Wallace Stanley Sayre! Thou Shouldst Be Living at This Hour!

Because "Sayre's Law" has never been so relevant.

Sayre is credited with the quip: "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low." The Wikipedia entry generalizes: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake."

That is what (sort of) came to mind while watching this Reason video from Zach Weissmueller:

Or you can read the transcript, if you prefer: A Power Struggle Consumes the Libertarian Party.

How did the Libertarian Party Convention become a campaign stop for candidates with wildly anti-libertarian views? This year's speakers included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who once called for jailing so-called climate deniers, and former president Donald Trump, a rabid opponent of free trade who added $8 trillion to the U.S. debt.

It's part of a strategy to transform the Libertarian Party (L.P.) into a major force in American politics that's largely the brainchild of political strategist Michael Heise, who viewed the 2016 presidential candidacy of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld as a colossal failure.

"Gary Johnson, 4.3 million votes, highest vote total ever, no lasting movement, no return on investment on those votes," Heise told Reason in 2022 during the party's convention in Reno. "[Gary Johnson voters] didn't stay because they weren't what you might call 'true believers.' They didn't feel it in their bones. It didn't have that same animation to it [as did] the Ron Paul [movement]."

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I guess I'd point to Heise's invocation of "true believers" as a good thing as the actual problem here. It's as if he read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer and treated it as a how-to manual. (I finally got around to reading it myself last year. And you should too. Amazon link at your right.)

So, anyway, Sayre's Law definitely applies, as witness the bitter LP infighting. But a different saying would apply to Heise's efforts to turn the LP into a Hofferian "mass movement": actual libertarians, instinctively individualistic, flinch away from that sort of thing. A different, probably Marxist, saying applies: "I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

Our regular Sunday look at the betting odds unsurprisingly fails to include Chase Oliver, the LP presidential candidate:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 52.6% +1.8%
Joe Biden 37.8% -2.9%
Michelle Obama 3.6% +0.8%
Robert Kennedy Jr 2.0% -0.2%
Other 4.0% +0.5%

Observation: Trump leads Biden in the betting probability by 14.8 percentage points, which is bigger than his lead on the Sunday just before he got convicted of 34 felonies. Funny.

And Michelle continues to impress some of the punters, who, I assume, are actually wagering on an actuarial event.

Also of note:

  • Finally. I was long dismayed by the wild and wacky conspiracy theorizing about the 2020 election. (Example.) But Steven Calabresi has some valid criticism at the Volokh Conspiracy here (but also see here).

    Using the the Covid pandemic as an excuse, the Left in 2020 massively changed the way presidential elections are held in this country. Whereas previously the secret ballot and same day voting was the norm, and one needed an excuse to get an absentee ballot, suddenly the Left declared it was essential to switch to mail in voting, for any reason at all, over a period of many weeks.

    Swarms of Democratic vote canvassers knocked on the doors of thousands of people who had not yet voted "by mail" and offered to "help" them "make their vote count". Ballots were filled in by voters at home. possibly with canvassers or family members, "observing" how each person voted. Canvassers then "offered" to deliver the "harvested ballots" to "drop boxes" saving voters the trouble of turning them in themselves. The net result was that Donald Trump got more votes in Pennsylvania in 2020 than Barack Obama had in either 2008 or in 2012, but he still fell 80,555 votes short of Joe Biden because "mail-in" voting with no secret ballot and canvassers conveying your ballot for you to the polls or a drop box was such a hit.

    Absentee ballots are probably necessary for the bedridden and voters currently out of state. (In fact, I'd prefer, for example, that UNH students paying out-of-state tuition get absentee ballots from their own localities.) But Calabresi makes a compelling argument that routine mail-in voting opens up too much room for intimidation and fraud.

  • She likes the bad boys. Ann Althouse looks at a WaPo article about the GOP Veepstakes: "In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly talked about Rubio, Vance and Burgum, according to people familiar with his remarks...."

    But, hey, what about Nikki? Ann quotes from the article:

    “She’s a very disloyal person,” Trump said, according to attendees [at a recent fundraiser]. He then complained that she backed Marco Rubio in 2016 even after he asked for her endorsement and that she had been disloyal repeatedly to him since. “You have to like the person you’re running with, and I don’t like her. I don’t like her.

    Trump said he was not worried about her voters leaving him, according to attendees. “All those people are going to come vote for us anyway. Who are they going to vote for? … I think if I picked Nikki Haley, it would look like such a weak decision.”

    The primary thing Trump cares about is "loyalty". To him. How deeply do they bend the knee, how much spittle do they leave behind when kissing the ring?

  • A bad day's when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been. Matthew Continetti thinks President Dotard is Slip Slidin’ Away.

    President Biden “shows signs of slipping,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Journalists Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes — no conservatives — spoke to 45 people who have met with the president and noticed his mental and physical decline. They recount, in detail, several meetings over the past year where Biden has been forgetful, confused, and out of it. The president, Linskey and Hughes report, “appears slower now, someone who has both good moments and bad ones.”

    No kidding.

    You don’t need the Journal to tell you that Biden is diminished. You need only to open your eyes. Go over special counsel Robert Hur’s report into Biden’s unauthorized removal of classified documents. Review Biden’s Oval Office meltdown after Hur released his findings. Watch Biden try to sit at a D-Day commemoration in France on Thursday.

    We're only about two and a half weeks away from the first scheduled Trump/Biden debate. A good evening to binge WKRP in Cincinnati episodes.

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