There are those who talk about politics – as most of us do here – and then there are those who demonstrate a level of commitment far beyond rhetoric, take the leap and actually participate in the bruising scrum that is the American political system.
Our own Al Barger is the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate from the great state of Indiana. Al and I disagree on a fair number of issues, including vital ones like the standing of Elvis Costello in popular music history, the advisability of a strong national government, and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, but I also know Al to be a man of intelligence, integrity, openness and curiosity, and humor.
Blogger and Hoosier Libertarian Mike Kole has the official announcement:
- One of the more satisfying outcomes of a recent meeting of the Libertarian Party of Indiana’s Central Committee was to nominate Al Barger for US Senate.
Incumbent Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is as about as untouchable as they come. He is generally more conservative than the average Republican, both fiscally and socially. There were Reagan Democrats throughout the US, but in Indiana, there are Bayh Repubicans. So, why not run a colorful candidate such as Al? He’s endlessly quotable, and to make a dent in Bayh, you have to be noteworthy. The GOP’s challenger may as well be an empty Coke can. Dr. Marvin Scott has an excellent resume,’ but that and $4 will get you a latte at Starbucks. I’d give a week’s pay to have Bayh and Barger on the same stage for an hour, along with the Coke can. Sweat would definitely form under Bayh’s perfectly coiffed hair, and that rarely happens.
As an internal matter, it was very satisfying that Al could be nominated and accepted despite having a favorable take on the war against Al Qaeda and in Iraq. He is as libertarian as John Hospers or Murray Rothbard ever were, despite straying from orthodoxy on this issue. It is satisfying that there are no purity police on the Central Committee. Other states would have refused to give the assent. Our group recognized that Al is the best man available for an impossible battle. I know I’d rather have someone like Al who is his own man with his own thoughts and reasons than a stiff dogmatic who can only spout platform bromides. That’s no different than the Coke can, and probably less effective anyhow.
Al’s pro-War on Terror stance is key: most non-Libertarians don’t realize that the party platform calls for limited government across the board, including military action, and that they did not support the invasion of Iraq. Barger’s strong pro-war stance demonstrates a fiercely independent streak we have seen amply demonstrated here over the last two years, and he and I agree that terror is the single most pressing issue facing the nation, indeed, the free world. His position:
- I favored the war in Iraq, and am open to the possible need for similar actions in Iran, North Korea, Syria, and perhaps other places. Protecting us from people who want to come kill us is the main one thing that the federal government is SUPPOSED to do. I don’t LIKE wars, but if there are people trying to kill us — and there are — then they have to be stopped, as Malcolm X would say, by any means necessary.
Though some might characterize Al’s campaign – under the banner of a “third” party against a hugely popular incumbent – as quixotic or as a form of performance art, he sees his highest duty as educating and informing the public as to the American Constitution and how far the political establishment of the nation has deviated from its most fundamental document.
Al Barger is an Eagle Scout, a member of MENSA, a proud graduate of Ball State University, and, extending his political vision outside of the narrow Libertarian realm, describes himself as a
- Goldwater Republican. To younger, cooler people, I would describe myself as a “South Park Republican.” Parker and Stone come closest of anything in the culture to my general sensibilities.
I’m not reflexively hostile to authority, but I just presumptively don’t believe in it. If there is some clear necessary reason for it, I’m happy to work with it, but my default presumption is that much authority is arbitrary and unnecessary. I’m willing to listen to reason, but authority figures have to earn my respect. I would never presume to have any moral obligation to follow a rule merely because “it’s the law.”
In short, I don’t generally just hate on authority figures, but I do love giving them a good tweak.
As to other matters of policy:
- Copyright reform: I will be advocating a return to US historic norms in copyright. The original idea of a 14 year copyright, with one 14 year extension seems about right. If 28 years of exclusive copyright isn’t enough to incentivize you to write that novel, then you can just go drive a truck for a living. That leaves a lot of details to figure out though, particularly about permutations of modern technology. I tend to favor recognizing non-commercial P2P downloading as protected fair use, though I recognize that there are legitimate industry concerns about this.
Barger takes a more mainstream Libertarian view of entitlement reform:
- We’ve got big fat disasters coming down the road with Social Security and Medicare that are simply not being addressed. I’m looking for how to make the point to voters that these are real, serious issues that we need to start getting a handle on NOW before it all hits crisis mode 10 or 20 years down the line.
I will, naturally, be advocating working toward getting the government out of the retirement funds business. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Any private company that played with people’s money like this would land every one of their employees in prison.
The 16th and 17th amendments to the constitution should both be done away with post haste. Between them, they have really messed up the whole poltiical system.
I would most love to do away with the taxation of income entirely, and the entitlement programs that it supports. We’d all end up much better off.
I favor legalization of drugs. Also, I adamantly oppose any military draft.
Much to chew upon.
Al Barger deserves our attention, admiration and respect for taking this monumental task upon himself against daunting, even insurmountable odds. How many people do you actually know who have run for the U.S. Senate? We wish him the best of luck in his quest and will be following his campaign closely.