First Look 2008: A Series on Potential 2008 Libertarian Party Candidates

Thomas “Kn@ppster” Knapp has just completed his third installment of a series of articles about potential Libertarian Party presidential candidates for 2008. He’s calling this series “First look 2008”, and here’s a peek at his overall view of the 2008 LP race:

A smart Libertarian presidential candidacy will garner larger numbers of votes than past such candidacies and incorporate a higher percentage of those votes into the “base” which can be counted upon in future elections. A smart Libertarian presidential candidacy will “build the party” by positioning the party as embodying the aspirations of large numbers of American citizens/voters. A smart Libertarian presidential candidacy will bring the Libertarian Party into the “mainstream” not by sacrificing the Utopian Vision but by serving it up in realistic, achievable incremental policy bites — with the party’s activist cadre standing by to welcome those who like it enough to look around for an all-you-can eat buffet.

It’s time for the Libertarian Party to get smart about its presidential campaigns.

He’s also taking a hard look at the potential serious candidates, and has written articles about two of them so far.

The first candidate his Karen Kwiatkowski. We’ve covered her before at HoT, and would like to add that I’ve got a rumor from a generally credible source that she should would consider running for Vice President. It’s not that far a leap to the top spot on the ticket. Knapp writes:

Kwiatkowski is not a “perfect” candidate. It would be nice if she’d made full colonel or even picked up a general’s star, or served on the National Security Council, or held elected or appointed office; and if she plans to seek the LP’s 2008 presidential nomination, I hope she’ll start hitting on domestic policy issues (without, of course, slacking off on foreign policy).

However, her credentials in the public policy — especially the foreign policy — realm far outstrip those of any prior LP presidential candidate with the possible exception of US Representative Ron Paul, and she’s a bona fide public figure with three years of intensive experience in the public eye. She also states that she has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1994, and an ideological libertarian since adolescence, which makes it seem unlikely that she’s interested in using the party’s nomination for purposes which would be detrimental to the party’s interests.

Unless I’m missing something — and it’s certainly possible that I am, so let me know if you know what it is — Kwiatkowski is so far the LP’s best prospect. Unless a former governor or congresscritter actually takes the leap and seeks the nomination, I suspect she’ll remain so.

He took a look at Michael Badnarik in his latest article in the series. He starts with his predictions of how Badnarik’s current performance will impact the 2008 LP decision:

If Michael Badnarik is elected to the US House of Representatives from Texas’s 10th district this November, his nomination as the LP’s 2008 presidential candidate is virtually assured … if he decides to seek it. Whether he’d so decide is an open question. As the nation’s first Libertarian congresscritter, he might choose to concentrate on retaining his seat.

Here’s the risky prediction part: Badnarik won’t win his congressional race.

With respect to most LP congressional candidates, that wouldn’t be a risky prediction at all. The party’s record is perfect in that respect: Libertarians are zero for X, where X is the number of campaigns for election to Congress on our ballot line over the last 35 years.

Michael Badnarik, however, is not most LP congressional candidates.

Most LP congressional candidates haven’t raised $200,000 for their campaigns before Memorial Day. Most LP congressional candidates haven’t raised more than one of their two “major party” opponents. As a matter of fact, most LP congressional candidates haven’t raised one tenth as much as Badnarik will have by Election Day. Most LP congressional candidates don’t have billboards in high-traffic areas. Most LP congressional candidates don’t have offices and full-time staff. And most LP congressional candidates haven’t gone to a national convention broke, in third place, with a campaign staff consisting of two volunteers, and walked out of that convention with a presidential nomination.

He takes a look at the negatives, too:

The only thing that Badnarik really has going against him are…his ideas.

Despite his best efforts to tell them what he thought — the man drove 20,000 miles, attended virtually every LP event in the US in 2003 and 2004, taught a class on the US Constitution to LP audiences, and even wrote a book – many delegates to the LP’s 2004 national convention weren’t familiar with his…well, unorthodox, even by libertarian standards…views on the income tax, drivers’ licenses, and such until after they’d nominated him. That was their fault and not his, of course, but quite a few delegates were right wroth at having deceived themselves and blamed Badnarik for not doing more to prevent them from doing so.

Many of those same people will be delegates in 2008. Many of them will still hold a grudge. And Badnarik’s ideas will be discussed rather than ignored. As a matter of fact, another declared candidate for the nomination, George Phillies, has already put them into play. [snip]

I’m not going to argue the validity of Badnarik’s views. I’m not even going to speculate as to what percentage of the population might hold them. What I will state is that I believe that the percentage of the population which holds them and would support a candidate who stands for them is much smaller than the percentage of the population which would regard them as crazy enough to instantly discredit any candidate who stood for them; and that many of the latter group are Americans who might otherwise be inclined to consider voting Libertarian.

Knapp’s conclusion is one which I think worthy of consideration:

I have little doubt that Badnarik could raise much more money, campaign as the likely LP candidate for much longer, have an effective campaign organization in place earlier, and so forth, than last time around. The down side to that is that, if he threatens to be a bigger factor in the general election, and I firmly believe that he would – he is tireless and dedicated and downright effective — his views will receive more, and more negative attention. The LP needs to decide whether or not it is willing to be seen as standing behind those views.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. It’s about damn time we ran a female presidential candidate. If the other parties run males as usual, the fact that we’re running a lady might actually generate a little free publicity.

  2. Yeah, unless the Dems run Hillary.

    I do think that we need the organizational strength of Badnarik’s campaigns in this fight… but he could be a liability were he the presidential candidate. Perhaps making him the vice presidential candidate, with Kwiatkowski the presidential? Nobody cares about the vice president’s views, and Kwiatkowski seems solid enough (military career) that the public will happily vote for her.

  3. I checked out George Phillies’ website and I am favorably impressed. Phillies and Kwiatkowski look like a great team. I await some public comment by Ms. Kwiatkowski. We need to get an early start on our Presidential campaign and I appreciate Phillies’ willingness to get started. This is an encouraging development.

  4. I like Karen. She got guts and brains. And she is not talking about issues. Which is one mistake Libertarian candidates fell for. Controversial issues like abortion, immigration, gay marriage, National ID, medical marihuana, environment, pornography, social security, AIDS, Evolution, bird flu, Medicare and many others are secondary problems promoted from Republican, Democrats and government Agencies trying hard to distract the US people from the real issue of corruption. I like Karen because she is articulate and has a down to earth image (she owns and works a farm) The combination with George P who is a scientist is good but he indulges in issues and has a little sloppy website. I wish they find a webmaster pro and a campaign manager who gives them some spin.

  5. I’m sure they’ll get a good website if they’re the ones who end up nominated.

  6. As usual Knapp makes a good case.

    Sure, he’s right. Some did and do object to Badnarik’s “crazy” views. Phillies among them. But George, Knapp and I all thought Aaron Russo the best candidate. Aaron has some views which some regard as “crazy”. And, when you get right down to it, what’s wrong with not paying “your” taxes…just don’t; see if I care.

    I’ve seen it posted elsewhere on HoT that it was “good” that Badnarik has posted his constitution class online. Hell, I saw only a few minutes of class #7, and only saw a few absurd conspiracy claims and only a few outright misstatements of fact. I’ll go with Phillies’ objections there.

    Except, when all is boiled down, I recognize what Badnarik, Hacker and Co. have achieved. They’ve taught me. That’s something no Libertarian campaign ever does.

    As Tom Knapp points out, Badnarik and Co. have set records. Kudos to all those in Austin. You are doing great work.

  7. John — keep in mind that none of us at HoT march in lockstep with each other. We’re libertarians, too — remember. :)

  8. Stephen—I didn’t forget; and neither you, your buds at HoT, Badnarik nor I are among the possible but improbable and extremely tiny group of Libertarians who might agree on everything. As a practical matter, all should recognize that agree with him or not, Badnarik and his friends are doing something very positive.