Harry Browne's Campaign Journal June 2000
Thursday, June 1, 2000 New York City
The big event of the day for me is a speech to several hundred people at the International Investors Northeast Mining Conference. Although every other speaker at the conference is talking about investments, my speech is my typical campaign stump speech beginning with my standard opening: "I am running for President because no Democrat or Republican is going to stop the relentless growth of the federal government. Only a Libertarian is going to free you from the income tax, unlock the door and let you out of Social Security, and end the insane War on Drugs." Although the speech interrupts the normal flow of the conference, it is very well received.
After the speech I fly to St. Louis for the Missouri LP convention, which will begin tomorrow evening.
The Zogby Poll began carrying me in its April poll, in which I showed up at 0.8%. In May it dropped to 0.7%. But today Zogby released a new poll (http://www.zogby.com/features/featuredtables.dbm?ID=8):
George Bush, Republican, 41.7%
The 1.1% is, of course, below the standard margin of error. The significance is more in the fact that they're tracking us than in the precise figures at this point. It is also noteworthy that I'm not very far behind Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, two candidates who began their campaigns with far greater name recognition and a lot of attention from the press.
As though the Zogby Poll weren't enough good news for one day, Gallup releases a new poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr000524b.asp):
George Bush, Republican, 45%
These polls are reported widely in the wire services and newspapers, and on political websites such as Reuters, Fox News, and others. The Zogby poll treats the race as being five-way listing Bush, Gore, Nader, Buchanan, and Browne. And many of the major political websites have narrowed their coverage to these five candidates alone (with one or two continuing to carry Alan Keyes, who hasn't yet dropped out of the race). All this is still before we have done any national TV advertising which we hope to begin later this month.
We are being noticed.
This is a major breakthrough for the LP. It will help enormously to overcome the "wasted vote" idea. Many Libertarians misunderstand this issue, believing that people are afraid to vote for someone who apparently can't win and occasionally people even tell us that's the reason they won't Libertarian. But it isn't the fear that we can't win that keeps people from voting for us.
In 1992 Ross Perot had so discredited himself by election day that practically no one in America believed he had a chance to win the election. And yet 19 million Americans voted for him. And in 1996, millions of people voted for Robert Dole knowing he had long since blown any chance of winning the election.
At the same time, many people who felt much closer to Libertarian views didn't vote for Andre Marrou in 1992 or for me in 1996. Why not?
Because they didn't believe votes for a Libertarian would count for anything. Voting for Perot in 1992 told the world that one was fed up with the Republican and Democratic parties. And people voting for Perot knew their votes would be counted and reported on TV on election night and in the newspapers the next day. At the same time, if you voted Libertarian, it might take three weeks to find out how many votes the Libertarian candidate received.
Getting into the public opinion polls means we're being treated as relevant to the contest that our support can affect the outcome. Even though the pollsters believe neither Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, nor I has a chance of winning, they think the votes we get might affect who does win the election. So it's important for them to know how much strength we have, and to try to gauge whether we're getting our support at the expense of Bush or Gore.
If I can stay listed in the polls through election day and even better, if I can build a larger position in the polls many people may conclude that voting Libertarian is no longer a wasted vote. They may decide that it's an effective way in fact, the only way to protest the Drug War, to demand that the 20,000 gun laws be repealed, to assert their desire to be freed immediately from the Social Security Ponzi scheme statements that can't be made by voting Republican or Democratic.
In other words, this entry into the polls may be the start of a new era of Libertarian politics. It is an indication that we're starting to get the visibility we have craved for so long.
Friday, June 2, 2000 St. Louis
I have five interviews today three here in St. Louis and two phone interviews elsewhere.
The first is twenty minutes with Charles Brennan on KMOX in St. Louis. He has a sidekick whose name I don't learn. Both of them are friendly and give me a chance to say what I want, although neither shows any sign of agreeing with me. I'm able to get so much into the brief time that I ask for a tape afterward, so we can put the interview on our website as an introduction to my campaign.
Next is a ten-minute taping with Bill Phelan at KTRS. I presume the interview will be broadcast later in the day. He seems content to let me say all I want, and so I'm able to cover a lot in a short time.
I then talk with Alison Barker of the Associated Press in West Virginia. She has already visited my website and wants just a few details to finish her story as an introduction to my appearance at tomorrow's West Virginia LP convention.
Next comes about 45 minutes with Eric Stern, a young reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He asks me whether the press missed something in last year's coverage of George W. Bush's possible drug use in his young days.
I say, "I know what you're getting at, and I agree with you. The real issue is George Bush signing laws that impose draconian sentences on drug-users for doing what he apparently did when he was younger. Would George Bush be a better person today if he had served ten years in prison for cocaine use? Should Al Gore have spent five years in prison for smoking marijuana in the 1960s? If not, why are these men so determined to impose such sentences on others?"
The day's final interview is about 40 minutes on KIQ in Salt Lake City. The host is Joe Jackson, with whom I've never talked before. He has a guest host, Ken Larson, with whom he apparently argues a lot. The interview goes very well. At the first break, both mention how much they like what I say, and Larson says, "He has my vote." Jackson says, "You just lost him 100 votes by saying that."
In the second part, Larson says, "I realize you want to get government out of the school business, so that parents could choose the kind of schools they want. If you were the principal of a private school, what kind of a school would it be?"
I say, "I'm not an educator, and I don't presume to know what kind of school would be best anymore than I know how a computer should be built. What's important is that the government stay out of it, so we can have a wide choice, so you can choose what's best for you, and so you can make a change when you don't get what you want."
He says, "I love that answer. I'm tired of politicians who act as though they know everything and presume to know what's best for the rest of us."
Saturday, June 3, 2000 St. Louis & Charleston, West Virginia
Today there's a forum at which Don Gorman, Barry Hess, and I discuss our campaigns and answer questions. Eric Stern of the Post-Dispatch, who interviewed me yesterday, is in attendance. There are about 70 people in the audience close to twice as many as when I spoke at the Missouri convention two years ago.
After the forum Alan Underdown rushes me to the airport to catch my flight to West Virginia. Unfortunately, I won't get to hear what should be interesting talks by Mary Ruwart, Doug Bandow, and Sarah Cotham.
I get to the airport about a half-hour before departure time. Because it's a small-company flight on a prop plane, handled by Northwest, the sky cap can't check in my bag at the curb. I go inside and encounter a line at the ticket counter that seems to stretch halfway back to downtown St. Louis. I don't see how I'll ever make my flight and missing it would mean missing my speech in West Virginia.
I finally manage to bribe a sky cap to handle the checking of my bag. The
flight takes off on time, and takes me to
At Charleston, West Virginia, John Brown former state chair picks me up at the airport. We arrive just as people are starting to eat dinner at the evening banquet. There are only 25 people in attendance, but they are good-looking folks. John Brown, Mr. & Mrs. Wallace Johnson, Richard Kerr, and others have done a lot to provide a first-class image for the party.
Just before I begin to give the after-dinner speech, the music starts up in the banquet room next door flooding our room with "Y-M-C-A, Y-M-C-A." Combined with a baby who's up way past her bedtime, my voice has a lot of competition. But I stand close to the audience and the speech goes very well.
Afterward, an auction of interesting items raises about $2,400 for the party.
Sunday, June 4, 2000 Charleston & Nashville
I arise early to catch a flight to Cleveland, changing planes there to get to Nashville. I'm met at the airport by Pamela and our nephew, whose visiting us for the week. Unfortunately, the only time I'll have with him is a few hours today, as I'm leaving tomorrow for Dallas, Houston, Corpus Christi, and Detroit.
