Howell, Means Bring Vision to May Convention
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the June/July 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
"I want to thank you for your struggles," Russell Means told the Libertarians at their state convention. Means and Carla Howell addressed the members on Saturday, May 19. Means, a founder of the American Indian Movement, has announced his intention to run for governor of New Mexico, while Howell may run for governor of Massachusetts.
Means said he learned lessons from his mother that started him on the road to joining the LP. "The very first thing I learned is responsibility. To be free, you are free to be responsible," he said. "Inside each and every one of us is that need to be free. The Democrats and Republicans are trying to smother that feeling, that need that we have," he continued.
"We can't let a country founded on principles founder," Means told the crowd. Referring to Libertarians, Means said, "Finally -- a group of people with principles. Politics is not the art of compromise, it is the art of principles." He added, "I read the Libertarian platform once. You have to read the platforms of the other parties every four or five years, because they keep changing."
Means believes a key to Libertarian success is to attract current non-voters. "These people are not apathetic, they're just honest," he said. "I want to recapture 50 percent plus one of the national electorate, and 50 percent plus one don't vote... I want to take our message to those people who haven't been voting. They're the ones who want to be free."
Means said Libertarians often couch their message in dry, technical terms. "We've got to start talking to America," he said. "We have the best message in the world." He doesn't want Libertarians to get caught up in lofty arguments about, say, monetary policy, when they're talking to the public. To those who criticize him for eschewing such argument, Means said, "I'm not the perfect Libertarian and I hope I never am."
Means said, "I still have this feeling that my people are still enslaved. I'm not talking about Indians -- I'm talking about Native Americans, those born in North America." He referred to the Waco conflagration as the "white man's Wounded Knee." "We really have to fight," he said, "not amongst ourselves, but for the people."
Boldness: The Key to Victory
Howell began, "Why are you a Libertarian? We seek liberty, individual responsibility, and small government. Big government folds, spindles, and mutilates freedom."
The income tax and the war on drugs destroys our liberties. Welfare leads to irresponsibility, and government schools are "teaching disabled." Government intervention has left our health care system in a shambles, and airports are congested because of government control. Howell referred to the "Big Dig" in Massachusetts, which is ten years late and billions of dollars over budget.
In general, Howell argued, big government doesn't work. It often makes problems worse, it creates whole new sets of problems, it wastes resources, and it "diverts money and energy from positive projects."
Howell said there are two types of Libertarians: incremental and bold. She favors boldness. She offered three examples. Drug prohibition should be repealed, not just changed to mandatory treatment. Disarmament laws should be repealed, not just curbed. The FDA should be eliminated, not just streamlined.
"I believe gradualism doesn't work," Howell said. "It implies big government is not as harmful as we know it is. Gradualism implies that liberty can wait. Gradualism is dull, not inspiring. How excited can voters get about small changes that barely affect their lives?"
"Boldness has genius and power and magic," she said. Boldness it dramatic, "it pulses with passion." She said that during her Senate race against "Big Government" Ted Kennedy, "boldness helped me with some, and it didn't hurt me with others. Boldness served me well." Howell captured a record high 308,000 votes for her Libertarian Senate race. She quoted Virgil: "Fortune favors the bold."
Howell said the Libertarian's pledge if elected should be, "I vote small government on every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses."