The Campaign Plan
Harry Browne for PresidentVersion 2.0
03/27/95 12:21 PM
The most outstanding feature of the 1996 Presidential election may turn out to be the Harry Browne for President campaign and the rise of the Libertarian Party. This plan explains why that could be so. It describes . . .
The single most important factor pointing to the ultimate collapse of the two older parties.
The significant parallels between the current political situation and previous "revolutionary" episodes in American and world history.
The increasing demand for (and predictions of) a new major party.
The compelling reasons why other third party aspirants are likely to fall by the wayside.
Why Harry Browne’s message will be irresistible to voters in 1996.
The two fulcrum points that could leverage the Browne for President campaign into a major force in 1996.
Our five-step program for achieving success.
Part Two: A Libertarian Revolution
Newt Gingrich has described the 1994 Republican landslide as a revolution. Still others, such as the Wall Street Journal, have attached the word "libertarian" to it. But in fact, the 1994 election was neither revolutionary nor libertarian. Instead, it was but the first glimmer of the true libertarian revolution to come.
The historian Crane Brinton has shown that revolutions tend to follow on the heels of "pretend reforms." We have had three such "reforms" in the past fifteen years:
The so called Reagan Revolution which promised a reduction in the size and scope of government, but which instead expanded both dramatically.
The Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction act, which has reduced nothing but the credibility of the older parties.
The 1991 budget compromise and tax increase, which brought down George Bush, ushered in Ross Perot, and elected Bill Clinton.
These events paved the way for "the Contract with America." But because it too is only a pretend reform, it will inevitably heighten the demand for true reform while further diminishing the credibility of the current two party system.
Why is the Contract with America no more than a pretend reform? Three reasons:
The "Contract" will not pass as written.
Even if passed as written it will not significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Government will instead, as Harry Browne has indicated, grow larger.
It does not begin to address the supremely important problems of the national debt and the unfunded liabilities for Social Security and the government pensions. These total about $17 trillion.
This last point is the single most important factor pointing to the ultimate collapse of the two older parties. As Harry Browne pointed out in his article "The Breakdown of Government" the politicians are running out of room to maneuver.
A balanced budget amendment, even if passed, will be unable to control the massive liabilities being piled up by Social Security.
These huge unfunded liabilities can only be paid through huge tax increases, and it is the prospect of these tax increases that will destroy one or both of the two older parties.
The Democrats and Republicans have created an impossible mess, and when the American people finally learn the true dimensions of this mess they will be out for blood. Donkey and elephant blood.
Prediction: the fate of the Democrats and Republicans is sealed by the demographics of the Social Security program, if by nothing else. They are on a collision course with extinction, and the most significant question of the day is not what will become of them, but rather, what will replace them.
We are not alone in these beliefs. Witness the following quotes and predictions:
Gerald Celent writes in The Trends Journal that "Americans from all walks of life believe their government is un-trustworthy and incompetent. The changes they want will result in a sweeping sociopolitical restructuring during the next ten years, followed by a new political system. Indeed, by 2000, a viable, non-aligned third party will emerge and one of the existing parties, if not both, will become extinct."
Former Oklahoma Senator David Boren agrees, writing in the Christian Science Monitor:
"Our own political history is littered with the debris of parties like the Federalists or the Whigs which no longer exist. The people will not forever tolerate a party system which forces them to choose the lesser of two evils.
"Change will likely come through the election of an independent or third party president whose followers will ultimately take over one of the existing parties or force one party into extinction."
Radio commentator Lionel Waxman also agrees, and he even thinks he knows who that third party replacement may be. He says that "If the Republicans go back to business as usual they will find their bones being picked over in two years. Probably by the Libertarian Party."
Robert Prechter echoes this assessment, writing in The Elliot Wave Theorist that "A third party is likely to win in either 2000 or 2004 and be either fascist in nature or radically freedom oriented, [such as] America's third largest party, the Libertarian Party."
And Dennis Prager has commented on his national TV talk show that the Libertarian Party is the only credible third party movement he sees on the horizon.
These predictions come at a time when both the Democrats and the supposedly mighty Republicans are showing the first signs of decline, while the fortunes of the Libertarian Party are clearly on the rise.
Ballot Access News reports that Democratic registrations fell by 2.71% during the last election cycle, while the Republicans grew by only a paltry 0.21%, despite their massive electoral victory. But the Libertarian Party grew by 8.57%, making it the fastest growing party in America.
In another example The Washington Times reports that Democratic and Republican registrations have risen only slightly in California, despite massive expenditures on voter registration drives. Meanwhile, third party registrations have risen by 34.7% in that state.
There are also new indications that the American people would prefer to have a
third party in the 1996 Presidential election. A survey conducted by the Democratic Leadership Council just after the election shows that the Republican Party scored only 50 out of 100 on a favorability meter, while the Democrats scored a 49 and the idea of an independent third party scored 57.
We have a plan to make sure the Libertarian Party is that third party in 1996
Part Three—Will America’s Next Major Party Please Stand Up
The case a for a new major party is strong but why should it be Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party, and not some other candidate and group? There are three compelling reasons why other third party aspirants are likely to fall by the wayside.
1. Ballot access:
In 1992 Ross Perot spent $18.5 million getting on the ballot in all fifty states. By contrast, the Libertarian Party, with its years of preparation and experience, was able to do the same job for less than six hundred thousand.
