Harry Browne on Principles & Values

2000 Libertarian Nominee for President


Florida is full of partisan power brokers

The Florida ballot fiasco has produced at least one valuable benefit: It has shown us exactly how government actually operates. Almost everyone watching the news from Florida can see that anyone with the power to affect the outcome is a Democrat or Republican who is acting according to his own partisan interest.

So the final outcome won’t depend on “truth” or “justice” or “fairness”-but on the party affiliation of whoever turns out to be the person making the final decision. In other words, what should be a non-partisan, objective ruling will instead be a partisan, politically motivated decision.

Is that the way government should operate? Perhaps not, but that’s the way government does operate. And that’s the way government always operates. In fact, if politicians will act in such a blatantly self-interested way as they have in Florida with the whole country watching them, imagine what they do when there’s no press coverage of their decisions.

Source: Press Release, “Liberty Wire” , Nov 22, 2000

Live your life as you want, not as Bush or Gore want

Q: What’s a Libertarian?

BROWNE: A Libertarian is someone that wants you to be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as Al Gore or George Bush thinks is best for you. We want to free you from the income tax by making government so small we don’t need an income tax. We want to release you immediately and completely from Social Security. And we want to restore completely your right to keep and bear arms to defend yourself against armed criminals

Source: Third Party Debate on Meet the Press , Oct 22, 2000

Libertarian issues have shifted Dems and Reps

“George Bush wants to run your life,” Browne said. “I want you to be free-free of the income tax, free of Social Security, free of the drug war, free of people like George Bush and Al Gore.” Such classic Libertarian laissez-faire stumping has long made prominent guest appearances on Republican platforms, though the GOP has left the Libertarian social policies safely in the closet. Browne and company are running hard against the war on drugs, for example, which the right-wing GOP has unsuccessfully tried to build up as a major foreign policy issue to replace the fight against Communism. And Libertarians generally support free movement of labor across national borders, which would lead to the demise of US immigration enforcement. Libertarians were the first and most-prominent opponents of the income tax, an issue which has riveted the Republican Party over the last decade. They even forced Clinton to talk about simplifying the existing tax system.
Source: James Ridgeway, “Atlas Rising,” Village Voice (NYC) , Sep 27, 2000

Running to build Libertarian Party; not as “spoiler”

Q: Aren’t you like Nader and Buchanan-just a spoiler?

A: I am running to help build a Libertarian Party big enough to win the presidency and Congress. By your definition, we could never have anything but the Republicans and Democrats, because anyone else would be a “spoiler.”

Source: James Ridgeway, “Atlas Rising,” Village Voice (NYC) , Sep 27, 2000

Top priorities: Pardon drug offenders; reduce regulations

Q: Give three simple things you’d do first if elected.

A: (1) Pardon every federal prisoner convicted of a nonviolent drug offense. (2) Tear pages of regulations out of the Federal Register. (3) Bring U.S. troops home from abroad and announce that the United States will no longer meddle in other countries’ affairs.

Source: James Ridgeway, “Atlas Rising,” Village Voice (NYC) , Sep 27, 2000

Little difference between Dems & Reps; hopes to be spoiler

Polls in Colorado and Illinois show Harry Browne drawing support from 3% of voters, with Bush & Gore in a statistical dead heat. “It would be nice if I got 3% in a state that was decided by 1%,” Browne said, relishing the idea of the role of spoiler. He won 485,759 votes in the 1996 presidential vote, less than 1% of the national tally.

A Libertarian Party spokesman said the polls show Browne and the Libertarians are finally breaking through. “It’s important from the standpoint of letting people know that when they vote for the Libertarian candidate their vote counts,“ the spokesman said.

Not that Browne cares who wins. ”I didn’t vote for 30 years because I did not see any difference between Republicans and Democrats,“ said Browne, who is doing little to encourage participation in the Nov. 7 presidential election. ”I don’t blame people who don’t vote today,“ he added.

