Harry Browne's Campaign Journal May 2000
Monday, May 1, 2000 - Nashville
Because of the financial crunch last week, our P.R. firm has no interviews scheduled for the first few days of this week. This gives me a chance to catch up on a number of writing chores composing material for the website, writing op-ed articles, doing fund-raising, and answering candidate surveys from various groups.
Tuesday, May 2, 2000 Nashville
F. Aaron Smith of Sonoma, California, lets us know that our 30-minute TV show, The Great Libertarian Offer will be shown on the Santa Rosa cable channel (72) four times May 8, 10, 15, and 17. More details can be obtained from Mr. Smith at (707) 541-0615. You also can contact him to help arrange more showings.
Wednesday, May 3 Nashville
I have one interview this evening with Gary Nolan, syndicated on about 45 radio stations. Gary joined the LP a couple of years back and does an excellent job covering libertarian issues. The conversation goes well. There are no phone-ins.
Thursday, May 4 Nashville
The interviews pick up again. The first today is at noon. It is with news reporter Bruce Ferrell at the North Carolina News Network in Raleigh. He tapes some soundbites from me, to be played during the day on Friday and Saturday on the network's 83 affiliate stations. His questions are fast-paced, jumping from one topic to another, but I'm able to keep up with him.
Then it's a similar interview with Dave James at WBUS in Columbus, Ohio. He tapes about 15 minutes worth of material, for use during news broadcasts. We cover a great many issues. For a change, a reporter isn't so interested in the "Why are you doing this when you know you can't win?" angle. I plug the Ohio LP convention, where I'll be speaking on Sunday.
The last interview is an hour with Jerry Agar on WPTF in Raleigh. I have the opportunity to plug the North Carolina LP convention, at which I'll be speaking Saturday morning. We cover a great many topics. Most of the callers are supportive.
Friday, May 5, 2000 Raleigh, North Carolina
I arrive in Raleigh for the state LP convention. Candi Copas, the convention organizer, walks me to the Capital Building, a few blocks away, where a number of Libertarians have gathered to meet the public. Unfortunately, there aren't too many non-libertarian passers-by, but we talk to those who do come up the walk to the Capital.
I have an interview with Barry Smith, a reporter for the Freedom Newspapers. I don't realize at first that this is the Freedom Newspapers chain that owns the Orange County (CA) Register and a number of other dailies around the country some of the most libertarian daily newspapers in America. The reporter asks questions about the issues, which is a refreshing change.
Saturday, May 6, 2000 Raleigh & Columbus
As with so many states, the attendance at the North Carolina convention is about twice what it was the last time I was here.
I meet Matthew Eisley of the Raleigh News & Observer. He tells me that another reporter will take his place at the convention shortly, and that she'll interview me after my speech. As it turns out, however, she says she got enough material from the speech for the article she's writing on the convention.
I catch a plane for Columbus for the Ohio LP convention. The evening banquet speaker is Gary Nolan, a talk-show host on the Radio America network, who joined the LP a couple of years ago. He is traveling at his own expense to LP conventions in the eastern U.S., bringing cheer to Libertarians. He gives an entertaining and informative speech on the difference between Libertarians and the old parties.
Sunday, May 7, 2000 Columbus, Ohio
In the morning, I meet Steve Stephens, a columnist for the Columbus Dispatch and a Libertarian Party member. He stays for the 3-way presentations and question period for Barry Hess, Don Gorman, and me.
Monday, May 8, 2000 Nashville
Returning home from Columbus, I have one show before taking the rest of the day off with Pamela. It is a 40-minute interview on "Seniors on the Move" with Bart Carafella and Fern Karhu on WLUX in Farmingdale, New York. The first 20 minutes or so are spent talking about my Social Security proposal to sell off government assets to finance the transfer of seniors from vulnerable Social Security accounts to secure private accounts that the politicians can't touch. When I first present it, Bart says, "I'm speechless; this makes so much sense." Fern agrees with him.
Later, we get into the Drug War and gun ownership and the lovefest breaks down a bit. They are very polite and sincerely interested in knowing my positions. But they find it hard to imagine ending the Drug War, even though they acknowledge that it's a failure. And with guns, I point out that just one innocent person with access to a gun at Columbine High School would have saved the lives of several children, but it doesn't resonate. However, they are glad to have me on the show and say they want me to come back.
Tuesday, May 9, 2000 Nashville
My one interview today is with Jim Garrity of Intellectual Capital, an Internet political publication (www.intellectualcapital.com). He tapes about 20 minutes of questions and answers which will appear on the website as an audio file, with a written transcript as well.
He asks the usual questions about the challenges facing a 3rd-party candidate ballot access, coverage, and so on. I point out that the party has slowly but surely grown to a point where we are approaching critical mass the stage where the growth will explode. The LP is better off for the slow, steady growth we've enjoyed as opposed to sudden fame from a celebrity or billionaire because it means the party has an ideologically consistent program and a strong, committed base.
