Open Thread Question of the Day: Will the Barr/Root Ticket Help or Hurt the Libertarian Party?

I think it’s too early to tell. There are some very legitimate concerns that many Libertarians have about Barr’s commitment to Libertarian principles. Barr defeated Ruwart 54% to 46% and I can tell you from being there that many of the delegates who supported Ruwart were very dissatisfied with the outcome. It’s very unclear to me whether Barr can win their support.

The main concerns Libertarians have (large L and small l) concern his congressional career, namely his support for the USA PATRIOT Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and his work as a notable drug warrior. Barr has since denounced and apologized for these policies and is working toward their repeal.

The question Libertarians have to ask is whether or not this conversion is authentic or opportunistic. Personally, my approach is “trust but verify.” I am willing to take Barr at his word.

Why? He is a politician after all!

I truly think his conversion is authentic because people CAN and DO change. I have a great deal of respect for both Bob Barr and his running mate Wayne Allyn Root because they both admitted their mistakes and say they want to correct them rather than pretend that they were always staunch Libertarians all along. I’m sympathetic to this because I too have evolved a great deal in my thinking over the last year or so and have made a near 180 degree turn on certain critical issues (I’ll write a complete treatise on this someday soon).

If you believe that this conversion is opportunistic rather than authentic, then by all means I would urge you to not support Bob Barr. If, however; you do think this conversion is real and if you believe he does support the goals of less taxation, less government, and more freedom then I urge you to support Bob Barr in the general election.

Sure, many of Barr’s policies have been very destructive toward these ends but what do we gain by beating someone over the head for making mistakes one has apologized for and promises to make right. Isn’t the whole point of debate to persuade your opponents to your side? And who makes a better argument for a position than the converted?