Letters

Uncompromised Reactions

I found Nick Gillespie's article on Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party most disheartening (" Uncompromising Positions ," July). I was especially offended by the author's association of Browne's campaign with the likes of Pat Paulsen and Billy Joe Clegg. I find dismissing Browne's candidacy odd since both REASON and the Libertarian Party seem to be in the same business: spreading our mutual message of limited constitutional government, individual liberty, laissez-faire economics, and peace. The difference between REASON and the Browne campaign/Libertarian Party seems to be one of accomplishment. Harry Browne and the other candidates of the Libertarian Party have already reached over 10 million people via radio, television, and print and will reach tens of millions more by the election. I believe REASON has a circulation of around 60,000. Perhaps if REASON and Nick Gillespie were half as successful as Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party in communicating our message to the masses, we would already be at our common goal.

Howard Scott Lichtman
Campaign Manager
Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian for
Vice President
Newark, DE

I believe externalities in third-party votes make it mandatory that direct comparison of presidential votes from one election to the next (a centerpiece of "Uncompromising Position") be replaced by a more meaningful analysis. For instance, we might examine Libertarian presidential votes as a percent of only those candidates excluded from that great statist infomercial, the national TV debates. With this we find very positive results. In 1972, John Hospers got one fourth of one percent of the TV excluded vote. This rose to 11 percent with Roger McBride in 1976 and 13 percent with Ed Clark in 1980. By 1984, David Bergland garnered 37 percent of the excluded vote and Ron Paul achieved 48 percent in 1988! Andre Marrou's share fell only slightly to 44 percent four years ago. By measuring the L.P.'s share of those who won't vote for the lesser of evils on TV, we find an achievement about which the L.P. can be proud.

Bernard Baltic
Lakewood, OH

I have been a reader of REASON for over 10 years. I have also purchased several gift subscriptions for my friends. I enjoy REASON and will continue to be a booster for your magazine.

In this spirit, I would like to remind you that the prime market for your publication is the libertarian movement. Of course, you would like to appeal far beyond this group, but you should never forget that REASON would not exist as it is without the support of libertarians. I would urge, for your sake, that you do not treat your core readers like fools in order to curry favor with those who will never become enthusiastic subscribers. Politicians (like Bob Dole) are patronizing to their core supporters while slavishly courting the respect of the center. For politicians in American elections, this makes sense-- there is nowhere else for conservative activists to go. But you are not in this position. There are many excellent alternatives to REASON magazine. The positioning that is so vital for successful politicians only makes political magazines unimportant and replaceable. I hope you are not so swamped with e-mail from your subscribers and potential subscribers about your Harry Browne article that you dismiss this comment. But all the other mail you are receiving only underscores my point. These are the people who care what you say.

Philip Blumel

I subscribed to REASON many years ago not to hear how badly the L.P. and its candidates are doing but rather to hear how "free markets and free minds" are winning the day, how libertarian principles can have a positive impact on society. However, your article on the L.P. and Harry Browne, when looked at alongside your article on Steve Forbes, sounds suspiciously like an endorsement of the Republican Party and its vision of government: something that must grow, albeit more slowly than the Democratic ideal of 5 percent. Not good enough, folks.

Patrick L. McHargue
L.P. Candidate
U.S. 4th House District
Sonora, CA

I am disgusted after having read your article about the Libertarian Party. I've always thought of REASON as "small l" libertarians, so I did not expect flattery--but you could have been, at the very least, accurate. Take the opening sentence: "Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Libertarian Party will invade enemy territory--Washington, D.C. --and hold its national convention." News flash: The L.P. headquarters is housed within the Watergate Complex, which is in Washington, D.C. How can one invade "enemy territory" while on one's own turf?

Also, you wrote "Browne has received next to no media attention�." Granted, the print and TV media have not been overly attentive; but Browne is currently a talk-radio phenomenon. He has reached at least 15 million people on over 150 radio shows as of mid- May. Many of these shows have been 60 minutes or more. Compare that with 15-second sound bites for Dole and Clinton. Browne must be hours ahead in radio air time. But the omission possibly of greatest note came when you talked of his having raised only $750,000--"hugely short" of his goal. You made no mention of the fact that, after waiting to be sure that Republicans would be stuck with Bob Dole, Browne has just begun fundraising efforts targeted at subscribers of his friends in the investment newsletter industry. In fact, Browne has been endorsed by five prominent investment newsletter writers, who have about 500,000 subscribers. Why didn't you mention these endorsements?

Just for fun let's say he can come up with an average donation of $100 from each of these half million investors. He would then have the $50 million he needs. Or do you think that America's rank and file investors are putting their hopes on Dole? Wake up! You did not need to write a hit piece. You could have simply printed the Harry Browne interview. No one could have complained about that. Time will tell if Browne can raise the $50 million. In the meantime, I am not supporting you any longer. It is foolish to support those who would bring our movement down. Please send me a refund for the rest of my subscription so that I may send that money to the Browne for President campaign.

Dan Litwin
San Diego, CA

Nick Gillespie's hit piece about the supposed contradiction between libertarianism and party politics looks like a deliberate attempt to discredit both the Libertarian Party and Harry Browne. In an effort to make his points, Gillespie suggests that Browne's agenda would be like the French Revolution. REASON should be ashamed for printing such nonsense. The "fatal conceit" Hayek disparaged and to which you compared Browne's program was that there is "some grand, wise, and judicious plan" by which men could "create the world anew," which is what socialism is all about. Libertarianism stresses that there is no such plan, that the best plan is no plan but freedom, that people left to their own devices make the best decisions about their own welfare, and that the creative forces unleashed by a free market will inevitably produce wealth for everyone in society. The Libertarian Party and Harry Browne believe that. Doesn't REASON?

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