NEGATIVE VS. DIRTY CAMPAIGNING IN THE
If you start with the principle
that is acceptable for anyone from independent media to candidates
themselves to criticize candidates for real policy differences or
personal or political failings ("legitimate negative campaigning") but
it is NOT acceptable to exaggerate real issues or fabricate phony ones
("dirty politics/smear campaigns"), you have an excellent guideline for
judging the 2004 Libertarian Party presidential nomination
campaign. Overall, I find that Aaron Russo himself, and some
campaign staffers, were far more guilty of dirty politics -- creating
false issues, making false charges, insulting the other candidate --
than either the Gary Nolan or
Badnarik campaigns. Some Nolan
supporters, as well as more independent critics like myself, definitely
engaged in harsh negative campaigning on a number of
legitimate issues where Russo was vulnerable; it was not necessary to
make any issues up!
David Mooter, who
supporting Russo and Nolan, wrote in a "Libs4Peace"
after the convention, referencing Russo's debate
Russo, he would only
attack a campaign position of Russo without naming Russo, but he never
attacked Russo's character. So it was *very* disingenuous of Russo to
try and take credit for a political truce when he was the only one
waging war. Heck, one only has to see how clean the race was before
Russo entered to see where the problems came from.
I myself became particularly annoyed at
Russo because of his rude treatment of Nolan and other libertarians, as
his megalomaniacal boasting about his amazing powers to transform the
party, which too many libertarians fell for. See full details at my "Russo
web page. (Yes, I should have included Badnarik, and I certainly had
things to say about him, but like everyone else I foolishly counted him
out of the race.) Contrary to what some Russo supporters
insisted, I did not consider myself a Nolan supporter -- at least not
until the second ballot of the convention voting process when I finally
started carrying his signs and voting for him. It took me that
long to overcome my wariness that certain parties I distrusted
enthusiastically supported Nolan, and my concern that psychologically
Nolan was too reactive to issues like the 9-11 attacks. Nevertheless, I
felt he was the most promising of the three candidates.
The unfair attacks on Gary Nolan
were instigated by Russo himself, and spread by supporters, especially
"Communications Director" Tom Knapp of Missouri
who originally worked with Russo in his Constitution Party.
Russo's attacks on Nolan continued even in his concession speech!
It was certainly legitimate for
Russo and his supporters to make issues of whether the Nolan campaign
stress television advertising or "in your face" activism, or his some
of his early, rather rash statements on Afghanistan, the Geneva
Conventions and collateral damage. (As we would discover only during
the debates, however, Russo himself had a worse stand on terrorism --
he thought as president he had the right authorize "police actions" to
capture or kill any alleged terrorist anywhere on the planet, without congressional
authorization! I now call him Aaron "Ariel Sharon" Russo.)
However, it was
not legitimate to infer or state that because Nolan refused to make a
very possibly un-deliverable promise -- that he would put 50% of funds
television advertising -- that this meant staffers would just pocket
the money in
big salaries, as Russo frequently charged the Browne campaign had
done. I wrote extensively about the failings of
a variety of partyarchs when I was running for LNC Secretary in
2002. However, I don't hold the paranoid conspiracies some
libertarians do about their evil hold over the Libertarian Party, ones
they also fed Russo. Additionally, Russo's nasty "joke" against
Nolan regarding his Lebanese
heritage -- "He's an Arab. Let's kill him." -- showed the
kind of animus motivating the man, something likely to spill over into
Constant allegations of
guilt-by-association, be it past Republican associations or alleged
close current association with the "Bergland-Browne-Cloud
were unfair. Most obnoxiously, less than a week before the
Knapp issued an "exposè" based mostly on
guilt-by-past-Republican-association conspiracy theory; one Nolan web
posting advising a depressed young man with homosexual leanings to get
therapy; and one totally false
allegation of bigotry against Native Americans. It took the Nolan
campaign several days to verify that the non-libertarian accuser
confused Nolan with
talk show host named Gary who had
made the bigoted comments. (See details at Russo
v. Nolan page.) Only after this incident did we learn that Nolan
is, in fact, part
Native American. Knapp retracted his statement on only
a couple of lists where he had posted it and never apologized. He
certainly was not
"fired" by Russo for his deed, as he wrote he feared he would be.
Meanwhile, Russo's own insulting, crude
even buffoonish behavior -- plus his constant boasting that only he, as
a successful and well-connected Hollywood producer, could
save the party from it's "loser" mentality and status -- generated
criticism, and even outrage, from various
libertarians on e-mail lists and during the
convention. Much as Russo blamed this on Nolan, he
really had only himself to blame. In fact, he had so many
obvious failings worthy of exposure, I myself in my role of "gonzo
page) found little time to spread my own "conspiracy
theory" -- my fear that once he got the nomination Russo would return
using the "enforcing immigration laws" issue to attract money from
bigots who want to keep Mexicans, Muslims and
Arabs out of the country; a theory based largely on Russo's own history
Lacking a real libertarian press that
investigate candidates objectively and spread legitimate information
and criticism, we need a "fully informed
delegates" group of
libertarians committed to
doing just that. The perfect example of this need is how angry
some delegates -- and his new campaign manager -- were when they found
out only after Michael Badnarik was chosen as the L.P. presidential
candidate that he
did not use a driver's
license and had tax issues.
With hundreds of delegates flying to and from
the convention, it was inevitable that a few would run in to some sort
of hassle. First, Gary Nolan himself discovered that after months
of flying around the country he was suddenly on the 'No fly"
list. According to Tom Baxter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"an AirTran ticket agent told [Nolan] he could not get on a flight to
Atlanta because his name was on the list used by the airlines to screen
suspected terrorists. Airport police cleared him to make the
flight to Atlanta after determining the name on the restricted list was
that of a Gary Nolan Craig, Nolan said....He said he was told he would
continue to have a problem flying if he didn't get the matter cleared
up. 'Obviously, it's a flawed system and this is just another example
of what could go wrong,' Nolan said." Hmmm, wonder if
Michael Badnarik will run in to any problems when he starts flying.
(David Mooter photo)
After the convention, delegate Carole Ward was
ejected as a "security risk" from Dallas/Fort Worth International
Airport after showing several military recruits a Russo for President
poster of President Bush made up of the faces of soldiers who died
during the Iraq war. She disputed airport officials' claims she
was being overly aggressive.
I myself took the bus both ways and, yes, they do
search bus passengers' carry on luggage. But less predictably and
less thoroughly than airline passengers--even on the way back from
Atlanta, when a passenger attacking a Greyhound bus passenger out west
was in the news. I probably could have gotten away with taking
photos of the searches, but it did not occur to me. However, I do
of the convention. A few of
those are interspersed
Platform Committee Meeting
2002 Libertarian Party Convention voted to allow
2004 Convention Platform Committee to attempt to reformat the entire Libertarian Party platform
so that each plank would contain sections on: the Issue, the Principle,
Solutions, Libertarian Action/Transition. (Transition
statements, of course, are not binding on state
parties or candidates who can propose more or less dramatic
transitional stands.) It
was also authorized
to create relevant language
in sections where language did not exist, as well as other changes,
subject to approval by delegates.
I was active on the "lpplatform-discuss"
yahoogroup reviewing the evolving reformatting and making suggestions,
especially to the sections on the Internal Security and Civil
Liberties, War on Drugs, Non-intervention, Foreign Aid, and Secession,
mostly in consultation with members of the "Libs4peace" yahoogroup.
I came in early on the second of three days of
deliberations and found
the committee often to be picky on minor details while quickly
dispatching weightier ones. The major example of this was the
failure to change
the plank on immigration. While minor tweaking in the transition
section could have satisfied many of those who fear inundation by
welfare seekers, criminals and terrorists, the only proposal quickly
discussed and abandoned was a complicated reformulation of the whole
theory. Instead a Platform Committee member was charged
to write a memo on why it was too difficult to change the platform this
year. Nevertheless in both days of
deliberations I found the Committee to be quite reasonable --
since they accepted, with minor tweaking only, most of the major
changes Libertarians for
Peace and I had proposed.
Platform Committee Meeting
In the half day
devoted to the
Platform Committee meeting Doris Gordon and others who would outlaw
abortion yet again wasted more than an hour of valuable time with
would allow libertarian candidates to freely promote all sorts of
onerous federal, state and local laws to regulate women's bodies and
lives. Despite the small number of libertarians who would outlaw
abortion, the committee gave three such proposals far too much
attention, before overwhelmingly rejecting them.
Libertarian National Committee
("LNC") Meeting for Meeting and
As a recovering LNC junkie, I'm proud to say I
skipped the meeting. But if you want to find out what happened at
both meetings, see the Sean Haugh's report on LibertyforAll.Net.
Of course, if I
had attended I might have seen the mysterious Joe Seehausen, rumored to
be the LP National Director. Unlike the ubiquitous Steve Dasbach, he is
a true many of mystery. Happily, LPNEWS editor Daniel Cloud was
around a good deal more and was very forthcoming on various LPNEWS
issues. George Getz was seen from time to time. Doubtless
he spent a lot of time on the very effective comedy routines he does
for every National Committee meeting to convince them he's doing a
great job getting the Librarian Party, or whatever it's called, in the
public eye. The definition of an "apparatchik"
is a person who is better at keeping the job than at doing the job.
Instead I sat out in the lobby, making buttons for sale and giving out
a couple dozen free secession buttons to promote my web site Secession.Net. One of the
people who stopped by and took a Secede! button was Fred Collins, an
elected libertarian from of Michigan. Later I would meet Nolan
Goushaw and in our "hellos" I could almost hear us both
wondering: "Now what is it I've heard disreputable about her?"
A couple of the "fun" buttons I was making were
"Don't Buy Hollywood Hype" and copies of the original "Mad as Hell"
button Aaron Russo distributed with his video of the same name a few
years back. Russo, who already was trolling the lobby for votes,
barreled up to complain that I could not sell the button because he
"copyrighted" the artwork. Dubious, I asked him to prove it, and
he stalked off, probably deciding he had bigger fish to fry than
copyright disputes with me. I ended up giving most of them away
to friends who misguidedly supported Russo.
Later as I walked by Russo, a woman with him -- who
I later learned was his wife -- asked me to show her just how Russo
had "sexually assaulted you." (See Russo
v. Nolan page.) I explained he had merely made what
might be considered a sexually aggressive move when I was asking him an
embarrassing question about his $20 million dollar movie failure,
lunging at me crying
out "Fix my belt buckle. I can't get it in the hole!" Not
surprisingly, she laughed it off.