Although he wants to talk mostly about procedure, I'm able to work the campaign themes into the conversation several times.
(As it turns out, the article appears on May 11 and is about several 3rd party candidates providing little that would excite people about my candidacy.)
Wednesday, May 10, 2000 Nashville
No interviews today. So it's a chance to do some writing, handle other paperwork, and make some fund-raising calls. I go over the TV ads we'll be filming in ten days. And I write an article on the gun issue ("For Safety Sake, Repeal All the Gun Laws").
In the 1996 campaign, I spoke at several gun rights events. Naturally, my 2nd-amendment message was well received, but I doubt that it led to many votes. It was too easy for a gun rights activist to believe that Robert Dole would be at least a little less eager than President Clinton to sign new gun-control legislation even if the eventual result would be more restrictive gun laws. The same is true in 2000. This has made it difficult for us to rally the gun rights people to our side.
But now the NRA has handed us a golden opportunity. They are pushing the idea that, instead of enacting new gun laws, the government should do more to enforce the 20,000 federal gun laws and regulations now on the books. And many Republican politicians have echoed this approach.
But why should we want the government to enforce bad laws more energetically? Many of those laws were opposed by the NRA and the Republicans when first proposed. It is hypocritical to imply now that they are worthwhile. And so far it appears that gun rights activists around the country are not responding favorably to the idea.
So my article takes the approach that, for safety's sake, we must repeal the 20,000 federal gun laws and regulations now on the books not enforce them. These laws put innocent citizens at a disadvantage to the violent criminals who will aren't affected by the laws. Criminals don't register their guns; only law-abiding citizens do. Criminals don't acquire their guns in ways that require background checks and waiting periods; only innocent citizens do citizens who in some cases need a gun immediately for defense against a stalker or to undertake a job in a dangerous situation.
No gun law of any kind makes an innocent citizen safer. But almost every such law either puts him at a disadvantage to violent criminals or a gratuitous invasion of the citizen's privacy.
By calling for the repeal of the gun laws, we separate ourselves clearly from the Republican approach to gun control. We offer something meaningful to gun rights enthusiasts something that Republican politicians will never have the courage to advocate. Voting Libertarian offers the only route by which they can make their sentiments known clearly and unequivocally.
(You can read the article by clicking here.)
Thursday, May 11, 2000 Nashville
Three interviews today all in areas where I'll be speaking over the weekend.
The first is with Sandra Swain, a reporter for KAST in Portland, Oregon. She tapes about ten minutes of soundbites from me, of which a few minutes will run on the station's news broadcasts. A similar interview is with Eric Berman on WIBC in Indianapolis, who tapes about 15 minutes also to extract some soundbites. In both cases, I'm able to get onto the issues, and I hope those come across in whatever material is used.
The last interview is with Scott Milford of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin. He is very friendly, and we discuss my ideas on what Libertarians will have to achieve in order to make a breakthrough to major-party status. He says he will try to file the story with the Wisconsin AP but isn't sure whether it will be used statewide.
A fourth scheduled interview was scheduled with The Capitol Times in Madison, but the reporter and I never connect by phone as sometimes happens.
Friday, May 12, 2000 Nashville
I have three interviews today all aimed at publicizing this weekend's Wisconsin LP convention, where I'll be appearing.
The first is with Mike Clish on WFAW in Fort Adkinson, Wisconsin. It is only about 10 minutes. He appears quite skeptical at first, but at the end he says, "I wish we had more time; you're a very interesting fella'."
The next interview is an hour with Dave Anthony on WIBA in Madison. He is an excellent interviewer asking good questions, making no long speeches (I wish I could say the same for myself), and encouraging the callers. The questions from listeners are all very relevant, giving me an opportunity to concentrate on the red meat of the campaign.
One caller says he's a farmer and is concerned about the government's role in agriculture. I assume he means he doesn't want an end to farm subsidies. So I try to show him how much freer he'll be without price subjects, crop allocations, and dictation from Washington. But it turns out he isn't trying to stay on the government dole, he's more concerned that we have a free trade policy that will permit him to sell his produce worldwide. It reminds me that I should never assume the worst intentions from a question.
The final interview is about 15 minutes, taped by Bob Ridden on WTMJ in Milwaukee for broadcast during the day. As with the soundbite requests of yesterday, I can only hope he'll use the best parts of the interview.
In the evening, Pamela takes me to the Nashville airport for my flight to Milwaukee. I find that the flight has been cancelled, however. After trying vainly to find another way to get to Milwaukee tonight, I book an early-morning flight. Thanks to the existence of cell phones in the car and in my pocket, I'm able to reach Pamela before she's too far from the airport, and she comes back to pick me up and take me home for the night.
