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Angry Bear

I agree on the Libertarian analysis (Julian Sanchez and Amy Phillips are two Libertarian bloggers who really dislike Bush, though I'm not sure whether they've reached the point of preferring a Democrat.)

I bloggged a list of reasons for Libertarians to support the Dem this year. FWIW, here it is:
We'll let you sleep with whoever you want to. We won't force you to pray or otherwise interfere with your private religion. We won't force you to pay for other people's religious choices. We still won't let you smoke pot on the public square, but Democrats generally support decriminalization. And we'll do all we can to promote rehabilitation over incarceration. Soft on the drug war remains a damning indictment so there's not much more we can do. Yet. We won't start unilateral wars without evidence of a real threat. We won't spend as much of your money, though still more than you would like. For most Libertarians, those making roughly $100k or less, we'll tax you either no more, or less than the Republicans will. We will generally support free trade, or at least do so more often than Republicans. We will--perhaps surprisingly--run a smaller government and regulate business activities less than do Republicans.


Nader has never been an organizer and has never represented a movement of any grassroots substance. What he was--and to his credit, very successful at it--is the creator of several very important public interest organizations established to represent certain worthy causes--public health, consumer safety, aviation safety, campaign reform, etc. But none of these organizations have been based on membership or mobilizing masses. They represent interests, not people. I say this as someone who ran one of these organizations in the 80s.

This is fine. We need such organizations and they have accomplished notable public good. So Nader is building a canidacy on a foundation of nothing. He can not tap into an organization's membership, he does not an organizational structure to build a campaign, he does not have a financial structure to supply or raise funds. All in all, he has nothing. I don't think Nader is likely to receive many votes but he will divert precious time and resources the Democrats could effectively use elsewhere, thereby impacting the election indirectly.


I think you are right in urging a calm view of Nader's prospects this year. He is rather devastating on the subject of George Bush, but I would guess that it will be a huge non-story very soon.


I think the libertarian success in Wisconsin has a few qualifiers.

The candidate was the idiosyncratic brother of a four-term governor and had Jesse Ventura-like appeal, especially among Friday night fish fry types in the hinterlands.


Kos speculates that Roy Moore might be jumping in. That would mean that Bush faces attacks from both sides of his conservative base. Interesting, but not unexpected given how incompatible the views of libertarian and religious right republicans are.

Amy Phillips

I couldn't be more pleased that people are noticing that the Republicans aren't keeping the promises they made when they came into office. You're right, though, that most of us libertarians aren't quite ready to vote Democrat. Angry Bear makes quite a good list of reasons a Libertarian should support Democratic candidates. But you see, those aren't the only issues we care about. The fact is, the Democrats are very into federalizing things. When there's a problem, even a very local one, their first question seems to be "what can the federal government do to fix this?" The Violence Against Women Act, their action on abortion, the federal minimum wage, and thousands of other examples show Democrats' contempt for localized solutions or private fixes for the world's problems. Frankly, I see getting the US out of Iraq as a less intractable problem than getting the US federal government out of all of the things the Democrats will try to get them into if they regain power. Therefore, I'm voting for P.J. O'Rourke.

Mike Johnson

Remember what Ralph said about his run in 2000--that it was intended to help establish a viable alternative party? Well, now he's running against the Green Party--on the Ralph Nader ticket. He says he's in the race to offer voters a meaningful choice. And he does; his disingenuousness and ego are unmatched by mere politicians.


Interesting point about Libs in Wisconsin but Ed Thompson never threatened to tip the vote in favor of Scott McCallum in any counties but the very craziest of the crazy. Even then, it was for Governor and not president. We may like our politics crazy but usually that love runs up to, and not across, our state line. Still I remember being at he huge Gore rally in Madison and seeing my fellow students listen with one ear to Al and the other to the screaming Naderites penned in one block over. I was struck by the number of people that stuck out the Gore speech only to tell me that they were going to vote for Ralph anyway. It was as if they were making a conscious decision to vote crazy. Gotta love Wisco politics.

Micah Sifry

Thanks for the plug, Mark. We agree. On the Libertarian point you made, let me share this intriguing post that I got from Steve Dasbach, the LP's national director, in response to an earlier blog post I had written on how unlikely it was for Nader to reach disaffected Republicans:

>>The best way to get George Bush out of office is to have a third party candidate do to him in 2004 what Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000.

>>Ralph Nader isn't the candidate who can attract the small government conservatives and libertarians who feel betrayed by Bush's massive deficits, bloated budgets, the War in Iraq, Attorney General Ashcroft & the USA Patriot Act, etc. However, someone like Libertarian Gary Nolan could attract enough of these voters in swing states and help send Bush back to Crawford Texas.
Posted by: Steve Dasbach at February 16, 2004 06:41 PM <<


I'm not so sure that Nader will have as much difficulty as you think getting enough signature to get on to the ballot in most of the states. After all, there is nothing to prevent Republicans from signing, is there?


What a yuk. Libertarians wondering about the impact of Ralph Nader on the elections. Libertarians, Greens, Naderites, Deaniac Zombies all irrelevant pipe-dreamers. Welcome to Ross Perot/David Dukes/Ralph Nader/George Wallace world. Price of admission = 1 wasted vote per patron.

Joel Houtman

Nader is a true American hero. His courageous entrance into the 2004 campaign will rank him with
other historic heroes such as Dr. King. By the
way he is not running against the Greens (he
almost certainly be or candidate this year). He
will be a choice and voice for the antiwar movement. Kucinich pointed out that Kerry is even
more pro war than Bush. Never has there been so
little difference between the two pro-war pro-patriot act, pro-Nafta corporate parties


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