If the Heartland’s 5-state straw poll is any indication, the LP has sadly lost its way and forgotten the core values that brought it into existence nearly two generations ago now. Some few of us still remember the tears that welled in our eyes when we came together to work for the vision that is America. Like no other nomination in our history this one matters and this is why.
The original idea was freedom for all of us, man and woman, every race, every kind and part of that cantankerous collation of living, beating spirits who comprise humanity. We felt that in those opening days, saw ourselves as new revolutionaries fighting a new battle for a war never truly won. It was all about the individual; it was never about playing into the frame of corporate glitz that is strangling America today. Now, at a time when the make up of those seeking our nomination clearly indicates that American politics faces a realignment of political parties, we need to choose for principle. This is the time for which we have been waited so long. Everything tells us so.
No one anticipated that a cantankerous family doctor from Texas, his words ignored for so long, would become an icon. But it happened. It happened because America is ready to hear the truth about freedom from the Party that made freedom its unifying goal. Dr. Paul gave Americans the thing for which they most hunger, hope and the promise of a renewed freedom. That ground swell awakened hundreds of thousands of Americans to the reasons America lost its way. War, corporate greed, rapacious government, the strangling of hope from all sides. Some among us decided that efficiency was a greater virtue than individual rights. Some of us came with only one issue clutched to our heart, the other issues we shrugged off as irrelevant. Too often we ignored the always present truth that until all are free no one is.
In all of these ways we went a long way down the path to losing everything that really matters. Now, we can redeem all the errors. This is the moment when we rediscover freedom for ourselves and help all Americans find it for the first time. We need the right candidate, and when you finish reading this the right candidate will be obvious.
To be a Libertarian is to understand that the people must govern themselves. To be a Libertarian is to know, down to your innermost being, that you own yourself. When you realize that you stand up a little straighter, feel the ease of tension across your back.
We have settled for words, rhetoric, that while well honed, was empty of the truth found only in action. It is actions, not words, that matter. True liberty is what we live. Ron Paul's message resonated because his actions, a full measure, speak his truth. That is the message for which Americans hunger; Not words but a life-time of proven truth.
We need a candidate we can trust, who understands us because they have withstood the terrible temptations of power. We need a candidate with honor we can take to the bank, not just another practiced salesman with eyes on the potential for publicity this nomination could bring. Most of all, we need a candidate who understands what it means to be a Libertarian.
And because this is a realigning campaign we need a candidate who can do the job if elected. If we ever had the opportunity to smash the two party system this is the moment. To grasp that opportunity we need a candidate who has been a consistent Libertarian and who can bring into their campaign people from both Right and Left. By so doing we could, finally, elect a Libertarian president. That is not an opportunity to be wasted.
That said, these are the candidates who offered themselves.
Wayne Allen Root, who received 22 votes is a polished speaker. He has practiced speaking the words of freedom. But what does his life say to us when examined? His professional association is with the gambling industry and he intends to recruit on-line gamblers who are angry with the government for Internet restrictions on their favorite pastime. Root has been a LP member for only a short time and has no record of activity with his state party. Root’s presidential run is his first LP campaign ever.
Until late February, Root told delegates that we needed to be in Iraq, but has recently changed his tune. Root uses his initials (WAR) proudly all over his web site. Root has been getting prime radio spots and some TV exposure because of his reputation in the gambling industry. Root might play well in Nevada, his home state, but how is the LP going to play to the public with a gambler at the top of our ticket? For years we’ve fought the image of gun-toting pot heads who advocate prostitution. The kind of media coverage we’re going to get with Root may brand us for decades. It will speak a powerful negative to our allies in the anti-war and peace movements.
The candidate is not words. The candidate is the message Americans will hear.
Next in line was Bob Barr, who has not formally announced his candidacy, but is expected to do so shortly. A former Republican congressman, Barr’s reputation as a drug warrior, Patriot Act supporter, and homophile have all been well-documented. Barr converted to the LP a couple years ago and currently serves on the LNC.
Barr probably has the most name recognition of any candidate, except Mike Gravel. He also has the most checkered past. Barr is actively hated by the gay community for his authorship of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies the federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The LP will alienate the gay community, one of the LP’s strongest support bases, with Barr.
