In a surprise vote, the national Libertarian Party chose Michael Badnarik, an Austin, Texas-based computer consultant and constitutional scholar, to carry the party's banner in the November presidential election. Badnarik emerged victorious Sunday at the party's national convention in Atlanta, defeating leading candidates film producer Aaron Russo and radio talk show host Gary Nolan.
As part of its bedrock belief in individual freedom, the Libertarian Party has long championed the position that the use and sale of illegal drugs should be "re-legalized." Despite a seeming de-emphasis on drug prohibition as a wedge issue for the party in the wake of the departure of former national political director Ron Crickenberger last fall, ending drug prohibition remains a firm plank in the party's platform.
Badnarik's position statement on drug policy is fully in line with the party platform. Citing government intrusions on personal rights and privacy in the name of the drug war, such as asset forfeiture laws, which deprive citizens of their freedom from unwarranted seizures and corrupt police departments, Badnarik wrote that "the government's war on drugs violates the rights of Americans so egregiously that it is a bigger threat than the drugs themselves." The mechanisms of the black market ensure continued drug use, Badnarik argued. "The Libertarian solution is to decriminalize drugs, which will make drugs extremely cheap, which will remove the profit motivation for selling drugs, which will result in fewer children taking drugs."
Although Badnarik refers to "decriminalization" of drugs, what he describes is more commonly known as "legalization," or the end of drug prohibition. And although the drug issue does not appear to be a hot button issue for Badnarik -- gun owners' rights are of great interest to him -- once again the Libertarian Party will be providing US voters with the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who promises to end the war on drugs in full.
With President Bush's conservative base restive over budget deficits and the war in Iraq, some analysts are suggesting the Libertarian Party could pose as grave a threat to Bush's reelection chances as, by the conventional wisdom, Ralph Nader poses to Democratic nominee John Kerry's. In a thumbsucker piece last week, CBSNews.com chief political writer David Paul Kuhn made the case, saying: "The Libertarian Party nominee could cost Mr. Bush his job in 2004. With conservatives upset over the ballooning size of the federal government under a Republican White House and Congress -- and a portion of the political right having opposed the war in Iraq from the outset or else dismayed at how it's being handled -- the Libertarian nominee may do for Democrats in 2004 what Nader did for Republicans in 2000."
Visit Michael Badnarik's campaign web site at http://www.badnarik.org online.
Visit the Libertarian Party web site at http://www.lp.org online.