Saturday, May 3, 2008

The battle of 'Ruwartistan'

A feud within the Libertarian Party boiled over in the past two weeks, and the party's executive director Shane Cory resigned today, as I report at The American Spectator blog:
Cory's exit comes in wake of an internal party uproar surrounding longtime Libertarian activist Mary Ruwart, who is seeking the LP presidential nomination, after it was reported that a passage in a book she wrote in 1999 appeared to defend child pornography. This prompted Cory, who had been the Libertarian executive director since 2005, to issue an official LP press
clarifying that the party opposes child pornography. Ruwart's supporters and others in the party's "left-libertarian" wing responded by accusing Coryof attempting to sabotage her presidential campaign and being a "lackey for Bob Barr," who is considered Ruwart's chief rival for the LP nomination. . . .
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently called Barr "John McCain's worst nightmare." But as I explained in an American Spectator article last month, before Barr can disturb any Republican dreams in November, he's first got to overcome resistance from Ruwart and other stalwarts of the LP's more radical wing.
The Libertarian Party is riven by Byzantine schisms and factionalism that defy easy description, but Brian Doherty of Reason magazine offered a pretty good glimpse with his coverage of the 2004 LP national convention, where the delegates rejected the telegenic Aaron Russo in favor of the cerebral Michael Badnarik.

Many disgrunted Republicans see Barr's LP candidacy as a way to fill "a gaping ideological hole on the right side of the political spectrum." The problem is that many hard-core LP types apparently would rather be part of an irrelevant (but ideologically "pure") fringe party than to expand the Libertarian electoral base by reaching out to mainstream voters. When the executive director faces a mutiny because he condemns kiddie porn, the fringe wins.

(BTW, the "Ruwartistan" in the title is a reference to my visit last month to the Libertarian Party of North Carolina's convention. Ruwart has many allies in the LPNC, and won the convention's presidential straw poll with 17 of 25 votes. A friend joked that North Carolina is "Ruwartistan.")

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