Local libertarians tag Borat alum for prez
Not to be denied their voice in this year's presidential election, local freedom lovers from the Jefferson Area Libertarians were among those who made a field trip to Denver last Saturday to nominate a White House candidate of their own. After much debate, they chose former Georgia congressman Bob Barr to be their 2008 presidential candidate. Members of the local group participated in the convention and "represented Jefferson's thought," according to JAL Chairman John Munchmeyer.
Despite the fact that third-party candidates have often spoiled the election for the major party candidate with whose views they are most aligned, Munchmeyer insists his party is not trying to rain on anyone's parade.
"Our goal is not to affect the election," Munchmeyer says. "Our goal is to offer a candidate who's different from the two other big government candidates. We're offering the only choice for smaller government."
During his time in Washington, Barr– a former Republican– was among the most conservative members of Congress and has espoused viewpoints contrary to Libertarian beliefs, most prominently his positions against gay marriage and drug use. At the convention, Barr renounced these views, claiming to "see the light" concerning his former sponsorship of the Defense of Marriage Act and participation in the War on Drugs.
After leaving the Republican Party in 2004 in conflict with the Bush administration, Barr joined the Libertarian Party in 2006 and has since served on the Libertarian National Committee.
"The majority of people at the convention believed him," Munchmeyer says. "Some are skeptical, but that he's been working with the Libertarian Party speaks to the fact that he's on board with these issues."
This year, libertarianism got a boost from Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and one-time Libertarian Party nominee who raised $34.4 million in his bid to be this year's Republican standard-bearer. Munchmeyer says Paul was absent from the convention's nominating process despite his newfound popularity because "Paul hasn't been a nominee since 1988. Because he ran as a Republican, he doesn't have a lot of connection with the Libertarian Party."
Despite his previous positions, Barr won the nomination after six rounds of ballots, defeating author/activist Mary Ruwart. Virginia, with one of the highest Libertarian delegate counts (delegates are proportional to number of party members in the state), strongly supports Barr despite any controversy surrounding his political career– including any alleged whipped cream-licking incidents and an unwitting cameo in the film Borat. The JAL hopes to bring Barr to Charlottesville later in the year, in a campaign that will focus on creating small government and "alleviating the fear" associated with the two party system, according to Munchmeyer.
"People on the outside look at us and say it's futile, that we won't be able to break through," Munchmeyer says. "We're not in it to be a spoiler– we want to grow our party and win."