Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Friday, June 20, 2008

TNR's Red Carpet Coverage From Denver

It seems the New Republic cares more about the content of decades-old Ron Paul newsletters than about the content of the new Libertarian Party Platform.

This article is a sad commentary on the role of ideas in politics -- or at least, on the role of ideas in the pages of The New Republic.  3000 words, and not a single one of them about the LP's Platform, which was completely rewritten in Denver.  Aside from eagerly quoting somebody's claim that the values of Wicca and the LP are virtually identical, Idov uses only the following 23 words in the entire article to make any attempt to characterize the content of the LP's positions: "personal freedom [...] deregulation [...] the Defense of Marriage Act and the Patriot Act, two of the least beloved pieces of recent legislation among Libertarians".

Michael Idov's vacuous article devotes more space to people's clothes and masks and piercings -- and even to my Matrix video -- than to the ideas that distinguish the LP from other parties.  The anonymous commentator above gets one thing right: the ideas of mainstream libertarianism -- an economics-based analysis of the role of government -- have been far more influential than the LP itself and its bumper-sticker-sized deontology of absolute abstention from force initiation.  Mainstream libertarian ideology is indeed so "ubiquitous", and deontological ZAPsolutism so self-marginalizing, that Idov and his editors apparently felt no need to characterize either.

Idov can be forgiven for seeing more drama in our presidential horse race than was really there.  Victory by a "Republican arriviste" was foreordained by the second ballot, when Barr and Root together claimed 52% of the votes.  The only question was whether opponents of such a victory opposed Barr in particular enough to throw it to Root instead.  Indeed, opposition to Barr was sufficient that of Root's 165 votes in the penultimate ballot, 28% of them went to Ruwart and 10% of them boycotted the final ballot (assuming nobody voted in the final ballot who didn't vote in the previous one).  Ruwart only won 37% on the penultimate ballot, and her thin lead over Barr by six votes perhaps induced in her and her supporters the magical thinking that Root's voters would at worst split evenly between her and Barr.  But that would be addled, as Root had only weeks earlier called on Ruwart to withdraw over the child sex issue.  As it happened, it was surprising that Barr barely pulled twice as many Root votes as Ruwart did.  If Ruwart hadn't been such an extremist -- far more extreme than any LP nominee, with only Bergland even in contention -- she could have cut a deal with Root.  Alas, cutting deals is not in the playbook of Libertarian radicals, which has only two pages: 1) Total Victory, and 2) Götterdämmerung.

Less Antman surrenders credibility when he disputes Idov's claim that Ruwart is "on the record suggesting that children should have a right to consent to sex with adults."  Ruwart was clear: "Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it’s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess; this is part of life."  The election is over; there's no need any more to keep repeating the red-herring talking point that Ruwart merely opposes bright-line age-of-consent rules that create crimes due to calendar accidents.  It's not clear whether Ruwart's loss was due to her child-sex position -- which she clarified by saying that pubescent children have the right to consent to sex with adults to the extent that they can have a physiological "desire" for such sex.  Just be grateful that she got a pass on 1) her inconsistency in ignoring the economic desires of pre-pubescent children, 2) her apparent denial that parents have any special right to control such choices by their children, 3) her apparent belief that parents have no positive obligation to feed their children, 4) checkbook justice in Ruwarchotopia, etc.


Carol Moore Report said...

Ever here of the INNUENDO EFFECT? You kept harping on Ruwart's formulations on child pornography, and guess what? All sorts of articles now talk about Barr as being the party of people who almost voted in someone with extreme ideas on child pornography. So now all sorts of people think Barr has similar ideas. Google alert Bob Barr and child pornography and see.

phillies said...

One might propose that you are seeing a press response on how interesting the platform is to most of the press, namely, not very. In addition, this is the third convention in a row in which the platform was completely rewritten, leaving the impression that we change the platform a great deal regularly, so perhaps the platform does not mean much, however much we lovingly worked on its contents.

Carol, you keep supporting people in the general line of Mary Ruwart, whose book discusses child pornography in terms of unfortunate childhood decisions, not to mention her theory of criminal justice under which a child pornographer who can pay the assessed financial damages suffers no other penalty, assuming that they did not individually secede first, and people will tend to conclude that we are the party that finds these ideas acceptable for discussion.

No, if the radical wing did not want the difficulty you describe, they should have supported a candidate whose position on child pornography--remember, that *is* the question she writes in her book before answering it--did not lead to those problems. But that's what the radical wing did, and we will see the consequences as time unfolds.

Having said that, I shall pose both of you a riddle: I am assured by multiple sources that one of the lead people in the effort to persuade Mary Ruwart to run was Pat Dixon, the Texas State Chair, who is most certainly not a radical himself. Why then, assuming these people were told correctly what happened, was he pushing Ruwart as a candidate?

Carol Moore Report said...

George: I wrote about the innuendo effect on the Barr campaign, not my own viewpoints. Learn to read more discriminatingly. ;-)