Sunday, May 25, 2008

Libertarians Choose to Help Democrats

The Libertarian race for President has been one of the most contentious that the party has seen in years. Maybe even decades. Eight candidates contended until this weekend, with a final ballot tonight going to former Congressman Bob Barr. The one time Republican Congressman from Georgia was a traditional Conservative for many years in most respects. Fiscal issues, the war in Iraq, and the Republican party's perceived tightening on personal freedoms (e.g., the Patriot Act) "forced" Barr to change parties.

Other contenders included an individual who had recently been pursuing the Democrat's nomination for President. Former US Senator from Alaska, Mike Gravel was eliminated after four of six ballots. In many respects, Gravel was as traditional of a Democrat as Barr was a republican. The only areas Gravel and Barr have in common are the war and civil liberty issues.

It is assumed that a Barr candidacy would harm Republicans more and Gravel would have been a distraction to the Democrats. Maybe the Libertarians believe the Democrats have enough problems with Ralph Nader and wanted to give them a break. More likely it is that Republicans today are more ideologically similar to Libertarians.

Here is a quick break down of where Barr stands:

* The complete elimination of the Income Tax and the repeal of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution that authorizes it.

* In a twist away from traditional Libertarian policies, Barr strongly emphasizes the securing of the borders. His website doesn't detail how he would accomplish such, but Libertarians have traditionally said that you simply have to eliminate the Welfare State that attracts the wrong people to this country. Other wise, immigration is an economic positive. Barr implies a slightly more proactive position.

* Regarding national defense, Barr argues that the US military is used as "Soldiers of Fortune," charged to make sure oil continues to flow to meet our economic needs. He ascribes to a Jeffersonian view of "no entangling alliances."

Will Barr matter? It is too early to say, but I am sure Republicans are anxious about keeping every single potential vote in November.

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Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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