Volokh Conspiracy: Time to Wind up the LP?

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy, a widely read libertarian law professors blog, wonders whether it is Time to Wind up the Libertarian Party:

With no less than three (!) likely or declared Republican presidential candidates who are broadly speaking in the libertarian camp–Mitch Daniels, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul–libertarian political activists should pick their favorite of the three and work for his nomination, rather than waste their time on energy on pursuing ballot access for an inevitably marginal Libertarian Party candidate.

What do Libertarians think about that? And Republican Liberty Caucus members?

Nick Sarwark, former chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland, writes in response:

[Some people buy that, and they get burned.] See here for a few recent examples.

Do I think that Paul and Johnson are the two most libertarian candidates to seek the Republican presidential nomination since Goldwater? Yes.

Is that enough for me to abandon a party that supports, in the words of the late Aaron Russo, “all of my freedoms, all of the time” […]? No.

(Sorry… sane links to the VC yield 404 errors.)

This entry was posted in Libertarian Party on by .

About Chuck Moulton

This fall I'll be starting a Ph.D. in Economics at George Mason University. My other degrees are a J.D. from Villanova Law School and a M.A. in Economics from San Jose State University. I am licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California. In my spare time I am involved with the Libertarian Party. I served as Vice-Chair of the Libertarian National Committee during the 2006-2008 term. In 2004 I ran for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania district 13. I also spend a lot of time playing bughouse and chess on the Free Internet Chess Server where my handle is knighttour.

29 thoughts on “Volokh Conspiracy: Time to Wind up the LP?

  1. John Jay Myers

    I can’t believe this guy is operating under the assumption Republicans will nominate Ron Paul.
    If they did, then I would start to wonder if it wasn’t time to wind it up, But I think the opposite holds true, when people get fired up about Paul… who are they going to vote for if he doesn’t win? Mitt Romney?

    This is our time to put up the best Libertarian we can, and let people have a real option. Now we could also destroy any possible credibility in that same moment by nominating the wrong guy, and you know who I am referring to.

    But Republicans are light years from nominating a real Libertarian. We should not be.

  2. LibertarianGirl

    the only real viable Libertarian candidate , at this time , is Lee Wrights . a good man , a Libertarian and our answr to defeating Wayne Root

  3. Gene Berkman

    It is clear that neither Ron Paul nor Gary Johnson will get the Republican nomination for President. Both campaigns will publicize libertarian ideas and get more publicity than a likely LP campaign for President.

    But the Republican Party is filled with officeholders who routinely act to limit our freedoms. The Libertarian Party and to a lesser degree the Minnesota Independence Party offer an alternative in the many races where the Republican candidate supports expanding government, whether to put pot smokers in prison or limit a woman’s right to choose.

    Since the Civil War, every President has been elected as a Republican or a Democrat. But over 100 third party and Independent members of Congress have been elected, along with a couple dozen third party Senators. Libertarians need to focus at the level where third party success is a possibility, and act rationally in the race for President.

    There is no reason one cannot be active in a local Libertarian Party campaign and at the same time back Ron Paul in the Republican primaries.

  4. Wayne Root

    I love when “experts” get everything wrong. Do the OPPOSITE of what experts tell you. Now a law professor says the LP should terminate…

    Right when the latest poll shows a majority of Republicans wants to see a third party Presidential candidate. Lead story at Newsmax.com all day today.

    Like I said…run the opposite way when “experts” pontificate. Especially law professors.

  5. John Jay Myers

    This was my reply on his blog:
    I would argue that the author doesn’t really understand what the Libertarian Party is all about, it is more than just a political party, it is a way of influencing politics on all sides in a libertarian direction.

    Also with ballot access we have a great way to get libertarians in state office, then eventually U.S. Congress.

    I am always surprised when I see people looking at the Presidential election as the “end all” of politics, when that is the most rigged game in town, considering the electoral college.

    The Presidential election for us is more about getting our message out, the same way I have given thousands of dollars to Ron Paul, not so he can win, I have never believed he could, but so he would continue to deliver the right message.

    Which is why I wouldn’t give to Johnson, because he isn’t libertarian based on principle, he bases his libertarianism on economics alone, we don’t.

    In the end, there are many reasons to vote and run libertarian, and until the Republican and Democratic party are swarming with principled libertarians, we will still have a mission to accomplish.

    When there is no third party option, the Republicans will not have to pretend to cater to a libertarian crowd, who are you going to vote for if they don’t… Romney?
    Seriously, no die hard Ron Paul fan is going to vote for Romney.

    See my website for an article called “Why Libertarian?”

  6. Andy

    “LibertarianGirl // May 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    the only real viable Libertarian candidate , at this time , is Lee Wrights . a good man , a Libertarian and our answr to defeating Wayne Root.”

    Oh come off it, Wrights is no more a viable candidate than Roger Gary and Jim Duensing. The guy is a nobody. He’d be less than he is right now if not for riding on Mary Ruwart’s skirt tales, and Mary Ruwart is not exactly a big name outside of the Libertarian Party, and the Libertarian Party is not exactly a big circle.

