Where did this guy come from? He pops up on CNN yesterday for about 30 seconds (maybe he’s making the talk show rounds, too, but I haven’t been watching those lately), and all of a sudden he’s the frontrunner for the Libertarian nomination (at least based on cash).
I literally looked at the LP site yesterday right after I caught a glimpse of him on the TV at a coffee shop, and there was no sign of him at all. However, today if you look at the LP candidates site, there he is…in 1st place in fundraising. It’s amazing what a little press will do.
I caught a little interview of him on the Village Voice, as well. One of the commenters made an astute observation about his comments on the Defense of Marriage Act:
…So, for example, regarding the “Defense of Marriage Act,” the fundamental, operative provisions of the “Defense of Marriage Act” say that each state makes up its own mind. I think that’s a fundamentally sound, libertarian-oriented position on federalism. With regard to drug usage similarly, these are issues in my view that ought to be left up to the states, based on the principles of federalism.
A couple of readers point out two problems with Barr’s position here. First, one says the Defense of Marriage Act is not a “Federalist” view, meaning it preempts state’s rights instead of preserving them. Another commenter says the Libertarian Party doesn’t really hold a position on Federalism and State’s Rights:
Let us be clear. Barr is not the front-runner in the LP race and he is not a libertarian. He is a conservative. He misstates libertarianism which actually has no direct position on federalism. It is about individual rights and Barr is a believer in the States being able to violate those rights — that is not libertarianism. It is the views of a conservate Constitutionalist not a libertarian.
The first contention (DOMA is not a “State’s Rights” position) is actually not true. The law actually simultaneously preserves a State’s right to recognize and NOT to recognize an intra-sex marriage, and the Federal Government’s NON-right to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage for Federal purposes. Thus it is definitely a CONSERVATIVE act, but it’s safe to say that it’s a constitutionally sound one.
The second contention (that the LP has no position on Federalism) is actually true. Now, not surprisingly, neither does the GOP or the DNC, but I would expect that sort of shallowness and lack of attention to our Constitution from two behemoth “catchall coalition” parties. I sincerely expected more from the LP. This, in my humble opinion, is a big chunk of the problem with modern national politics.
The statement that Bob Barr is probably more of a “constitutional conservative” than a libertarian could very well be accurate; however, I would posit that Ron Paul could easily be labeled similarly (as could yours truly). Another term I’ve seen thrown around is: “Traditionalist Libertarian.” Either way…it highlights the real challenge many small-government types had with Governor Huckabee’s campaign: he constantly talked about “vertical politics” which smelled too much like the “Third Way” which is classically a very sneaky and shady way of trying to thread the line between liberal and conservative which essentially means, “All this liberal vs. conservative nonsense needs to give way to smarter people like ME just making all those pesky decisions.”
That’s, of course, not what Governor Huckabee was saying (and hopefully not what Obama was saying), but it scares the bejesus out of Libertarians. Anyone have any opinions on Bob Barr, though?
UPDATE: In all fairness to Libertarians in general and Wayne Allyn Root in particular, the number 2 contender for the Libertarian nomination (and until yesterday, the number 1 contender) has “State’s Rights” as number TWO on his issues list. Go Wayne.