Related topics

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Runs on Anti-Government Ticket

September 10, 1996

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) _ It’s eight o’clock on a hot Tennessee night, but Harry Browne answers the door wearing a suit and tie, his silver hair carefully coiffed.

The Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee jokes that Bill Clinton can appear in public in a jogging suit or golf shirt because he’s already in the White House, ``but I’ve got to look presidential.″

And act like a serious candidate, although with little money and little name recognition, Browne’s still a bit player in Campaign 1996. He moved from California to this Nashville suburb recently in an attempt to take the center stage in the country, if not in the public eye.

``As the campaign began, it became obvious that if we stayed in California, we’d probably never get home,″ Browne said from the two-story brick home he rents with his third wife, Pamela. ``This way, we’re more centrally located and we do get home for a few days every once in a while.″

So what makes the 63-year-old investment writer run?

``I finally got to the conclusion that if I didn’t do something, all I had to look forward to was government just getting bigger and bigger,″ said the man nominated in July to represent the political party that wants to cut the federal government in half, do away with the Internal Revenue Service and income taxes and privatize Medicare and Medicaid.

The 25-year-old Libertarian Party also advocates legalizing drugs and prostitution, repealing the assault weapons ban and pardoning nonviolent criminals to make room for violent offenders.

Essentially, Browne, who didn’t vote for 30 years, thinks government is something that hinders people, not helps them. ``I have seen government at all levels take over more and more of our lives,″ Browne writes in his latest book, ``Why Government Doesn’t Work.″ ``Over the past four decades I have watched America become less and less free.″

He finally got fed up with his sideline role two years ago. ``I was ranting and raving at the television,″ he recalled. ``Some particularly stupid things were being said, I think on Larry King’s show by Al Gore or someone, and my wife said, `Why don’t you run?‴

Browne said he formed his attitude toward government when he entered the U.S. Army three years after high school and became a cryptographer.

``All these wonderful ideas we have about a well-oiled military machine, and it’s really just a post office in fatigues,″ Browne said. ``Orders are given and people try to figure out how to get around them.″

While growing up, Browne moved from coast to coast and back again because his parents, Bradford and Peggy Browne, were in radio. They moved permanently to Los Angeles when he was 8 years old.

Browne left the Army in 1956 and went into sales and advertising. In 1962 he started managing a newspaper feature service, which provided columns, cartoons and editorials to small newspapers.

Always interested in economics and government, Browne was teaching a night course in the 1960s about government ``and why it creates so much havoc″ when an investment company owner asked him to give some public presentations. Then someone in one of his seminars suggested he write a book, resulting in the first of nine: ``You Can Profit From a Monetary Crisis.″ It hit No. 1 on The New York Times best seller list.

Now, Browne acts as an investment consultant and continues public speaking. He also publishes a financial newsletter.

So far, Browne’s on the ballot in 42 states and hopes to be on all 50 by the Nov. 5 election. The party also has a $10 million fund-raising goal, without taking money from political action committees.

To raise his national profile, Browne is pushing for a spot in the fall presidential debates, although the 1992 nominee, Andre Marrou, was snubbed in St. Louis while independent Ross Perot was allowed in.

``Everything in our campaign now is directed at that end, to getting into the public opinion polls, so that we can muscle our way into the debates in the fall,″ Browne told his convention.

His speech aired only on C-SPAN, not the major networks.

Update hourly