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Bob Barr

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Up the road from Atlanta's election ecstasy, the Libertarian campaign sputters to a close

"I just want to say," says Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Allen Buckley, "I'm a little disappointed right now. I think I was vastly superior to both of my opponents."

There's a certain freedom that comes with belonging to a third party. Tuesday night in Georgia, Libertarians were the second happiest partisans you could find. Did they win anything new? No. Did they break the all-time Libertarian vote total in the presidential race? Also no. There was disappointment and a little surprise that anger at the Wall Street bailout and pessimism about Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) prospects failed to pry loose more conservatives over to the party of small government.

"When all the dust settles here, in January," said Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, "people are going to be upset about a government that's offering more bailouts and less freedom."

Tuesday night Libertarians were a sideshow in a historical event on par with the moon landing. In downtown Atlanta, at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a block party broke out across the street from where Martin Luther King, Jr. used to preach. Entrepreneuers rushed to Auburn Ave. with boxes full of quickly screened Obama T-shirts with the label "44th President," and rally flags with Obama's face next to King's. At a ritzy bar up the street, the sound went down as Obama gave his victory speech—then the DJ scratched a record and played James Brown's "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud." Down the street, jeeps parked, dancers climbed on top, and radios blasted songs such as "I Believe I Can Fly." White stragglers who'd biked down to watch it all exchanged fist-bumps with people they'd never met and might never meet again. It was that kind of a night.

Uptown at Barr's election party, the proceedings were a little more mundane. A bank of bloggers and Libertarian staffers refreshed and refreshed their browsers to see how their favored candidates were faring. "Where's Bill Redpath?" on. yelled when CNN pronounced Democrat Mark Warner the winner in Virginia's Senate race, skipping over the strong showing by the chairman of the Libertarian Party.


by David Weigel

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