Russo continued making snippy
comments when ever I passed by, once joking "freedom is for everyone,
Carol Moore." I replied to his taunts with
"Secessionists for Russo!" I had promised Russo that if he did
the nomination and lots of publicity, I was going to be an
opportunist and start "Secessionists for Russo." Later
it occurred to me that it was a good idea to put such a page up for
whoever won the nomination, since all have stated they would not use
military force against secessionists. See Secessionists for
Gary Nolan also appeared in the lobby Thursday
evening engaging in more low key conversations with various
would be another two days, only after the debates, that I finally saw
Michael Badnarik circulating in person. I never got around to
speaking to Badnarik until
after the second ballot when I told him I was starting Secessionists
for Badnarik. (Two Nolans photo by David Mooter.)
Note that in my one conversation with Sheriff
Richard Mack who was running for Governor in Utah he admitted he
favored secessionism. He has since dropped out of the race to be
one of the 12 finalists on Showtime's American
television show. But I doubt he will be promoting secession
As mentioned above, you can review
Convention Minutes .Doc file
David Mooter's report on speakers
"Libs4Peace" yahoogroup, since I missed most of them.
One of my pre-convention projects
was to send a Pro-Choice
letter to delegates encouraging them to attend this
early session of the convention and vote to retain the Women's Rights
plank of the platform that had been retained by only 53% in 2002.
In case it did not pass, a couple of us had some protests planned,
but our efforts were unnecessary -- a reassuring 75% of
delegates voted to retain it. All other planks also were retained.
Frankly, I wasn't paying attention, knowing that generally things were
better than they had been, but the party still was in debt.
(Later a few people opined that if the LNC didn't "cut off" some of the
"life memberships" bestowed years ago for dubious reasons, the party
eventually would go broke.) However, at some point Geoff Neale
thanked Jim Lark for writing a "very very"
check -- and that we could check the FEC reports to see how large --
when the party
was in deep financial trouble. I later congratulated Lark for
right and honorable thing.
Despite my Internet activism, I tend to be
more reserved from the floor -- if only because I figure most people
have heard more than enough of me already! However, seeing a
short line of those commenting for and against reformatting the
platform, I decided to speak up for it. Stating my name and
describing my reputation as a "nitpicker" who had been reviewing the
process for months, I said I found the results not perfect, but "pretty
good" and supported the reformat. Several people later told me that
helped them decide to support it.
As it happens I was a bit
confused on the motion and didn't realize the platform committee wanted
us to vote the whole thing up or down, something I had initially
opposed. I voted against doing so -- even as I began to think it
was probably the best thing to do, rather than ratify plank by plank
and only get half way through the platform. After the body
voted to accept the "green sheet" reformatting, Platform Committee
member David Euchner of Arizona yelled out, "Fraud, fraud on the
convention!" But I think his complaint was overstated.
As it turned out, we had lots of time left
over for nitpicking the substantive Platform Committee proposed
changes on the "beige sheets," as well as the rest of the platform over
the next two days.
(Delegates obsessively revisited the plank on Space Exploration!) But
even those changes made turned out to be fairly innocuous. The
most seriously statist or just irrelevant proposals were quickly shot
down. (See the Convention Minutes
for changes if they are not yet up at LP.org/issues/platform.)
After acceptance of changes to the Secession
Plank, Platform Committee Chair Michael Dixon thanked me from the stage
for my help with wording, given during the Platform Committee
meeting. Another win for this rowdy secessionist!
Needless to say, WHO should be the Presidential
nominee remained the main topic of most conversations, and most
conversations revolved around the more visible Russo and Nolan.
Both had two or three Question and Answer sessions with delegates in
rooms off the main floor. Badnarik did have a well-placed
table that included a television showing a short video about him.
(David Mooter photo.) Despite Russo's boasting about his television
television showing it was
placed in a far corner of the tabling area. The Nolan campaign
had made some videos but decided they were not good enough to display.
Russo's room was packed with expensive
literature, posters and stickers. The most memorable was a pale
green endorsement sheet from North Carolina libertarian Rachel Mills
sexy picture of her and the title "Mr. Rogers of Tony Soprano?"
She wrote, in part: "Its
(sic) like - do you want Mr. Rogers or Tony Soprano fighting for our
freedoms? That, I think, sums up the difference in personality
and approaches of Nolan and Russo."
Why Mills or Russo thought
comparing Russo to a criminal thug would impress libertarians I never
could figure out. "Thug" was one of the several disparaging remarks I
heard various libertarians make about Russo during the weekend.
Nevertheless, many libertarians were supporting him, some refusing to
admit to themselves just how out-of-control Russo was, others admitting
it but willing to take a chance that the publicity he promised would
outweigh any potential public embarrassment. "I'm a
gambler," said a couple of them.
However, Russo sabotaged his own campaign
with his antics. Even little things count. One delegate
said he decided not to vote
Russo because he felt he was insincere because he never looked him in
the eye. Another said that standing in a line in front of Russo
listening to him smacking his gum for several minutes was the last
D.C. delegate Kat Kelly reported to me that Russo
with me even in his
talks. At one point he grabbed and hugged a balloon and then said, "Oh,
no. Carol will say I'm sexually harassing the balloon!" (This
story was mentioned in the Reason article
excerpted below.) One delegate shared an Illinois state
story that convinced him to reject Russo. At the convention Russo
started rocking back and forth on a loose, squeaky podium and then
Midler taught me that move!"
Delegate David Mooter, who did toy with
the idea of voting for Russo, described his run in with Russo in a "Libs4Peace"
yahoogroup message: "After
watching Russo talk to
people, I warmed up to him more than before. So I walked over to him to
give him a chance to win me over. He pointed to my Nolan
sticker that [Nolan campaign manager Steve] Dashbagh (sic) had just
given me and joked that I should
"Get rid of that fucking thing". In social circles it would be funny.
But for a candidate, it is unprofessional. And if a reporter stood next
to me and overheard that then it would look quite bad for us if he put
that in the newspaper. So later on, I asked Russo about this and past
public behaviour in his press room and he rudely interupted me before I
could finish my question, so I had to talk over him to finish."
Mooter also reported Russo's
response on what he would do if he was
said he would
probably leave the LP
and leave the nation. In
other words, he said that if we don't make him our top dog then he's
taking his toys and running home without us. No offer to continue the
fight! I read this as meaning he really has no loyalty to the party."
Some Russo supporters learned that I was
out a legal sized leaflet titled: Is
Russo Fit to Be the L.P.’s Candidate? detailing his
behavior at libertarian events and his ten years of failed
projects. I handed out only about 70, mostly to people who
were undecided and/or had little information on the candidates. I
just wanted them would have a context in which to regard outrageous
they might witness themselves, i.e., to be fully informed.
However, I soon noticed that
Russo's dark shirted aides (his "Las Vegas thugs" as one delegate
labeled them) seemed to be keeping tabs on me. One
noticeably followed me around when I was distributing Secession.Net
literature, until he was
assured it was not anti-Russo literature.
I caught parts of Gary
Nolan's presentations in his campaign room a couple times.
Once, walking in toward the end, I heard Gary say "Send the ATF to
Fallujah!" I was alarmed. Nolan wanted the U.S. government
impose gun control on the Iraqis? I asked someone who had
witnessed the whole talk and he had meant just the opposite: Fallujans
would take care of the ATF if they tried to take away their guns.
Hmmm, was Nolan unleashing his inner Arab?
Another time I heard Nolan mention briefly that he
was talking to friends at the Democratic National Committee about their
recommending to him financial donors who wanted to help him take votes
away from Bush. His campaign manager Steve Dasbach later
explained that they presumed this source of funding would occur only if
race was close in the Fall, and only if donors approved of the
in the television ads.
I thought this was a fascinating idea
that should have gotten out to the delegates. As was the news
that Nolan had been put on the no-fly list. And the facts about
Nolan's "melting pot" heritage - part Lebanese, part Native American
and part Irish. This failure to get out the
message -- including in not having a table in the main concourse or
showing a video -- was part of the reason Nolan lost. It seemed
to bolster Russo's claims that only he could get the message out to the
American people, driving potential Nolan votes to Russo.
Carey for President
Since I was determined not to vote for an announced
candidate on the first ballot, at some point it occurred to me to vote
for Drew Carey. I'm a long-time fan and was delighted when he
replied to hearing that George Bush wanted him in his 2000 Inaugural
Procession by saying: "Why does he want me? I'm a
libertarian?" Advocates for Self-Government features a Drew
page. I immediately made a "Drew Carey for President"
button and stated promoting him as an alternative to NOTA on the first
Appeared as Nolan Quote Distributed at Gay
There were meetings of two different gay libertarian
groups, on Friday and on Saturday nights. I was told by an
attendee at the first one that Russo
popped his head in and said hello after one of his
supporters distributed a sheet containing Gary
to a 26 year old man who was depressed about his
virginity and homosexual urges. It read: "Kevin, get some
counseling. There is
NO genetic link to homosexuality. There are thousands of former
homosexuals. I can connect you to them if you want. (with discretion)
If at the end of the day you decide that you can't change then be
careful and try to be discreet. Good luck!" However, during the
meeting several gays
defended the statement as merely responding to one individual's
depression and uncertainty about his sexuality, and explaining he had
the option to choose between being or not being homosexual, a perfectly
libertarian sentiment. I do not know if Russo
circulated the quotation at the second event.
heard Richard Campagna speak in
Maryland and was impressed by his intellectual credentials (multiple
degrees, multiple foreign languages), his grace
under Russo fire ("Get out of here, Richard, you can't be my V.P.") and
his extensive plans for setting up election year debates on college
campuses and other venues throughout the country. At his suite
Friday night I first heard him speak more on the issues. Despite
a little too much emphasis on the Constitution, I found him to be an
eloquent and personable speaker. (David Mooter photo of Campagna at his
table at left.)
Later I spoke to him about my own
views on the Constitution -- that it was a failed experiment, in large
part because majority rule and representation are inherently
pro-special interest and anti-liberty, ideas expressed on my page Secession.Net. Much to my surprise
Campagna said he was familiar with my page and my arguments and found
very impressive. Needless to say, he had my vote for Vice
at that point!