    The truth of the matter is that there is NO viable candidate for the Libertarian Party for 2012 at this time.

    Maybe somebody who has announced that they are seeking the nomination will become more viable (although it doesn’t look like it so far), or maybe some more viable candidates who aren’t even being considered right now will toss their hat(s) in the race for the nomination, but as of right now I don’t consider anyone who has been discussed for the nomination to be viable, even by minor party standards.

  7. Andy

    John Jay Meyers said: ” when people get fired up about Paul… who are they going to vote for if he doesn’t win? Mitt Romney?

    This is our time to put up the best Libertarian we can, and let people have a real option. Now we could also destroy any possible credibility in that same moment by nominating the wrong guy, and you know who I am referring to.”

    BINGO!

    Fellow Libertarian Party members, please don’t screw up this opportunity like we did as a party back in 2008.

  8. LibertarianGirl

    well opinions are like assholes evrybodys got one, let me rephrase , IMO , Lee Wrights is our best option , if you think Jim or Jim can beat war in votes , Id respectfully disagree

  9. Jeremy C. Young

    I have just one question for Bernstein: on what planet is Mitch Daniels, the architect of the Bush budgets, in any way a libertarian? I’m a fan of big government, and that guy is too free-spending even for me.

  10. Michael H. Wilson

    It is interesting to see the support that Ron Paul is getting, but some of the LP members need to understand that it is not Ron Paul getting the support. It is the message he has consistently presented over the years. Unfortunately we have a lot of people who want to turn down the volume in order to get elected. NO! Turn Up the Volume!

  11. Andy

    “LibertarianGirl // May 11, 2011 at 12:38 am

    well opinions are like assholes evrybodys got one, let me rephrase , IMO , Lee Wrights is our best option , if you think Jim or Jim can beat war in votes , Id respectfully disagree”

    If that’s our best option then this party is seriously screwed.

  12. Andy

    “LibertarianGirl // May 11, 2011 at 12:38 am

    well opinions are like assholes evrybodys got one, let me rephrase , IMO , Lee Wrights is our best option , if you think Jim or Jim can beat war in votes , Id respectfully disagree”

    I’d vote for Jim Duensing, Roger Gary, or Jim Burns before I’d vote for Lee Wrights (for whom I would not cast a vote). I would not vote for Wayne Root for the Presidential nomination either.

    I still like Jim Duensing the best out of this bunch, but Jim has not done anything to make himself viable thus far.

    Frankly, this entire crop of candidates looks really weak (even by Libertarian Party standards) right now. This could end up being worse than 2008. I hope not but that’s the way it looks so far.

  13. Andy

    “LibertarianGirl // May 11, 2011 at 12:39 am

    why do i get the feeling you ave some personal , ballot access , petitioner axe to grind with lee?”

    The guy is an asshole and a backstabbing lying two-faced weasel. He’s also a blowhard. If you knew the truth about this guy there’s no way you’d vote for him for anything.

    You are just going by image. You seen him riding on Mary Ruwart’s skirt and think this makes him good. He’s a joke of a candidate.

    I’ve met many Libertarian Party members over the years. Some of them have been people who I thought should be candidates, including some who I thought were people who should be candidates for President. When I heard that the clown mentioned above was a candidate for President I burst out laughing. Out of all of the many LP members I’ve met over almost 15 years as a party member, this guy is one of the last people who I thought should be a candidate for anything. President?!?!?!?! This guy should not even be running for Soil and Water Commissioner.

    He’ll, I’ve done way more for the party and the movement than this blowhard has.

  14. Robert Capozzi

    Having grown up in NY, I got a sense of what a non-major party can do. The Conservative and Liberal parties kept the Rs and Ds in check, pulling them in their preferred direction. The Conservatives even got a Senate seat one cycle…James Buckley.

    I’d like to see the LP be that sort of influence on a national basis. It’s easier to pull off in a fusion state, but I think it can be done.

    I could imagine the Paul, Johnson, and even Daniels could actually be catalysts for a REAL third party, like the GOP was in the 1850s. Paul had a counter convention in 08, for ex.! When they lose the nomination, they will be thinking outside the GOP box more and more. (Daniels is different, as he has an outside chance of being nominated, though my money’s on Pawlenty at the moment.)

    If the GOP were to pick Gingrich, Santorum, Palin or Bachmann, the LP’s stock potentially goes WAY up. This assumes we don’t continue to fixate on constructs and abstractions.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    12 mhw: …LP members need to understand that it is not Ron Paul getting the support. It is the message he has consistently presented over the years.

    me: RP says that, but it is true? A lot of people have a RP type message, and they don’t get the support and platform that RP does. As an MC, he has a certain credibility that earns him a platform to put the message out there, and some resonate with his message. He earned the pulpit he’s on. And that certainly didn’t happen over night.

  16. D. Lou Shenol

    A quick check into Daniels, of whom I wasn’t “aware”. Shows the R leader of the IN Senate had to block a Daniel Tax increase on both individuals and business. As stated above Daniels a libertarian (!? I don’t see it), the standards are lowered each year and the definitions seem to change to the detriment of liberty. Just because a Reason rag reporter drops the “l” label on someone DON’T make it so!

