I had been half-heartedly planning the past few months to vote for Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr. I had previously considered voting for Obama when it looked like he would make an important difference in the Iraq war, but it now looks like the Iraqi government will persuade the U.S. to leave soon enough for that difference not to matter. If I lived in a swing state and the election was close, I might persuade myself that Obama’s personality and intelligence make him more qualified, but my track record for evaluating politicians that way is sufficiently unimpressive that I ought to be uncertain whether I’ve been fooled by his eloquence.
Voting Libertarian is normally the best way to encourage whoever wins to adopt a better policy, but this time it’s unclear whether that would send the message “I want more unprincipled opportunists”. Barr’s past support for the war on some drugs and his current mixed opinions on that subject are damaging the Libertarian party’s reputation.
The final straw that has convinced me not to vote for him is in this New Yorker piece:
For Barr, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent expansion of executive power under President Bush, were a political turning point. “I went through Reagan National after 9/11, and saw guardsmen with automatic weapons,” he told me. “It dawned on me that we’ve entered a whole new world. It may have made other passengers feel more secure, but it made me feel dramatically less free.”
An NRA director saying the presence of armed men is a threat to freedom? There’s no shortage of dishonest pretenses of security that directly interfere with the average passenger. I haven’t heard any indication that armed guardsmen in airports do anything to innocent people. I saw more armed soldiers in the Zurich airport in the late 1980s than I saw in U.S. airports, and I’m fairly sure they didn’t erode Swiss freedom.
This is sufficiently bizarre as to suggest he can’t keep track of which ideology he believes today.
Not to mention this older report where he seems to specifically say Reagan National should have armed guardsmen.