Reason’s David Weigel catalogs some of the reaction to yesterday’s announcement that Mike Gravel had joined the Libertarian Party and is running for the LP Presidential Nomination.
This statement from Presidential candidate Wayne Allen Root fairly sums up how I feel about the idea:
Gravel is in no way, shape or form a Libertarian. He’s just a big government, big-spending, redistribute the wealth, liberal- big difference. He’s clearly stumbled into the wrong party. Worse, he’s a Green Party supporter and potential candidate as well. The Green Party is not in any way compatible with the Libertarian Party. They are polar opposites of the political spectrum.
Anthony Gregory says pretty much the same thing:
[I]n his announcement to supporters of his intentions to run as an LP presidential candidate, he writes, “The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.”
This is just hysterical. Of course, FDR created the military-industrial complex. To the extent the Democrats are no longer the party of FDR, that is a good thing — and indeed, one could argue the GOP became the party of FDR with Nixon, Reagan and the two Georges Bush.
Of particular interest are the comments of several non-libertarians, such as this from The New Skeptic:
Libertarians have a serious image problem, and people like Gravel and Ron Paul have not helped. Besides that, the Randians (oh no a word I just made up!) are in that “big tent” and stink the whole thing up. People who are serious but realistic about small government and civil liberties want nothing to do with the kooks. It’s one thing to say, for instance, that the Commerce Clause is a strict limit on congressional power; it’s another to formulate a reasonable interpretation of that provision while dealing with and changing the system currently in place. Getting rid of the FDA overnight = kooky; not just kooky, but intellectually immature. Criticism is not the final step in political theory, and if libertarians cannot construct a viable ideological system from the rubble of rejected ideas, then they offer nothing worth overhauling our government for.
Oh, I know, Mike Gravel is hardly the best representative of the party. But still, libertarianism often marginalizes itself, and that’s bad, because some of its ideas need to be implemented if we want any hope of surviving China, the collapse of Social Security, and an Islamic Europe.
And at least one Democrat is glad to see Gravel go:
As the resident Democrat around these here parts, I want to thank the Libertarian Party for taking this certifiable nut-case off of the Democrats’ hands.
Seriously though, I don’t mean to knock the Libertarian Party because I believe that we need more than just two political parties engaged in the debate over the direction or our nation. However, with Mike Gravel now in the Libertarian Party’s ranks, it makes it a bit more difficult for the Libertarians to be considered as a viable third option for disenchanted Republicans and Democrats. You need more Bob Barrs and Neal Boortzs and less Mike Gravels.
The thing is that the Gravel move isn’t all that surprising. The LP clearly enjoys the publicity of having a former Senator among their ranks now. The fact that he shares absolutely none of the core principles that the party stands for doesn’t seem to matter to them.
And that, above all else, seems to be evidence of just how useless that Libertarian Party has become.