Saturday, May 13, 2000 Milwaukee & Indianapolis
Traveling is less eventful today. I make it to Milwaukee without problems, and arrive just in time for my speech. Don Gorman and I each talk for about 20 minutes, and then there's a 20-minute joint question session. And then he and I immediately head for the airport to fly to Indianapolis. In all, I'm in Milwaukee for only about 2½ hours from arrival to takeoff. I regret that I don't have time to meet people and find out much about the state of the party in Wisconsin.
We arrive in Indianapolis with a more leisurely schedule at hand. At the dinner banquet, Don, Barry Hess, and I each give a 20-minute talk, and then there's a joint question period.
After the banquet, I have the opportunity to get caught up with local Libertarians. As long as I've been in the LP, Indiana has been one of the most successful state parties. Thanks to the efforts of people like Joe Hauptmann, Barbara Bourland, Steve Dasbach, Sarah Cotham, Ken Bisson, and many, many others, the party has been a torrent of activity. The state hopes to run 200 candidates this year. And Jeff Adkins tells me that a group of people have already raised half the money necessary to run our 30-minute TV show on a group of stations in Kentucky and Indiana.
Sunday, May 14, 2000 Indianapolis & Portland
Up at 5am to catch a plane to Portland, Oregon. Many people have been nice enough to tell me how much they appreciate the effort involved in running for President. But, really, most of what I do is exciting, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. The only "sacrifice" I have to make is in getting up early in the morning.
My normal (non-campaigning) routine is to arise around 1pm or so, work through the evening, and go to bed around 5am. For some reason, the political world doesn't seem to want to accommodate itself to that schedule. So too often I have to haul myself out of bed at some unholy hour to do a radio interview or catch a plane. But if that's the worst thing I have to face, I have a very fortunate life.
However, I should mention that campaigning contains one other problem bad eating habits. At home, my usual routine is to have my first meal at 6pm, dinner with Pamela. When I quit working around 3am, I fix myself a sandwich and a glass of wine and relax until going to bed around 5am. Although we don't have a strict regimen, we use a lot of "Lite" foods like fat-free mayonnaise or low-fat margarine. As a result, my weight normally remains stable.
But when I travel, everything changes. I find myself eating more meals including hot dogs in airports or richer food at banquets. During the 1996 campaign, I had to let out the waistlines of my suit trousers, and I gained a few pounds that I still have with me. And this time around, my waistline is threatening to expand still further.
But enough about sleeping and eating (as though there can ever be enough about two such attractive subjects).
Don Gorman and I fly together to Portland, with a plane change in Denver. We're met at the Portland airport by David Hintz and David Robinson, who drive us to McMinnville, about 90 minutes away, for the state LP convention.
What a change from when I was here in 1995. At that time, the party was embroiled in internal conflict; only a few people showed up for the convention; and by the time the floor fights were over, even fewer had the energy to stick around for my speech, which began a few hours late. Today, the Oregon party is alive and thriving. About 70 people are on hand to hear Toni Nathan (the 1972 LP Vice-presidential candidate), Don Gorman, and me speak. The party has won a number of local elections and is running professional races for many seats this year.
Afterward, Richard Burke, the 1998 gubernatorial candidate, drives me back to Portland. In the evening, I do a bit of fund-raising.
Monday, May 15, 2000 Portland & Nashville
After my complaining about early rising in yesterday's journal, today I get to sleep in until about 10:30. I have lunch with Adam Meyer, the state chair, and his wife Chris at a lovely German restaurant near the airport. Although my flight leaves Portland about an hour late, I'm able to make my Nashville flight from Denver just barely.
I arrive in Nashville at 11:30pm, Pamela picks me up and we head for home.
I check my e-mail and find that Don Feder of the Boston Herald has released his article resulting from our interview (see Campaign Journal #10 for April 14). After the interview we talked once on the telephone and went over several issues. He seemed to be sincerely trying to get my positions straight. He had even read the Libertarian Party platform.
His article, however, is a complete hatchet job as indicated by its title, "Goofy May Be a Libertarian" (a play on the fact that we're holding the LP national convention near Disneyland). All the nuances and subtleties of my positions are ignored as he tries to make my positions look as ridiculous as possible, using words like "loony," "impractical," and "delusional."
For example, he says the LP's "platform calls for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration.' If 50 million Mexicans chose to move to California and Texas, resulting in chaos and the obliteration of national identity, why should that concern Libertarians? If these new Americans (then constituting a majority in the states where they settle) wanted to secede and reunite the territory with Mexico, presumably Libertarians would not stand in their way."
Of course, it doesn't occur to him that 50 million Mexicans fleeing Mexico for the land of opportunity aren't about to vote to become part of Mexico again. Talk about loony.
How do I feel about such things? (That's a rhetorical question; you don't have to answer.)
Of course, I much prefer to see positive articles. But I've had too much experience with journalists to take negative articles seriously or personally. During the 1970s my iconoclastic views toward the economy and investing brought out the worst in some reporters as their dislike and determination to ridicule me blinded them to the real flaws in my presentation and caused them to resort to inventing mistakes and distorting what I said. By the end of the 1970s I had learned to live with the ridicule. (I must admit that gold rising to $800 and silver to $50 vindicating my investment advice helped make the criticism easier to handle.)
I see Feder's article as a desperate attempt to keep people from voting Libertarian this year so that George W. Bush can win the White House and maintain the Republican tradition of bigger, more expensive, and more intrusive government. So I don't take it personally; I know my ideas aren't goofy, and I know how well my ideas are received when people hear them directly from me.
Thus the article also reminds us why radio and television appearances are far more valuable than press coverage. In interviews, I get to tell the story my way not hope that our best ideas will somehow filter through the reporter's prejudices and get to the reader.
We will continue to grow and prosper so long as we keep telling people directly that we want them to be free free to live their lives as they see fit, not as George Bush or Al Gore thinks is best for them free to raise their children by their own values, not the values of the politicians and bureaucrats free to keep every dollar they earn, to spend it, save it, give it away as they see fit.
Tuesday, May 16, 2000 Nashville
Just one interview today. It is an hour with Don Roberts at WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. It turns out that Don is a member of the LP and will be at the national convention in Anaheim. He begins the broadcast by saying that he voted for me in 1996 and expects to do so again this year. Needless to say, the entire interview is very friendly, and we get some good calls. Martin Riske, a local Congressional candidate, is in the studio with Don and will be on the air during the next hour.
Don says that he recently attended the Minnesota state convention at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel near Minneapolis. While there, he saw our campaign video. After watching it, he went into the casino and asked a number of people at random what their favorite government programs are. As in the video, hardly anyone could think of a government program he liked. Finally, a couple of people mentioned food stamps. (I wonder if the slot machines accepted food stamps.)
Incidentally, we should have mentioned in the video that the responses to the street interviews were all representative of the overall responses we received to the questions asked. We used the ones that were the funniest, were concise, had the best rhythm, and fit the format. But we got virtually the same responses from about 80% of all the people we interviewed.
Wednesday, May 17, 2000 Nashville
I have two interviews today both to promote the Michigan LP convention this weekend.
The first today is at 7:20am, with Dave Barber on WFDF in Flint, Michigan. As the interview progresses, it becomes apparent that he's a liberal. He finds my ideas to be new and intriguing. And everytime we seem to be headed into trouble, we find some kind of agreement. He's strongly pro-union and asks what I think the federal government should do about labor relations. I tell him the government should stay entirely out of the area, and let people work out their own agreements voluntarily without force being imposed from above. He seems to find this to be sensible, but asks what should be done when an employer hires goons to beat up union members. I say that now you're talking about violence which should be treated as such by local law enforcement (not a federal agency).
He suggests that without unions being aided by the government, employers could pay starvation wages. I ask whether he belongs to a union. He says no. I ask, "Is your salary above the minimum wage?" He says he receives well above the minimum wage. I ask, "If employers could pay whatever they want, why doesn't your employer pay you just the minimum wage? It's because you're worth more than the minimum wage, and your employer knows you'll take a job elsewhere if you don't get what you're worth here. It's the same for any employee in any job. That's why so few people receive only the minimum wage."
We get along quite well. Only in the final segment does the situation get tense when we get into guns. I've made the point several times during the show that people should be free to associate with whomever they want and not be forced to associate with those they don't like (for whatever reason). When he says he's very nervous around people with guns, I say, "Then don't associate with people who have guns. I, too, have little use for guns, but I'm glad I live in a neighborhood that probably includes many gun-owners. That way potential intruders are discouraged from entering any home in this area."
The interview was scheduled for 20 minutes, but it lasts 1½ hours, and we get along very well. A number of callers who don't seem to be libertarians show great interest and want to know more.
My second interview of the day is with Ron Dzwonkowski of the Detroit Free Press. He is well familiar with Tim O'Brien, Barb Goushaw, and other outstanding Michigan Libertarians having interviewed them in the past. Although I doubt that he shares our ideas, he is very friendly and sympathetic.
I learn that the latest nationwide Zogby poll (as of May 15) has me at 0.7% nationally (down from 0.8% on April 20), with Pat Buchanan falling to 2.1% from 4.4% and Ralph Nader rising to 4.4% from 4.0%. (Bush leads Gore, 42.4% to 38.8%.) It appears that, for the time being, Zogby will run this broadened poll once a month. The 3rd-party candidates combined continue to have far more support than the difference between Gore and Bush, making it useful for the pollsters to determine how well each of the 3rd-party candidates is doing. (You can see the details by clicking here.) I'm hoping our 1-minute TV ads, scheduled to begin in June, will start boosting our poll numbers.
An email arrives from Larry Stafford, a Volunteer Coordinator in Illinois, telling us about Jeremiah Beck, a talk host in Rockford. Jeremiah has seen our campaign video and today he mentioned it on the air and he read an episode of the Campaign Journal and the article "For Safety Sake, Repeal the Gun Laws." It helps considerably to leverage the campaign if I'm talked about favorably when I'm not present.
Thursday, May 18, 2000 Nashville
Today WorldNetDaily, the online publication (www.worldnetdaily.com), is running my article, "For Safety Sake, Repeal the Gun Laws" today. I understand that WorldNetDaily gets a million or so hits every day.
I notice that Issues2000 has an extremely informative website covering issues and candidates. They have an extensive compilation of my views on various issues culled from a number of sources, including quotes from Why Government Doesn't Work. They have similar coverage for the leading candidate of each of the other parties. There also are forums in which visitors can discuss each candidate.
My first interview is at 7am with Ben Merens on 14 stations of Wisconsin Public Radio. He is scrupulously neutral and quite friendly. The one-hour interview contains too much about the horse race, but I manage to cover a number of the issues especially with the callers.
The next interview is with David Newman on WJR in Detroit, to promote this weekend's Michigan LP convention. I learn later that this is one of the biggest talk shows in the Detroit area.
The interview is scheduled for 20 minutes, but the producer tells me off the air that they're inundated with callers and he asks me to stay for a full hour, which I do.
Newman says the Libertarian message as I present it seems very appealing, but Americans haven't accepted it indicating that they prefer dependence on government to self-government. I say that most Americans have heard very little of our message, and that we have to keep growing to acquire the resources and talent to get the message to people who will never tune in to C-SPAN, talk shows, or anything that smacks of politics. And I also point out that Americans have never been given a clear-cut choice (that they're aware of) between self-control and dependence on government only between different shades of government growth.
That's why the Great Libertarian Offer is important because it provides a well-defined choice: Would you give up your favorite federal programs if it meant you'd never have to pay income tax again? And your children would never have to pay income tax. And your grandchildren could go through life without the terrible burden of taxation you've had to face.
Although Newman seems to be a conservative, he joins me enthusiastically when I criticize the Drug War.
In the evening I have a one-hour interview with Stan Solomon on WZLW in Indianapolis. He is a Christian conservative. With him in the studio is Michael Gratison, an officer in the local ACLU, whom Solomon sometimes has on as a foil for his views. I find that I'm able to steer the conversation sometimes to issues that all three of us agree on such as the futility of foreign adventures, the destructiveness of the insane War on Drugs, and the need to treat the Constitution seriously.
My last interview of the day is with "Lionel" whose new show is now on 21 stations many of them in major cities (his station list is at http://lionelonline.com/affiliates.htm). He is an LP member, a very funny fellow, and a great advocate for liberty. He begins by saying, "I have endorsed Harry Browne for President," and then proceeds to ask his questions. We get some calls, which help to answer potential objections. The interview lasts only about 25 minutes, but I believe it does a lot of good.
On May 9 I was interviewed by Jim Garrity of Intellectual Capital, an Internet political publication. He taped about 20 minutes of questions and answers. The written interview led to an article on the publication's site on May 11, which was mostly about 3rd-party candidates in general, with little about Libertarians or me in particular.
Today the audio file appears on the web. Not one of my best interviews, but it will do. He asked a lot of questions about the challenges facing a 3rd-party candidate ballot access, press coverage, and so on. But I was able to work the campaign themes into the conversation several times.
Friday, May 19, 2000 Nashville
Today we begin transmitting a series of press releases. These releases will be faxed to radio, TV, and print media as well as emailed to supporters via LibertyWire and posted on our website. Soon we will add a vast email transmission to organizations and writers. Today's release was entitled "The Non-Sense of the Senate" chiding the U.S. Senate for passing non-binding "sense of the Senate" resolutions that commended the Million Mom March and advocated tightening the screws on gun owners.
Saturday, May 20, 2000 Ann Arbor, Michigan
I fly to Detroit for the Michigan LP convention. I'm picked up at the airport and driven to Ann Arbor by Al Titran, our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator for Michigan.
There are about 180 people at the convention a sign of another great state party continuing to grow. So many people have contributed to the growth and strength of the Michigan LP people like Ben Bachrach, Diane Barnes, Mike Brinkman, Fred Collins, Jon Coon, Barbara Goushaw, David Littmann, Mike Miller, Tim O'Brien, Sheldon and Irving Rose, Emily Salvette, Bill Shotey, Stacy Van Oast, and many, many others.
Along with all these trail-blazers are a host of new people in the party. It is a pleasure to meet them, and it's gratifying to learn that many of them came into the party because of the last presidential campaign or by reading Why Government Doesn't Work.
