Harry Browne has a plan.
First, get on all the talk radio shows you can as the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. president. Second, get as much "free" media as you can. Third, pay for a public opinion poll across America in September and hope like crazy that you get 10 percent to 15 percent support in the survey. Fourth, use those poll numbers to force national groups that sponsor presidential debates to let you stand next to President Clinton and Bob Dole."If I can get on those debates, I think (Libertarians) can draw 15 percent to 20 percent of the presidential vote. And that makes us a player, will lay the groundwork for congressional victories in 1998 and a presidential victory in 2000," says Browne, who visited with the Deseret News editorial board Friday.
This is Browne's first run as the Libertarian presidential candidate. He says he's been on the road for two years, specializing in appearing on radio talk shows. "I've been on more than 160 stations." Browne's written a number of money investment books, three of which he says have made it on the New York Time's bestseller list.
His book, "Why Government Doesn't Work," is Browne's summation of his presidential platform.
Browne's basic message is the government doesn't work. And the big federal government doesn't work at all. His six-point promise:
- Cut the federal government in half the first year.
- Repeal the income tax the first year.
- Balance the budget the first year.
- End Social Security, buy private annuities for people who have become dependent on Social Security.
- Sell federal assets to pay off the federal debt entirely, give our children a clean start.
- Reduce crime by pardoning non-violent criminals and making room in the prisons for the violent thugs who are terrorizing society.
Libertarians' message has been constant, says Browne: Less government is good. He'd strip the federal government of most of its current responsibilities. Out of education, out of welfare.
What couldn't be privatized, like the Social Security System, would be junked.
The military would drastically be changed. Browne supports private development of Ronald Reagan's old "Star Wars" missile defense system. He'd offer a $50 billion reward to the first private company that came up with a workable SDI system. With that kind of prize, Browne guesses a work-able SDI would be found within four years. Once the system was up and working, America wouldn't need all those offensive weapons - nuclear submarines, long-distance bombers and attack troops. The military would greatly be reduced.
Not only is the federal government tremendously wasteful, it actually harms citizens. "The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has killed far more people than it has saved," says Browne. For example, the FDA "dragged its feet" for six years before approving beta-blockers, drugs that were already in effective use in Europe. An independent accounting firm's analysis of the six-year wait showed that 10,000 Americans died each year from heart disease while the FDA studied and studied a drug proved effective elsewhere, he says.
Browne says the Libertarian movement is gaining speed across the nation. In the 1960s, '70s and '80s, the anti-government movement was growing. But it had no leader, no focus. Now a more professional Libertarian Party is focusing anti-government anger. "We have good relations with the national press, and we've raised more money than ever."
Libertarians have raised $800,000 so far this year. Browne hopes to raise between $5 million and $10 million for the final stretch to the November election.
With that kind of money, Browne will run "targeted" radio ads in markets that - through already welcoming him on talk radio shows - are susceptible to the Libertarian message.
As people learn more about the limited-government, more individual responsibility message of the Libertarians, "maybe people will laugh at me. But they haven't so far," says Browne.
If he can't get 10 percent support by the time of the presidential debates, "I shouldn't be invited" to attend. "We'd be just another minor party, like the Natural Law Party or the Socialists - no public support."
But if he can get his message out, he doesn't think that will happen. "Government is never responsible for the mistakes it makes. It never will be." The answer is not government reform, but elimination of government, says Browne.