The Libertarian Party Is the Voice for Liberty

By Dr. Jim Lark, orginally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

As Election Day approaches, many Virginians who believe the federal government is too big, too intrusive, and too expensive may feel they have no one to support at the ballot box.

At the presidential level, John McCain and Barack Obama represent different varieties of "big-government" politicians. When they disagree on issues, the disagreements frequently concern the methods they will use to increase the size and scope of government. Both have demonstrated their willingness to expand the federal government well beyond its constitutional limits.

At the U.S. Senate level, Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner sometimes talk a good game about limited government and individual liberty, but their terms as governor provide me with little reason to believe they will work vigorously to reduce substantially the size and scope of the federal government.

For Virginia voters who want substantially less government and substantially more liberty, I suggest they vote for the Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket of Bob Barr and Wayne A. Root and senatorial candidate William Redpath.

The Libertarian Party’s fundamental principle is that of individual liberty and personal responsibility: You have the right to live your life as you see fit, use your property in whatever manner you choose, and keep the fruits of your labor as long as you don’t violate the rights of others. Governments are instituted to protect our life, liberty, and property; when a government violates the very rights it was established to protect, it is acting illegitimately and may be altered or abolished.

WE BELIEVE THAT on moral, prudential, and constitutional grounds, most federal programs fail badly. From our "rob Peter to pay Paul" tax system to a welfare system that promotes dependence and irresponsible behavior, from gun control laws that hinder/disarm prospective victims to Food and Drug Administration regulations that prevent patients from access to treatments, from massive financial bailouts of the imprudent to the dangerous and expensive attempts to act as world policeman and "nation builder," the federal government vastly exceeds its constitutional bounds and violates our rights.

Barr, the LP presidential candidate, represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-2003. His running mate, Wayne A. Root, is a businessman, television personality, and author from Las Vegas.

The major Barr campaign themes include:

  • Drastically reducing federal spending and eliminating federal programs that do not pass constitutional muster;
  • Ending our military interventionism and ensuring that the purpose of our national defense establishment is defense; this includes withdrawing from Iraq as soon as possible;
  • Restoring our civil liberties that have been seriously abridged by both Democratic and Republican administrations, especially during the past 20 years.

    To quote Barr:

    "We should seek to establish a wall of separation between government and the economy. The legitimate economic functions of government are to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. The government should stop attempting to ‘manage’ the free market.

    "America should not be the world’s policeman. The American purpose is to provide a strong national defense, not to engage in nation-building or to launch foreign crusades, no matter how seemingly well-intentioned.

    "The Fourth Amendment was designed for precisely this purpose — to protect Americans from illegal searches and seizures by the government. Yet the Bush administration, aided by many congressional Democrats and Republicans, has worked to gut both constitutional and legal protections for the privacy rights and civil liberties of American citizens. The next administration must reverse course, demonstrating that it recognizes it is tasked to defend a free society, not undermine it."

    WILLIAM REDPATH, the LP senatorial candidate, lives in Leesburg with his wife Melinda; he is a financial analyst by profession and is a certified public accountant and a chartered financial analyst. He was the Libertarian candidate for governor of Virginia in 2001.

    His major campaign themes are:

  • Reduction of federal spending;
  • Tax reform (specifically, moving to a flat tax);
  • Prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq;
  • Reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid;
  • Repeal of all federal laws against "victimless crimes."

    Additional information about the Libertarian Party and the Barr/Root ticket is available at and, or by calling the LP at (800) ELECT-US. Redpath campaign information is available at

    As in past election campaigns, I frequently hear comments along the following lines: "I really like the Libertarian candidates, but I don’t believe they will win, and I don’t want to waste my vote." While each person must determine for himself the best way to help America become a freer, better place, believing in limited government and yet continually voting for big-government candidates strikes me as "wasting your vote." Perhaps it’s time to vote for what you want.

    James W. Lark is a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He is the vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, a member of the Libertarian National Committee, and served as national chairman of the Libertarian Party during the 2000-2002 term. Contact him at

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