At the evening banquet, Don Gorman, Barry Hess, and I answer questions in a forum for presidential candidates. One of the questions leads to a discussion of how important money is to the campaign. It's easy to believe that you can operate a national campaign solely with volunteers and with very little money. But that's true only if you have no ambition to obtain millions of votes.
Even 10,000 volunteers would have to obtain 100 votes apiece to get a million votes total. We will reach mass audiences who can put us over the million mark only through radio and TV advertising, and that costs money. It costs money to produce the ads (see May 22 below), and it costs money to air them.
In addition, it costs money to have the best public relations people get me on important radio and TV shows that can reach hundreds of thousands of people at one time. It costs money to book speeches in important venues and travel to them. It costs money to produce persuasive selling tools like our 30-minute videocassette (which will continue to sell Libertarian ideas after this campaign is over). It costs money to coordinate the activities of our 4,500 volunteers.
We have raised and spent $1,350,000 so far. We will continue to raise money as fast as we can and we'll spend it as though there's no tomorrow, because in fact there is no tomorrow. The money spent so far has brought us hundreds of interviews, articles, and mentions in the press, positions in one national and one state-wide poll, strong finishes in many Internet polls, nine national TV appearances, radio interviews heard by millions of listeners, articles by me published in newspapers around the country and on the Internet, 16 showings of our 30-minute video on commercial TV stations and many showings on cable-access channels, four new 1-minute TV ads that will begin airing next month, and much more. In short, the money has bought us visibility among the non-Libertarian public.
But we're a long way from where we want to be. By the end of this campaign, I want three things: (1) So much visibility that any voter seeing, say, four candidates for state representative on his ballot, and not recognizing a single name, will know that the Libertarian candidate is the one for smaller government; (2) To have elevated name recognition for the Libertarian label to the point that everyone in America knows that the Libertarians are the ones who want each person to be free to run his own life; and (3) A vote total that takes us clearly and permanently out of the sub-million class, and makes us known nationally and locally as a force to be reckoned with. Achievement of these three goals will put us in a position where everyone will know we'll have an impact on future elections and will have to take the Libertarian Party seriously.
Achieving those goals will put us on the road to bring about a Libertarian America by the end of this decade.
Apparently, the Michigan LP is well aware of the need for money to achieve our goals. At the banquet, Greg Dirisian raises $10,000 for the Ballot Access Retention Committee, a program to assure that the presidential candidate gets a big enough vote total to retain the state party's ballot status. I want to do what I can to help all local parties, but it is inspiring to see a state party take the initiative instead of waiting for someone else to rescue them.
Sunday, May 21, 2000 Ann Arbor, Michigan
In the morning the two announced candidates for the LP vice-presidential nomination give short speeches. Ken Krawchuk of Pennsylvania and Art Olivier of California are both impressive candidates either of whom would be a welcome addition to the national ticket.
Immediately after those speeches, Al and Rosemary Titran drive me to the airport for my flight to Los Angeles.
Monday, May 22, 2000 Los Angeles
Today we are shooting four 1-minute television ads.
In the last campaign, we could afford to produce only a handful of TV ads in which I stood or sat in front of a blank background and delivered a message. Such ads might inspire the faithful or even tip a few marginal voters to our side. But to most people, they shout a single message: "Amateurs! Don't take them seriously!"
Today it's a far different story. These four ads have been carefully conceived to entice, provoke, shock, inform, persuade, and entertain. They are being created with the most professional production values. In the studio are 27 people at work the director and his assistant, the producer, a sound engineer, teleprompter operator, set designer, makeup artist, wardrobe specialist, cameraman and assistant, lighting specialists, stagehands, and more. And every one of them is needed to produce the right result the kind of result that lets the general public know we're here, we mean business, and we're going to be heard.
The crew begins at 6am and finishes up about 9pm. My job is relatively easy, and I'm actually needed for less than two hours. The rest of the time they are shooting intricate visual images that bring our ideas to life.
I think you're going to love these ads. We hope to put them on national cable networks during June, in which case they could do a lot to elevate my standing in the polls.
Tuesday, May 23, 2000 Los Angeles
While Perry Willis, Kristin Overn, and Geoff Braun are reviewing stock film footage to be used in the new ads, I'm in my hotel room getting caught up on some overdue work on articles and campaign materials.
I find that my article "For Safety Sake, Repeal All the Gun Laws has been reprinted by The Libertarian Enterprise, an Internet publication published by L. Neil Smith and John Taylor.
I receive an encouraging e-mail from Nathan Spanier, who says:
I am a college student who learned about the Libertarian party and Harry Browne from Bill Maher on 'Politically Incorrect.' I, like many people, was disenchanted with the two candidates I had to choose from in this year's election. When I found your website and read your positions on the issues, I was thrilled to find that I agreed almost across the board. The first thing I did was to e-mail a link to your site to some of my friends, many of whom had no interest in politics at all. The response of my friends was the same as mine. Finally they had someone they could vote for that shared their views exactly. They also passed the link on to their friends. The potential for a large number of votes from young people like myself is enormous. One of the best ways to reach them is through MTV. I'm sure your campaign is well aware of this. My friends and I have all contacted MTV to let them know we want Harry Browne covered this summer/fall. Hope to see you there!
