The Fakes vs. the Flakes II
Denver Smackdown
Austin Dispatches
No. 111
June 12, 2008

Maybe the delegates can blame the results on the thin oxygen levels in Denver.

The outcome of the post-libertarian Libertarian Party’s national convention (“natcon”) over Memorial Day weekend was an extension of the results at the 2006 gathering in Portland. As such, it confirmed what I’ve predicted since.1 

In short, the fake faction fended off a feeble fight from the fumbling flake faction for further control of the LP through the composition of the national executive officers and committeemen, the platform, and the presidential ticket.2 Though even that summary glosses over the kaleidoscopic shifting of delegates across factions during the natcon. Presidential nominee Bob Barr, despite his backers and despite himself, may be able to connect with the majority of the LP rank and file, past and present, and even with the larger natural constituency of an authentic Libertarian Party.3

Nevertheless, don’t discount the LP’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.4  The problems stemming from the Portland convention, in turn stemming from the severely flawed frameworks of the fake and flake factions, remain unresolved.5  Moreover, these uncorrected problems have turned recent LP developments – including two former congressmen affiliating with the party – into new problems instead of the advantages they otherwise would be

Victorious again, the fakes don’t see the need to change their intellectual framework. So they still think they can run an ideological organization without the ideology, that they can keep screwing up without consequence, and that they’re invulnerable – at the ballot box, on ballot access, and in fund raising. Only the establishment parties have the luxury of sustained losses across election cycles, because they’re entrenched through tradition, size, and by rigging election and ballot-access laws.6  The LP instead faces poaching of its members and supporters by the Constitution Party.7

Meanwhile, the flakes squandered a two-year window to organize and reclaim the party.8 At Denver, they lost everything except a few seats on the Libertarian National Committee. In this, they were true to their nature. They brought it on themselves. They can’t support the current party bosses, they can’t reach out to the people they need to appeal to because those people are too bourgeois, they can’t really fit into the Green Party because they’re too free market, they can’t support the Constitution Party because they don’t believe in God, they can’t switch to the major parties for obvious reasons, they can’t bring themselves to master politics because of their distaste for it, and yet they can’t quit politics because it’s too big a part of their lives. They’re screwed, which satisfies their inchoate longing for martyrdom.9
Yet because the fakes and flakes tend to have looser work schedules and fewer obligations, they can dominate the LP, and libertarian functions, such as televised think tank conferences, by default. This allows fakes and flakes to become the public face of libertarianism, and a conflation of their views in the public mind has given libertarianism its negative stereotype. In fact, the fakes and flakes have more in common with each other than not, and both factions are at odds with the mainstream of libertarianism, which is why they struggle so to connect with and derive strength from their natural constituencies.

Fundamentally, they’re not so much against kratos, rule by force in the form of the State, as they are against archê, social authority and hierarchy, and adherence to moral codes deriving from outside the autonomous individual. Thus even the fakes, who tend to favor a State of varying size and scope, also incline to social anarchism; politically minded, self-proclaimed anarchists, who tend to be found in the flake faction, actually can be as kratic as the fakes; and the natural libertarian constituency, including anarcho-capitalists who’ve thought through the implications of their position, tend to be archic and akratic.10  Moreover, this combination of views is the source for the best critiques of libertarianism. The fakes and flakes, however, think the best critiques come from elsewhere. This mutual mistake contributes to their failures – failures such as the Portland convention.

Had the 2006 delegates left well enough alone on matters they clearly did not understand, the turmoil of two years and counting could’ve been avoided. Specifically, the Libertarian “Reform” Caucus’ gutting of the party platform at the Portland natcon lowered the barriers for presidential candidates to call themselves libertarian without adherence to or even familiarity with libertarianism, and do so without penalty.  The new platform approved in Denver lacks the specificity necessary for the LP to distinguish itself from other parties.

Naturally, self-proclaimed “left-libertarians” – i.e., fakes and flakes active in the libertarian movement without understanding the principles, issues or applications of libertarianism – dismissed my warnings then.11 Now, they’re perturbed that the Denver delegates nominated Barr, a man so indifferent to the philosophy he represents in the political arena that he can eschew major positions without flinching.12  You think they’d know about the law of unintended consequences, but I gather libertarians don’t read like they used to.13

Sadly, the thrice-married, abortion-assenting Barr, a national committeeman, former Republican U.S. representative from Georgia, former federal prosecutor, former Central Intelligence flunky (and winner of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright look-alike contest), was the best of a bad crowd seeking the LP nomination.14 On the plus side, he led the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.15 

Yet despite Barr’s ideological deficiencies, his rhetoric puts him somewhere between the fakes and the libertarian mainstream, which includes a lot of ordinary Americans. Of course, Barr has a politician’s intuitive understanding of how to appeal to the electorate that he can appeal to. Put another way, he avoids the anarchic stances that actually make a libertarian social order impossible.16 If he could move away from fake faction views on the National Question and various predictably contentious social issues,17  he might score in November as well as his staff is predicting.18

The Contestants

Of course, Denver was not without its dark humor, much of it on C-SPAN.