I did not see or meet Vice Presidential
candidate Tamara Millay -- Tom Knapp's significant other -- until
Saturday. I was impressed by what a sensible woman she is. Of
course, by that time I had already been wearing my" TAMARA, DUMP KNAPP
I'LL VOTE FOR YOU" button for two days. I told her that a number
of unpleasant episodes with Knapp over several
years convinced me he was an "abusive personality." She
took it in good grace, as she did her eventual defeat. Knapp, who
demanded his own "TAMARA, DUMP KNAPP" button was less than gracious
I finally gave him mine after she was defeated for Vice Chair. "Fuck
you, Carol," he barked. I never did run into the other
candidates for V.P.
In November 2003
that Neal Boortz again had been invited to speak at the Libertarian
National Convention, despite his not only supporting the Iraq War but
calling for the
FBI to investigate peace activists, which would include many
libertarians! (See my "Why
Libertarians Wanted to Boot Boortz" page.)
Additionally, Boortz writes in his biography: "I am,
however, toying with the idea of
running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket after I retire
from talk radio. I'll run just once --- and just for the hell of
it." Boortz was threatening to have a very corrupting affect on
Libertarians immediately started a petition to
and soon after one demanding he debate a libertarian. Boot
Boortz from LP's 2004 Convention Petition
Boortz at LP's 2004 Convention Petition Within a few
months the petitions gained over 800 votes.
Libertarians for Peace, and doubtless others, will request the 2006
convention committee NOT invite Boortz to speak since this might be
seen as favoritism to a potential presidential candidate. (David Mooter
While we were led to believe Boortz
just have speaking time during convention business, he ended up
for the Saturday breakfast to almost a thousand libertarians.
However, after the Convention Boortz denounced the party in a Townhall.com
article "Blowin' Smoke," partially because of the brouhaha but
mostly because of libertarian activists' alleged obsession with
Simultaneous Western Alliance Anti-War
response the Western
Libertarian Alliance sponsored at the same time an Anti-War
Demonstration attended by a couple dozen people not eating at the
party-sponsored breakfast. It featured Aaron
Russo, Gary Nolan, talk show host Charles Goyette, Western
Alliance activists Ernest Hancock and David Euchner and me, reporting
on Libertarians for Peace.
Nolan clarified his position on
invading Afghanistan -- that it should have been done only if Congress
had gotten information which convinced it there was reason to
invade. Russo bragged that his Rasmussen poll showed that 14% of
500 people agreed with him that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq and
that if he did a poll showing 15% percent of people did, he could get
into the debates. However, he did not convince me that 15%
agreement on one issue translated into the kind of full support for his
candidacy that would impress the debate commission. He also took
the opportunity to say, "I wouldn't use military force against anyone
-- accept Carol Moore."
Before the Alliance event I leafleted hundreds of
libertarians entering the Boortz breakfast, distributing Libertarians
for Peace, left over Middle East peace literature and "No Boortz 2008"
stickers. Another fellow whose name I forget handed out dozens of
"Libertarians Against War" buttons. LNC Secretary Bob Sullentrop
one of my stickers to Boortz who wore and ridiculed it because it was
button. If I had know he was giving it
to Boortz, I would have given him a button. (They're available at http://radicalbuttons.com/liberty.html)
Not only did the Atlanta paper carry the story, it ended up in the Washington
He cracked up the
breakfast crowd by making fun of New York Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton ("Never trust a politician without knees"),
razzing friend and conservative radio personality
Sean Hannity ("Baby
Jesus") and taunting conventioneers who wore anti-Boortz lapel stickers
in protest of his support of the war in Iraq ("If you can't afford a
button, get a new cause"), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
pro-war stance runs counter to Libertarian ideology
and prompted some to petition that he be removed as
speaker... Mr. Boortz, who on
his show egged on antiwar Libertarian protesters
throughout the week, ended his morning monologue by saying: "I'm really
disappointed there were no raucous demonstrators."
The Libertarian Party platform requires
that Presidential candidates present a campaign platform to
delegates for approval after nomination. Chair Geoffrey Neale
announced that Gary Nolan's was
available at the front of the state and that Michael Badnarik was using
the Libertarian Party platform
as his campaign platform. (When I forgot that fact the next day during
all the excitement, I asked Badnarik himself whether he had distributed
his platform. He reminded me that the party platform was his
However, nothing was said about Russo's
platform. I was rather annoyed, wondering what Russo might be
hiding, and told his campaign manager Stephen Gordon that Russo better
get a written platform
out there quick or some of us would challenge Russo's candidacy.
ran around and got a bunch of the 1/3 page glossy sheets Russo had been
distributing and had a volunteer distribute them. The problem was
that one version included "protect our borders" and one did not.
So if Russo had won the nomination he would have had some explaining to
Most of the business meeting was spent tweaking the platform.
Rogue delegates did not rouse the body to mischief, as in years
past. At one point there was
a quorum call and I was number 82 - the number of Davidians the
government killed at Waco. I controlled myself and did not call out
that fact. (See my book The
Davidian Massacre.) Again, see the Convention Minutes
for changes if they are not yet up at LP.org/issues/platform.
The debates included only Michael Badnarik, Gary
Nolan and Aaron Russo. David Hollist was not included because he
had not answered questions on a form provided by convention
organizers. (To be actually nominated from the stage candidates
had to collect 30 signatures on a petition.)
Below is a description of the high points of the debate with verbatim
comments in italics (taken from someone else's transcript) and a few
comments in brackets. It should be noted Gary Nolan had a sore
throat, needed a glass of water and a lozenge to continue, and cut
short some of his answers.
First, we are going
to hear from Mr. Michael Badnarik of Austin Texas. He is a computer
programmer and technical trainer. In the 1980’s he worked on the
stealth bomber project at the Diablo canyon nuclear plant in
California. For the past three years, Mr. Badnarik has been teaching an
8-hour class on the Constitution. He recently published a book on that
document title Its Good to
be King, The Foundations of Freedom.
delegates. Good evening fellow Americans. I would like to share a
from George Washington. “Government is not reason. Government is not
eloquence. It is force. And like fire it is a dangerous servant and a
fearful master.” If you lived in a log cabin, you’d require fire for
your survival. You would use the fire to heat your home and cook your
food. Fire is such a necessary part of your survival that you create a
special place for fire. It is called a fireplace. Government is
necessary for our survival. We need government in order to survive. The
founding fathers created a special place for government. It is called
the Constitution. Any time the fire is in the fireplace it is a good
fire. Anytime the fire gets outside of the fireplace, it is a bad fire.
Conversely anytime the government stays within the limitations of the
Constitution, it is a good government. Anytime the government is
outside the Constitution it is a bad government and it is time for us
to stomp it out. My job as your presidential nominee and as president
of the United States would be to limit Congress to article 1 section 8
of the Constitution and dissuade the Supreme court from trying to
legislate from the bench. Thank you very much.
feel like this is my Bar Mitzvah. There's been
scuttlebutt between my campaign and Gary's campaign. Gary and I
had a meeting other day. We agreed no matter who wins, we'd
support the other person. The bickering and character
assassination is going to stop. We’re the party of
principle. Four months ago Richard Winger convinced me to jump
in. I've gone from long shot to even money. Being a
producer I can bring the LP to where it's never been. I'm beating
Ralph Nader on Internet visits. I'm running TV prime time
commercials NOW. My poll puts me first cause stop Iraq War and
bring troops home. 19%. Now have to make sure we have ballot
access. If I win tomorrow, the next day I’ll be raising money to
make sure Ohio, Pennsylvania, any other state that needs ballot access,
to make sure on the ballot.
want to educate voters. I want people to be safe,
to live in safe neighborhoods, to see the benefits of liberty. We can
create jobs, improve the country by following the Constitution. Let’s
go to the top!
Should our trade
policy continue along the path to a more open global market and what if
any protections may need to be put in place for Americans workers?
favor free trade. I'm not in favor of NAFTA or
which are not free trade.
Russo: I'm for
free trade and against GATT; it is thousands of
pages. The federal reserve has the raised cost of living
hurt us economically.
United States is the
greatest economic country in the world. Not because of government
regulation but in spite of it. NAFTA and GATT have about as much to do
with free trade as the Patriot Act has to do with liberty. How can we
possibly have free trade when Alan Greenspan can jockey the interest
rate up and down. If Alan Greenspan sneezes in the morning, the
Japanese stock market drops 20 points. We need to get the government
out of regulating trade, so that American workers can do what they do
best and that is to create wealth.
of the hottest
political issues in the country this year is the issue of whether
persons of the same sex should be allowed to marry and assume the same
legal rights and responsibilities now afforded to men and women who
marry. Would you state your position on this issue and talk about how
that fits into your general philosophy as a Libertarian?
Russo: The right
question is "Should the government license marriage?"
They didn’t license my Bar Mitzvah.
Independence states that all men are created equal. And in 1776 that is
exactly what they meant. Women could not vote, women could not own
property and blacks were considered property. After 200 years of
enlightenment, we have realized that gender and race are inappropriate
distinctions for determining who has individual rights. Anytime the
government gives you permission, they let you know that you have
permission by giving you a permit or license. If you have a marriage
license, what do you have permission to do now that you did not have
permission to do before who gave you that permission, and where did
they get the authority to give you that permission in the first place.
You have the right to live with anyone you want. It is not
the government’s priority to set those standards.
shouldn't need a license for anything. Marriage is for
lovers, not the government. Get the Republicans out of our bedrooms.
reducing the role of government and increasing private enterprise. But
in the past year or so we have seen some disastrous cases in which
private contractors hired by the United States to work in Iraq, have
engaged in price gouging on one hand and been associated with the worst
excesses against Iraqi prisoners. It does not look like the
privatization of war is proceeding very well. Using libertarian
principles, how would you straighten out this mess?
first thing that I
would do would be to correct the characterization of our companies in
Iraq as private enterprise. When the government allows one specific
company to go into that country with carte blanche to do whatever they
want, that is a government-controlled monopoly. It would only be free
market if there were other companies there to offer competitive
services and competitive prices to keep the services down. And also to
allow the Iraqis to chose which of those companies are providing a
service. None of those conditions exist, so it is not a free market
system in Iraq.
Nolan: End the
occupation of Iraq is first thing to do. If there
is no competition, it's not a free market.