Thank you, Nathan, I do hope to see us there as well. It occurs to me that young voters are less likely to be touched by the "wasted-vote syndrome" that infects older people. Young people have had less time to build the deep-seated prejudices that cause older people to vote against Bill Clinton or Al Gore, or against the Religious Right, even if they don't care for the candidate they're supposedly voting for. If young people want what we offer, they're more likely to vote for us even if they don't believe we can win because they see a vote for us as a way to let the world know what they want.
I sure hope we'll be running ads on MTV before the campaign is over.
Wednesday, May 24 Los Angeles & Nashville
To all newspapers who carried Don Feder's article "Goofy May Be a Libertarian" (see the Campaign Journal enry for May 15), we transmit a rebuttal entitled, "Is It Loony to Want You to Be Free?"
When responding to an attack, it is easy to be lured into defending yourself against every accusation and innuendo in the original article. But that's a mistake. That's playing on the opponent's home field letting him set the agenda. The only reason for responding at all is to use the attack as justification for getting a platform to present the ideas you want to discuss.
For decades I've followed three principles when responding to someone's attack on me:
Since no one is likely to remember what the attacker said, it isn't necessary to refer to even the most damaging accusations made against you. Even if some reader was affected by them at time of publication, the particulars will have been forgotten by the time of the response. And if you make good points in your article, the reader may wonder why he had thought badly of you before.
So in the response that Jim Babka and I prepared to Feder's article, I mention only one of his specific accusations. He said, "The party's position on defense is equally loony. In a Browne presidency, no American soldier would set foot on foreign soil."
I dispense with this in two short paragraphs by pointing out that George Washington must have been "loony" to advise against entangling alliances.
The bulk of the article is then devoted to what Feder called our "crusade for a utopian agenda." I ask rhetorically what that agenda is and then say:
"It's very simple. I want you to be free free to live your life as you think it should be lived, not as George W. Bush, Al Gore, or even I think you should.
"I want you to be free to raise your children by your values not those of educational bureaucrats who see your children as little soldiers in their plans to remake the world. I want you to keep every dollar you earn and spend it, save it, give it away as you think best instead of being allowed to keep only what the politicians don't have plans for.
"I want to repeal the income tax by forcing the federal government to give up every activity not authorized in the Constitution the same Constitution Mr. Feder pretends to revere. I want to unlock the door and let you out of Social Security so you can plan a truly safe, secure, prosperous retirement for yourself.
"I want to repeal the thousands of gun laws that disarm you while leaving criminals free to terrorize you. I want to end the insane War on Drugs that has turned the drug business over to criminal gangs who compete with violence, prey on your children at school, and turn our streets into shooting galleries."
The article concludes with a reference to our website and phone number, so the reader can get our positions on all the issues.
I mention this article at length here because I think it provides a formula you can use when writing letters to the editor or calling into talk shows. Don't be lured into feeling you have to answer every charge made against Libertarians. Don't try to show that we're not as bad as someone has charged. Always go on the offensive trying to show the reader/listener how much better his life will be in a Libertarian America.
And, if you don't feel competent to explain specific libertarian issues to someone, use the quoted paragraphs above as a way of explaining the general libertarian philosophy to people.
I have only one show today, which I do by phone at 5:30am from my hotel room in Hollywood. It is with Doug Stephan who is syndicated on the Radio America network. He has been very good to Libertarians, and today is no different. He says I present many valuable ideas that people should hear. He also says something I don't recall hearing from him before that he voted for me in 1996 and intends to do so again this year. He says that earlier today the President of Hell's Angels was on the show and said he is a libertarian.
At the conclusion of the 15-minute interview, Doug says, "See folks, I told you you'd find him interesting."
With the interview done, I go back to sleep and awaken at mid-morning to catch a plane home to Nashville.
Friday, May 26, 2000 Nashville
We release a press release on Congressional attempts to legalize "black bag" searches searches of your home or other property without your knowledge. The provision has been introduced in a bill designed to overrule the 1st amendment by making it a crime to tell someone where to find marijuana paraphernalia on the Internet.
Knowing that this bill may not pass, its authors have also attached the black-bag search provision to a bankruptcy reform bill, H.R. 833, that passed both houses earlier this year and is currently in a conference committee. This is common procedure. Insert a dangerous new federal power in a seemingly innocuous bill.
Jim Babka has done an outstanding job with the press release. He titled it "High on the Hill" and used marijuana metaphors to show that the politicians have gotten so "high on power" that they now show no restraint whatsoever.
