A Message to Libertarian Candidates (and Others)

A Message to Libertarian Candidates (and Others)

      By Harry Browne

As the election campaigns move into their final two months, I would

like to

offer my help to those candidates who are using their campaigns to

advance

the libertarian cause and the Libertarian Party.

As there are so many LP candidates this year (happily), my help must
necessarily be confined to the kinds of tasks that allow me to

assist as

many candidates as possible - and who want my help.

Towards the end of this message, I summarize what I might be able to

do and

what I would like you to do to enlist my help. But first let me

offer some

suggestions for your campaign, based on my experience in 1996 and

based on

the needs we have for the future.

      Running on a Libertarian Platform

First, I don't see any reason to be a candidate for office unless

you're

going to run on a distinctively libertarian platform. (The one

exception

might be a candidate who isn't running an active campaign and is

only on

the ballot to help retain ballot status.)

Your campaign literature should identify you as a Libertarian. You

should

be making proposals that are uniquely libertarian. You should use

the word

_Libertarian_ often in every speech and prominently in every piece

of

campaign literature - even if you're running for a non-partisan

office.

If you wonder whether this should be so, just ask yourself what you

hope to

achieve by running if you _don't_ do this.

Do you think you're more likely to win if you don't run overtly as a
Libertarian? Suppose you _do_ win that way. What will you have

gained? If

you can't win as a Libertarian, what's the point of winning? You'll

have to

restrain your libertarian urges in office, because they would be

just as

likely to impair your reelection as they were to prevent your

election in

the first place.

But if you run as a strong Libertarian, you advance the cause even

if you

don't win the office. Everyone you talk to will know more about

Libertarian

ideas, proposals, and solutions. One of our most important tasks for

the

next few years is to build name recognition for the word

"libertarian" and

for the Libertarian Party, and your campaign will be adding to all

the

name-recognition work others are doing.

      Issues

As a candidate, find the libertarian issues you're most comfortable

with,

and that apply to the office for which you're running. Refer to them

as

"Libertarian" solutions to pressing problems. Work out the best ways

to

present them in terms of the voters' self-interest. Work on them

until

you're completely comfortable in what you say. Then hammer them

home, over

and over and over.

The campaign will let people know there's something much better than

what

they've been getting from the old parties. The next Libertarian the

voter

hears from will have a ready-made entree because of your work.

Your overtly Libertarian campaign will also attract the attention of

people

who think like we do, and who might be inspired to join the party.

      The Campaign Message

Here is how I would approach any political campaign, no matter what

office

I was seeking, partisan or non-partisan:

1. Pick three key proposals to focus on. They should be uniquely
Libertarian proposals that no Republican or Democrat would feel

comfortable

advocating. The proposals should be appropriate to the office you're
running for, but they must be distinctively Libertarian ideas. For

example,

the three proposals in my presidential campaign were to (1) repeal

the

income tax, so you could keep every dollar you earn; (2) get Social
Security out of the hands of the politicians, so you can arrange a

much

more secure retirement for yourself; and (3) end the insane War on

Drugs,

so your neighborhood can be safe from criminal gangs, pushers, and

addicts

- all fostered by the War on Drugs.

2. Each proposal should offer an _improvement_ from the status quo -

not an

attempt to stop something from happening. Frame each proposal in

positive

terms - as a personal benefit, something that will substantially

improve

the life of everyone you address. Our side wants to improve upon the

status

quo, not preserve it or try to repair bad programs created by our
opponents.

3. As you present the proposals, use the word "you" as often as

possible:

"This how you will benefit . . ." "This is what this will mean to

you . .

." "This is how your life will change for the better . . ." "You

will be

able to . . ."

4. Whenever you discuss one of your proposals, be sure to emphasize

that

this is a _Libertarian_ proposal: "Libertarians want . . ." "The
Libertarian solution is to . . ." Don't let anyone believe that

similar

solutions come from Republicans or Democrats. If there isn't a

uniquely

Libertarian approach to an issue you've selected, look for another

issue.

5. Develop the ability to answer briefly and effectively each

question you

receive, and then try to tie the question to one of your three

proposals:

"This is another reason we need to . . ." Keep coming back to

proposals

that will make a dramatic improvement in the individual's life.

It isn't always easy to handle the last three tasks when you're

speaking

extemporaneously - in an interview or a question period. But the

more you

try to achieve them, the better you'll get and the more you'll be

providing

a lasting contribution to the libertarian cause.

      Using Your Limited Resources Wisely

You probably won't have enough resources to reach every voter in

your

electoral district - at least not enough times to make a lasting

impact. So

begin by going after those that are your best prospects. Speak to

groups of

likely supporters, mail to those who should be voting for you and

helping

you, reap the best potential support as quickly as possible.

This doesn't mean you should turn down other invitations and

opportunities.

But always bear in mind that you can't act on every suggestion, you

can't

carry out every project that may sound good.

Early in the campaign you must ask yourself: what do you think it's
possible to achieve in this election? Then when you have to make

specific

strategic and tactical decisions, you can weigh them against the

goal

you've set for the campaign. If something doesn't advance that goal,

don't

let it take time, money, or people away from projects that would

advance

that goal.

      My Help

If you're running a strong Libertarian campaign, I would like to

provide

whatever modest help I can.

For example, I might be able to write and sign an endorsement you

can

include as an insert with a fund-raising letter. I also can provide

Q&A

material and other resources developed during my 1996 campaign.

Because my time is limited, I want to concentrate my help on those
campaigns that are helping our long-term drive to build the LP and

to build

name-recognition for Libertarians.

If you think I can help, please do the following:

1. Mail me a set of all the campaign literature you've produced.

2. Include a brief summary (one typewritten page should be

sufficient) of

what you hope to achieve in the campaign, what you've done so far,

how much

money you've raised, and how much money you think you need to raise

to

achieve your objectives.

You can mail this material to:

  Harry Browne
  c/o Debbie Greeson
  2825 Sawyer Bend Road
  Franklin, Tennessee 37069

Thank you for helping the Libertarian Party by running. And good

luck to

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Thanks, Michael. This is good stuff.

> Your campaign literature should identify you as a Libertarian.

Check.

> 1. Pick three key proposals to focus on. They should be uniquely
> Libertarian proposals that no Republican or Democrat would feel
comfortable
> advocating.

Check. Accountability, dollar-for-dollar tax credits, part-time legislature.

Well, OK - the accountability thing is non-partisan. But Yee is very
vulnerable on it. And Arnie has advocated for a part-time legislature, too
- - but it's been a libertarian idea for longer. (I also advocated it in my
2002 campaign.)

> 2. Each proposal should offer an _improvement_ from the status quo -
not an
> attempt to stop something from happening.

Check. Walks are rampant, government spending out of control, legislature
out of control.

> 3. As you present the proposals, use the word "you" as often as
possible:

Two out of three... the part-time legislature stuff says "we" more often.

> 5. Develop the ability to answer briefly and effectively each
question you
> receive, and then try to tie the question to one of your three
proposals:

Working on it.

Thanks,
Chris
- --
Chris Maden, Libertarian for California State Assembly
District 12, San Francisco-San Mateo, 2004
<URL: http://www.lpsf.org/maden04/ > * (415) 759-9127
Individual Freedom - Personal Responsibility - Prosperity for All