John Schwenkler on why we need to have more than two candidates debating

John, in the comment box of his post-debate post:

[I]t seems to me that the major party candidates would be able to get away with a lot less of their B.S. if they had to share space with candidates who were offering something different. Obama would never have pressed McCain about, e.g., how his supposed “constructionism” squares with the free speech restrictions in McCain-Feingold or how his claim to want to shrink the size of government is empty in the face of the fact that he wants to, well, grow it, nor would McCain ever have pressed Obama on how the right to privacy permits abortion but doesn’t disallow domestic spying, etc. – but if they’d been up against a candidate who didn’t feel bound by those same rules, then the rules would have begun to change, and they’d have been pressed to be much more transparent and articulate then they need to be when both they and their MSM questions are coming at things squarely from the mushy middle. Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

          [My emphasis. – NPO]

Post-script: My humblest, sincerest apologies for the ultra-light (read: non-existent) web-logging lately; the workload has picked up, but in class and my assistantship, and the newspaper, which I hope to God on high we finish tonight, has occupied more time than I had ever expected. This weekend is me-weekend, though; well, me-plus-many, many-hours-in-the-studio weekend. 


The Northern Agrarian endorses Ralph Nader

But beyond a policy based argument, Nader speaks to the heart of conservatism. Maybe not mainstream conservatism, but a conservatism separated from mass-consumerism and talk-radio, Fox News demagoguery. A candidate that is an enemy of corporate America and a friend of the environment is not a pinko-commie, but a conservative.

“The resources of nature, like those of spirit, are running out, and all that a conscientious man can aspire to be is a literal conservative, hoarding what remains of culture and of natural wealth against the fierce appetites of modern life.”
-Russell Kirk

Is there a candidate speaking more directly to America-First, localist, populist, agrarian conservatism than Ralph Nader? I think not. Go, Ralph, go!

Read the entire endorsement here.

Patrick offers, on the whole, a provoking, on-point, and generally persuasive analysis of Nader qua conservative, as well as some necessary criticism of Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin, recipient of Ron Paul’s endorsement.

I make only one criticism of Patrick’s column, that being that Patrick avoids discussion of Nader’s less acceptable policy views: support for abortion-on-demand, single-payer health care, and radical environmentalism, rather than sensible, quasi-market-based conservation, amongst them. Nonetheless, it’s a fine piece, and sincere conservatives (Read: “Pseudocons need not apply.”) should give serious consideration to the arguments proffered by Patrick and Justin Raimondo. I’ve yet to decide for sure between Nader and Baldwin, but this is quite the compelling defense of calling oneself a Conservative for Nader.

Holy Smokes! Barr asks Paul to be running mate!

From Barr’s letter to Dr. Paul [PDF]

While ballot substitution is restricted for a presidential candidate and limited at this point in time, in many states, substitution is still permitted for vice presidential candidates. But time is short.

As my campaign staff has proposed to you, I ask that you join the Libertarian presidential ticket as the vice presidential candidate.

According to the campaign e-mail

Barr’s running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, expressed support: “As the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, I believe in one thing above all else-principle. There can be no compromise on the ideals of limited government, lower taxes, lower spending, and more freedom for the American people. Those are the principles to which I’ve dedicated my life. The GOP and Democratic candidates only give lip service-at best-to these ideals and principles. It is only an act at election time every four years.”

“I want to end the charade once and for all,” Root continued. “I am willing to sacrifice anything to advance the cause of liberty, freedom, smaller government and to enable the American taxpayer to keep more of their own money and property. Understanding Dr. Ron Paul’s reputation and name recognition in the freedom movement, I am willing to step aside as Libertarian vice presidential candidate if he would be willing to take my place. I will pledge to work day and night, just as I have as the vice presidential nominee, to support Dr. Paul. I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for the Libertarian and freedom movements. I encourage Dr. Paul to accept Congressman Barr’s offer. The campaign is making this offer because we believe there is no sacrifice too large when it comes to improving the lives of the American people and American taxpayers.”

I’m not sure that this would be particularly effective — assuming Dr. Paul were to accept — but it would be amazing, and Dr. Paul is, undeniably, a more appealing candidate than Mr. Root. And if anything can catalyze the sort of tremendous shift that we need to see in American electoral politics, this might just be it. I wonder what Chuck Baldwin thinks about this, and what he’d think would Dr. Paul accept.