Saturday, May 27, 2000 Nashville
I am on for 45 minutes on "Saturdays with Ed and Lou" on KMAX in Spokane, Washington. Ed Schofeld is the host, and Lou is his sidekick. They seem a bit skeptical at the outset, but they become friendlier and friendlier as the show progresses. I try to treat any contentious assertion as though it is a friendly question by calling attention to something in the premise that I agree with, and starting off with, "As you pointed out, . . ." and then going on to show a better way a Libertarian way of achieving the objective cited.
Ed says he read an article years ago in which William F. Buckley, Jr. made fun of Murray Rothbard's advocacy of privatizing lighthouses. And Ed asks, "Just how far do Libertarians want to go in reducing government?"
I reply (as best I remember), "We might argue endlessly about which functions a small government should perform, but that would be pointless and self-defeating. You know and I know and probably almost everyone listening to this broadcast knows that government is way, way too big and we have to reduce it dramatically. So that's where our attention should be. When we have finally reduced government a long way, you might decide that's enough and oppose any further reductions while others might want to reduce it further. But at least we'll be arguing then within the context of a government that all of us would find a lot less oppressive. So I prefer to focus first of all on getting government reduced to the limits of the Constitution, before worrying about how much further it should go. Does that make sense?"
Of course, he says that it does. And this calls attention to a useful tool when answering questions or discussing libertarian ideas. When answering a question about an issue, I often state my position and then ask, "Does that make sense?" I believe this causes the questioner to acknowledge to himself that the answer does make sense that we really want the same basic things he does even if he still has some reservations about our way of achieving them. Occasionally (but only occasionally), someone says my answer doesn't make sense. If so, I ask what about it doesn't make sense to him and we then can focus on the particular problem he has with our position. And, of course, the question, "Does that make sense?" reminds anyone else listening to the dialogue that, yes, the Libertarian answer does make sense.
Sunday, May 28, 2000 Nashville
I'm on the radio for an hour with C.B. Maxwell on KNRY in Monterey, California, on a show he calls "Intergalactic Radio." There are no commercials and no phone-ins. I'm not really sure whether it is a live broadcast or a tape for later.
He is a non-voter who sees no reason to bother trying to choose between evils. But near the end of the broadcast I tell him, "Look, I didn't vote from 1964 to 1994. But when I started voting Libertarian in 1994, it was a wonderful feeling to come out of the voting booth knowing I had voted for what I wanted. I know my one vote isn't going to swing the election, but it gives me a great emotional release my symbolic way of getting back at those who want to run my life." He says, "You've just about got me convinced to register again."
During the broadcast we cover a number of issues. There's no question that he's supportive on all of them. And I'm on fire. It's my only interview today but I'm warmed up from the opening bell. Everything flows out of me succinctly and passionately.
Tuesday, May 30, 2000 Nashville
After taking most of yesterday off, I have three shows today the first at 8am. It is on "Dimitri Live and Dangerous" with Dimitri Vassillaros on WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. He makes it clear he's a Libertarian. He's a good host upbeat, well-informed, and a good questioner. At the end of the hour-long interview, he tells his listeners, "Listen to this man and please vote for him."
The next show follows immediately. It is an hour with Greg Freyermuth on KTSM in El Paso. He begins by saying he doesn't agree with Libertarians on everything, but he respects us because we are clear in our beliefs and unwilling to apologize for what we believe. Several times during the show he mentions that he finds my ideas sensible.
The lovefest dissolves, however, just before the end of the show when we get into child pornography and drugs. I say that you really have only two choices: take responsibility for your children or expect the politicians to take care of them; there is no middle ground. If you rely on the law to protect your children, you're relying on politicians and bureaucrats to put the interests of your children ahead of their love of power. He can't see this at all.
He raises the common view that, even if the laws are ineffective, they are necessary in order to state "society's" views on the matter. I tell him that society doesn't make laws; only politicians do, and they will never be the laws you want. Unfortunately, just as we're getting into this, we are out of time. I would like to continue along this line, as it is an opportunity to raise some fundamental points about the way we should view government.
As I'm leaving on an extended trip tomorrow, I need to run some errands in the afternoon. So I do my last show from my cell phone in the car. I recently bought a Motorola StarTac cell phone a tiny, light weight, flip-top model. The clarity is amazing. The interview is as technologically successful as though I were on my phone at home or even in the radio studio.
The interview is 15 minutes with Manno and Condon on WKDR in Winewski, Vermont. The two are very friendly and sympathetic. Condon even says he voted for me in 1996. They ask me to come back when there's more time which I'll do.
I'll be heading out tomorrow for ten days on the road to New York City, Missouri, West Virginia, Dallas, Houston, and Corpus Christi.
Wednesday, May 31, 2000 New York City
I fly to New York City to speak at an investment conference tomorrow. The only event today is a reception during the evening, at which I have the opportunity to talk with some of the campaign's major donors.