Bob Barr’s Missed Opportunityby Stephen Littau
When I learned that Bob Barr was going to be a guest on Hannity and Comes, I was excited to see a rare opportunity for a Libertarian candidate to explain the Libertarian philosophy to an audience which is largely unfamiliar with what the Libertarian Party is all about: personal liberty. To my dismay, Barr instead promoted federalism rather than individual liberty (federalism is important but is not the same thing as individual liberty). Both Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes raised some very good questions which Bob Barr failed to answer (it seemed to me that Alan Colmes, a loyal Democrat, had a better understanding of the Libertarian Party’s positions than Bob Barr did).
The area where Barr disappointed me more than anywhere else was his response to Hannity’s questions regarding the war on (some) drugs. Rather than answer the question directly, Barr chose to dance around the issue and ultimately answered that the drug issue should be left to the states. While surrendering the war on (some) drugs at the federal level would be a vast improvement over the current failed policy, simply surrendering on the federal level does not go nearly far enough (a great first step would be to release the P.O.W.’s – the non-violent drug offenders).
The following is the response I would have liked to hear from Congressman Barr to Hannity’s question: “What would your vote be? Would you vote to legalize heroin and crack?”
Sean, I think you misunderstand the Libertarian position on the war on drugs just as I did for most of my life. The underlying principle of the Libertarian Party is that the government, whether local, state, or federal, has no right to tell a person what to do with his life, liberty, or property provided that he does not violate the rights of life, liberty, or property of a non-consenting other person. It’s none of my business if my neighbor uses heroin or crack in the privacy of his own home so long as he does so without violating my rights or anyone else’s.
Furthermore, Sean, I would like to point out the three most important reasons why Libertarians are opposed to drug prohibition: it’s ineffective, it puts an unnecessary strain on the criminal justice system, and is dangerous because it breeds violent crime. It’s for these reasons that I would declare an end to the war on drugs as my first act as president by pardoning all non-violent drug offenders; all prisons would be free of non-violent drug offenders for the duration of my presidency.
I know that this format will not allow me to go into any detail on any of these reasons why the war on drugs is harmful to society at large, but I would encourage you and your viewers to visit the Libertarian Party website, the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition website, and Cato.org to get a more comprehensive understanding of these arguments [Liberty Papers readers can follow this link for a comprehensive explanation of these arguments].
This is the kind of answer I would expect from any person seeking the Libertarian Party nomination (up to and including the faux Libertarian Mike Gravel). Rather than clarifying the Libertarian position on the war on (some) drugs, Bob Barr unnecessarily made the issue more confusing to potential Libertarians and others unfamiliar with the Libertarian philosophy. Libertarians (both “small l” and “large L”) are also left to wonder: Where does Bob Barr really stand on the war on drugs?