    BTW-Who or what exactly made Andy the LP POTUS candidate qualifier ? Why don’t you enter the race Andy and let us DUMP on your parade ?! We appreciate what you do for the LP bud, but you have been PAID for a large % of it, methinks! Last I heard Wrights is the only LP POTUS candidate donating 10% of his contributions to ballot access. Funds which Andy may well be collecting in the near future. Go figure ! (Never ever BITE the hand that feeds you)

    The more people spreading the LP message the better. The weeding out happens at the convention. Carping nabobs of negativity only HURT the Party and message. Which helps these people calling for the LP to fold the tent for good! More LP candidates, not less !!

    Never doubt that R, D, and most RLC members would LOVE to see the LP gone from the political scene today. We should spend the rest of our lives keeping the LP alive just to annoy these warmongers if for nothing else !

    I will verbally support any R or D who runs on a 80% or greater libertarian platform. I WILL NOT send one penny to their campaigns. Why support an enemy party (member) ?! Let the Rs, Ds and RLCs support their own candidates. Libertarians need to support the LP and it’s message with whatever funds they have for political activity now and in the future. Contrary to the propaganda from the White House and MSM, times are tough out here in the real world and money is tight. The LP needs the financial support of Libertarians just to survive, while the Ds and Rs are well compensated for their corruption from the Banksters, Wall Street, Mega-Business, etc., etc.!

    Now more than ever in the 40 year history, Libertarians need to remain LOYAL to the LP! Who knows this could be only the beginning of a major effort to close the LP down ! Then what !? No LP to kick around anymore…

  17. Michael H. Wilson

    RC @ 18 I see that you agree with me. You are correct that he gets the press because of his position in congress. My point is Libertarian candidates need to stay on message and quit straying in order to pick up a couple of points at the polls that they can brag about.

    In the short run a Libertarian candidate for congress doesn’t look like a winner, but in the long run by staying true to the message the LP can turn public opinion.

  18. JT

    Andy: “The truth of the matter is that there is NO viable candidate for the Libertarian Party for 2012 at this time.”

    I agree with Andy. However, it’s still VERY early, so I don’t understand why anyone would be disappointed yet. Someone better could easily announce in 6 months that he or she’s seeking the nomination and still have months to organize a campaign team, do media interviews, and raise $100,000 bucks before the national convention. I wouldn’t start to be concerned before it’s actually 2012.

  19. Jose C

    With no less than three (!) likely or declared Republican presidential candidates who are broadly speaking in the libertarian camp–Mitch Daniels, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul–libertarian political activists should pick their favorite of the three and work for his nomination, rather than waste their time on energy on pursuing ballot access for an inevitably marginal Libertarian Party candidate.

    I disagree with this. Republicans are no friend of the cause or the movement called Libertarianism. Ed Clark said it best, “For over a century, Republicans and Democrats have controlled American politics. Through the years, these two parties have grown more and more alike. No matter which is in power, taxes get higher, federal spending increases, social problems multiply, and big government gets bigger. Big enough to take a huge bight out of our paychecks. Big enough to regulate our personal lives. Big enough to freeze the poor and underemployed permanently out of any hope for improvement. Big enough to interfere in the affairs of other countries and create international tensions and the threat of war.

    As these problems grow, the two established parties respond with more taxes, more inflation, and more foreign intervention.”

    Those facts have not changed.

  20. George Phillies

    Gary Johnson, supporter of the Guantanamo Gulag, is no libertarian.

    The other two also do not qualify, a point that should be made at Volokh.

  21. Jose C

    There is a song, Mrs. Robinson, written by Simon and Garfunkel for the motion picture The Graduate. Part of the song says, “Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? A nation turns its lovely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)

    Whats that you say Mrs. Robinson ‘Joe Dimaggio’ has left and gone away? (Hey hey hey – hey hey hey)”

    Sam song different refrain . . . “Where have you gone, Ed Clark? A Party turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)

    Whats that you say Mrs. Robinson ‘Ed Clark’ has left and gone away? (Hey hey hey – hey hey hey)”

  22. George Phillies

    There are plenty of politicians who occasionally show a libertarian position. Consider the governor of New Hampshire. He just vetoed a Republican right-to-work law. Why? Exact quote:

    “States should not interfere with the rights of businesses and their employees to freely negotiate contracts.”

    This is the gold-standard libertarian argument.

  23. Starchild

    Michael @20 – You nailed it!

    Ron Paul wouldn’t have the popularity he does if he hadn’t had a core committed band of supporters, including many Libertarians, out there hustling for him before his name became a household word.

    And he wouldn’t have had that core committed band of supporters if he hadn’t established a long record of standing up for the Constitution and freedom and lots of lonely, unpopular votes in Congress taken on principle.

  24. Robert Capozzi

    sc, OTOH, had RP not run for prez in 08, he’d likely still be a lonely back bencher.

    In some ways, the medium actually IS the message. It’s overstated, but the message is not widely heard if the medium is too small. Being on the stage is half the battle, I’d say.

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