Libertarian Fringe Comes Unhinged

By Chuck Muth

We all know the Democrats are having a dickens of a time getting its act together and rallying around a presidential nominee. The party of affirmative action is in a quandary as to whether or not to cast their November lot with the liberal black man or the liberal white woman. Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, Republicans are having their own problems getting the party faithful to unite behind the candidacy of John McCain. Indeed, a reported agreement at the Nevada Republican Party convention a week ago to elect a unity slate of candidates which was to include both McCain supporters and supporters of Ron Paul broke down when the Paul supporters decided to chuck the deal and instead attempt to capture the entire Nevada delegation. The convention recessed in chaos with the delegate elections postponed indefinitely.

While this unrest has been going on in the two major parties, the Libertarians have been sitting back and enjoying the show. And with the announcement that former Georgia congressman Bob Barr might enter the race for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, party members and leaders were buoyed at the prospect of going into this election cycle with a level of credibility and the potential of mainstream media coverage it simply has never enjoyed before.

But just like the Democrats and Republicans this year, the Libertarians simply will not be satisfied unless it blows its opportunity not to blow its opportunity.

In addition to Barr, the LP faithful will have a number of other candidates to choose from at their convention in Denver later this month. One is Wayne Allyn Root, an exceptionally telegenic and energetic personality who has captured the imagination if not the full support of party regulars who see the opportunity presented by Barr heading up their ticket. It’s a long-shot, but Root could still win the nomination. If so, at least the party wouldn’t be embarrassed by his candidacy.

I mean, it’s not like the guy embraces kiddie porn.

Alas, the same can’t be said of an old LP warhorse radical named Mary Ruwart who is also seeking the LP presidential nomination. Back in 1999, Ruwart wrote a book titled “Healing the World.”” In it she responds to the following question: “How can a libertarian argue against child pornography?” Here’s Ruwart’s “thoughtful” response:

“Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it’s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess; this is part of life.”

So children lured into the world of kiddie porn are simply making poor choices? This woman is nuts. However, that book was written long ago, so maybe Ms. Ruwart has had time to reflect on her stupidity and now embraces a more sane position on this issue. So she was asked about it again at the April 26 Indiana Libertarian Party Convention. Ruwart’s response:

“(B)ans on child pornography are like bans on drugs and prostitution. They don’t work. They only make a bad situation worse.””

How in the hell do you make child pornography worse? It’s one thing to defend the right of consenting ADULTS to engage in various activities which many in the population find objectionable, but CHILDREN? What a loon!

And this presents a major problem for the Libertarian Party. While it seems unlikely that Ruwart could snatch the nomination away from Barr or Root, she does have a following among old guard libertarians. And if she stacks the convention in Denver the way the Ron Paul folks stacked the Nevada GOP convention last weekend in Reno, LP could end up standing for“Little Pornographers.”

And it’s not like the LP doesn’t already have an image problem. Its wholly defensible objections to the nation’s failed War on Drugs have nevertheless earned it a reputation as the party of dope-smoking hippies. But that’s NOTHING compared to the damage which is being done by having one of its presidential candidates on record as supporting smut films featuring 13-year-old girls.

To the party’s credit, its executive director, Shane Cory, sent out a press release last week asserting that the country“has an obligation to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, while calling on stepped up efforts to track down and prosecute the twisted individuals who exploit innocent children.”Amen.

Unfortunately, according to blogger Robert Stacy McCain over at the American Spectator, Ruwart’s supporters and others in the party’s left-libertarian wing responded (to the press release) by accusing Cory of attempting to sabotage her presidential campaign and being a lackey for Bob Barr,’ who is considered to be Ruwart’s chief rival for the LP nomination.”

Regretfully, there are reportedly some in the LP’s leadership who agree with Ruwart. A resolution calling for state governments to vigorously enforce child porn laws was reportedly proposed to the Libertarian National Committee last week, but the board didn’t even have the cojones to vote on it. This caused Cory, who has been exceptionally successful in expanding the Libertarians electoral base since taking over as executive director back in 2005 to resign in protest this weekend. An admirable and honorable thing to do, but a crushing blow to the opportunities the party had within its grasp this year.

A healthy dose of limited-government libertarian philosophy would do the national political debate a world of good, as well as the Republican Party. Alas, when the libertarian fringe becomes unhinged, all hell breaks loose and the movement’s progress is set back years. Libertarians just can’t seem to help but snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Hmmm. Maybe they’re becoming just like a major political party after all.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com.

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