Yesterday (Thursday) the US House voted- narrowly- to give George W. Bush his requested $100 billion for "emergency" Iraq War spending, with only one condition: that Bush report to Congress in July on progress made in the war before the second half of the funding would be released. The news will continue talking about this bill until it dies in the Senate or gets its promised veto by Bush, whichever comes first.
There was another bill that the media aren't talking about, though. A bill which mandated withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq no later than nine months after passage- between February and March 2008, had it passed- failed in the House, 171-255.
What's important about this is that, although the Democratic Party ran on an end-the-war platform, although the Iraq War was the single most important issue in the 2006 election, fifty-seven Democrats voted against this bill, thereby showing that they want the war to continue indefinitely.
The official position of the Libertarian Party is for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. As a general rule Libertarian candidates ran as anti-war candidates... but none of them even came close to winning election. Part of this, of course, is due to the fact that the Republican-Democrat duopoly is well-entrenched and defends itself against potential threats. The greater portion of the cause, though, is that voters see Libertarians as lunatics for our other positions- including calls by some of our candidates to abolish the standing army and navy altogether and revert to an all-volunteer militia in which every soldier provides his or her own weapon.
More to the point, though, the fact that Libertarians DIDN'T GET ELECTED means that, instead of our principles opposing "pre-emptive defense" and the occupation of sovereign nations being enacted, Democrats with no unifying principle split the vote and thereby demonstrated that the Iraq War will continue until January 2009 at the very least- even if Bush were impeached and removed from office.
We cannot rely on other parties to pick up anything more than our rhetoric from us; if we want our principles to be enacted, Libertarians must first get elected. That means anything which sabotages our chances of election must be ejected- and that includes income tax evasion, Federal Reserve and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, overt racist policies, advocating the right to own thermonuclear weapons, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
Now I admit- 39 of the 57 pro-war Democrats had no Libertarian opponent. Had every last war Democrat seat switched to Libertarian, the bill would only have passed with 228 yea votes- only ten greater than the threshhold number for passage. Even if every Libertarian running against these Democrats had won, at best the vote would have been 189 to 237. What that means is that Libertarians, as a party, need to strengthen our organization, get on ballots for offices other than US President, and recruit more and stronger candidates- stronger than the tinfoil-beanie, zero-campaign-budget candidates we currently attract- because if we don't, the purity or lack thereof of our principles and positions won't make a drop of difference in the political ocean.
Here are the 57 pro-war Democrats, organized according to their opposition in 2006:
3 UNOPPOSED: Allen Boyd (FL), Jim Costa (CA), Robert E. (Bud) Cramer Jr. (AL)
29 OPPOSED ONLY BY REPUBLICAN: Jason Altmire (PA), John Barrow (GA), Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Rick Boucher (VA), Dennis A. Cardoza (CA), Christopher P. Carney (PA), Lincoln Davis (TN), Joe Donnelly (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Jerry McNerney (CA), Bob Etheridge (NC), Jim Marshall (GA), David Scott (GA), Tim Holden (PA), Ron Kind (WI) , Mike McIntyre (NC), Heath Shuler (NC), Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA), Daniel Lipinski (IL), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), Earl Pomeroy (ND), Mike Ross (AR), Zachary T. Space (OH), Charles A. Wilson (OH), Vic Snyder (AR), John M. Spratt Jr. (SC), Gene Taylor (MS), John S. Tanner (TN)
1 TWO-WAY, NO GOP or LP: House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland (opposed by Green Party, Warner getting 16%)
7 THREE-WAY OR MORE, NO LIBERTARIAN: Melissa L. Bean (IL), Leonard L. Boswell (IA), Jim Cooper (TN), Bart Gordon (TN), Tim Mahoney (FL), Ciro D. Rodriguez (TX), Collin C. Peterson (MN)
2 OPPOSED BY LIBERTARIAN (TWO-WAY): Nick Lampson of Texas (Bob Smither came in third at 6% behind a Republican write-in candidate), Ben Chandler (KY) (Ard got 15% of the vote)
16 OPPOSED BY LIBERTARIAN (THREE-WAY OR MORE): Shelley Berkley (NV), Howard L. Berman (CA), Henry Cuellar (TX) , Gene Green (TX), Chet Edwards (TX), Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona (opposed by LP founder David Nolan (2%), who says at any opportunity that the mission of the LP is NOT to win elections- guess what, David, you were WRONG), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD), Baron P. Hill (IN), Solomon P. Ortiz (TX), Jim Matheson (UT) (the Libertarian came in dead last in a field of 5 at under 1%), Harry E. Mitchell (AZ), Charlie Melancon (LA), Ike Skelton (MO), John T. Salazar (CO), Vic Snyder (AR), Mark Udall (CO)