located four blocks from the White House and was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the nation’s capital. … University Life … © 2009 The George Washington University; 2121 I Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20052

  29. Melty Melty April 15, 2009

    I’m glad he keeps sayin it. What’s GW?

  30. d.eris d.eris April 15, 2009

    Does that mean this doesn’t count as third party “news” either?

  31. PTK PTK April 15, 2009

    I don’t think that any former presidential candidate would.

  32. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph April 15, 2009

    “Bob Barr Criticizes Two-Party System”

    I don’t think he ever stopped doing that :p

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