Russo: The US
has become a fascist country. The government and
corporations come together to stifle the people. What is
in Iraq is part of facets government. The corporations are
mercenaries. They and we don’t belong there. We started
pre-emptive war and made the world more dangerous. China and
Pakistan can invade other countries and say terrorism. Terrorism
is a buzz word. Private enterprise does not belong in war.
are a lot of things
about the Patriot Act, the War on Terrorism that you might chose to
criticize and that your party has been critical of. So lets turn the
clock back to the morning of September 11, 2001. From that crucial
point could you lay out briefly how you would have coped with the
threat facing the nation and what would have hoped to accomplished by
Nolan: Get the
evidence to Congress and let them decide whether or not
declare war anywhere. It's not a job to abdicate to the President. If
the evidence had said yes, in this case, go after the Taliban who were
protecting Al Queda. Weakness in the face of aggression invites
aggression. If you have the evidence, you need to respond. That
we had no reason to invade Iraq.
strong on defense, but we also want the evidence. We need to know
exactly who did what and why. Congress has the power to declare war.
They also the power to issue letters of mark and reprisal. Instead of
sending 100,000 troops overseas, we could probably send a smaller group
of US navy seals or Army rangers and get the people who actually did
this, but we need to have the evidence. Congress does not have the
authority to grant the president carte blanche to go off to do whatever
he chooses to do. [Inaudible] …that concerned about the fact that Osama
Bin Laden was originally labeled as the culprit who perpetrated this
atrocity. How have we gone from Osama Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein?
Where is the logic that allows us to switch from Afghanistan to Iraq?
Russo: Well, we
finally have division in our thoughts. If I were
President on 9-11, I would have gotten evidence of who did it, shown to
people. I would not have gone to Congress to declare war. I would have
gone, no matter were they were, whoever did it, I would have gone
to any border with a police action, not declared war, and gotten the
SOBs who did that, no matter where they were the world. I don’t think a
war against some force, we don’t know who it is, is a war. It’s a
police action. And the Congress doesn’t have to go to war for a
police action. And I certainly would not have removed the Taliban
or invaded Afghanistan with our troops. As a matter of fact, what
happened was the Taliban said, give us the evidence and we’ll give you
Osama Bin Laden. And Bush said, I don’t have to give it to you.
I’ve already given it to Tony Blair. As if that mattered. I
would not have invaded Afghanistan but I would have gotten people who
did it by police action and not have declared war.
breast was exposed, during the Superbowl halftime this year, Congress
moved very quickly and bumped up the penalty from $27,500 to $500,000.
Howard Stern got bumped off the clear channel network. Two local DJ’s
here in Atlanta got fired, and yet the photos from Abu Ghraib have been
broadcasted and published all over the world and the most widely sought
website according to a story last week is the one that shows the Alan
Berg beheading. Should government have any role at all in enforcing
public decency and what should it be?
Russo: If media
spent as much time on the Patriot Act as Janet
breasts, we wouldn’t have the Patriot Act. We have to close down
the FCC. We decide our own decency. Some people don’t like my own
on decency. I’ve been criticized. Get government out of decency
questions. Government is there just to protect our freedoms.
Nolan: When you
are exposed to something you find offensive, censor
your self. Turn it off. That’s censorship. To rely on
the government to determine it is a false sense of security. Turn it
off. Best way to force them to change their ways is to lose
numbers. Let the free market decide.
I did not see the halftime
show. But I am certain that Janet Jackson is not the most obscene
thing that we have seen on television. When we have a democratic
president using the Oval Office on a regular basis for his little
I find that far more offensive. I find it very offensive when the
government tells me what I can and cannot watch. I actually find Jerry
Springer far more offensive and so I turn him off. Individual people
should decide what is or is not obscene and they will make that
decision by watching or not watching reality TV. Censor yourself.
have a lot of influence on both sides of the ideological divide but the
pool of voters with a completely open mind is getting smaller. So from
this starting point how do you propose to build the Libertarian Party.
What opportunities are there right now that the party could take
advantage of to increase its influence?
who don’t vote don’t see any difference between two
parties. But there is a difference. Which special interests
feed at the trough. We offer opportunity to take lives back.
conservatives can’t vote for Bush. Republicans doing 7-10%
I have traveled back
and forth across the United States campaigning over the last 18 months,
one of the things that has been most striking is the number of
democrats and republicans that are becoming disillusioned with the
status quo. City after city I have non-libertarians asking me what they
can do to change things. And after I explain the libertarian platform
to them they go, “Well of course, that is exactly what we think the
United States should be.” Out of all the possible voters, the people
that are eligible to vote, sadly only 20-25% actually take the time to
go to the polls. That leaves 75% of the people who are unwilling to
vote for the lesser of two evils. If we can get the libertarian message
out there, we can take that 75% and we can make a significant change in
government. Help us get that message out to the people.
Russo: If we can
get the message out. That’s why I’m running.
I’ll get message out. We need television advertising. Thirty
TV commercials. We need campaign managers. We don’t have any. Like Dick
Morris. How to get the message out? I’m here because I can
that message out with: TV, polling data, publicity, ballot
We need polling data. Our poll showed we beat Kerry in
non-voters. We need TV.
senator Zell Miller,
here in Georgia, has been one of the very few people in Washington to
suggest that the nation’s current military could warrant a return to
the draft. It has been argued that a draft system without the
exemptions of the Vietnam era might have a great democratizing impact
on the country. But it’s also been predicted that such a change would
swiftly lead to an end of all consensus over the war on terrorism. But
given the current pressures on the volunteer military and the reserves
is there any justification for a draft?
People are not
volunteering to go to foreign countries and die the way they used to!
Imagine that! In World War II, when Americans believed in the issue
young men were lying about their age to get into the military early.
Americans rallied behind that war. If you can not get your citizens to
rally behind your war, perhaps, just perhaps it is invalid war. The
United States has far more military than any other country in the
world. We have military in 130 countries around the world. Instead of
doing international offense, perhaps we can bring those soldiers home
for Christmas and Thanksgiving and limit them to doing national defense.
Russo: I’ve been
fighting the draft since December. My petition
been signed by thousands. The Department of Defense took down
notice for volunteers for draft boards after I put it up on my
site. Hillary wants the draft. It’s in committee in
Congress til after the election. We have to bring home troops and
close military bases. Make America a nation that protects
its own borders – but I don't mean put troops on border, don’t
Nolan: We don’t
need a draft. I want to hear about Bush and
Kerry’s peace history, not war history. What’s the exit strategy
for Germany? (He loses voice here.). What about Japan?
Korea? We are not the world’s police department. Bring
the military home.
party has proposed a
number of market based solutions to our health care problems. I would
like for you to focus right now on the area of prescription drugs. Drug
companies argued that the higher costs of drugs in the United States
underwrite the research, which continually improves the quality of
their product. But the doors have been opened now for Americans to
purchase drugs in Canada. The cost of prescription drug benefit
programs have turned out to be far larger than it was represented. We
seem to be coming to a critical point in this question. What should the
government do if anything with prescription drugs?
Russo: Get the
government out of health care. Drugs are not their
business. I'm a devote of alternative and preventive medicine.
Build up your immune system so you don’t need drugs. Our job is
to build our immune system. Cost of drugs comes because of
federal regulations. The federal reserve drives up cost of everything
so they are no longer affordable.
doesn’t seem to
know anything about the Constitution
which is their job. How much less do they know about medicine?
Government regulation drives the cost of producing these drugs. It
costs a billion dollars to get a drug from the table, the science
table, out to the market place. You the consumers are ultimately going
to pay that price. American drug companies sell those drugs to Canada.
And when Americans try to purchase those drugs at a cheaper price the
FDA says you are not allowed to do that because those drugs are not
safe. If those drugs are not safe, why did you sell them to Canada? Any
time the government does anything, it drives up the cost and it does
not work. Get the government out of medicine.
Nolan: Get the
government out. It costs one billion dollars to get a
through the development process. No one overseas can compete with
that and drugs become a government protected monopoly. There is
a 10 year delay that cost thousands of lives, which is the most
expensive aspect. Get rid of FDA.
of the things when we
went into Afghanistan and Iraq was that we were bringing the benefits
of democracy, the free market and social tolerance. We have insisted
that women be included in government councils in Afghanistan and
imposed a flat tax on Iraq. Can you export ideas like that and what
larger responsibility does our country have to bring two other parts of
the world the ideas that we believe in?
It's not our job to export ideas, get involved in
Bush promised not to. But we are. Don’t export our beliefs.
of all, the Founding
Fathers loathed a democracy,
calling it a tyranny of the majority. The United States is not a
democracy. The United States is a constitutional republic based on
private property and individual rights. In the 1860’s we passed the
13th Amendment, which presumably eliminated slavery and it took well
100 years to erase the racial hatred between the whites and the blacks.
How does the American government think that they can go into another
country and override thousands of years of culture? It is not our job
to export anything except products and services.
took my speech away. In a democracy 51% of people can
control 49% - that's not freedom. 99% of the people can’t take
America not supposed to be a democracy so when we send troops overseas,
it's no good.
Leave Iraqis to their own self-determination.
is a related
question but may be one that is a little more involved. How much can
United States do and how much should it do to either restrain or
encourage the Israeli government in its efforts to combat Palestinian
personal view, and I’m a Jewish boy, is the U.S. government
has no place
in Israel or Palestine. If I was President I’d go there, explain
they should have peace, and if they can’t get peace, go kill each other
and leave us out of it. We can’t get in other people’s
battles or they become your problems. We are not the policemen of
world. We need freedom here. Freedom is answer for
Get out of Israel.
Nolan: We have
no place in the Middle East. It’s not for us to
settle how they make peace. History shows we’ve done nothing but
exacerbate the problem. Any taxpayer working hard should be
enraged that their money is sent to any other country, including Israel
or to support Palestinians. Let’s stop creating enemies.
Our founding fathers were
very wise. In George Washington’s farewell address, he encouraged us
to establish economic ties with all countries and establish entangling
alliances with none. When we make ties, we establish at least one
enemy. If we give money to one government, the people they are fighting
hate us. Occasionally the government in its very finite wisdom chooses
to fund both sides of the encounter, apparently believing that by
giving both sides money, both sides will love us. Apparently, it never
occurs to Congress that if we give money to both sides, both sides will
hate us for funding their enemy. People within the United States are
free to do anything they want with their personal funds, but it is
immoral to tax Arabs and send that to Israel, or to tax the Jews and to
send that to the Arabs. We need to stay out of entangling alliances.
those who believe in
the free market, a trip to the pump these can be a real test. Gas is up
over $2 in much of the country and while that price may come down, many
experts say that we are about to enter into a period in which oil and
gas supplies will not be able to keep up with skyrocketing demand
particularly China. What is your outline of a national energy policy
and how would you implement it?
