Before he was “exploring” a Libertarian presidential candidacy, before he was on the Libertarian National Committee, before he was a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project, Bob Barr was the biggest drug warrior in Congress. He was so bad on the drug war that the late, great Ron Crickenberger, political director of the national Libertarian Party, was inspired to create this 2002 anti-Barr ad starring medical marijuana patient Cheryl Miller.
Why do I dredge this up now? Hasn’t Barr sufficiently repented for his past sins? Well, yes and no. He’s certainly gotten a lot better on a lot of issues since leaving Congress. However, he also has a track record that isn’t easily dismissed. Ron Paul may be a Republican, but he also has an impeccably libertarian voting record in Congress. Barr doesn’t have that, and he needs to realize that he has to make an extra effort to prove he’s now on the side of angels.
I want to support Bob Barr. I started the online petition to encourage him to run. But I also expect Libertarian candidates — especially at the highest levels — to be clearly libertarian. If Barr wants the nomination, he has to earn it by coming out with some unequivocally libertarian campaign positions, particularly on those issues like the drug war where he erred so badly in the past.