Dr Paul declines. Expected, but disappointing, nonetheless. The press conferences seem to have been interesting, if not distressing to Richard.

Notice something peculiar . . .

on the Texas ballot?

Hint: Duopoly.

From a Bob Barr campaign e-mail:

Barr Only Presidential Candidate on Texas Ballot

Republicans, Democrats miss deadline to file presidential candidates in Texas

Atlanta, GA – Bob Barr is slated to be the only presidential candidate on the ballot in Texas after Republicans and Democrats missed the Aug. 26 deadline to file in the state.

“Unless the state of Texas violates their own election laws, Congressman Barr will be the only presidential candidate on the ballot,” says Russell Verney, campaign manager for the Barr Campaign and the former campaign manager for Ross Perot. “Texas law makes no exceptions for missing deadlines.”

The Texas Secretary of State Web site shows only Bob Barr as the official candidate for president in Texas.

“We know all about deadlines,” says Verney. “We are up against them constantly in our fight to get on the ballot across the nation. When we miss deadlines, we get no second chances. This is a great example of how unreasonable deadlines chill democracy.”

“Republicans and Democrats make certain that third party candidates are held to ballot access laws, no matter how absurd or unreasonable,” says Verney. “Therefore, Republicans and Democrats should be held to the same standards.”

Update: Well, apparently, McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden now are on the ballot; I know not whether this violates Texas law, as the Barr campaign asserted, or not.

“Bob Barr, the Master of a Curious Universe”

The Post ran a pretty good piece on Bob Barr to-day, one that offers a glimpse of Bob Barr the person and has no interest in shying away from his past indiscretions and his “flip-flopping”, but which also paints, on the whole, a rather fair picture of this Georgia bulldog whose law is “Never run a 100-yard dash in a 90-yard room.”

Wilhelm Röpke’s prescience, 1957

Among these slowly spreading cancers of our Western economy and society, two stand out: the apparently irresistible advance of the welfare state and the erosion of the value of money, which is called creeping inflation. (page one hundred and fifty)

Social demagogues use the promises of the welfare state and inflationary policy to seduce the masses, and it is hard to warn people convincingly of the price ultimately to be paid by all.* (page one hundred and fifty-two)

Both are the outcome of mass opinions, mass claims, mass emotions, and mass passions, and both are directed by these forces against property, law, social differentiation, tradition, continuity, and common interest. Both turn the state and the ballot into means for advancing one part of the community at the expense of the others in the direction in which the majority of voters push by means of their sheer weight. Both are an expression of the dissolution of firm moral principles which were formerly accepted as self-evident. (page one hundred and fifty-two) [My emphasis. – NPO]

[I]f we are to take respect for human personality seriously, we ought, contrarily, to measure progress by the degree to which the broad masses of the people can today be expected to provide for themselves out of their own means and on their own responsibility, through saving and insurance and the manifold forms of voluntary group aid. (page one hundred and fifty-five)

A Humane Economy, “Welfare State and Chronic Inflation”

*The dollar’s current exchange rate with the pound, Euro, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar

*The United States’ national debt

Bob Barr is far from perfect, at least in my humble estimation, but politics is, they say, the art of the possible (if improbable, in the case of electing the former congressman from Georgia), not the are of the perfect. Röpke supported the existence of a national bank; however, I suggest, begging pardon for my uncharacteristic (on this web-log, anyway) use of foul language, that, were he to witness the monstrosity that the Federal Reserve has become, he would s**t himself. Unlike the bellicose, red-face, angry Elephant and the elephantine-eared Jackass, the elephant-king in the green three-piece suit (Unsurpassable sartorial splendor!) wishes to to overhaul current American monetary policy.

Moreover, sure, Obama lived in Hawai’i and Indonesia, and McCain endure the hells of Commie Cong prison, but Babar, when a young elephant, once shipwrecked on Skull Island.

Stop throwing your vote away!

So says Libertarian candidate for president Bob Barr, in New Hampshire:

“The definition of throwing your vote away is to go into that voting booth and vote for one of two parties that will not change the direction this country’s going in,” Barr told a crowd of about 80 at Murphy’s Taproom. “And that’s the Republicans or Democrats.”

If one more person refers to voting for Barr, Baldwin, or, perennially, Nader, “throwing away a vote”, I might scream. (I will concede that voting for Cynthia McKinney or Alan Keyes is as bad as voting for McCain or Obama, though.)

A tip o’ the hat to John Schwenkler.