On the first ballot, six delegates took Paul Farris’ advice and voted for Ron Paul.19  He was unquestionable the best choice of anybody who received votes at the convention, but he also said some two dozen times he wasn’t going to accept another party’s nomination. How many times did he have to repeat himself before we believed him?20

So after a record six rounds of voting, Barr triumphed over a record number of rival aspirants,21  including:

Christine Smith

This luftmensch competently impersonated Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall.” When she lost the first round of balloting, and was dropped under party by-laws, she pouted and threw a tantrum. La-di-dah, la-di-dah.22

George Phillies

LRC ringleader Phillies spoke on C-SPAN about his support from the “neopagans,” especially in his home state, which is probably the most egregious exhibit against the efficacy of the dark arts.23 I mean, these auxiliaries of Satan are fundamentally about “power religion,” and they back … George Phillies?24  I was sure they’d go for someone more flamboyant, like Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey.25 And then, when Phillies lost, what did the neopagan-dominated Massachusetts LP state commitee do? Instead of casting a spell to change the outcome, or putting a hex on Barr or the LP in general, they pouted like Smith, and muttered, not dire imprecations, but childish threats to nominate somebody else for their state ballot.26 To be fair, the LP is hexed enough already. Phillies is actually sound on political mechanics – almost as good as Don Gorman27 – but his knack for coming down on the wrong side of a given policy issue and/or antagonizing another bloc every time he opened his mouth will prevent people from listening to him when they should.28

Mike Gravel

I’ve described former Alaska U.S. Sen. Maurice “Mike” Gravel as libertarianistic before, but that’s by the standards of the contemporary Democratic Party.29 In fact, Gravel criticized it as  “no longer the party of F.D.R. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism – all of which I find anathema to my views.''30     

Apparently, Gravel’s unaware of FDR’s role in establishing the corporatist, managerial-therapeutic, warfare-welfare state. Moreover, modern American libertarianism emerged from the “Old Right,” the authentic opposition to the New Deal. Even so-called “left-libertarians” know enough to oppose FDR’s agenda.

Wayne Allyn Root

Barr’s subsequent running mate, the cheesy, sleazy Vegas oddsmaker, actually copied Al Gore in the cheap, tacky ploy of invoking a dead relative in his self-nominating speech.31 Of course, many libertoids are cheap and tacky by nature, so maybe Root was trying to appeal to them.32  Instead, delegates responded with laughter. Root’s manner goes beyond the parody of a slick salesman to verge on being a real-life Rupert Pupkin. Better a vice presidential nominee for a season than a schmuck for a lifetime.33 

Mary Ruwart

Ruwart finally lost on the sixth ballot. In her concession speech, she introduced her campaign staff, including  treasurer Geoff Neale. No wonder she lost. Knowing him, he probably cost her about 50 delegates (“I suppose I could be bothered to explain her position to you, if only you were smarter.”)

Throughout the entire campaign, Ruwart came across as just another obtuse, Boomer-age American woman, a sort of Hilary Clinton with slightly better monetary policies. No, we can’t all get along. That’s why politics exists. But what really did her in was her position on children.34 Her musings on the subject not only read like they were written by someone without children, they even read like they were written by someone who’s never met any children. Once Ruwart came under scrutiny over this, she lead with her glass chin.35 

Amusingly, the purist crowd invoked Ron Paul as the standard by which the likes of Barr and Root should be judged, even though at the 1987 Seattle natcon, they objected to Paul’s presence, for many of the same sociocultural reasons.36  I’ve known fools who went to their graves maintaining that Paul is a tight-assed, status quo compromiser.  A bunch of these fools actually backed the drunken, wife-beating savage Russell Means for president. Unfortunately, a lot of these so-called libertarians who ascribe to the anti-civilization primitivist fetish haven’t dropped dead yet.37  

Otherwise, the LP itself has everything it needs – except a reason for existing. A philosophically coherent party, one that existed until the Portland natcon, with or without a former congressman heading the ticket, would be poised to exploit the dissatisfaction over the choices from the establishment parties in our time of crisis.38 

At this rate, the LP will linger long enough to embarrass itself further and make me regret I ever touted it as the electoral component for solving America’s ills.