Monday, June 5, 2000 Dallas
The most memorable event for me today is Continental Airlines' moving me up to first-class because no exit-row seats are available for my flight to Dallas. Otherwise, it's an uneventful day. I spend most of it in my Dallas hotel room, catching up on some overdue campaign writing projects.
Tuesday, June 6, 2000 Dallas
I'm in Dallas for two days of work with speech coach Bill Cakmis of Talent Dynamics. I have been speaking publicly since my high school days over 50 years ago. And I've taken various kinds of lessons off and on during all those years public speaking classes in high school and the Army, a private tutor for a couple of years in the 1960s, and isolated coaching sessions occasionally from various pros. But there's never enough. Like most people, I don't enjoy watching tapes of my TV performances or listening to tapes of my radio performances, because the defects in my work jump out at me.
I don't expect to be perfect, but I'm always determined to get better and better. I want to improve my delivery for public speeches, my facility to respond quickly and clearly in rapid-fire TV interviews, and the ability of my voice to hold the attention of radio listeners.
Bill Cakmis proves to be an excellent coach. Usually, I expect coaching to be more like drills repetitive practice to overcome weaknesses I'm already aware of. But as we view video tapes of my speeches and TV interviews, he points out a great deal about effective communication that hadn't occurred to me. And unlike some advice, almost everything he says makes perfect sense to me. I find myself taking pages and pages of notes.
At the end of each of two 7-hour days, I'm thoroughly exhausted mentally and physically drained. But I've learned a great deal that I can put to use immediately.
And more will come with practice. Next week and the following week, I'll be at home, preparing for the national convention and the campaign to follow. Each day I'll spend at least an hour practicing my new techniques before a video camera, so I can make sure I'm benefiting from the coaching.
Wednesday, June 7, 2000 Dallas
As of today a third national public opinion poll has started tracking my candidacy. The Rasmussen Poll (http://www.rasmussenresearch.com/html/poll-804.html) releases the following results for a poll taken on June 5:
George Bush, 44.3%
The only drawback of this poll is that no party labels are attached to the names so publication of it in newspapers won't help build name recognition for the Libertarian label.
Unlike Zogby and Gallup, who also include me in their polls, Rasmussen polls every day and releases those results daily. Over the rest of this week, these polls will show my support at a steady 1.1% suggesting that there's little margin of error. That doesn't mean these will be the results in November, only that they're fairly representative of the populace as a whole at this time.
Thursday, June 8, 2000 Dallas & Houston
I'm back on the radio today. I have a 45-minute interview with Eric Hogue on KTKZ in Sacramento. Before the interview, he tells me off-the-air that he is a life-long Republican who is rethinking the Drug War and has had a number of discussions about it on his show. Almost the entire interview is devoted to the drug issue. It's obvious that he's pretty much made up his mind that the Drug War is a big mistake.
There are three callers. The first two are for ending the Drug War. The third is a former marijuana smoker who is in favor of the War on Drugs. Eric asks him whether he quit smoking marijuana because he was afraid of going to prison. When the man says "No," Eric asks what the point is of threatening people with prison for taking drugs, and the man has no answer. Eric asks me to comment, but I say only, "You've said it all."
Near the end of the interview I try to broaden the scope of the discussion by saying that Libertarians oppose the Drug War because we recognize that nothing is ever solved by turning problems over to people like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, or Teddy Kennedy. And when we vote for Republicans or Democrats, we just encourage them to make government bigger, more expensive, and more intrusive.
Eric says that he's with me on the Drug War, but we will have to have a discussion later on matters like abortion. And he says that if abortion is murder, Libertarians ought to be opposed to it. My parting comment is that I do oppose abortion, and that's why I don't want the government on my side in opposing it since the government has made such a mess of the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty. He acknowledges the logic of that as we say goodbye.
At mid-day, I catch a plane to Houston, where I have a few interviews tomorrow.
I receive an e-mail from Scott Lieberman in California, telling me that ABC-TV News this morning had a commentary suggesting that third party candidates could affect the outcome of this year's election. While the commentator was talking, the bottom of the screen listed several third-party candidates, including Don Gorman and me.
Carl Wiglesworth has been a radio friend and supporter since long before I first decided in 1994 to run for President. Today I have a 15-minute interview with him on KTSA in San Antonio. As I'm working on my e-mail in my Houston hotel room, I can't understand why the station hasn't called for the interview. Then it dawns on me that I have the hotel phone line tied up with my computer. I get on my cell phone and call the station and after three tries, I finally get through and the producer puts me right on the air.
Carl is his usual friendly, good-natured self. And I'm happy to hear that he'll be at this Saturday's Texas LP convention.
A caller asks how I feel about free trade with China. I say I believe you should be free to buy whatever you want from whoever is willing to sell to you. And if you want to make a statement against the Chinese communist regime, you're free to boycott Chinese products. Either you have the power to make these decisions for yourself or someone like Bill Clinton will make them for you. I prefer that you make your own choices.
Politics1 is a major Internet political site. On June 8, 2000, the site contained the following report about the presidential race and the polls:
According to the Newsweek poll conducted within the past few days Bush leads Gore by a very tight 44% to 43% vote. The latest Reuters/Zogby poll shows a similarly close race: Bush: 42%, Gore: 39%, liberal activist Ralph Nader (Green): 4%, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan (Reform): 2%, financial author Harry Browne (Libertarian): 1%, nuclear scientist John Hagelin (Natural Law): 0% and Undecided: 12%. As Nader, Buchanan, Browne, and Hagelin are likely to each be on the ballot in most if not all states, more pollsters should start including them in future surveys.
A further indication that this year we will be far more visible in the mainstream political world than we were in 1996.
Friday, June 9, 2000 Houston
Seven interviews are scheduled today.
The first is at 8am with "The Captain & Anthony" on KCJJ in Iowa City, Iowa. The two hosts are comedians. I like these shows. I have no trouble trading gags with them, and such hosts always seem to be very receptive to our message of getting government out of their lives. In about 20 minutes, we cover the income tax, the Drug War, and foreign policy but they are most enthusiastic about getting out of Social Security. They offer their own examples of how much better off people could be by keeping their own money and saving or investing it for themselves.
Incidentally, everytime Social Security "privatization" is discussed, the current system is compared with the stock market. This comparison is intentional and it's promoted by those who oppose changing the current system. Although millions of people have stock-market investments and would like to be free of Social Security so they can buy more stocks, other millions of people may be afraid of the stock market. So privatization opponents continually refer to stock-market investments because they seem risky.
The truth is that ending the Social Security tax means you can put your money wherever you want it in a bank savings account, in government bonds, in stocks, in foreign currencies, or anywhere else you want. Even a bank savings account will provide a much better return than Social Security, and unlike Social Security it will build an estate you can leave to your children.
So I rarely mention stocks when discussing Social Security. I usually say, "You could assure a comfortable retirement simply by putting 5% to 10% of your paycheck into a bank savings account or by having your employer do it for you. Even if you know nothing about investing, you could easily take care of yourself if the politicians would simply leave you alone."
