Virtual Voices

Raising the Barr

Campaign 2008

Former Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr launched a Libertarian Party presidential bid Monday, promising an alternative to the big government approaches of all three presidential candidates. While in Congress, Barr was a key leader in the impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton. Seeing that Republicans are no longer fiscal conservatives, Barr left the Republican Party two years ago.

Barr's campaign platform includes themes that Republicans of old used to value. Barr believes that government spending at all levels is out of control.

Tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare - essentially aid to dependent corporations - should be eliminated. Largesse for middle- and upper-income Americans, particularly so-called "entitlement" programs, must be cut. Billions in so-called defense spending, which protects America's populous, prosperous allies rather than Americans, must be eliminated.

Barr would push to adopt a national sales tax, replacing the Internal Revenue Service and all federal income taxes, as well as payroll taxes. Barr would also push to repeal the 16th amendment, which authorizes Congress to levy an income tax in order to keep his fair tax proposal permanent.

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Barr disagrees with government making surrogate decisions about the lives of citizens, seeking to restore our founding fathers' belief in liberty and recognizing that responsible citizenship requires everyone to be held accountable for the good and bad decisions they make. Barr says, "the sustained government attack on the sanctity of the rights of the individual, including their right to be secure in their privacy and property, has created a moral and Constitutional crisis."

On immigration, Barr wants to restrict access to public services for undocumented aliens because, to date, such access exists to the detriment of those who would enter the country to work productively and also increases the burden on taxpayers.

On national defense, Barr is tired of using the U.S. military as the world's police force: "Our great military has been too willingly and quickly used for purposes other than national defense." Barr wants to use our military when foreign aggressors attack, not simply for interventionist initiatives.

Although Barr may have entered the race too late, there are millions of Americans who might be willing to vote for Barr to protest government monopoly power and spending promoted by both Democrats and Republicans, as some have recently argued. Over the past decade, Barr reminds us, total government spending nationwide (state, local and federal) has increased from $2.9 trillion to $5.1 trillion in 2008.

For those looking for real change in Washington in 2008, Bob Barr may pose a challenge to both big government Republicans and even bigger government Democrats.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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