A Message to Libertarian Candidates (and Others)
By Harry Browne
As the election campaigns move into their final two months, I would
offer my help to those candidates who are using their campaigns to
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
many candidates as possible - and who want my help.
Towards the end of this message, I summarize what I might be able to
what I would like you to do to enlist my help. But first let me
suggestions for your campaign, based on my experience in 1996 and
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
going to run on a distinctively libertarian platform. (The one
might be a candidate who isn't running an active campaign and is
the ballot to help retain ballot status.)
Your campaign literature should identify you as a Libertarian. You
be making proposals that are uniquely libertarian. You should use
_Libertarian_ often in every speech and prominently in every piece
campaign literature - even if you're running for a non-partisan
If you wonder whether this should be so, just ask yourself what you
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
you can't win as a Libertarian, what's the point of winning? You'll
restrain your libertarian urges in office, because they would be
likely to impair your reelection as they were to prevent your
the first place.
But if you run as a strong Libertarian, you advance the cause even
don't win the office. Everyone you talk to will know more about
ideas, proposals, and solutions. One of our most important tasks for
next few years is to build name recognition for the word
for the Libertarian Party, and your campaign will be adding to all
name-recognition work others are doing.
As a candidate, find the libertarian issues you're most comfortable
and that apply to the office for which you're running. Refer to them
"Libertarian" solutions to pressing problems. Work out the best ways
present them in terms of the voters' self-interest. Work on them
you're completely comfortable in what you say. Then hammer them
and over and over.
The campaign will let people know there's something much better than
they've been getting from the old parties. The next Libertarian the
hears from will have a ready-made entree because of your work.
Your overtly Libertarian campaign will also attract the attention of
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
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
advocating. The proposals should be appropriate to the office you're
running for, but they must be distinctively Libertarian ideas. For
the three proposals in my presidential campaign were to (1) repeal
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
more secure retirement for yourself; and (3) end the insane War on
so your neighborhood can be safe from criminal gangs, pushers, and
- all fostered by the War on Drugs.
2. Each proposal should offer an _improvement_ from the status quo -
attempt to stop something from happening. Frame each proposal in
terms - as a personal benefit, something that will substantially
the life of everyone you address. Our side wants to improve upon the
quo, not preserve it or try to repair bad programs created by our
3. As you present the proposals, use the word "you" as often as
"This how you will benefit . . ." "This is what this will mean to
you . .
." "This is how your life will change for the better . . ." "You
able to . . ."
4. Whenever you discuss one of your proposals, be sure to emphasize
this is a _Libertarian_ proposal: "Libertarians want . . ." "The
Libertarian solution is to . . ." Don't let anyone believe that
solutions come from Republicans or Democrats. If there isn't a
Libertarian approach to an issue you've selected, look for another
5. Develop the ability to answer briefly and effectively each
receive, and then try to tie the question to one of your three
"This is another reason we need to . . ." Keep coming back to
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
extemporaneously - in an interview or a question period. But the
try to achieve them, the better you'll get and the more you'll be
a lasting contribution to the libertarian cause.
Using Your Limited Resources Wisely
You probably won't have enough resources to reach every voter in
electoral district - at least not enough times to make a lasting
begin by going after those that are your best prospects. Speak to
likely supporters, mail to those who should be voting for you and
you, reap the best potential support as quickly as possible.
This doesn't mean you should turn down other invitations and
But always bear in mind that you can't act on every suggestion, you
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
strategic and tactical decisions, you can weigh them against the
you've set for the campaign. If something doesn't advance that goal,
let it take time, money, or people away from projects that would
If you're running a strong Libertarian campaign, I would like to
whatever modest help I can.
For example, I might be able to write and sign an endorsement you
include as an insert with a fund-raising letter. I also can provide
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
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
what you hope to achieve in the campaign, what you've done so far,
money you've raised, and how much money you think you need to raise
achieve your objectives.
You can mail this material to:
c/o Debbie Greeson
2825 Sawyer Bend Road
Franklin, Tennessee 37069
Thank you for helping the Libertarian Party by running. And good