Nolan: Let oil
companies build refineries and explore for oil. The
could drill the whole Alaska oil area from an area the size of Dulles
Airport. We need competition in the marketplace. Let the free
only a six week of supply of oil in Alaska. I
don't want to see drilling off the coasts. We need alternate
energy. The oil companies are just part of the fascist
government. I'm against destroying the environment. I don't
like the libertarian answer. Just suing polluters is not a very good
on the environment. We must find alternative means of energy.
am flattered that so
many delegates here at the convention consider me a constitutional
expert. Allow me to impress you with my economic wisdom. All you need
to know about economics is the law of supply and demand. When the
supply of something goes down, the price of it will go up. And as the
price of gasoline goes up, the consumerist at the pump is going to
provide the incentive for finding alternative sources. If we continue
paying $.75 a gallon, there is no need for alternative fuel supplies.
If we get the government out of regulating medicine, the economy, and
everything else, then the free market will find its own course.
has recently been a
very popular movie which spelled out some very drastic possibilities of
global warming but in addition to that, there have been serious studies
by the Department of Defense and by an international recognized group
of underwriters raising serious questions about what could happen in
the decades ahead if the climate were to change. Should that be a
concern of government at all and what would a libertarian
administration do about that?
the free market is
probably the best way to handle any problem. Government has power and
when you allow government power to influence a situation there is going
to be corruption. If we have scientist who out there doing studies on
global warming and we get back information to the general public, once
again the free market will allow us to control the situation. No body
wants to live in a place where the ice caps are melting and San
Francisco is flooding and if we get that information to the people and
offer logical reasonable alternatives, people will follow their
survival [instincts] and do the right thing.
you are concerned about environment go after the big
polluter, the government. Take away sovereign immunity and make
them accountable. Don’t allow government to control fishing
rights. Government doesn’t protect environment. People do. EPA
polluters. Polluters control the EPA because Congress gets money
Russo: What are
we talking about? Should government address
global warming? No! I’m very concerned about environment
but I think the free market, there must be a lot of money to be made to
stop it. But we do just have six weeks of oil in Alaska.
We’re past peak oil in the world.
lot of economic
indicators are up right now, but job production and public confidence
in the economy continues to lag. What needs to be done to get the
economy back to where it was in the 90’s, or can we do that or in a
libertarian administration, should you do that?
would first of all eliminate the IRS giving everybody in the United
States a 35% pay increase instead of a $300 rebate of your own money.
[Inaudible] …20% of the costs of goods and services goes to filling IRS
forms. So the cost is going to drop by 20%. The economy would skyrocket
with everybody having all that loose cash in their pockets. The other
thing that we have to do is eliminate the Federal Reserve. Between 1776
and 1860, we had zero inflation and the American economy was stable and
strong. We established the Federal Reserve in 1913; they have been
printing fiat paper money ever since making your money worthless. We
have to get back to a commodity-based currency so that we can
essentially have a stable economy.
Russo: The 1990s
economy was pushed by the Federal Reserve,
derivatives, too much credit. We need a stable currency, a stable
environment. Now everyone is in debt. They want you in debt all
the time. Shut down the Federal Reserve. We need a
non-inflationary economy where the value of money doesn’t change.
Nolan: Russo and
Badnarik are right about getting rid of fiat currency
and the Federal Reserve. We have to quit punishing Americans for
working hard. Let’s reduce the size of government to
constitutional limits, get rid of the IRS. So you can buy safer
car, put your kids in better school. Get rid of the income tax and
regulations crushing business.
does not take a
libertarian to realize that in Iraq the United States has entered into
an expensive and long term commitment with no certainty of the outcome
and a declining consensus whether it was worth doing in the first
place, but where is the next long term foreign policy commitment that a
libertarian should be alert to? What other problems in what other
countries around the world are warning signs that libertarians should
anticipate could cause a long-term commitment to in the future?
Russo: Close all
our military bases over seas. Bring the troops
home. Stop meddling in other people’s business. We need free
trade, then we won’t have problem overseas. The U.S. spends more
than the next 25 countries on weapons. We are the imperialist
in the world today. Let’s lead by example and not by force.
Canada or Mexico attacked, there would not be much to
worry about. Every time we choose up sides we create an
enemy. Stop choosing sides and there won’t be a problem. Keep
lines of communications open through trade. No one wants to shoot their
do not need to be
involved in foreign entanglements. We do not have any one particular
place that we need to avoid; we need to avoid them all. Bring our
troops home so that they can be home for the holidays and we do not
need to have nearly as many USO shows.
Nolan: Take back
liberty, freedom, the Constitution. Create a strong
economy for poor and middle class. Protect the environment. The
Constitution is a blue print for government. The benefits to liberty
are endless. We are the only party that is able to fulfill that
promise. Bring the vision of liberty backs. Cynics think we
can’t get federal office, but dare to dream. I dare to dream can
bring back liberty. We can put libertarians in federal office. We
can make great country. Believe in self. Bring America back. We can do
preamble of the
Constitution establishes some of the reasons why that document was
drafted. In part to establish justice, promote domestic tranquility,
and to provide for the common defense. The Constitution establishes the
principles for peace and tranquility. Every time we abide by the
Constitution, we get peace and tranquility. Violating the supreme law
of the land gets the opposite. It destroys our economy, gets us
entangled into foreign wars. It is principles sent down to us by our
founding fathers. As the libertarian candidate, I frequent face the
‘wasted vote syndrome’. People tell me that I’m a good candidate. They
believe in what I stand for, but they cannot bring themselves to vote
for me because they do not want to waste their vote. If you were in
prison and you had a 50% choice of lethal injection, a 45% chance of
going to the electric chair and only a 5% chance of escape, are you
likely to vote for lethal injection because that is your most likely
outcome? Your survival depends on voting for escape, even if that is
only a 5% chance. If you continue to vote for the Democrats or the
Republicans, you are committing political suicide. The only chance we
have of saving our constitutional republic is to vote Libertarian, even
if that is only a 5% probability of getting into office. We have to
demonstrate that we are not satisfied for the status quo. Voting for
the lesser evil and your candidate wins, you still get evil. The
Libertarian Party is the party of principle. We have candidates in
every state in every county that are principled, passionate and
articulate. Please vote Libertarian and help us restore a free country.
have more than a 5% chance. People say libertarians
are radical. What is really radical is government making law without
authority. Pre-emptive war. Patriot Act. Welfare state and
redistribution of wealth. Arresting and jailing people for owning
and bearing arms. Free speech zones. When I’m president all
America will be a free speech zone. Military draft. Arresting
disease ridden people for smoking a weed called marijuana. I have
inhaled. Bush and Kerry are telling us we have a real
choice. We do, me. What do you tell kids when they ask how
America got like this? I’m fighting these people. I'll anything
to win and stop this government from doing what it is doing. We must no
longer be a debating society worrying about the freedom of an ant or a
flea. If they won’t let me in the debates I’ll do civil
disobedience and stop the debates from happening. We aren’t
property of the government. Government is the property of the
people. All your freedoms all the time!
Saturday night I took a quick trip
around the parties. I first went to Badnarik's small bedroom
which was jammed with people ecstatic about the great job Michael had
done in the debates. Then to Nolan's large suite where an equal
number of people could spread out more comfortably. There several
people moaned about Gary's losing his voice and also commended
Badnarik's great performance. Also there I met Gary Nolan's
sister. The Irish part of her heritage was more apparent than in
Gary. By the time I got to Russo's campaign room everyone had
gone into the Jimmie Vaughan
concert and Russo was pacing the hall ways, still buttonholing
delegates and giving them his song and dance.
The first business Sunday morning was
election of the presidential candidate.
I quickly made up a DREW
CAREY 2004 - 2008 sign and lobbied for my candidate as delegates
entered, to the merriment of all. On the back was a the well-known
collage graphic of President Bush made up of photos of Americans killed
in Iraq, Russo's best leaflet. I had a big "X" through it,
especially for C-SPANs benefit.
Eight hundred and eight credentialed
voters packed the hall. The candidates nominated included Michael
Badnarik, Jeffrey Diket, David Hollist, Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo.
However, Geoffrey Neale announced from the floor that votes for other
candidates would be listed on the ballot and only if their names were
submitted on a piece of
paper. I quickly ran up to the secretary with Drew Carey's
Spear Lancaster nominated Gary
Nolan. Jeremy Keil seconded as did Jim Gray, Teresa De Bellis, Mark
Rutherford, Mike Ferguson, and David Nolan.
After some technical problems with Aaron Russo’s video, Rob Kampia
nominated Russo. Kampia, head of Marijuana Policy
recently put Aaron Russo on his board of advisors. John Clifton, Robert
Prechter, Richard Mack, Ed
Thompson, and Barry
David Macko nominated Jeffrey Diket. Greg Cahn seconded. Then Jeffrey
Diket conducted a rant emphasizing the evils of abortion.
Delegates booed frequently. Nevertheless, in my opinion, if Diket
or some other anti-abortion fanatic starts collecting signatures in
2008, we should have a pro-choice woman collect signatures and get up
there and spend her whole time denouncing those who would outlaw
abortion. (Later Jim Gray of California moved to suspend the
rules to change from “30” to “100” the
Bylaws’ stipulation of signatures required for nomination. The motion
failed. If he had upped it only to 50, it might have passed.)
David Hollist nominated himself,
explaining his views on contract insurance.
Finally, Pat Dixon nominated Michael Badnarik. Alan Weiss, Fred
Collins, and his mother Elaine Badnarik seconded.
Considering the cheering for Badnarik,
Nolan and Russo seemed evenly divided, for the first time I felt I
could relax without fear that Russo would get the nomination.
First ballot voting was announced on a
state-by-state roll call basis with lots of eloquent descriptions of
the respective states.
Unfortunately, our shy Chair
did not state
"the District of Columbia, the only state with a majority female
delegation." We had three women to one male. A second
male, Rob Kampia, was an
alternate. He hung around the table, hoping one of our delegates
would not show. But all did. Our delegation voted two for
Nolan, one for Russo and one for Drew Carey.
The first round
No one bothered to vote for Neale
Boortz, despite his presidential ambitions, as expressed on his biography page. David
Mooter photo of Gary Nolan and Erica Brown sitting with Ohio delegation.
