Monday, December 18, 2006

Follow-Up: New Interview with Bob Barr

Bob Barr Speaks After Joining LP Leadership

Go, and read. Two things to note. First, Barr is continuing his defense of the Defense of Marriage Act by reframing it as a defense of liberty. View this as backpedaling- he may well be laying the groundwork here for a future reversal of position. Second, Barr utterly dodges the drug war issue, saying only that he will disagree with other Libertarians on some issues. View that as a line drawn: Bob Barr still supports drug prohibition, but is a savvy enough politician to know when to shut the hell up rather than injure himself to no good purpose.

Unfortunately Reason Magazine utterly failed to ask hard questions on doctrine- questions virtually every Libertarian is, or should be, asking. Here's my list:

1. In the past you were among the most aggressive drug warriors in Congress. Do you still uphold the principle that certain substances are so dangerous that no one should be allowed to use them under any circumstances?

2. Do you believe that the tactics used in the Drug War, such as asset forfeiture, no-knock raids, government-funded propaganda, and felony convictions for addicts comprise any danger to civil liberties? If so, is this danger outweighed by the danger of the substances used?

3. Alcohol Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933, was regarded as a colossal failure that encouraged alcohol abuse and strengthened the power of organized crime. Why should drug prohibition not be regarded in the same light?

4. You say that the Defense of Marriage Act protects the right of state governments to define marriage. Are you aware that that act forbids marriage benefits to federal employees based on sexuality regardless of the laws in the state where they reside?

5. Should married people, regardless of sexual orientation, get special treatment not available to unmarried people?

6. While in Congress you objected to the practice of Wicca by members of our armed forces. Do you believe that followers of Wicca, or indeed non-Christians in general, are entitled to equal treatment and respect by the laws and government of the United States?

7. Do you intend to change the policy positions of the Libertarian Party on the issues of drug prohibition, religion, or sexuality?

For my part, I think these positions- although extremely disagreeable to me- are outweighed by Bob Barr's positions on everything else. On these points, if he holds to them, I'll oppose him tooth and nail... but he can hold these views and still say that government should be smaller and freedom greater in the whole. He can still call for accountability in government, reduction of government power and intrusiveness, freedom of speech, property rights, gun rights, privacy rights, lower and more just taxation, and other libertarian issues... and I have no doubt he will.

Barr still needs to answer these questions, though. Libertarians deserve the answers- and we need these answers if we're to settle the ongoing dispute on Bob Barr's role in this party.

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