Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bob Barr - "Libertarian"

With all the fuss about Hillary and her "hard working, white" constituents in West "By God!" Virginia, it was missed that former Republican House Rep, Bob Barr of Georgia, is going to run for President as a Libertarian in November.

We were just talking about the special elections in Mississippi and how they bode ill for the GOP. This is just as bad if not worse news for them. A Southern conservative who led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton is going to run for President as a Libertarian. Bob Barr is even less of a libertarian than Ron Paul. He was a leader on the "War on Drugs" and on the "Defense of Marriage Act." He's also a strong opponent of family planning funding. And he supports constitutional bans on flag burning. He's no libertarian. He's a hard-core, southern social conservative and nationalist. He'll take a lot votes away from McCain! If North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia weren't already in play because of Obama's ability get out the black vote, they are now.

The Democratic party has a real chance here to go beyond the 50% + 1 approach of the Bush-Clinton-Bush era. With southern conservatives divided, there is a chance to build a broad coalition of liberals and moderates, Democrats and Independents, from all regions of the country.


Bob said...

I think it's a weird side-effect of the systemic biases toward the two parties that third parties offer candidates who don't fit the party's platform well or at all. As another example, Nader explicitly disavowed parts of the Green platform while running.

I guess I'd also suggest without any justification that the electorate being roughly 1/3 R, 1/3 D, and 1/3 independent also stems from two-party bias. If it wasn't so hard for other parties to be viable, I'd think that big chunk of independents would fall into (real) libertarians. Maybe other parties too -- I don't know if the rest are all commies or something.

I'd further conjecture that the big parties would easily fracture -- big business and big religion don't really have as much in common as big religious whites and big religious blacks.

Raised By Republicans said...

That's an interesting question, Bob. Your 1/3 R, 1/3 D, 1/3 I hypothesis sounds vaguely like something from Anthony Downs to me. It's been a while since I've read his book cover to cover but I suspect he's got a scenario in there about just this outcome.

A related observation: Nader, Perot and Buchanan have all run for President on the Reform Party ticket. So that party has run candidates in the center, the far left and far right.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Until recently, it wasn't 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, but 40%, 40%, 20%. In the 1980s, the figures were like 15% nonaffiliated. Independents are a growing segment, but historically small.

I don't think most independents would line up behind libertarians or other fringe/radical groups. Independents are, I believe, are instead characterized by the lack of a political agenda.

I also think that what we are seeing is that the political parties of 2008 are much more ideologically cohesive than they were in, say, 1978. Newer voters are less likely to be conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans. Those with such tendencies just call themselves independents.

The Law Talking Guy said...

You know, just thinking about it, the two major parties also produce candidates who effectively ignore their party's platform. Perhaps the answer is in our political system that requires electoral coalitions to be built before elections. Coalition building outside the party base is hostile to rigid ideological programs and platforms. The more fringy the ideology of the party base, the more the candidate seeking electoral success (rather than, say, a protest vote) will distance himself from it.

FYI, I remember watching the libertarian convention on CSPAN in 1996, where there was a solemn debate as to whether individual citizens should be allowed to own nuclear weapons. Only one speaker rose to say that this was unproductive and (if I recall his words) "why the party was regarded as the lunatic fringe" by most people. The minor parties attract ideologues, not politicians. When they nominate politicians, those politicians instinctively shy away from the harsh ideologies.

Raised By Republicans said...

Whether candidates abide by or ignore their party's platforms or not probably depends more on the internal rules for candidate selection.

In the US case, I'd say the primary/caucus system as opposed the number of parties is to blame for this observation.