At the conclusion of the interview, one of the hosts asks me to sum up in one minute why they should vote for me. I say, "Because voting Republican or Democrat is telling the politicians to keep doing what they're doing keep intruding further on your life, keep making government bigger, more expensive, and more oppressive. Only by voting Libertarian can you say, I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'"
Next is a quick 5-minute interview with Lou Penrose at KNWZ, the news station in Palm Springs, California. He is very friendly, and encourages people to visit the website for more information. Most of the conversation is about Social Security. He mentions that Al Gore has said that George Bush's plan to allow citizens to put 2% of the 15% Social Security tax in their own accounts is "risky." I tell him, "Al Gore says it's risky; I say it's puny. You should be free to keep every dollar you earn and spend it, save it, or give it away as you think best, not as Al Gore or George Bush thinks is best for you."
The third is a taped interview of 10 minutes with Rod Rice of the news department at KTRH in Houston. He will play excerpts of it during the day on news broadcasts. I'm not as good in this type of interview as I should be. He's looking for short, one-sentence or two-sentence soundbites, and I tend to talk in paragraphs. But the more of these I do, the better I'll get.
Then it's into the city for a couple of interviews. The first is at the Houston Chronicle with Associate Editor Frank Michel, political columnist Jane Ely, and reporter Alan Bernstein. Such meetings with editorial groups are always fascinating, as literate people pose questions from many different angles. But even though I enjoy those meetings, I'm never very optimistic that they will do us a lot of good. I would trade a dozen such interviews for 10 minutes on a cable TV network where I can tell my story my way, rather than having a journalist choose what to pass on about me.
But, lo and behold, this coming Sunday Jane Ely and Alan Bernstein will both publish articles about me and while Ely's is typically patronizing, Bernstein's is excellent. Even the title is good: "Practicing what he preaches, Libertarian Party hopeful refuses matching campaign funds."
The final paragraphs of the article are:
"The goal, Browneexplained, is to make sure voters know that Libertarian candidates for any election are the ones who would reduce government the most.
He opposes federal government efforts to eradicate poverty and illegal drugs, saying they have not only failed, but made the problems worse.
'Because I have seen what the war on drugs has done in escalating drug use and crime in his country, the last thing I would want is the government on my side to stamp out abortion,' the mild-mannered 66-year-old said. I mean, if you enlisted the government to try to stop abortions, probably within 10 years men will be having abortions.'
He said the two major political parties are hypocritical on abortion, because so-called pro-choice lawmakers would not let a woman choose to use marijuana to ease the pain from cancer or glaucoma, and so-called pro-life candidates didn't oppose the U.S. bombings that killed civilians in Kosovo.
As part of the Libertarian philosophy, Browne calls for a federal retreat from education, welfare and other programs that he says are not authorized by the Constitution. He would abolish the Social Security payroll tax and withdraw U.S. troops from foreign peacemaking missions.
The article will be posted to our website if we can get permission from the Houston Chronicle.
Next is a visit to KTRK-TV, the local ABC-TV station. Sara Greer tapes me answering some questions, from which she will put together some soundbites for the evening news. I'm still not as good at coining soundbites as I should be (meaning I haven't improved much in the last two hours), but generally it goes well.
Back at the hotel I'm on the phone for 25 minutes with Tony Trupiano, sitting in for Gene Burns on the Talk America radio network. Tony tells me he began paying attention to the Libertarian Party during the last presidential campaign and has continued to understand the libertarian way more and more to where he now says, "It's about our keeping more of the money that is ours to begin with." He is very supportive and keeps repeating the website address and phone number. After the interview is over, he calls back and offers to help with the campaign.
The last interview of the day doesn't come off. It was supposed to be 15 minutes on the phone with Mike Laurel of Metro Networks, a radio news service. But we miss each other on the phone and the interview never occurs.
Today the Gallup Poll releases a new poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr000609.asp). Although I wasn't included in today's preference poll, I was one of five candidates given favorable/unfavorable ratings. Gallup says, "Fewer than one in five Americans venture an opinion of Browne (with 5% feeling favorably and 14% unfavorably). Two-thirds of the public, 66%, say they have never heard of him while 15% have heard of him, but express no opinion."
The "unfavorable" rating doesn't bother me. As we do more advertising, more people will begin to understand what we're offering. Until then, they may be confusing me or Libertarians with someone else, or they may have heard only the most outlandish ideas about Libertarians.
Speaking of outlandish ideas, I've written before in this journal about Don Feder's May 15 Boston Herald article "Goofy May Be a Libertarian" (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/don05152000.htm), and my article in response to it (posted on our website). In his article, Feder mentioned that our national convention will be held in an Anaheim hotel, but suggested it would be more appropriate to hold it at nearby Disneyland. He said, "What could be more fitting for these laissez-faire visionaries than to convene in the theme park's Fantasyland? Goofy might even be available for their national ticket."
It turns out that the Herald's website was flooded with dozens of objections to the article. And now Art Olivier, candidate for the LP vice-presidential nomination, has reprinted over 80 of those responses on one web page (http://www.vp2000.org/__Goofy_for_Pres_/__goofy_for_pres_.html).
The responses are instructive because they reveal a great deal of Libertarian writing talent. Some of the letters are very well-written. For example, here are some excerpts from one by Matt Siegel:
Bravo to Don Feder's proposal that the Libertarian Party nominate Goofy as our candidate for President of the United States. Goofy has name recognition, and a solid record of public service. . . .Goofy never put people in prison for using the same drugs he used when he was younger, while at the same time freeing violent criminals who actually do hurt people. Goofy never stood on a podium surrounded by armed guards and told people they aren't entitled to protect themselves from the aforementioned violent criminals. . . .
Goofy never made participation in the Social Security System mandatory, then stole all the money from that system, resulting in a negative return for the investors.' Goofy never screwed up public education, welfare, Social Security, and then set his sights on screwing up healthcare next. . . .
Yes, Goofy does stand out from the rest of the lower life forms you have a choice of voting for. . . . He certainly is a Libertarian, and I'd be proud to vote for him. The problem is, Goofy doesn't want to run for public office. Like most Americans, he has better things to do.
The collection of letters is marred by a few that contain bad language and incivility. But they demonstrate what a wealth of talent is available in the libertarian movement.
Saturday, June 10, 2000 Corpus Christi
I arrive in Corpus Christi in mid-morning, relieved that yesterday's forecasts of bad weather throughout Texas seemed to be inaccurate. On arrival, I run into radio host Carl Wiglesworth and his producer-wife Laurie. Despite our many phone interviews, I've never met them in person before and it's a pleasure to finally do so.
Carl is the luncheon speaker. He delivers an interesting talk on the changing natures of traditional radio and Internet radio, but it is interrupted by the collapse of a man in the audience. Carl's speech is never completed. The man is rushed to the local hospital. Later one of the Libertarian doctors who attended to him at the luncheon reports that he's not expect to survive.
On a happier note, Geoffrey and Nancy Neale have done an excellent job organizing the convention. I didn't think to ask for an official count of the attendance, but I would guess there were at least 100 people present.
In the afternoon, author Mary Ruwart (running for the U.S. Senate seat against Kay Bailey Hutchinson) and I conduct a candidate workshop. Mary offers some excellent suggestions for dealing with tough issues.
I provide an overview of how I believe a campaign should be conducted. You must start by defining your goals. Saying you're running to win isn't enough. The odds are against your winning at this point in the party's development, so you must make sure your campaign produces other gains for the libertarian movement and the LP if you don't happen to win. A goal might be a significant and noticeable increase in the vote total, to inspire the press and public to take future Libertarian candidates more seriously. Another goal might be the recruitment of many new members to the party.
