LP Presidential Candidates Differ on Strategy
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the May 2000 edition of Colorado Liberty. Photos are not included.]
Presidential candidates from the other two parties lack a coherent political philosophy and share the strategy of convincing voters the other guy's even worse.
Not so with the Libertarian hopefuls. Harry Browne, Don Gorman, and Berry Hess share fundamental Libertarian principles and have decided to run upbeat, mutually supportive campaigns. As Hess pointed out, the Libertarian Party simply can't afford a destructive pre-nomination season. As Gorman put it, "We're competitors, not enemies." The three have expressed the desire to play a supportive role for the candidate who finally wins the nomination.
The three candidates offer different visions for the Libertarian Party, however. Browne wants to popularize the Libertarian Party and win enough votes to gain media attention and push the party into the spotlight. Gorman intends to support local candidates who will then be able to gain valuable political experience. Hess told the crowd, "I think we're ready for victory this time."
Gorman attended the Colorado Convention from Friday evening (April 14) until the following Monday, making good on his promise to support local politics.
Gorman said his years as an ocean tug master gave him valuable experience relevant to politics, as he commanded a $21 million dollar ship and held responsibility for the lives of his crew. He had to maintain friendly relations with foreign officials and military forces.
Gorman also served in the legislature in New Hampshire as a Libertarian and has held several local offices.
"It is my intention to come back here to Colorado" to work with local candidates, Gorman said. During his speech he discussed education and other issues, but he got most emotional while making a reference to Waco: "Never again are we going to allow American tanks to kill women and children."
If Browne is successful in his bid, "everybody in America will know what a Libertarian is." For Browne, the Libertarian problem is one of marketing. Browne has honed his message for repealing the income tax, freeing people from the bankrupt Social Security scheme, and ending the "insane war on drugs." He stresses Constitutional government and puts the faces of real politicians on spending programs.
Browne said his 2000 campaign is better positioned than his 1996 run. The LP has more members and Browne's campaign has attracted more money. He predicts his campaign will be able to pay for fixed expenses sooner and spend 20-30 times as much on advertising than in 1996. "I am determined that we will have liberty in our lifetime," he told the audience.
Hess said the income tax has damaged American families by forcing both parents to work. He said Libertarians need to start a "war on the war on drugs" and "get government out of the education business." He added, "Government has absolutely no business trying to socially engineer our children."
"Will we win? That I do not know. Can we win? Absolutely," Hess said. He added, "Don't let it be said, 'I didn't play to win.'"
Hess implied criticism for the gradualist plans of Browne and Gorman. "Only one who can see the invisible can do the impossible," he said, adding that great political shifts are only achieved by vision.
[The following three captions were included with the story.]
Harry Brown tells the crowd he expects we'll achieve a free society within his lifetime.
"Stop sending messages to Washington D.C., and start sending representatives," urges Barry Hess.
Don Gorman encourages Rae Christiansen and Rob Herzfeld to run for state or local office.