The original more lengthy process was amended from
the floor so that only the
top three candidates advanced to the next round and the candidate with
the fewest votes on the latest ballot would be struck from subsequent
My candidate Drew Carey having
been struck from the ballot, it was time to make a choice. So I
voted for the least of three evils -- who I thought would make a pretty
decent candidate as long as he didn't talk much about all the reasons
we should have invaded Afghanistan -- Gary Nolan. I took up a
sign and started moving through the aisle chanting: "Vote for
Nolan. He's the sexiest!" I mean I didn't want anyone to
think I took all this too
waited for the second round
ballots to be printed, I noticed Rob Kampia chatting up our most naive
delegate. Kampia is infamous in
the marijuana movement and D.C. local activism for questionable
tactics. I knew he was up to
no good but was too busy
campaigning to eavesdrop. However, when I came back to vote I
discovered that delegate had gone to lunch and Kampia would be
replacing her Nolan vote with a Russo vote. When she returned
just before the third ballot she explained what had happened.
had given her his $100 banquet ticket -- and then convinced her to just
give him a chance to vote. "And he was so nice to give me the
ticket, I just had to say yes." See Discourse
on the Ethics of Vote Buying below. On this
ballot D.C. voted
Nolan and two for Russo.
I noticed Russo and some of his heavies
hanging around Badnarik's seat, which happened to be close to
mine. I snapped a couple of photos of them, which Russo was too
engrossed to block, as he had my earlier attempts to photograph him.
Later I heard on the C-SPAN broadcast Russo telling Badnarik that he'd
to have him as his Vice President. Perhaps Russo hoped that if
Badnarik lost the next round he'd get up and endorse Russo and give him
the nomination, after which Russo would endorse Badnarik for V.P. Of
one Nolan delegate also told me that Nolan had asked Badnarik to drop
out and endorse him, and then to become Nolan's V.P. However, Nolan's
campaign manager Steve Dasbach denies such a thing happened so that
obviously was wishful thinking on his
part. The air was thick with rumor and intrigue.
the second round, the results
285 36.40% (compared to 258 first ballot)
31.80% (compared to 256 first ballot)
244 31.16% (compared to 246 first ballot)
5 0.64% (compared to 10 first
ballot and 8 for other candidates)
Evidently, a lot
of Russo people who partied too
Saturday night came in to vote only on the second ballot. Also,
while Russo gained 27 votes,
Nolan lost 2 and Badnarik lost 7. One has to wonder how many
other Rob Kampias were out there playing switcheroo - and using what
After Gary Nolan was
motion to allow Nolan to address the convention was made
and approved heartily by delegates. Nolan gave a passionate endorsement
of Michael Badnarik, something which I
thought was done frequently in political races. I certainly
remember this sort of thing from the old days when Demopublican
conventions were competitive. However,
even though doubtless no more than a dozen delegates voted for Badnarik
soley on Nolan's recommendation, later many Russo
supporters would complain bitterly about it and some even talked about
a Bylaw to prevent it!
In Nolan's defense
Langkraehr wrote on June 7, 2004 on the "Badnarik2004" yahoogroup:
spent more time with each other
than Gary Nolan and Michael Badnarik long before Aaron Russo ever
appeared. They traveled the country together, and went from opponents
to close friends, putting up with the same hotels, restaurants, travel
problems, killing boring time between events, etc., fighting along side
each other when the going got tough. They were friends that had
survived the same trials and tribulations together."
The third round of voting would decide the
nominee. By this point I realized that the party was safe from
Russo's ravages. More than enough Nolan voters would vote for
Badnarik to clench the nomination. So when I noticed Badnarik was
free I rushed up to him and told him I was starting "Secessionists for
Badnarik" and even showed him a draft button. He nodded
-- or was it just dazed nodding from his victory over Nolan and his
obvious coming coronation?
D.C. on this ballot voted two Badnarik,
one Russo and my NOTA -- just in case the poorly organized Badnarik
never did get a Presidential campaign together, or went off on some
wacky constitutionalist tangent. After all, I wouldn't want
anyone to hold me responsible. In such event, I could even wear
proudly one of my Don't
blame me, I
didn't vote for the bastard buttons.
In the third and
final round votes were:
into the customary cheers. I even pulled out my
sequestered kafiya (checkered Arab scraf) and threw it up and down in
front of C-SPAN cameras a few times. As I illustrate on my photo page,
it was good to be able to finally relax in my street clothes after all
that prim and proper politicking, per this David Mooter photo.
allowed Aaron Russo to
address the convention and he took one last public opportunity to
attack Nolan. But at least he did encourage his
supporters to stay in the party and support Badnarik, something that
those still attacking both Nolan and Badnarik should remember:
know I could
not have lost to a better man than Michael Badnarik, I want you to know
that. I have enormous respect for Michael and he has my full support
and he is a great guy. When I got into this race, I was not sure why I
was getting into it. I told you Richard Winger first called me and said
because I was thinking of running as a libertarian, and Richard Winger
called me and said, "get into the race" and I did. I was not sure if I
was in this race so I could lead this party, or just make sure that
Gary Nolan didn't. I am really glad that Gary Nolan is not leading this
[Boos from the audience]
I know I expected that, but there is a
wing of this party.
I always put out my most sincere and
best efforts. Everything I have done has been for the cause of freedom
and liberty and nothing more. All I want to say, everybody, all my
supporters, many of supporters, have said that they want me to run for
vice president, which I will not do. Many of my supporters have told me
that they want to leave the party if I do not win. Please don't do
that. Don't say Yeah. The libertarian party has to move forward and you
have a wonderful man. [Cheers from the
You have a wonderful man in Michael Badnarik
to do that. I hope that everyone here supports Michael and gets behind
him. Michael's biggest obstacle is going to be raising funds. Michael
is not a man of wealth and he is going to have to raise money and I
hope everyone here realizes the fight that we are having takes money.
Michael needs it desperately. So while you are here, please donate
generously to Michael. Give him the traction that his campaign is going
to need. Freedom is not cheap. We have a man here that has been driving
around a car.
Everybody respects Michael. Knows what he has
been up to. But he cannot do it alone. He has gone this far and it been
amazing. I really thought Michael did not have a chance at one point,
but yesterday he rose to the occasion and he did a great job. I do not
know if you all understand how difficult it is to be road. Particularly
without any money, scarping along giving classes, doing the kind of
things he is doing. You should not allow his presidential race, as his
race for this nomination. All of you have been supporting Michael and
screaming and yelling, and I applaud that. That is not enough guys, You
better dig into your pockets and get your checkbooks out and start
writing Michael some big checks. Clapping and screaming is not enough.
Write those checks and help this man! Thank you.
Badnarik accepted the nomination, surrounded
by his family and friends, and thanked his supporters. Opening
pronounced exhale, he stated “Never in my wildest
dreams." (David Mooter photos of Badnarik with his family on
stage, and signing official
acceptance papers.) Excerpts from the
Never in my
This was not my
idea. I was running for a
state house race in Texas. And I was invited to be a warm
up speaker for another candidate in San Antonio. They invited me
to do a 30 minute warm up speech so I went down and took advantage of
the microphone and I did my best to urge the crowd to support
liberty. And I got a standing ovation. I was very flattered
and I said, "Well, maybe I'm getting the hang of this"
So I went back to Austin and I called a friend
of mine and the first thing out of his mouth was, "We want you to run
for president." And I said, "Of what?" He said, "Of the United
States." And I said, "What have you been smoking?" I really
thought they were kidding and didn't understand why they thought I
should be out here representing the party.
Twenty years ago I started studying the
Constittuion. As I started studying the Constitution I became
very confused. As I looked at the Constitution and then I looked at our
government, I couldn't see a relationship. I imagined that if I
continued my study I would find statutes and other levels of law that
would succinctly connect the two together.
I don't remember the day or the moment
that it actually dawned on me, but the reason we cannot see a
connection between the Constitution and our current
government is because there is none. I find
that unconscionable and totally unacceptable.
My friends told me
that I teach this Constitution class, that I express the libertarian
message, and that by running for a higher office I would be able to
reach a wider range of Americans and help spread the libertarian
message. And I thought that was a valuable and honorable use of
beginning of this campaign I decided this campaign would be a success
if I simply did my best. We operated on what would be generously
known as a shoe string budget. The only reason that we are in
Atlanta at all is because of a steadfast refusal to give up.
primary focus of my campaign has been to be absolutely true to the
libertarian principle. And I hope that your nominating me
indicates that you recognize that I have done my very best to support
I won't take up too much more time but I absolutely must thank the
people who are standing behind me on the stage. (Father, mother who
gives short talk, girlfriend, campaign aide.)
Well, if I can win the nomination, there's no reason why I can't win
definition of synergy is 2 plus 2 equals 8. What we have in 2004
is a unique opportunity to change the world.
As I have
travelled around one of the things that I have discovered is that there
are strong libertarian groups in all of the states, working hard,
dedicating their lives, their fortunres and their sacred honor.
We have all been working, but unfortunately because we lack a system of
communicatin there is a feeling frequently we think our group is the
only group that is working for liberty.
All of the
states have been very very hospitable. I appreciate your support.
(Thanks Oregon especially, describes its organization and that he was
impressed by lack of derogatory words and "no dissent.")
Party has a very unique opporunity. What we need right now is
synergy. The Libertarian Party has a habit of focusing on the
details. Arguing the fine points. Splitting hairs ad
As Benjamin Franklin said, "The amount of our disagreements are far
outweighed by the things that we do agree on." I am truly truly
honored to be your nominee and I guarantee will work with every ounce
of energy I can possibly muster. All I ask is that you put
your differences aside and let us work together as a party.
2004! We're gonna do it! Go L.P.!
As delegates left the room
many dropped by the Badnarik table and left large checks. With
the help of his new campaign staff he raised $20,000 at the convention.
Nominations put four Vice-Presidential
candidates in the race. Tamara Millay nominated herself, seconded by
Jim Lark, Lorenzo Gaztañaga, and Heather Scott. Edward
Noyes nominated Richard Campagna, seconded by Clyde Cleveland.
Scott Jameson nominated himself. Finally, Glen Tatum nominated
Garrett Hayes, David Chastang and Garrett Michael Hayes seconded,
However, before the voting Presidential nominee Michael Badnarik
addressed the convention for five
minutes per the Convention Rules. However, he declined to declare a
for running mate. (One can imagine the bullying harangue Russo
would have delivered to support his favorite candidate!)
Ron (right) and I spearheaded
this October 2000 libertarian demonstration at NBC News in
D.C. when they refused to put Harry Browne on the air. NBC soon
relented and Browne was interviewed a couple weeks later.
The results of balloting for Vice-President were:
Being a big Campagna fan, I was very
excited about his winning and went about cheering him.