Whatever the goals, they must be realistic and they must be carefully defined. Once having set them, you have to decide which people in your electoral district are the best prospects for meeting your goals. You won't be able to reach everyone, so you need to spend your limited resources of time, money, and volunteers getting to those who will do the most good for you. You may want to focus on the leaders of organizations whose members should have the greatest reason to vote for you, or perhaps the geographical areas within the district that are most susceptible to your message.
You then need to craft a few key issues and proposals (three is usually a good number) that provide compelling reasons for your best prospects to vote for you. The best way to circumvent the "wasted vote" syndrome is with proposals that will improve people's lives significantly, but that Republican and Democratic candidates are opposed to. One example is to appeal to people who are already taking care of their own retirements by proposing the complete and immediate end to the Social Security tax. Another is to try to reach those who have been personally touched by the Drug War, proposing an end to it. Still another is to appeal to gun owners by proposing the repeal of all the existing gun laws that put innocent citizens at a disadvantage to armed criminals. In each of these examples, your Democratic and Republican opponents will offer nothing remotely comparable to what you're proposing.
In other words, there are two important qualifications in selecting issues. First, you should be proposing something that will improve people's lives dramatically, not arguing against someone else's proposals. Second, each proposal should be uniquely Libertarian that is, it should be something that no Democrat or Republican would ever propose. Stay away from such things as a flat tax, sales tax, Medical Savings Accounts, vouchers, or anything that other politicians might propose. Whatever you may think of such ideas, they don't give anyone a compelling reason to support you. Why should someone vote for you, since you seem unlikely to win, when there's a Republican or Democrat proposing the same thing and has a chance to win?
Lastly, use the Libertarian label profusely. Put it on your literature and signs, and use it in your ads. Refer to a proposal as a "Libertarian proposal" or say "The Libertarian solution to this is to . . ." Make sure people know that the good things you're offering are Libertarian proposals.
If you avoid using the word "Libertarian" and you don't win the election, what have you gained? You will be just one more politician who didn't win. And after the election there will be no tangible benefit from your campaign.
If you want your campaign to achieve something, it must be part of a greater, continuing process. You can leave a legacy of greater awareness that Libertarians are the ones who are trying to set people free. This will help whoever carries the Libertarian banner in this race next time whether that's you or someone else.
One of my campaign goals is to expose every American to the idea that Libertarians are the ones who want smaller government. We may not be able to attain this goal completely this year but the closer we come to it, the better off we'll be. I also want to achieve sufficient name recognition for the Libertarian label that many voters trying to decide whom to vote for in local races and not recognizing a single name in a race will vote for the Libertarian because the voter has heard me on radio or TV, or has seen one of our ads.
Later in the afternoon, there is the usual presidential candidate forum with Don Gorman, Barry Hess, and me. This time we're joined by Dean Tucker of Texas. The forum is delayed by several hours because Don and Barry encountered severe storms flying in from New Mexico and they had to be rerouted with a series of flights that seemed to take them all over Texas.
Ah, the joys of travel. You, too, can be a presidential candidate and see the USA.
At the evening banquet, Mary Ruwart gives an excellent speech describing ways various government functions could be handled in the free market. Afterward, Geoffrey Neale does a good job of fund-raising for the Texas LP. For an auction, my publisher Liam Works donates a proof set of my new book The Great Libertarian Offer, which brings $120.
Today a letter appears in the Seattle Times, written by Travis Pahl (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/editorial/html98/lett10_20000610.html). Apparently a Times editorial had urged that Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader be included in the presidential debates. Mr. Pahl's letter says that Libertarian Harry Browne should be included pointing out that the LP is a much bigger party than the Green Party, and the LP will be on the ballot in all 50 states.
He closes by saying, "With a Libertarian in the debates, you would actually have a candidate who stands for a smaller, limited government. All the parties The Times wants in the debates are for large government. All they differ on is what part of our lives the government is going to control. Unfortunately, it appears that we will end up instead with a boring debate between two pro-government candidates."
This is a good example of how easy it is to take a news item or editorial in the newspaper and use it to gain publicity for the campaign.
Sunday, June 11, 2000 Detroit
I'm in Detroit for a "Slash the Pork" barbecue picnic at Barbara Goushaw's home. There are 150 people present. The purpose is to raise money for BARC (Ballot Access Retention Committee), a project to produce enough advertising for the presidential campaign to get the 26,000 votes necessary to retain ballot status in Michigan.
Don Gorman, Barry Hess, and I each give short speeches and answer questions. Then Barbara does a little fund-raising. Bruce Smith is the winning bidder on a proof set of The Great Libertarian Offer, paying $400. Not only is $10,000 raised (from ticket sales and fund-raising) for BARC, but everyone I talk with seems to be having a very good time.
Monday, June 12, 2000 Nashville
Home at last after spending almost all of the past two weeks on the road.
I have just one interview today a half-hour with Charlie Sykes at WTMJ in Milwaukee. He invited me to appear after a campaign volunteer sent him our 30-minute video. Today he begins by describing himself as a recovering liberal and now a "small-l" libertarian. Although he apparently is in tune with our ideas, he is relatively non-committal content to simply ask questions and let me make my points.
Today WorldNetDaily, the large online news publication, publishes my article, "We're from the Government and We're Here to Improve Your Software." It is available at the campaign website.
The Great Libertarian Offer video began running today on a Little Rock cable access channel, thanks to Glen Schwarz and the Arkansas Libertarian volunteers. It is scheduled to be aired seven times.
Wednesday, June 14, 2000 Nashville
After taking Tuesday off, I'm back at it.
My first interview is an hour with Matt Alsdorf of www.PlanetOut.com, a gay website. He asks many questions that would provide excellent opportunities for someone like Al Gore to pander. My answers are different, of course, and Matt seems to understand them very well. He knows we don't want to use the force of government to solve social and political problems. And he comprehends without trouble my point that the power that's used for your benefit today can easily be used against you tomorrow.
I make the point that reducing government to its constitutional limits will eliminate the ability of one group to use government to force its views on other groups. Not only will that mean that gays no longer will have to fear moralists, it means that moralists will no longer have to fear gays making for much more harmonious relationships.
He asks whether we have any openly gay people on the campaign staff. I say that I don't believe so. Then I remember that Stuart Reges and Rob DeVoil are both gay. Because we don't look at people in terms of gay/straight, it is easy to forget who's who.
The interview probably came about because of the prodding of Sacramento volunteer Amanda Swafford, who kept after PlanetOut to pay attention to me. Our volunteers are doing a great job in making the Libertarian presidential campaign much more visible.
Matt Alsdorf will be writing an article from the PlanetOut interview, and it should be on their website soon. Meanwhile, a poll on the site asks the question, "Which presidential candidate would make the most interesting lunch companion?" As of today, the results are:
Harry Browne (Libertarian), 48%
I hope I don't spill coffee on my suit.
Although they included me in the poll, they don't yet include me among the candidates profiled throughout the website.
The second interview is with Terry Langeland of The Colorado Daily a newspaper circulated primarily to University of Colorado students. The interview is meant to be a half-hour, but it lasts close to an hour. We cover a multitude of issues. Near the end, I say, "If you have any sympathy for my campaign, I hope you'll stress my stance on the Drug War. Young people need to be particularly concerned about this. Many of them smoke marijuana, and they could easily get busted and receive a sentence of 10 or 15 years just for buying or selling pot, or driving someone to a drug transaction."
As the Green Party is having its convention in Denver next week, he says he won't publish his article until just after the LP convention, so it won't get lost among the coverage of the Green Party.
