[Note: This article is one in a series on prospective candidates for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.]
I'm a fan and friend of George Phillies. I've been working with him in various capacities on various projects for six years now. Still, I was surprised when he declared his candidacy for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination, and I'm frankly skeptical of his ability to garner that nomination.
Let's start out with his positives:
- He's declared early and actually begun the work of putting together a campaign. These two things have to go together to be significant. Lots of people declare early and never do anything between declaring and showing up at the convention to collect their five or ten delegate votes. Phillies has already rolled out a video commercial on his still-under-construction website. And he's given himself two years to develop a public profile outside the party.
- He's a long-time LP activist with a small, but hardcore, national base of support in the party (in three runs for the chairmanship of the Libertarian National Committee, two of them decided by delegates who also chose a presidential nominee, he's polled between 15% and 23%).
- He's the author of two books which bear on LP politics. Stand Up For Liberty! is his manifesto on party organization for political victory. Funding Liberty is an in-depth analysis of the conduct of the LP's 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns. He also publishes an internal, unofficial LP periodical, Let Freedom Ring!/Libertarian Strategy Gazette.
- He's played key roles in several major LP campaigns. This has gained him contact with, and admiration from, LP campaign veterans whose support and work will be valuable to him in seeking the nomination.
- His political activities already extend outside the LP. For example, he chairs his county's ACLU affiliate. He's not yet a major national political figure by any stretch of the imagination, but in a party that tends toward an extreme inward focus, any outside affiliations are both refreshing and promising.
- While non-political academic credentials (he's a physics professor with a doctorate from MIT) are a thin rope to climb toward the presidency, he can claim to have administrative experience on numerous faculty committees and such as a professor at Worcester Polytechnic.
Now, to the negatives: