Friday, August 23, 2002
I'm pleased to see that the Libertarian Party has added a notch to its belt in the continuing struggle to end the Drug War. On Tuesday, Georgia Congressman Bob Barr lost his Republican primary race, after being targeted by the Libertarian Party's Congressional candidate.
Now admittedly the main reason Barr lost was because he foolishly moved from a difficult-but-winnable district into a new, more-heavily-Republican district which was dominated by another incumbent Republican. And the magnitude of Bob Barr's defeat was so large that the Libertarian Party cannot claim sole responsibility for getting rid of him. But the LP undoubtedly contributed to his defeat.
I downloaded the anti-Barr ad and thought it was extremely well-produced and effective. Take a look at it. I think it's pretty obvious that the ad had to work to Barr's strong disadvantage among any voters who saw it. And with $40,000 spent to run the ad (both broadcast TV and 4,000 cable spots), a lot of voters saw it.
Although the ad didn't make a decisive difference in the outcome of the primary, and although it didn't alter the struggle over which major party will control the House of Representatives, it should have a very salutory influence on future races. Fervent Drug Warriors, be they Republicans or Democrats, have been sent a warning that their position has turned into a political detriment. A similar ad campaign could easily peel off several percentage points from a Drug Warrior's vote totals, and cost him or her the election in a tight race.
And that's the whole point. Republicans and Democrats often take their base constituencies for granted, but they can't take the Libertarian Party for granted and they can no longer ignore the impact of their Libertarian challengers. Libertarians are willing to aggressively attack them on the issues. Even if that doesn't translate directly into Libertarian votes it can translate into lost Republican or Democrat votes and lost elections.
It will take time, but eventually Republicans and Democrats will learn that the War On Drugs is a losing cause.