In the evening, I have an online chat at Evote.com one of the big political websites. I think it's the first such chat they've had, and it isn't completely smooth. The event is slow getting started, and the questions and answers seem to be posted very slowly. I'm a fast typist, but it doesn't help much.
However, the session goes very well. I'm able to give short, snappy, one-paragraph answers to questions. About 900 people are in attendance. I'm very glad I was invited. Our website has a link to a complete transcript of the session (in the "Hot Campaign News" section).
Today WorldNetDaily published a letter from me on the Drug War. It began:
Ted Wegener's letter to the editor says, Libertarians see the improper way the drug problem is being waged and they throw the baby out with the bath water when they say solve the problem by legalizing drugs. By advocating the legalization of drugs they are advocating the destruction of society.'
Mr. Wegener apparently doesn't understand: We have to throw the baby out with the bath water because this is Rosemary's Baby we're talking about.
The letter goes on to list the problems the Drug War has created, pointing out that "These tragedies aren't the result of bad administration; they are inherent in any attempt to enforce victimless-crime laws." It finishes by saying that the Drug War is living on borrowed time, and I expect to see it ended within five years.
Recently, Justin Raimondo wrote an article on his website AntiWar.com in which he said that Pat Buchanan was the only possible choice for an anti-war activist. So yesterday I emailed a note to him pointing out that I am more reliably anti-intervention than Buchanan is. I attached the foreign policy chapter from The Great Libertarian Offer, which will be published next week.
Knowing that Justin is pretty libertarian, I said,
The principal difference between Buchanan and me is that he believes a wise leader (he) can decide properly when government should overrule your freedom as in when foreign intervention is warranted, when you should be prevented from buying what you want from overseas, when your constitutional liberties should be abridged in the name of fighting drugs or immigration, and many, many other areas.
I believe neither Al Gore, George W. Bush, Ralph Nader, nor Pat Buchanan is qualified to run your life and neither am I. I believe in you.
Today his column reproduced my letter. He went on to say,
As one of the few remaining movement activists who remember the good old days before Jesse Ventura and Bill Maher were somehow inducted into the libertarian ranks, Browne is practically the only movement leader of any stature who still retains an interest in the Libertarian Party as a vehicle for social change. He is a charming and knowledgeable man, and a good candidate. (He is head and shoulders above his critics pygmies to a man who carp and complain that he isn't "purist" enough: this about a man who would immediately get rid of most government as we know it!) As for his foreign policy positions, they reflect the consistent opposition to US military intervention overseas that has been encoded in the Libertarian platform since around the mid-1970s thanks to Murray N. Rothbard and Williamson Evers, who in the early days had to fight off the Randians and others who wanted to enlist the party in the Cold War.
His view of today's LP is very sour, however. And he objects to the fact that the LP had accepted as a member the head of the Jewish Defense League which he considers to be a terrorist organization. He reiterates his support for Pat Buchanan.
Thursday, June 15, 2000 Nashville
The day begins on a happy note with a 30-minute radio interview with "Lionel" (Michael Lebron), who is now broadcasting on the full-time Internet talk network, EYada.com. He introduces me as "My candidate." Among the many issues we cover is the gun laws. I point out that the last place guns should be outlawed is at schools. If one person at Columbine High School had had access to a gun, many of the slain children would still be alive today.
Later I have a half-hour radio interview with Rick Knobe at KSOO in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is my first encounter with him. He is a good host skeptical but very friendly and at the end of our time he says he would like to have me back several times before election day.
Friday, June 16, 2000 Nashville
Peter McWilliams died on Wednesday. Today I wrote a eulogy for him and sent it to WorldNetDaily for publication. It will be published this coming Sunday, June 18 (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_browne/20000617_xchbr_learning_f.shtml). We also transmit it via LibertyWire and it is posted on the website (in the "Hot Campaign News" section).
Peter was a very intelligent, thoughtful man. I mention in my eulogy that he bore little animosity toward his opponents; he considered bad ideas, not bad people, to be the enemy. I was fortunate to know him, and I will certainly miss him.
Sunday, June 18, 2000
We're still in the polls. However, the polls aren't as stable from day to day and company to company, which inspires less confidence in their accuracy.
Rasmussen which polls daily had me dropping from 1.1% on June 6 all the way down to 0.3% on June 11, and then rising back gradually to 1.4% on June 15. Now I've been at 1.2% the past three days. As of today, the poll shows:
George Bush, 41.0%
In the Zogby poll I've dropped from 1.1% to 0.4%. The latest poll, as of June 13 shows:
George Bush, Republican, 43.9%
The Gallup Poll's latest is still from May 21:
George W. Bush, 45%
Monday, June 19, 2000 Nashville
I will be home through Saturday, preparing for the general election campaign that begins right after the Libertarian national convention, June 30 - July 3.
I have been criticized sometimes because our campaign has scheduled many events for after the convention, and because I have focused far more on outreach to non-Libertarians than on getting the nomination as though I had already won the party's nomination.
This isn't because I am presumptuous (well, not about this, anyway). We are doing this because you simply can't run a worthwhile presidential campaign in only four months, from July through November. During that brief period, you can't possibly attract enough media and public attention to help the Libertarian cause.
That's why I've been doing radio & TV interviews for the past three years. And that's why we've done a tremendous amount of public outreach since I made my official announcement in February.
During that time, I have had the following media appearances:
9 national TV shows
Our 30-minute video has been played dozens of times on commercial or cable-access TV stations.
One benefit of all this exposure is that we're going into the general election campaign with much greater name recognition (both for me and for Libertarians in general) than in 1996. I'm listed in the public-opinion polls. Most of the major political websites carry information on me.
All this didn't just drop in our lap. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people on our campaign staff to make this happen. And we wouldn't have been in this position if we had waited until after the nomination was secured to start cultivating the media and the public.
I mention this because I have a number of projects to deal with this week all looking ahead to after the convention. Many websites and organizations have asked for answers to questions they are providing to presidential candidates. In addition, many of them will publish position papers on various issues, and I need to prepare those.
The League of Women Voters' political website, DNet.org, already carries information from me on a number of issues. However, these have been picked up from wherever they could find them. I need to write better, more succinct issue statements on all the topics they cover.
In addition, the FreedomChannel.com has offered to allow me to do a series of 90-second video spots on various issues. We have scheduled the taping of these spots for Washington, D.C. on July 8. I need to write scripts for them.
I also need to write a campaign platform, as called for in the LP bylaws. And, as always, I need to spend a good deal of time on the phone raising money.
This week will be devoted to getting as many as possible of these projects done in addition to doing a few radio interviews.
Tuesday, June 20, 2000 Nashville
Just one interview today. It is an hour with Joe Jackson of KIQ in Salt Lake City. I was on his show a couple of weeks ago, and he received emails asking to have me back. He usually has a guest host, and today it is Bob Madrid, a staunch Republican.
Jackson stays pretty much out of the conversation, as Madrid argues politely with me about a number of things most notably the Drug War and foreign policy. I feel that I'm getting the better of most of the arguments, but I'm not there to win arguments; I'm there to persuade. I don't expect to change Madrid's mind, but I do hope I'm persuading listeners to come around to the Libertarians.