E-mail: austindispatches -at- swbell net

1 Eisler, Dan. “What’s Left Unsaid Is Often Louder Than That Which Is….” E-mail to Dennis Lucey, 2 June 2008.
2 Holtz, Brian. “The 2008 LP Platform: How Short and Sweet It Is.” 25 May 2008 Third Party Watch <>.
3 AD No. 99n75 (Aug. 10, 2007); Mitchell, Brian Patrick. Eight Ways to Run the Country: A New and Revealing Look at Left and Right. Wesport, Conn.: Praeger, 2007: Ch. 7-9.
4 Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. New York City: PublicAffairs, 2007: 414-422.
5 Lakoff, George. Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives, rev. ed. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004.
6 Gumbel, Andrew. Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America. New York City: Nation Books, 2005; Robinson, Peter. It’s My Party: A Republican’s Messy Love Affair With the GOP. New York City: Warner Books, 2000; Sifry, Micah L. Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America. New York City: Routledge, 2002.
7 AD No. 108 (Apr. 28, 2008); AD No. 109 (May 11, 2008); “Should Libertarians Consider Chuck Baldwin?” 27 May 2008 Austin Cassidy’s Independent Political Report <>.
8 Keaton, Angela. “Re: The Story You Are About to Read Is True…” E-mail to Eisler, 11 May 2008.
9 Doherty, op. cit., 534.
10 Mitchell, op. cit., Ch. 2.
11 AD No. 99n5 (Aug. 10, 2007).
12 “Barr vs. Root: Fully Informed Juries.” Austin Cassidy’s Independent Political Report 28 May 2008 <>; Block, Walter. “Reflections on Attending the 2008 Libertarian Party Convention in Denver.” 31 May 2008 <>; Dance, George. “Bob Barr’s Real Record (I).” 22 May 2008 Nolan Chart <>; Steele, R. Anthony. “Live From Denver.” 25 May 2008 Rant(hony)-Ings <>.
13  Doherty, op. cit., 586, 593; Merton, Robert K. "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action." American Sociological Review Dec 1936: 894-904.
14 AD No. 31n39 (Nov. 17, 2001); AD No. 99; Auchmutey, Jim. “He’s Every Inch the Barrister -  U.S. Attorney Barr Enjoys ‘Great Job.’ ” Atlanta Constitution 18 Dec. 1987: E1; Kurtz, Howard. “Flynt Calls Rep. Barr a Hypocrite for Divorce Case Answers.” WP 12 Jan. 1999: A7; Ramsey, Bruce. “Salesmen, Stalwarts, and Old Pols.” Liberty July 2008: 17; “Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. to run for Libertarian Nomination for President.” 12 May 2008 Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog <>; Rudin, Ken. “Libertarians Battle for Their Nomination.” NPR 9 Apr. 2008.
15 Barr, Bob. The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton. Atlanta: Stroud & Hall Publishers, 2004.
16 Harris, Lee. Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History. New York City: Free Press, 2004: xii, 72, 85, 112-113.
17 Epstein, Marcus. “Bob Barr, Born-Again Libertarian, Backsliding on Mass Immigration.” 19 May 2008 VDare <>; Lofton, John. “In Exclusive 'American View' Interview Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr Talks About God, Government, His Atheist Hero Ayn Rand, Abortion, Homosexuality, Terri Schiavo — Not His Favorite Subjects.” 4 June 2008 ChristianNewsWire <>.
18 Gordon, Stephen. “An Electoral Stratagery for Bob Barr?” 1 June 2008 Third Party Watch <>.
19 Farris, Paul. “100 Hours! Patriots! 100 Hours! … An Open Letter to Ron Paul.” Nolan Chart 19 May 2008 <>.
20 McGhee, Tom. “Libertarians May Enliven the Election.” Denver Post 22 May 2008: A1.
21 Keaton. “Re: Two Minor Questions About Denver.” E-mail to Eisler, 6 June 2008.
22 Annie Hall. Rollins-Joffe Productions, 1977; Doherty, op. cit., 562.
23 North, Gary. Unholy Spirits: Occultism and New Age Humanism. 1986. Rpt. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994.
24 North. An Economic Commentary on the Bible, Vol. II: Moses and Pharoah: Dominion Religion Versus Power Religion. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985; “Phillies Speaks Out in Support of Witchcraft and Wicca.” 1 Apr. 2008 Third Party Watch <>.
25 Ramanathan, Lavanya. “The Devil Made Him Do It.” WP 27 Sep. 2007, final ed.: C13.
26 Weigel, David. “Live From the Way Home to the Convention: We’re Gonna Be Friends.” Reason Hit & Run 26 May 2008 <>.
27 Eisler. “The Sensible Libertarian.” E-mail to Keaton, 4 Nov. 2001.
28 AD No. 108n19.
29 AD No. 99n45.
30 Wheaton, Sarah. “Gravel: The Newest Libertarian.” NYT 27 Mar. 2008, late ed.: A25.
31 Coburn, Alexander, and Jeffrey St. Clair. Al Gore: A User's Manual. London: Verso, 2000: 4.
32 Wilson, Brian. “OH LP.” 8 Apr. 2008 <>.
33 The King of Comedy. 20th Century Fox, 1982.
34 E.g., Ruwart, Mary. Short Answers to the Tough Questions. Kalamazoo, Mich.: SunStar Press, 1998: 41-43.
35 Weigel. “Who Isn’t Trying to Take Over the Libertarian Party?” 23 May 2008 Reasononline <>.
36 Doherty, op. cit., 514-515.
37 Harris, op. cit., 72; O’Rourke, P.J. All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty. New York City: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994: 127-131; Sheldon, David. “The Matter of America.” Liberty Dec. 1987: 42-44.
38 “Obama, Clinton, McCain Join Forces to Form Nightmare Ticket.” The Onion 22 May 2008, Austin ed.: 1+.