Additionally, considering all the debates he already had set up, he at
least might be able to keep Badnark busy over the next few
months. After celebrating on
stage with his family, he posed for photos with Michael Badnarik.
of the National Platform
As Geoffrey Neale was about to begin
nominations for Libertarian National Committee Chair and Vice Chair a
delegate rose to protest that we had not voted to accept the Michael
Badnarik's Campaign Platform, per the Bylaws. Neale responded
Badnarik's Campaign Platform was the party platform, and the convention
had accepted all planks of that platform, he didn't think it was
necessary to do so.
of LNC Chair and Vice Chair
Compared to 2002 when the Chair race was the big
excitement, these races were hurried and anticlimactic. In short,
Michael Dixon won for Chair with 435 votes. George Phillies 90,
Earnest Hancock 40, NOTA 6.
Rather than vote for NOTA to keep sure-winner
Dixon's head from getting too big, I voted for Dixon because of the
soon proved unjustified fear that the vote might go to a second
ballot. Or was it because Dixon made that nice thank you from the
stage about my help on the secession plank? Ask Dr. Freud. (Which
reminds me, I never did meet a certain psychiatrist so I could discuss
with her the Bill Clinton School of Psychiatry and larger than life
show business types, but you'll have to read my Russo
page to get the joke.)
The Vice Chair race was more competitive.
Popular LNC member R. Lee Wrights was running against California cable
television producer Mark Selzer who is famous for obnoxiously berating
libertarians for not being polite. (His former claim to fame was
bringing Jewish Defense
League member Irv Rubin into the
party. However, since
Rubin's 2001 arrest for planning bombing attacks on a mosque and an
Arab-American congressman's office, and his suicide in jail before
trial, Selzer has dropped that reference from his biography.)
The vote was Wrights 338, Selzer 160, NOTA 6.
The Banquet and
"Troika" Campaign Team
Full disclosure. A Russo delegate gave
me TWO free tickets to the banquet. But that was after the
Presidential race was concluded and she developed other plans.
Barbara Goushaw -- who was slated to do fundraising for the
party at the banquet before she had any idea she would be running
Badnarik's campaign -- was quite manic and in super-fundraising
mode. She was over $30,000 of her $50,000 goal by the time we
It was during dinner I learned Goushaw was married
Fred Collins and that he and she were now managing Michael Badnarik's
campaign. I knew enough about them to sigh with relief: Someone
who knows what they are doing is in charge!
According to a June 5, 2004 Jim Allison email
on the "libertyworks" yahoogroup the "Troika" - Goushaw, Collins and
Dirasian - has the following record of success:
1994 Jon Coon, US Senate, 4.5%, raised over $200,000
1996 Jon Coon, State Representative, 15.4% 4942 votes
Fred Collins, Berkley (pop 17000) City Council, Winner
Fred Collins, Berkley (pop 17000) City Council, Re-elected
Fred Collins, Berkley (pop 17000) City Council, Re-elected
2001 David Eisenbacher, Troy (pop 80000) City Council,
place of 8)
2002 David Eisenbacher, Troy (pop 80000) City Council,
place of 5)
2001 Andrew LeCureaux, Hazel Park (pop 30000) City
2003 Erin Stahl, St. Clair Shores (pop 68000) City Council, Winner
(2nd place of 6).
2003 assisted Andrew LeCureaux's 2003 successful
2001 Martin Howrylak's successful city council
2003 Martin Howrylak's successful re-election
city council campaign, Troy
Also see Daniel Cloud's LPNEWS article
about the group.
the Ethics of Vote Buying
When I woke up early that morning it occurred to me: ROB KAMPIA
BOUGHT A VOTE!! So I set out first thing to get leading
libertarians' opinion on that "Here's
a banquet ticket - PLEEEZE give
me a chance to vote," incident and the phenomena in
speaking to people I also was told that Russo -- who had mentioned
funding the Ohio ballot drive in his debate speech -- had tried to
"bribe" the Ohio delegation. However, an Ohio delegate later
that a Russo supporter had
approached their Chair and pledged 50% of Ohio's needed
funds for ballot access, an offer he was making to all needy
states. Nevertheless, only three Ohio delegates voted for Russo on the
Not surprisingly I heard a range of opinions on the vote buying
tactics. They ranged
better start taking this
issue seriously to we
need a bylaw on this to that's
just a matter of personal conscience to let's
set up tables in the lobby and
sell our votes to the highest bidder
in the free market.
believe this is one of
those areas of political activity where free market principles cannot
be allowed to triumph. If elected officials votes cannot be
bought, delegates nominating such officials should not be allowed to
have their votes bought. Of course, defining what is
or acceptable lobbying for votes, what borders on bribery, and what is
bribery can be more difficult. (For example, when bribery is used
guilt or other psychological tactic, as opposed to a straight out quid
pro quo, as happened in D.C.) At some point we should put
spectrum or grid chart and explore the possibilities for further
discussion, including perhaps by the Libertarian National Committee and
the Bylaws Committee.
of Libertarian National Committee Secretary, Treasurer, At-Large
Positions and Judicial Committee members
The credentialed delegate count reached its peak of 818 at this
point. Given only one nomination, current Secretary Bob
Sullentrup, the Chair's request for a voice vote met with no objections.
In the Treasurer's race delegates
faced a choice between CPA Aaron Starr, who already was the California
representative to the LNC and long-time LNC member Mark Nelson who had
been overseeing the overhaul of the budget process. Members voted
to keep both on the LNC: Mark Nelson, 271, Aaron Starr 111, NOTA
Delegates elected three old timers as
At-Large representatives -- Mark Rutherford 260, Bill Redpath 200, and
BetteRose Ryan 199. New blood included Texan Rick McGinnis 210
and Admiral Michael Colley 197. Because previous LNC
member Sean Haugh also received 197 votes, the Chair put their names
into into a paper bag and Ken Krawchuk (PA) selected the
piece of paper with Admiral Colley’s name.
Poor Sean! If
only I hadn't been so fair waiting patiently for a missing delegate to
instead run up and deposited our ballot. That delegate gave
Colley the tie vote.
This year the convention actually got to electing the Judicial
Committee. New members included David Nolan 194, Fred Collins
153, Phil Miller 118, Richard Kerr 116, Rich Maroney 99, Rock Howard 97
- Greg Clark and Nick Sarwark, 88 votes. This time
the tie was broken by lot and Sarwark won the position. (Sarwak
had done a great speech nominating a young libertarian for At-Large in
which he called for the Libertarian Party to more actively recruit
young people, women and minorities. Notice
there is just one woman and no people of color on the list above.
What's wrong with this picture?)
At some point during the morning balloting Michael
Badnarik's new campaign manager Fred Collins was given the stage to
announce that he wanted to quell some rumors: Yes, it was true Michael
Badnarik did not have a drivers license, but he would not be driving
during his campaign. And, Yes, there were some minor tax issues
but the issues would be dealt with so they would not interfere with his
ability to campaign and fly around the country. This would
develop more in the LNC meeting later that day.
Mark Hinkle (CA) proposed and the delegates passed
he following resolution:
Aaron Russo and Gary Nolan have contributed time, money and
commitment during their race for the nomination as our presidential
Whereas Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo have brought excitement and
enthusiasm to the Libertarian Party throughout their race;
Therefore, the delegates of the 2004 Presidential Nominating Convention
wish to express our profound gratitude for their support of the
Michael Gilmos de Lemos (FL) proposed a resolution
for the body to accept the
Strategic Plan developed by the Strategic Planning Team authorized by
the LNC - and at a cost of over $100,000. After several rants from
delegates about the evil LNC trying to impose the
(relatively innocuous) plan upon state parties, the resolution failed.
David Macko of Ohio rose to read a lengthy resolution in which the
Libertarian Party would call for the impeachment of President George
Bush. This was greeted with both cheers and jeers. I
quickly wrote a one sentence version, rather like the 1998 "Impeach
Bill Clinton" resolution that passed after my urging during my
nominating myself for LNC Secretary. However, before I got to
make that friendly amendment someone opposed to the resolution demanded
a quorum call.
It was obvious that there was NOT a quorum of the full 818 delegates at
that point. According to the minutes, "Orders of the day closed
the convention at 12:25." In other words, the Convention had run
out of time.
Yes, as a recovering LNC junkie, I skipped this one
too! Again, you can read all about it in Sean Haugh's report at LibertyforAll.Net.
The section relevant to the Presidential campaign reads:
reported on the status of the Badnarik campaign. They had raised almost
$20,000 just in the previous 24 hours. Coordinators had already been
recruited in a majority of states, and many key volunteers had already
presented themselves, including a scheduler and data entry
Collins declared that
the media of the campaign would be television, and that the majority of
funds raised would go into TV advertising. The national party and the
campaign will most likely enter into data sharing agreements more
similar to the 2000 campaign, than the 1996 campaign when the two
operations were merged at national headquarters.
A brief discussion
of some concerns about Badnarik ensued. While the LNC members were
reticent to name the concerns, they were clearly referring to the facts
stated in Badnarik's published writings that he has resisted federal
tyranny to the point of renouncing his social security number, refusing
to carry a state-issued photo ID, and not filing income tax returns
because the taxes are not legitimately owed. Although many LP members
find this behavior admirable personally, the worry is that this will
not be viewed so sympathetically by the general
Collins said he
had begun to address these issues directly with Badnarik. He vowed that
he would either fix the problem to the satisfaction of the party or
resign his position as campaign manager within two weeks. The sense of
the board was a willingness to give him this time. Considering that
Badnarik boarded a plane the next day to appear on C-SPAN's Washington
Journal program in Washington DC, one may presume that he had a valid
photo ID which would allow him to fly. This item bears watching, and
may merit a future special report.
POST CONVENTION GRIPES AND KUDOS
A few well known
libertarians who had
not followed the campaign closely complained about the Libertarian
Party choosing the allegedly least qualified candidate. But
others applauded the conventions choice. A few excerpts from
longer articles below.
in the Margin – Justin Raimondo
I note, with
sadness, that the Libertarian Party has chosen to commit
suicide rather than grow up and become relevant. As a former member, I
watched their recent national convention on CSPAN with growing horror
as it became plain as day that they were going to reject a strong
antiwar presidential candidate, Aaron Russo (who also used to be Bette
Midler’s manager, and made it big as a Hollywood director/producer), in
favor of somebody I never heard of -- and, given what I saw at the
convention, hope to never hear of again. Nor do I expect to be
disappointed in that hope. The media is going to totally ignore the LP,
Nader is going to suck up all the third party attention, and this CBS
story will have turned out to be the journalistic equivalent of
vaporware. If I were Karl Rove, I’d be celebrating about now.