Wednesday, June 21, 2000 Nashville
Just one interview scheduled today, and it doesn't come off. The show is scheduled for 8:10am. The producer calls at 8:20 and says an in-studio guest from the previous hour was late and is on now. She wants to reschedule for 8:40. I say okay, but she doesn't call back until 8:50, and then says we will begin at 9:00 after a break. Unfortunately, I have other activities scheduled and I beg off. She says she will call the office to reschedule, as they are determined to have me on.
An email from Brian Mulholland is forwarded to me. He is one of our 4,500 campaign volunteers. He says that the Los Angeles Daily News devotes the letters section on Saturdays to a single topic. On June 3 the topic was Social Security, and the paper printed letters from both Brian and his brother Barry.
Brian's letter describes an encounter with a woman who said she was "pro-choice." Brian asked whether she thought one should be free to choose or not choose to be in Social Security. Barry's letter, printed right after Brian's, provides an example of the ideal letter in three small paragraphs:
This letter includes the three essential elements for such a letter or for a call to a talk show: (1) Present a specific proposal that will make the prospect's life much better, so that he has a reason to care about the subject. (2) Identify this as a "Libertarian" proposal, to help people come to realize that Libertarians are the ones who want to benefit them by getting government out of their lives. (3) Urge the prospect to do something specific to make things better in this case, the implication that one should vote for Harry Browne for President.
Thursday, June 22, 2000 Nashville
Today's one show is with "Uncle Nasty" on KBIP-FM, a hard-rock-music station in Denver. We tape a 15-minute interview, to be played on his show later in the day. The discussion revolves almost completely around the anti-methamphetamine bill that just passed the Senate and is being considered by the House. It would authorize searches and seizures of your property when you're not present, and without even telling you the spies have been there. And it would outlaw Internet discussions of illegal activities such as how to grow medical marijuana.
Nasty says he asked an aide to Senator Hatch, a sponsor of the bill, for clarification. The aide said the bill doesn't create new government intrusions; it merely legalizes what the government is doing already. Well, that ought to make us all sleep better.
I point out to Nasty that by letting the government transgress the Constitution in any area, we open the door to this kind of tyranny. The only solution is a program that will force the federal government to stay within constitutional limits in all areas. And that's why the Great Libertarian Offer is so important; it will end all the illegal activities of the federal government.
He says he wants me back after the convention to discuss my whole platform.
Friday, June 23, 2000 Nashville
My only interview today is with Chris Reed of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, California. The Register is one of several publications in the Freedom Newspapers chain. The paper is the dominant newspaper in Orange County (near Los Angeles), competing with the Los Angeles Times' Orange county edition. The Register probably is the most libertarian daily newspaper in the country. In fact, Alan Bock, one of its columnists, will be moderating the presidential debate at the LP convention next week.
In keeping with the paper's philosophy, Chris is very sympathetic. His questions deal mainly with the problems a third-party candidate and a Libertarian candidate in particular faces in getting attention. I point out that we have not built our party on celebrities or billionaires, and so it will take us longer to become prominent. But because we're the only party offering to make it possible for the average person to control his own life, we have a very good chance of prevailing eventually. And very possibly by the end of this decade.
Saturday, June 24, 2000 Nashville
Just one show today. It is 20 minutes or so with Tim Winchester and Mike Ferguson at KCWJ in Kansas City, Missouri. They ask a number of questions about the issues, and seem very interested.
The last question asked is why anyone should vote Libertarian. I say that if you vote for George Bush or Al Gore, you are telling the politicians you like big government, you like people controlling your life, you like the fact that government keeps getting bigger, more expensive, more intrusive, more oppressive.
You may think you're voting for a Democrat or Republican in order to keep his major opponent out of the White House. But voting against someone is always a wasted vote, because the recipient will treat it as an endorsement of his entire big-government political career.
The only way you can say you've had it with big government is to vote Libertarian. It is the only vote that can't be misinterpreted.
Tomorrow Pamela and I will fly to New York, where I have three days of good media events scheduled. Then it's on to Anaheim for the LP convention, and from there to Washington for more media.
Sunday, June 25, 2000 New York City
Pamela and I arrive in New York City for three days of media both national and New York events.
We arrive in the evening, in time to have dinner with my 83-year-old cousin. She has always been intensely interested in politics, and tonight we find the conversation split evenly between politics and cats. I realize that maybe we Libertarians have finally arrived as a full-fledged party when she tells me that she probably will vote for me because I'm the lesser of three evils.
Monday, June 26, 2000 New York City
Pamela and I are joined for the first two days of media events by Gene Molter of Newman Communications, the campaign's public relations firm.
Today's events being at 7:15am with a 15-minute phone conversation with Larry Goldstein on WVOX in New Rochelle in nearby Westchester County. The interview is nothing special. Larry lets me say whatever I want without interruption or argument, but I end the interview feeling that not much has been achieved.
Later in the morning, we drive out to the far end of Long Island for a press interview. On the way, I talk with Kelly Beaucar of ConservativeHQ.com, a conservative news website. Kelly has written about me several times before, and now she is doing a story leading into this weekend's Libertarian national convention.
She asks why we're getting more attention this time than in 1996. I point out that the party is bigger and better financed, we have a large volunteer organization that is putting pressure on news sites to cover us, and we have all that was achieved in 1996 as a starting point to build on. In addition, the presence of Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader in the race helps turn attention toward third parties in general, and we're benefiting from some of that. She wishes me luck as we hang up.
Another interview, with Jose Santiago at WBAI news, was scheduled to be held by phone on the way to Long Island. But I can't connect with Santiago, and the interview never happens.
We arrive in Melville for an interview at Newsday, a large daily newspaper. The paper started in the 1970s (as I recall) as strictly a Long Island daily. But when the New York City newspapers begin folding, leaving only three dailies where once there were six or seven, Newsday began to circulate in Manhattan and other nearby areas. It is generally a quite liberal paper.
My interview is with Larry Levy, an editorial writer, and Phineas Fisk, assistant editor of the editorial page. Coincidentally, Larry's cousin was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party and Phineas' stepson is a staunch Libertarian. The two are quite friendly, they understand what I'm saying, and they even get my jokes. But who knows what they will write if anything?
The traffic is unbearable, and we're late getting back to the city. I am supposed to be on Sean Hannity's radio show from 4 to 5, but we don't make it to Manhattan until after 4. So, instead, I'm on from 4:30 to 5:30. Sean is half of Hannity & Colmes, on whose TV show I will appear this evening. He is the conservative and he always tells me how he agrees with me on so many issues, but I go too far especially in wanting to end the Drug War.
Today, prior to my appearance, he is railing against Sunday's Gay Pride Parade in Manhattan. On the air, I mention that he's always talking about government being too big. But when it comes to making specific proposals, it never seems to be to shut down the Department of Education or get the government out of health care, for example, but rather to rail against gay demonstrations, push for a flag-burning amendment, fight to get the 10 Commandments displayed in government schools, or advance some other issue that won't make anyone freer or government any smaller.
The conversation is friendly but very intense on both sides. When he talks about using government for good purposes, I tell him that's a fantasy. No one will ever ask him to design or run a government program; that will be done by politicians for their own political interests, and the ideal program that he imagines will in fact turn out to be just another bad government boondoggle.
More important, lately I've realized that I sometimes let interviewers keep the conversation too much on abstract issues and policy questions and not focus on the importance of voting Libertarian. So today, I keep coming back to the point that a Republican vote (since Sean is a Republican with a largely Republican audience) is telling the Republicans you don't mind that they keep making government bigger, and that only a Libertarian vote will tell them you aren't going to take it anymore. The show goes quite well, and I'm quite pleased with how easily I was able to return over and over to the importance of voting Libertarian.