But that’s just the beginning. Barr is also the author of the legislation, which has effectively ended the possibility of medical marijuana in DC. The MPP recently paid the newly-reformed Barr big bucks to unsuccessfully lobby against his own legislation. Barr is likely to alienate yet another of the LP’s staunchest allies, those who want to end drug prohibition.
Barr now regrets his support for the Patriot Act, as do many others. I realize that he says he has had a change of heart and I am thrilled to have Bob in our party. However, we all must live with the consequences of our actions. Bob voted for the most egregious piece of legislation to pass through Congress in our lifetimes without even seeing it. He has been a typical Republican for many years, and only flip-flopped to the LP recently when the Republicans no longer had any use for him. His candidacy only serves to divide this party.
This background gives the media carte blanche to blacken the LP’s name. I can just see the headlines now: “Drug Warrior Receives LP Presidential Nomination.” “Patriot Act Supporter Nominated by Libertarians.” “Author of Marriage Defense Act to head the Libertarian ticket.”
Since Barr got 19 votes, when not even present, he could possibly, according to the straw poll, be the LP’s leading contender. The LP should welcome former evil-doers with open arms once they sincerely reject their past. Should they become the LP’s standard-bearer, when that same past will alienate large segments of the LP? Isn’t that a steep price to pay a little more media exposure, and potentially damaging exposure at that? We have fallen for the promises of big money and huge media attention before, and what did it get us? Nothing! It is time we stop believing in empty promises and select the best Libertarian nominee we can. We should have a messenger at the top of the ticket that we can be proud of, not one that we will have to make excuses for during the whole campaign!
Does Barr send a message that says NO to the concentration of power in Washington DC? Ask yourself and be honest.
Placing third was former Democrat Gravel, party member for all of 7 days. Gravel supports universal health care, a subject which he carefully avoided during the debate. As stated in the debate, he wants to replace the income tax with the Fair Tax (which appears to be about the only thing he and Bob Barr agree upon), rather than do away with it altogether. Two-time LP candidate Harry Browne used “eliminate the income tax and replace it with nothing” as his signature issue. Republican candidate and former LP nominee Ron Paul garnered a lot of support pledging to do the same thing. Will Libertarians back off from their “taxation is theft” stand in the hopes that Gravel’s, or Barr’s, name recognition will garner them a few new votes?
And what about Gravel’s signature issue, total democratic referendum, where every piece of legislation is passed not by Congress, but by direct vote of the people? The Constitution is out the window if a slick ad campaign can convince a majority of the voters to do so, an easy sell in the days of public education. Ron Paul has demonstrated that a large segment of our population is set on fire by the Constitution, but it looks like the LP is ready to throw the Constitution to the flames in the hopes for a bit of media.
Mike Gravel has done heroic things for America – but he has not even begun to understand freedom.
Running fourth in a field of over a dozen candidates is Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, long-term libertarian author and activist. Ruwart, a cancer survivor, has claimed for years that she would rather write than campaign. She has lived freedom, showing her courage in quiet ways that last, speaking loudly to those who know her. Eloquent and yet able to touch her audience, she is the author of Healing Our World, Short Answers to the Tough Questions, and an Advocates for Self-Government web-column. Through a career decades long she, like Ron Paul, has stayed on message in her own life as well as in what she says.
No other candidate has campaign books while Ruwart has a comprehensive libertarian primer and a short version for our public school graduates. Her life proves that what matters to her is freedom. She is one of the few who have extended the reach of the freedom message to the Left, and there she also has a following.
Ruwart decided to run not because one person asked her but because many veteran LPers asked saying they desperately needed an experienced, principled candidate. Ruwart, a veteran of close to a dozen state and local races, garnered one of the first major news endorsements (The Detroit News for State Board of Ed).
You may well be one of the many she has brought to the LP.
Ruwart brings the people together. She sees every person is a potential libertarian because everyone benefits from liberty and her fervor is tangible. She not only explains Libertarianism, she has lived it. When someone sits down with her to listen they understand our message from both heart and mind. They learn the same things by watching her live her own life. Man, woman and child, they get the message.
Mary is what we need. We must stop acting out of desperation. We must never fear that Americans cannot understand that vital, inner need to be free. The Ron Paul Revolution has proven the opposite to be true. Self doubt has made us weak just when we most need to be strong.
Go to Denver and nominate Mary Ruwart as your candidate for president. Give Americans the opportunity to see what freedom means when someone has lived it all of their life, in every way. If you really believe in freedom then believe in Mary.