By Kelse Moen
Former Georgia Representative Bob Barr gave this interview Wednesday on Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton. Barr, a prominent conservative who led the Clinton impeachment, has in retirement changed his party affiliation to Libertarian, come out in support of marijuana legalization, and become an increasingly vocal opponent of our post-9/11 Leviathan. He created the American Freedom Agenda, a 10-point plan opposing the growth of executive privilege, NSA wiretapping, and the secret renditions, torture, and loss of habeas corpus that have all emerged under the banner of counter-terrorism.
Yet the first thing Horton asked was “Are you running for president?” Barr’s answer should give hope to anti-statists of all stripes. While not giving a definitive answer, the congressman said he takes the possibility “very seriously,” and he certainly sounded like someone preparing to run. Of course, he would be running as a Libertarian, meaning he has no realistic shot at winning the White House. But with Ron Paul essentially out of the race, and that movement in search of a new voice, a Barr candidacy would be just what the philosophy of small government needs.
Barr describes his time as a United States attorney as a formative experience, showing him how much power the State really has, and convincing him that the Bush administration is lying when it claims it needs even more power to combat terrorism. The State, able to crush any of us at any moment, has no need for more power. And despite the fact that he used to support the Drug War and voted for the PATRIOT Act, such statements seem genuine. After all, no politician joins the Libertarian Party to advance his career.
According to Horton, Barr represents a union of ”the best of both the left and the right.” He is a supporter of the American Conservative Union, the ACLU, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the NRA. But Barr is no bland moderate like Lincoln Chafee. He is a radical–at least in the parlance of the day where the “moderates” can tolerate all aspects of government and the “radicals” stick to quaint notions of laissez-faire and individualism.
It is time, as Horton put it, to choose between an Emperor and the Bill of Rights. Accepting one can only mean rejecting the other, and we have spent the last century accepting the wrong one. This is an age where countless politicians clamor to be a Caesar when what we really need is a Brutus, someone who will take on the empire in the name of the republic. Ron Paul was such a figure. So too is Bob Barr. We can only hope that he will strike the next blow.