Usually Begins With… Michael
Badnarik? by Jerome Tuccille
I guess it was
predictable. The Libertarian Party, faced with the
opportunity to select a candidate for president who had millions to
spend on his own campaign, who had achieved a measure of fame in
Hollywood as a producer of films and a consort of celebrities on the
order of Bette Midler, and someone else with no money and zero name
recognition, chose…well you know the answer; I said it was predictable,
...The LP has
displayed a genius for assigning itself a role in
American politics akin to irrelevance, and I am sad to say that this
record of genius is likely to remain unbroken as campaign 2004 unfolds
during the months ahead and Ralph Nader continues to capture all the
attention given to third-party candidates for the highest office in the
land. ... The LP has blown yet another opportunity to have a genuine
impact on the political life of the country. I hope I’m wrong,
November, chances are it will once again settle for the usual "less
than one percent of the vote." Ralph Nader continues to give the
Democrats fits that he could cost them the election. George Bush and
Company have no such worries about an LP threat to their own
The Accidental Candidate - by Jim
The tortoise won the race. While
all the "smart money" was on movie producer Aaron Russo or talk show
host Gary Nolan to get the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination
at the national convention in Atlanta last weekend, mild-mannered
computer programmer and constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik
surprised everyone, including himself, by emerging as the victor on the
When you're an unknown even in the small
pond of the libertarian movement, that's really saying something.
However, what Badnarik lacks in credentials, money or celebrity he
makes up for in sheer earnestness. He is our very own Mr. Smith going
to Washington, wearing his heart and his principles on his sleeve...
So how did Clark Kent emerge as
Superman? I've seen a lot of theories thrown around the Internet since
the convention adjourned, but in my opinion there were three major
factors that contributed to Badnarik's upset victory. First, he
absolutely kicked butt in the debates. For somebody who had flown so
far below the radar,
he rose to the
occasion at exactly the right moment, on national
television and when many delegates were seeing and hearing him for the
first time. (I know I wouldn't have been able to pick Badnarik out of a
lineup prior to the debate.) Second, Russo and Nolan had mediocre to
poor debate performances. I had seen both men do much better on other
occasions. Russo gave credence to the fear that he was somewhat of a
loose cannon and soft on
fundamentals by flubbing a question on the environment and
mocking a free market solution. Nolan's answers were for the most part
acceptable, but canned. He made Al Gore sound sincere.
The debate was sure to generate
some support for Badnarik, but it would never have earned him the
victory without the third and deciding factor, which was the bad blood
between the Nolan and Russo camps. I don't know who decided to "go
negative" first, but as far as I could tell Russo rarely missed an
take a shot at
the Nolan campaign instead of just focusing on his own
So where does that leave us? In my
opinion, it leaves us with a really terrific candidate. Michael
Badnarik has a way of, as his campaign slogan puts it, "lighting the
fires of liberty one mind at a time." I knew a few true believers in
Michael as early as last January, but I didn't believe it myself until
I saw him with my own eyes. He is principled, intelligent and immensely
likable, a natural-born teacher.
Stays the Course: Reports from a political convention full of both
surprises and the status quo by Brian Doherty
"We fight for freedom, which everyone wants,
so why are we nowhere?" asked Libertarian Party (LP) presidential
nomination hopeful Aaron Russo to a room of 30 or so supporters and
potential supporters at the 2004 Libertarian Party National Convention
in Atlanta on Saturday. On Sunday, he won the first and second ballot
for the nomination, only to lose the third...
What the 808 delegates who met in
convention assembled over Memorial Day weekend voted for fit in with my
previously presented theory of third parties like the LP as consumption
expenditures—something people support just because they enjoy it, not
necessarily to win elections or change the world. A certain narcissism
seemed at work in the delegates' selection of hard-traveling
Austin-based former computer programmer and freelance lecturer on the
Constitution Michael Badnarik as their man, after he arrived as a
distant third in a field of three major contenders: The delegates voted
for the man who was the most like them, who presented in the most
professional way the modal opinions and views and style of a
Libertarian Party activist—quiet, intense, no deviation from the
catechism, more concerned with eternal ideological and philosophical
verities than the political events of the day. As to whether that is
the best strategy to win lots of money, attention, and votes in a
national presidential campaign, well, we'll know come November....
Russo was winning, but
he was not to win. He had a style that some delegates from the South
and Midwest fretted would not sell back home—brash New York ethnic,
throwing around the word "baby," cracking jokes, grabbing floating
balloons and nuzzling them, then mock-complaining that one of his vocal
opponents would probably call that sexual harassment, openly announcing
he had no intention of being polite in what he called our war against
our own government, segueing from a mention of orgasms to introducing
his wife. He swore he'd disrupt any presidential debate he wasn't
invited to with civil disobedience; he called the U.S. "imperialistic"
freely; he was very concerned with eliminating the Federal Reserve and
talked about it anytime he had an opportunity; and he proudly and
loudly admitted to having smoked pot....
Still, it was clear to most
people with a sense of the floor that his first place showing on the
first two ballots was it for Russo. Roughly speaking, most Nolan voters
would not have minded voting for Badnarik, and vice versa. But many of
them had very bad feelings about Russo. "Loose cannon" was the phrase I
heard most often—they simply were uneasy with his style and thought
he'd embarrass them....
As one longtime LP watcher told me after
the stunning result, on one level it was clearly for the best. Nolan
and Russo were both selling the proposition that they would run the
most aggressive and professional campaigns. If they were such great
campaigners, how is it that Badnarik, unable to afford even a bed, much
less hospitality suites or strategy rooms at the Marriott, beat them?...
Praise of the Libertarian Party - by Harry Browne - June 4, 2004
With the Libertarian Party (LP) on
television last weekend choosing its presidential nominee, it’s time
for the smug, superior types to come out of the woodwork and tell us
what a sorry spectacle the party is.
Every four years around this time
we get statements like these from libertarians who aren’t in the party:
"The Libertarian Party has
finished its regularly scheduled exercise in futility."
"The LP has displayed a
genius for assigning itself a role in American politics akin to
As though that weren’t bad
enough, disgruntled party members also level broadsides when they don’t
get what they want:
"The LP attempted to shoot
itself in the foot by not nominating [Aaron Russo] for president."...
The armchair quarterbacks pay no attention
to the obstacles that the LP is up against. Nor do they recognize the
tremendous good the LP does...
America is a two-party nation
because the politicians have used the force of government to make it so.
The Republicans and Democrats have
imposed the two-party system on us with five major types of laws. These
laws not only place direct obstacles to electoral breakthroughs, they
also affect the way the media and the public perceive third parties —
thus creating enormous resistance to Libertarian breakthroughs....
So why does the Libertarian Party
run a presidential campaign?...
Having a Libertarian candidate lets
millions of Americans know that there's a large number of people who
think as they do — who want to get government out of their lives, who
want them to be free to live as they think best, not as George Bush or
John Kerry thinks they should. Such a campaign gives hope — no matter
how faint — to people who had long since given up on the idea that
anything would ever change or that government could ever be cut down to
If the Libertarian Party didn’t exist,
we would have to invent it. but, fortunately, we don’t have to....
FULLY INFORMED DELEGATES PROPOSALS FOR 2008
1. PROPOSAL 1: LNC QUESTIONNAIRE
As the representative of members, the LNC could issue a
detailed questionnaire to candidates and print up the results in the
LPNEWS and at the convention. While many libertarians distrust the
LNC's objectivity on this issue, if it were to put together a
questionnaire well before there are announced 2008 candidates there
would be less suspicion. (Note: The Convention Committee did provide a
questionnaire to Presidential candidates to decide which were eligible
for the debate, however this was not distributed to delegates.) Please e-mail your LNC representative if you like this idea.
2. INDEPENDENT FULLY INFORMED
WHEREAS many Libertarian Party delegates
learn too little about Presidential candidates personal histories,
political positions and strategies and campaign organization;
opponents and/or supporters of one or more
candidates may circulate exaggerated, fabricated
or false information about candidates that needs to be corrected
quickly and accurately;
WHEREAS many delegates sometimes need
aid in differentiating between legitimate criticism and unfair smears;
WHEREAS there is insufficient
libertarian press to help inform delegates;
PROPOSED: At the beginning of the 2008
Libertarian Party presidential nomination process several independent
who are not committed to any candidate form a "fully
group to issue detailed questionnaires on issues, strategies, campaign
organization and personal matters to presidential candidates and to
good relations with all campaigns in order to get full and speedy
answers to important questions. The group will have a web
discussion group and e-mail list in order
to get out full
and fair information,
deal with rumors and expose smears and dirty tactics
If this sounds good to you, please save this
section to your hard drive and if I do not or cannot start or encourage
others to start such a group, please feel free to do so yourself.
If necessary, start two or three such groups, and may the best group
the highest ratings from the delegates!
Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate 2004
Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential Candidate 2004
Mr. Badnarik told
2004 national Libertarian Party convention delegates that his campaign
platform will be the Libertarian Party
platform, which includes the below on secession. He has stated
publicly he supports the political right to secede. He was told about
the intention to form this group at the national convention. Mr.
Campagna assures us he is a big fan of decentralist alternatives and
the secession strategy.
EMPHASIZE SECESSION AND COMMUNITY AUTONOMY
Party Platform On Secession
reformatted platform will be on web page soon; this is from secretary's
III. Domestic Ills
Section 16 - SECESSION
People are forced to be subject to governments and to participate in
their programs, usually as providers of financial support, regardless
of their wishes to the contrary.
Principle): As all political association must be voluntary, we
recognize the right to political secession. This includes the
right to secession by political entities, private groups or
individuals. Exercise of this right, like the exercise of all other
rights, does not remove legal and moral obligations not to violate the
rights of others.
Solutions): We support the right of political entities, private
groups and individuals to renounce their affiliation with any
government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those
governments, while in turn accepting no support from the government
from which they seceded.
Action/Transition): As a transition step, we support the right of
political entities, private groups and individuals to renounce their
participation in any government program, and to be exempt from the
obligations imposed by that program, while in turn accepting no benefit
from the program from which they seceded.
Whenever government becomes destructive of
pursuit of happiness),
it is the right of the people
to alter or
and to institute a new government.
of the American Colonies, 1776