Friday, March 03, 2006

Death of Harry Browne - former US Libertarian Party Presidential candidate


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Harry Browne was the US Libertarian Party's Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, and he died on 1 March 2006, aged 72, after suffering for some months from Lou Gehrig's disease. In 1996 he got around 485 000 votes (0.5%) for President, doing only slightly worse in 2000 with 0.4%, coming 5th both times (after the 2 main party candidates, Ralph Nader and in 1996 Ross Perot and in 2000 Pat Buchanan).
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Browne's greatest successes was arguably his books "Why Government Doesn't Work", and How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. he would appear on radio and TV shows across the states, though typically on smaller independent stations, as the major networks have little interest in minor party candidates until they get around 20% poll support - and to some extent that is "chicken and egg" with media coverage being necessary to get it. However, Harry didn't want the government to make people give him publicity - he believed unequivocably in freedom. He was controversial though - opposing the war in Iraq, and believing very much in the US taking a more isolationist foreign policy. He was also involved in a scandal involving a Libertarian Party worker assisting him with his primary campaign before he was selected as the 1996 presidential candidate, as this was seen as a conflict of interest that caused much infighting with the US Libertarian Party.
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He was an articulate and interesting speaker, who came across very well on television when given the chance - one of the best advocates for liberty the US has had in recent history. I saw him on C-SPAN debates in the 1996 campaign, and he could have battled with the big two candidates any day. James Babb has a great letter from Harry Browne to his daughter on his blog- for Christmas, which says a great deal about his philosophy. He also had an article of his published in The Free Radical.
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Egocentricity has republished one of his articles. One of the better quotes is:
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"You don't control government. It's easy to think of the perfect law that will stop the bad guys while leaving the good guys unhindered. But no law will be written the way you have in mind, it won't be administered the way you have in mind, and it won't be adjudicated the way you have in mind."
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Several sites are commemorating Harry's life including Downsize DC blog from the Downsize DC organisation he helped follow, Hammer of Truth and the US Libertarian Party website. Others include:
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Kolehardfacts
Third Party Watch
Chrislib
Atavist
Spelunking through the chaos
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So RIP Harry Browne - you will be missed.

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