In the evening I'm on the Hannity & Comes show on Fox News TV. Both Sean and Alan (Colmes) have been very good to me giving me plenty of airtime. I will be on the last two segments of the hour-long show.
The middle portion of the show is with Jim Nicholson, Republican National Committee chairman, and a Democratic Congressman. When Nicholson comes into the Green Room with a large entourage, one of his companions is Cliff May a former Libertarian whom I haven't seen in several years. He's determined to introduce me to Jim Nicholson, which he does. I point out that Cliff is a unique individual the only person in the world ever to defect from the Libertarians to Republicans, sort of like defecting from the U.S. to Cuba. Nicholson is good-natured about this. Only later does Pamela point out to me that Nicholson and I met four months ago at a studio in Washington. Apparently, neither of us remembered that historic meeting
Nicholson's on-air interview is about Al Gore's fund-raising at the Buddhist temple and the lack of an independent counsel to investigate it (perhaps only the 3,547th time the show has covered this subject). Once again, the film footage of Al Gore at the temple is shown over and over and the participants argue endlessly, with two or three talking at once.
When it's time for me to head from the Green Room into the studio, I turn to the four Nicholson people sitting there (another three are inside the studio), and I ask, "You folks are all Republicans, right?" They nod. I ask, "And you're all for smaller government, right?" And they say yes. So I say, "Why is it that Republicans run for office promising smaller, limited government, but when your party chairman gets a chance to tell the world on TV what Republicans want, he doesn't propose ways to make government smaller; instead, he goes on endlessly about Al Gore's fund-raising crimes or a flag-burning amendment or anything in the world except something to make government smaller?"
One woman answers me, saying "Because we have only a tiny majority in Congress." I remember during the Reagan years they used the excuse that they didn't have any majority in Congress. I didn't really expect a logical answer to my question, but I couldn't resist asking. As it turns out, the woman who answered was Mrs. Nicholson, but I didn't know it at the time.
My segment on the show goes very well. Again, I keep bringing the conversation back to the idea that if you want smaller government, voting Republican or Democratic is a wasted vote because it tells the party you vote for you will never punish it for making government bigger. At the end of the show, all four men working in the studio come up to me, one at a time, to tell me they agree with me and intend to vote for me. The fact that two of them are black is particularly encouraging, because we hear so often that Libertarians have nothing to offer blacks. In fact, blacks, whites, men, women, gays, straights, rich, poor all of them want to be free, free from politicians trying to run their lives.
After the TV show, we ride in Alan Colmes' car to his radio show at WEVD. As usual, we get along very well on his show and he is very supportive, although he is a liberal and disagrees with parts of the Libertarian approach. All the callers but one are opposed to me, but I try to side with their concerns and then point out how much better those concerns could be handled by getting government out of the picture. I don't believe any of the callers were converted, but I hope some of the other listeners were.
Tuesday, June 27, 2000 New York City
We have another full day of media in New York.
The first is back at Fox News TV. I have a 5-minute live interview with David Asman, a former Wall Street Journal editorial writer and now a news reporter at Fox. In the course of the interview, he asks whether I believe there are very many Americans "who hate the federal government as much as" I do. I point out to him that I don't hate anyone, but I do feel sorry for people who expect the government to deliver what it promises. In the quick interview, we cover a lot of issues and I get the chance to emphasize the importance of voting Libertarian. After the interview, he tells me off the air that he's about 85% libertarian.
The next interview is with Gordon Deal at Metro Networks. Metro, among other things, provides news services to independent radio stations around the country. Gordon tapes a conversation with me from which he will extract soundbites to feed customer stations. He asks a lot of questions about various issues. I keep bringing the matter back to the question: who will control your life, you or the politicians? I keep pointing out that we need to take power out of the hands of the politicians and put it not in the hands of "the people" but in the hands of each individual citizen, to live his life as he thinks best.
During the interview I notice there is a woman standing behind me and off to one side, just barely in my field of vision. I assume she's waiting to use the equipment when Gordon is done with our interview. But I run into her on the way out, and she tells me, "I really like what you had to say. I wanted to hear it all. I wish you the best of luck."
On the way to our next in-person interview, I have a 15-minute interview by phone in the car with Jennifer Stayton of WAER-FM in Syracuse. She is very friendly, but not necessarily supportive. She asks what makes Libertarians different, and I provide the standard answer that we're the only ones who aren't trying to control you life. We're the ones who want you to be free to live your life as you think best, rather than as George Bush or Al Gore thinks is best for you.
We then meet with John Fund, an editorial writer at the Wall Street Journal. John is a libertarian who finds himself defending Republican positions in print and in guest appearances on TV talk shows. He is very sympathetic to what we're doing, and he offers a number of suggestions for promoting a debate with Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader, and getting it telecast by one of the cable news networks.
I mention to him that it was a Libertarian landmark in 1996 that a Wall Street Journal editorial took the trouble to say that Harry Browne should not be in the presidential debates. No one had bothered to mention our candidates before. I also chide John that Investors Business Daily and several daily newspapers did endorse my being in the 1996 debates. He implies that there's a good chance the Journal's policy will be different this year.
Our next stop is at CNN's radio network where I have a 20-minute taped interview with Gary Baumgarten. He is extremely friendly. And after the tape stops, we talk for several minutes more. He says he supports most of my positions especially my opposition to the Drug War. He mentions that he once was a police reporter in Detroit, and saw first-hand the destruction caused by Drug War. I've found that almost all liberals and many conservatives oppose the Drug War. This, of course, is contrary to the position of liberal and conservative politicians.
Wednesday, June 28, 2000 New York City
With no late night show last night and no early show this morning, I get a good night's sleep. My first interview is at 9:40 a 5-minute phone interview with Kevin Keenan, News Director at WBEN in Buffalo. There appear to be more interviews with news departments than in the last campaign, which I think might be a good sign. It apparently means that Libertarian politics is becoming newsworthy, instead of just entertaining.
The interview with Kevin Keenan is brief and crisp. As often happens, it starts with the question "Who is Harry Browne?" In situations like this, knowing that the interview will be very short, I want to get off the subject of me and onto the subject of voting Libertarian as quickly as possible.
So I say, "I was in the investment world for 30 years writing books, consulting, and producing a newsletter. Like so many people, I also didn't vote for 30 years, because I knew that whether the Democrats or Republicans won, government would just get bigger, more expensive, and more intrusive. It was only in the early 1990s that I saw that public opinion had shifted to the point that perhaps we could restore an America in which you would be free to live your life as you want to live it not as Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Al Gore thinks you should live it." From there on, we're talking about politics, not about me.
The second interview, also on the phone, is with Robert Hennelly at WBAI-FM in New York City. This is part of the Pacifica network a group of several very liberal radio stations around the country. Hennelly is amazingly sympathetic. He asks why I think it is that we have lost so many traditional American freedoms in the last half-century.
The interview isn't on the air, or even taped. He merely wants to get background material apparently for a commentary he will deliver later, possibly using this weekend's convention as a news hook.
I'm proud of the interview. Usually, I'm not a top-notch sound-bite producer speaking in paragraphs, instead of quotable sentences. But several times he asks me to repeat myself so he can take down my thoughts word for word. One time is when I mention Michael Cloud's phrase that the problem isn't the abuse of power, it's the power to abuse that whenever you give good politicians the power to do good, you automatically give future politicians the power to do bad. I follow that with the point that when you give people the power to run other people's lives, you attract the worst elements of society who use that power for their own purposes.