Source: Reuters story in Boston Globe, p. A6 , Sep 18, 2000

Libertarianism means freedom to live your own life

Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p. 17 , Sep 9, 2000

Libertarian principle: can’t solve social problems by force

The word libertarian has been used more and more in recent years. It describes what most people want more of: more control over their own lives-and, in order to get it, much smaller government. The political voice of he libertarian movement is the Libertarian Party-a political party that was founded in 1971, but has surged in size and influence over the past few years.

Although libertarians disagree with each other on some issues, they are unanimous on the critical points:

  • Government is far too big and must be reduced dramatically.
  • It is wrong-both unfair and harmful-for government to stop a willing buyer and a willing seller from doing business with each other.
  • It is wrong for government to intervene in your personal life.
  • It is wrong to try to solve social problems by force.
  • Most of today’s social problems were caused or worsened by government’s interference-and we can solve those problems by reducing government, not by giving it more power.
    Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p. 17-18 , Sep 9, 2000

    Gradualism won’t work; do it all swiftly

    Some people believe progress must come slowly, a little each year in a gradual restoration of constitutional government. But I don’t believe we can succeed by trying to phase out government programs a little at a time.
      There are many reasons gradualism won’t work. Here are some of them:
    1. There will be interminable argument over which programs will be eliminated first.
    2. Politicians won’t stick very long to any plan that leads to smaller government.
    3. A program that is immediate and complete is the only way we can assure Americans that we aren’t just looking for government jobs like other politicians-that we intend to minimize government and maximize liberty.
    4. Only a big reward will motivate people to actively support our plan. The Great Libertarian Offer, with its complete elimination of the income tax, is such a reward.
    Politicians will never willingly give up what they’ve taken from us. We must recover it swiftly, decisively, and completely.
    Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.225-226 , Sep 9, 2000

    Only a Libertarian is going to set you free

    Harry Browne won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination during its convention on Sunday. Browne won on the first ballot, garnering 493 of 878 votes cast. “I am running for president because it is obvious that no Democrat or Republican is ever going to stop the relentless growth of the federal government,” Browne said in his acceptance speech. “...only a Libertarian is going to set you free.” Browne told the audience that the Libertarian Party offers freedom from income tax, Social Security, “the insane war on drugs,” and would return the country to a “constitutional government.” The Party also intends to end “reckless foreign policy that is going to put your children at risk of fighting and dying in a foreign war, and targets your city by terrorists,” Browne said. Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party says it stands for a free-market economy, individual liberty and personal responsibility, and a foreign policy of non- intervention, peace, and free trade.
    Source: CNN.com , Jul 3, 2000

    Libertarians lay out goals and let you plan your own life

    Q: Often, the standard Libertarian Party line addresses a theoretical future situation. But the voters want to know, “What will this candidate do, right now, if I were to vote him into office?”

    A: An oft-repeated criticism of my proposals is that we have government right now, and we need to address these issues in the here-and-now. But such criticisms miss the point. I am running for President and it is my duty to spell out the objectives of my campaign - what would I do if I’m elected? I cannot, nor do I want to, speak for other candidates.
    Big government politicians are always dealing in the theoretical future as they carefully plan each step of our lives. I oppose planning your life, I believe in you and so I’ll leave the theoretical future to my opponents.

    Source: Email correspondence from the candidate with OnTheIssues.org , Jan 27, 2000

    Priorities: End income tax, drug war, & commercial meddling

      Browne’s priorities if elected would be:
    1. Restore Constitutional limits on government spending so we can free everyone from the Income Tax and replace it with nothing.
    2. Create a Nation of Millionaires by privatizing Social Security
    3. Free America from the nightmare of the insane War on Drugs
    4. Implement a foreign policy of Peace Through Commerce & Constructive Disengagement.
    Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

    Basic principle: Government needs to be smaller

    The Libertarian Party is focused on one simple principle: That government is way too big and it needs to be much smaller. Regardless of details that one Libertarian candidate or another believes, all Libertarian candidates believe that government needs to be a fraction of its current size.
    Source: The Alan Colmes Show, WEBD NY 1050 AM , Aug 26, 1999

