Will the 2000 election be
"the most important in a generation"?

[The following letter by Harry Browne was published by The American Spectator in its June 1999 issue.]

Grover Norquist in "Winner Takes All" [April 1999] says the 2000 election could be "the most important in a generation." Whether the Republicans or Democrats triumph could affect the future of all three branches of the federal government.

He believes it matters who wins Congress. Let's see: the final four budgets of the Democratic Congress enlarged the federal government by 3.4% per year, while the first four budgets of the Republican Congress have enlarged it by 3.3% per year. Should we get excited about the difference?

He says it matters who wins the Presidency. Under Bill Clinton the federal government has grown by 3.4% per year; under Ronald Reagan (with a Republican Senate for six of his eight years) it grew by 6.8% per year. After adjusting for inflation (which was much higher during the 1980s) government still grew by 2.7% a year under Ronald Reagan, and only 0.7% a year under Clinton. Should those of us who want much smaller government be eager to join either side?

He says the new President will appoint the Supreme Court judges that will affect our future. Will a Democratic President appoint more Thurgood Marshalls, Stephen Breyers, and Ruth Ginsburgs? Will a Republican President appoint more Earl Warrens, Sandra O'Connors, and David Souters? Should the difference keep us awake nights?

Whether a Democrat or a Republican is elected President in 2000, we know one thing for certain: government will continue to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Every politician in the running from either party has spent his entire career voting to enlarge the size and oppression of government. And none of the non-politicians in the running (such as Steve Forbes or Gary Bauer) has ever offered a single proposal that would reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

There is one way the election next year could make a real difference. If the Libertarians get 10% to 15% of the presidential vote, politics will never be the same in America. Both of the old parties will have to start thinking of ways to offer real reductions to the 75% of the American public who believe government is way too big.

Can the Libertarians do it? The party is growing so fast that next year it will most likely be advertising specific proposals to reduce government to its Constitutional limits, to repeal the income tax, to privatize Social Security completely and immediately, to end the insane War on Drugs. In other words, we will finally have a visible, dramatic alternative to the bland, meaningless "we're the party of smaller government" platitudes offered by politicians who have never reduced government by a single dollar -- and never will ....