He also likes my oldie-but-goodie, "Given that the government's War on Poverty has escalated poverty, and the government's War on Drugs has expanded drug use and produced a terrible crime wave, any War on Abortion will probably lead within ten years to men having abortions."
I then take a taxi from uptown New York to the southern tip of Manhattan for a 30-minute interview with Malachy McCourt at WNYC, an NPR station. McCourt is a jolly Irishman in his 70s, but a socialist through and through. In 30 minutes we cover a lot of ground and the debate is intense but friendly.
I mention that most people aren't old enough to remember when charity hospitals were a staple in all American cities and doctors took care of those who couldn't afford to pay. Now government has run the charity hospitals out of business and buried doctors in red tape so they can no longer make house calls. He says he thinks charity is demeaning, and much prefers an impersonal welfare system.
I say, "What is more demeaning than taking money from people by brute force to distribute to whatever groups are politically connected? There's nothing benevolent about stealing money from families who will have to deprive their own children in order to feed the coffers of bureaucracies and politicians.
"You think the money's going to lift the poor out of poverty. But low-cost housing projects benefit only the building contractors often at the expense of the poor, who are kicked out of their homes in order to build more expensive homes they can't afford."
By the end of the conversation, he acknowledges that government schools are run more for the benefit of the teachers' unions than the students (and he points out that this is why home-schooling is proliferating), that the Drug War is a resounding failure and tragedy, that the U.S. government is the world's bully. That doesn't mean he's no longer a socialist. But the conversation goes so well that I ask for a tape so we can put the audio on our website.
Through awful traffic, I take a taxi back to the hotel taking better than an hour for the taxi to travel the ten miles or so.
Pamela and I take another taxi to LaGuardia Airport. We're catching a plane to Atlanta, to connect to Anaheim, California, for the LP national convention. The plane leaves the gate on time, but we go no further than the runway. The tower holds the plane on the runway and gives no explanation. We sit there for 4 1/2 hours.
While we're waiting, I make a note to prepare a position paper on airline problems. The government operates the air traffic control system, and governments own the airports. Passenger volume and numbers of flights continue to expand rapidly, but airports are always years behind. There is no increase in gates or ticket counters to handle the increased volume. So flight delays abound and the lines at ticket counters get longer.
But who gets blamed for all this? The airlines, of course. And who has to pay passengers for missed connections and other delays? The airlines, of course.
Finally, the plane takes off and arrives in Atlanta a couple of hours later, about four hours after our connection left for Orange County. We make a plane reservation for the next morning and the airline pays for a hotel room for the night even though the airline probably isn't at fault.
Thursday, June 29, 2000 Anaheim, California
Pamela and I arise early and catch the plane to California. Unfortunately, we don't have our luggage, so we can't change clothes and I can't shave.
On the plane, two Libertarians from Georgia tell a stewardess who I am. She asks for an autograph, and I wind up having my picture taken with all the flight attendants. Later, as I'm getting off the plane, I scratch my face and remember that I haven't shaved today.
We arrive at the hotel, check in, shower, change, and I get to shave. With Stephanie Yanik and Steve Willis, we drive to Los Angeles for two interviews. More heavy traffic. It takes about two hours to drive to KABC in West Los Angeles. We arrive there for the Larry Elder radio show.
First, however, I have an interview with Hillary Johnson of Worth Magazine, who meets me at the radio station. We talk about the ways Libertarian proposals will give people more money to save and invest, and to make their own choices. She seems to be very aware of libertarian ideas. But who knows?
Then I'm on for two hours with my friend Larry Elder. As always, he treats me as though I'm the only person in the world qualified to be President.
Our only policy disagreement has been over foreign policy. He believes the U.S. government should intervene in world affairs. I have said to him (and I elaborate on it in my book, The Great Libertarian Offer) that there probably never would have been a World War II if the U.S. government hadn't intervened in World War I.
Larry says that he recently had a chance to talk with Henry Kissinger. Larry told him of my attitude toward the World Wars, and asked him what he thought about it. Kissinger considered it for a minute and then said, "There's a great deal of merit to that idea. I tend to agree."
Back at the hotel in Anaheim, there's a pre-convention reception with a few hundred people. It's wonderful to see so many Libertarians whom I may not have seen in many months or many years.
Friday, June 30, 2000 Anaheim
At 9:30 a.m., the 2000 Libertarian National Convention begins. What an exciting venue. Over a thousand Libertarians are here to select the party's nominee, elect new officers, and celebrate our ideas.
Unfortunately, I can't listen to the speeches. There are many talk-show hosts broadcasting from the convention and a lot of reporters and I have a full slate of interviews.
The first is with Libertarian Jim Dexter, the Utah chair who has his own radio show. During the interview we come back over and over to the importance of voting Libertarian, rather than trying to vote for a winner.
Then there's a TV interview with Pamela Gentry of C-SPAN. We go out to the C-SPAN bus, sitting in the alley behind the hotel. We talk for about 15 minutes. She says she's interviewing each of the Libertarian presidential candidates, and wants the interviews to be personal profiles more than discussions of issues. But I don't let it go that way; I try to bring my answer to each question around to some way that a Libertarian proposal will make your life better.
Back in the convention hall, I have a half-hour interview with Blanquita Cullum on the Radio America network. I make the theme of the interview the difference between controlling your own life and letting the politicians do that.
We talk about gun laws and she mentions that Pat Buchanan stands up for the 2nd amendment. I point out that Buchanan believes he should control your life; it's just that on a few issues the choices he makes are similar to what you'd choose for yourself. But he still wants to be the one that makes the decisions. He wants to decide what you can buy from foreign countries, what kind of industries should be protected, and so on.
Blanquita asks, "But what would you do about such things as human rights in China?" I say, "If you think it's wrong to trade with China, you can just simply not buy Chinese products. But if you give the government the power to make that decision, you're letting Bill Clinton decide what's right and what's wrong for you."
I then have a 12-minute phone interview with Tom Bustamante of the website WallStreetNewscast.com. They want to interview every presidential candidate and provide each interview as an audio link on the website. I'm the first of the bunch. By this time today, I'm all fired up and flying through every question. Surprisingly, Bustamante makes it a pure political interview, with no particular slant toward the financial markets. The audio interview is posted on the Internet at http://www.WallStreetNewsCast.net/usnews/harrybrowne.html.
Next it's another radio interview in the convention hall this one with Ken and Rick Minyard, a father and son team on KFIV in Modesto, California. Rick is an LP member, while his father is a Republican. We talk about the possibility of being in the presidential debates. Ken wonders what I would ask George Bush or Al Gore if I got the chance. I say, "Would you be a better person today if you had spent ten years in prison for your youthful indiscretions like the sentences you favor for young marijuana smokers?"
Then it's ten minutes with Brian Higgins, a Libertarian talk-show host on Liberty Works radio network in Massachusetts. Because of technical problems, the interview is cut short and we don't get a chance to cover very much.
The last interview is with Libertarians Gary Nolan and Lowell Ponte on the Radio America network. Among other things, we talk about the people who won't vote Libertarian because they're afraid it will swing the election to the worst of the Republican or Democratic candidates. Gary tells how he decided after the 1996 campaign that he could no longer vote Republican.
The C-SPAN people tell me the interview with Pamela Gentry didn't take because of some technical problem. So we have to do it again. She asks the same questions and because I can anticipate them, I do a better job this time.