    Young people are right to be scared of big government

    The younger generation is much more Libertarian. They know that they’re never going to get any money back from Social Security. They know that government makes all these promises and doesn’t deliver. Middle-aged people remember days when things were calmer, when government wasn’t so big. But young people have never seen anything except this all-encompassing government that just keeps getting bigger no matter who’s in office. And frankly, they’re scared to death of it, and I don’t blame them.
    Source: Matt Drudge, ‘The Drudge Report,’ Fox News , Jul 31, 1999

    Morality governs personal behavior, not military action

    Isn’t your morality something that is supposed to govern your conduct, rather than decide the fate of others? “Collateral damage” is justified by saying, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” But it’s always someone else’s eggs that get broken. Your concern for [refugee Kosovars] entitles you to do-on your own-whatever you can for those people. But it doesn’t entitles you to condemn innocent people to their death-or to force the rest of us to pay for those executions.
    Source: WorldNetDaily “Murdering for morality” , Jun 3, 1999

    Individual liberty and responsibility on all issues

    “A libertarian believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility on all issues at all times.” This leads to the principle: never support a government solution to a social or political problem. Conservatives say the government can’t end poverty by force, but can use force to make people moral. Liberals say government can’t make people be moral, but can end poverty. Neither group attempts to explain why government is so clumsy and destructive in one area but benevolent in the other.
    Source: http://www.harrybrowne2000.org/ “The pack” 5/16/99 , Apr 3, 1998

    Fiscally conservative and socially liberal...?

    We [libertarians] shouldn’t call ourselves “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” We should never define ourselves in terms of other ideologies -- as though we were borrowing from them. Conservatives and liberals sometimes advocate positions that are similar to libertarians. But, unlike libertarians, their positions aren’t grounded on consistent principles they can point to - at least not on principles that don’t contradict the stands they took on other issues.
    Source: http://www.harrybrowne2000.org/ “The pack” 5/16/99 , Apr 3, 1998

    Replace the use of political force by reducing govt

    Libertarians want a lot less government. Libertarians recognize that force is the least efficient means of handling social and political questions. Political force breeds resistance, injustice, and inefficiency; it is vastly inferior to arrangements that allow each individual to make his own decisions. Libertarians’ objective is to reduce the use of force to the absolute minimum possible, whether that means a society with no government or very little government.
    Source: Liberty Magazine editorial by Browne , Nov 1, 1997

    Shrink govt now; come up with non-govt solutions later

    Society would be far better off with much less government than we have now. If we can reduce government to a fraction of its present size, it will become profitable for the best minds in the world to discover methods of replacing the remaining governmental programs with non-coercive market institutions. We don’t have to devise those solutions now; we don’t even have to wonder whether it’s possible. It won’t be relevant until we’ve reduced government to a much smaller size.
    Source: Liberty Magazine editorial by Browne , Nov 1, 1997

    Washington cannot be a source of moral leadership

    Regarding the decline of morals, Browne says, “it is ludicrous to look to Washington for moral and ethical leadership. Politicians deceive and pander as a way of life. We must get government out of the way so individuals can take care of themselves and their families.”
    Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

    Government means use of force instead of persuasion

    What is government? What makes it different from IBM or the Boy Scouts or a local security company? What separates government from the rest of society isn’t its size, its disregard for profit, its foresight, or its scope.
    The distinctive feature of government is coercion-the use of force & the threat of force to win obedience. This is how government differs from every other agency in society. The others persuade; government compels.
    For example, when someone demands that government help flood victims, he is saying he wants to force people to pay for flood relief. Otherwise, he’d be happy to have the Red Cross handle everything. Nothing involving government is voluntary-as it would be when a private company does something. One way or another, there is compulsion in every government activity.
    People seek the help of charity organizations [and so on] to urge others to support some cause. People turn to government to force others to support their cause.
    Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p. 9-10 , Jul 2, 1995

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