It was 1991, it would be another twenty years almost before Barack Obama would claim this mantle. In 1991, George HW Bush was watching his popularity begin to slide. A president whose popularity had been so high only a year or so before looked vulnerable by 1992. It was surprising, because during Desert Storm, Bush’s approval rating had been in the 90% plus range. A precursor of the hyper-patriotism that followed 9/11 and allowed the nation to be goaded into invading Iraq.
At the end of 1991, only ONE Democrat had thrown their hat into the ring and that was Bill Clinton. As 1992 had progressed, Bush reneging on his no new tax pledge caused his popularity to plummet. He suddenly looked very very vulnerable. Democrats started jumping in one after another.
Also, a man called H. Ross Perot jumped in as well. It was a crazy time and I felt as if my party might be able to make a real run for once. After all, the Reform Party, Perot’s party, were leveraging Libertarian Party operatives and strategies to make sure they were on all 50 states ballots. Those operatives may have stayed with the Libertarian Party had they put up a better candidate.
The Libertarian Party regularly was forced jump through hoops in different states at different times to keep ballot access. The duopoly fought hard to keep them from making inroads. However, with another party fighting for ballot access is seemed like times were changing. Now there was a super rich candidate fighting the duopoly, it seemed like the Libertarian Party might finally have a chance.
There were two men competing at the end for the nomination of the Libertarian Party in 1991, Andre Marrou and Richard Boddie. They were both asked a very important question. How will you make sure the party is on the national stage and not ignored by the national media? Marrou was up first and he gave the usual platitudes. Boddie was up next and when asked the same question, he simply stood there and said absolutely nothing…until there was finally a loud cheer and applause throughout the convention.
Why? You see Dick Boddie was a black man. He was making the statement that his race was something that would make him very hard to ignore were he to be nominated by a party that was on the ballot in all fifty states. He made that statement by making NO statement. I was moved and I knew he was probably the guy the party should go with, but he was not.
You see, Dick Boddie was also a small ‘l’ libertarian. That meant that he did not buy into all the dogma completely and he certainly understood that once elected there were limitations on how far he could push a libertarian agenda. The Libertarian Party has always been a bit unforgiving of anyone that equivocates on any of the aspects of the party’s planks, like abolishing the income tax or legalizing drugs or…yada yada.
Marrou won the nomination much to my chagrin and Ross Perot took off like a rocket that year. My party was left in the dust after helping the Reform Party get on the national stage. Then came the debates and because there was a viable third party candidate, the League of Women Voters, who ran the debates back then, wanted not only Perot, but also the Libertarian Party candidates.
Apparently, this was unacceptable to the duopoly and they pulled the debate from the League of Women Voters. The Democrats and the Republicans would not allow the libertarian onto the stage. They were OK with Perot, but not Marrou. Now if the Libertarian Party had selected Dick Bodie at that time the duopoly would have had a MUCH harder time preserving their stranglehold on the national stage.
After the 1992 election, the Libertarian Party began to wane. Unfortunately, they destroyed their own chance at the national stage through their “purist” notions of what it was to be a libertarian. The Reform Party was the viable 3rd party in the eyes of most. They elected a governor in Jesse Ventura that election cycle and fielded candidates all across the country throughout the nineties. The Dems nominated two white southern males and when Clinton won they used his childhood poverty to call him the first “black” president. Irksome!
The Libertarians lost their way. Perhaps it was racism which blinded them, I suspect it was part of the reason. Boddie also was too much of a pragmatist to think he would sweep into office to institute an unadulterated libertarian agenda. He said as much and this angered purists. I will always wonder what might have been had Boddie been selected.
He could’ve been a contender! I wish he had been able to run. He could have won. Had he won I wonder if the strife we see today would be. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.