Lib­er­tar­i­ans’ vi­able can­di­date

The Covington News - - Opinion -

In Ge­or­gia we will have the op­por­tu­nity to pick one of three can­di­dates to be our next pres­i­dent. Sen. John McCain has the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion wrapped up. Sen­a­tors Hil­lary Clin­ton and Barack Obama con­tinue to fight for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion. The third can­di­date that will ap­pear on the bal­lot will be the nom­i­nee of the Lib­er­tar­ian Party.

An in­ter­est­ing ru­mor has made its way around that for­mer Con­gress­man Bob Barr, who rep­re­sented Ge­or­gia’s 7th Dis­trict in Congress from 1995 to 2003, is con­sid­er­ing a run for the nom­i­na­tion of the Lib­er­tar­ian Party. Barr joined the party in De­cem­ber 2006 af­ter be­com­ing greatly con­cerned at the con­stant at­tacks on ba­sic civil lib­er­ties pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion by a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and Congress.

Barr had pre­vi­ously played down the spec­u­la­tion; how­ever, dur­ing a re­cent ra­dio in­ter­view, Barr con­firmed the ru­mor.

“There’s been a tremen­dous amount of in­ter­est ex­pressed to me both di­rectly and in­di­rectly on the in­ter­net,” Barr said. “I take that sup­port very se­ri­ously, and I think it also re­flects a great deal of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the cur­rent can­di­dates and the cur­rent twoparty sys­tem. So it is some­thing, to be hon­est with you, that I’m look­ing very se­ri­ously at.”

Barr is a fis­cal con­ser­va­tive, a be­liever in lim­ited gov­ern­ment and in­di­vid­ual lib­erty. He con­sis­tently re­ceived high rat­ings from the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union while a mem­ber of Congress. Barr has worked with the ACLU on pri­vacy is­sues and served on the board of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion in re­cent years

Barr has never been afraid to chal­lenge the pres­i­dent. While a mem­ber of Congress, Barr of­ten spoke out against Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. He also served as a House man­ager dur­ing Clin­ton’s im­peach­ment trial in the Se­nate. Barr has made his is­sues with the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion known since his de­par­ture from Congress. He has crit­i­cized Congress and Pres­i­dent Bush over run­away spend­ing and fis­cal ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity and has be­come a fierce critic of the so-called USA Pa­triot Act, de­spite vot­ing for the leg­is­la­tion while in Congress. He be­lieves that the leg­is­la­tion is be­ing used too broadly, in­clud­ing many cases that do not in­volve ter­ror­ism in any way, such as the use of the Pa­triot Act in the re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of New York Gov­er­nor El­liot Spitzer.

Barr has also spo­ken out against the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion for its stance on tor­ture. In a re­cent es­say to “Wash­ing­ton Monthly,” Barr wrote, “This is not some­thing of which we as Amer­i­cans should be proud, and the use of tor­ture will come back to haunt us in ways this ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­par­ently ei­ther doesn’t re­al­ize or sim­ply doesn’t care about.”

He has also crit­i­cized the broad in­ter­pre­ta­tion of ex­ec­u­tive power as­serted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion, such as the war­rant­less sur­veil­lance con­ducted by the NSA. He went as far to sug­gest that Ge­orge W. Bush be im­peached be­cause of his fail­ure to pro­tect and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and Bill of Rights.

A se­ri­ous third-party can­di­dacy could present chal­lenges for Repub­li­cans. Sen. McCain may have a tough time woo­ing fis­cal con­ser­va­tives who are skep­ti­cal of him due to his vote against the Bush tax cuts and sup­port of re­ac­tionary mea­sures caused by the mis­guided hys­te­ria over “man-made” global warm­ing.

Repub­li­cans who are weary of the war in Iraq could also seek an al­ter­na­tive to McCain, who seems to hold a sim­i­lar in­ter­ven­tion­ist out­look on for­eign af­fairs as the cur­rent oc­cu­pant of the White House.

The Lib­er­tar­ian Party would ben­e­fit greatly if Barr de­cides to seek the party’s nom­i­na­tion at its na­tional con­ven­tion next month in Den­ver. The party has had some suc­cess elect­ing can­di­dates at the lo­cal level and has played the role of spoiler in some con­gres­sional elec­tions. The most suc­cess Lib­er­tar­i­ans have achieved in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was in 1980 when the ticket of Ed Clark and David Koch re­ceived 921,299 votes, 1.1 per­cent of the na­tional pop­u­lar vote.

Given the in­ter­est in the me­dia that the ru­mor has gen­er­ated, Barr’s can­di­dacy could put the party in the na­tional spot­light and give it some much needed cred­i­bil­ity.

If Barr de­cides to run, it could make an al­ready in­ter­est­ing elec­tion that much more ex­cit­ing.

Ja­son Pye

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