A billionaire like Ross Perot or an extremely popular person like Colin Powell, could achieve 50 state ballot status in 1996, but only for the top of the ticket (unless, of course, Perot wanted to spend many millions more than he did in 1992). Achieving ballot status for all of the offices in which a true third party would have to field candidates would be extremely expensive. The Libertarian Party’s years of effort in this field give it a great advantage which no other person or group is likely to match.
The Libertarian Party is not a cult of personality, and no contender for major party status can be. A broad based grass roots organization is required—and here again the LP outshines its rivals.
It ran candidates in 652 races at all levels in 1994.
In 1996 it may field as many as 1,000 candidates.
In addition, due to the LP’s ballot access prowess, it will be the first third party in 80 years to be able to run candidates in a majority of the country’s congressional districts.
Since the early 1990s it has worked to create a political "farm team"—electing people to local office as a stepping stone to higher office.
The first phase of this program has been a spectacular success. In the fall of 1993 there were 91 Libertarians in elected or appointed office, but a little over one year later there are 140.
No other group can match the Libertarian Party in its ability to field candidates at all levels of government.
Any new party must unite around some guiding principle or philosophy. Single issue parties won’t succeed for the simple reason that the American people want to know where candidates stand on a wide range of issues. But the more issues on which a new party tries to agree, the less likely it is to hold together. And in fact, most of them don’t hold together.
Even United We Stand, which is not a party and does not run candidates, is fractured by differing viewpoints. By contrast the LP is united by a single principle, has been in continuous existence for 24 years, and rarely makes significant changes in its platform. No other group can match the Libertarian Party as a philosophically unified and stable organization.
A highly placed official in United We Stand recently told an LP advisor that they think it would take them 15 years to build a viable new party, and for that reason alone they are unlikely to try. We agree with their assessment. We’ve been at it for nearly a quarter of a century, and we know what it takes. No one else is going to do it.
Just as the Republicans and Democrats are doomed by the future consequences of their past crimes, so are all other third party aspirants doomed by the fact that they’ve started too late with too little. There will be a new major party in America and it will probably be the Libertarians Party. To paraphrase Eddie Cantor, "Sometimes it takes twenty years to become an overnight success."
Part Four—Building the constituency
In 1992 Ross Perot gave us a preview of the next ten years of American politics. Because he took 20% of the vote, no other candidate got a majority in the Presidential race. Now, as America moves toward the creation of a new major party, more and more races, at all levels, will be decided by pluralities rather than majorities.
One of the implications of this is that the Harry Browne for President campaign will be able to discount the support of certain constituencies in order to win over others. For example, it might ignore the AARP constituency entirely in order to offer an attractive Social Security proposal to baby boomers.
It also means that the polling strength required for a party to be considered viable will be much lower. But the question remains, just how high is the viability hurdle and can Harry Browne and the Libertarian Party jump it?
The Gallup polling organization has begun surveying people according to four ideological groupings—liberal, conservative, populist, and libertarian. Of these groups "libertarian" is the second largest with 22% of the population, as opposed to the conservatives who are number one at 23% (just slightly larger than the libertarian group). The size of the already existing libertarian segment is more then enough to create a new major party.
In addition, the Times-Mirror organization has conducted a study of voter opinions which identifies about seven million libertarians in the populace. Even this lower figure provides the "raw materials" required to build a well financed party and Presidential campaign.
For twenty four years the Libertarian Party has had to spend most of its resources fighting ballot access obstacles. But in 1996 it will be in a position, for the first time, to spend nearly all of its resources . . .
Finding people who already agree with its positions . . . .
Recruiting them to the Party and\or . . .
Asking them to vote for Harry Browne.
Democratic and Republican campaigns spend most of their resources trying to convince a "winning margin" of the electorate to vote for them. This means that their campaigns can focus on a few simple slogans and ideas that seem likely to give them an edge. The Browne campaign, by contrast, will build its constituency (or "market share") as its first priority. We expect most of our votes to come as "fall out" from this activity.
That means that we must employ a "direct response" campaign, using a book, infomercials and direct mail appeals to present a fully developed sales argument, and to anticipate and address potential voter objections in advance.
Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign has made this approach viable. In many ways Perot can be seen as the "Gorbachev" of the American political system. Just as Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika opened the floodgates to revolution in the Soviet Union, so has Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign opened people’s minds to the idea of (and need for) a third party. He also pioneered the use of political infomercials to bypass media filtering, and he convinced millions of people to vote for him based on the content of his ideas, in spite of the fact that he couldn’t win.
The Browne campaign will build on these developments in 1996. The "natural libertarians" Harry needs for his base of support are already there. If the Browne campaign can recruit them it stands a good chance of being a major factor in 1996.
Part Five—Harry Browne’s Unbeatable Sales Offer
In order to recruit the "natural libertarians" to his side in 1996 Harry Browne will have to give them an unbeatable sales offer—a convincing reason why they should support him rather than the Democrats or Republicans.
The older parties have already done half of Harry’s job for him—the Democrats by being intellectually bankrupt and politically impotent, and the Republicans by convincing the American people that there is more to the Contract with America than is really there. Millions are expecting the Contract to result in noticeable changes, but what will be clear in 1996 is that . . . .
Taxes will be about the same, or higher because some responsibilities have been moved to the states.
The annual budget deficit and the national debt will be getting larger rather than smaller.
Billions of dollars worth of boondoggles and pork barrel spending will still be on the books, and it will be easy to demonstrate that many or most of them benefit Republican clients/supporters.
But it doesn’t end there. Much as Ross Perot used his book and infomercials to educate the American people about the national debt, so will Harry use his campaign book and infomercials to reveal the parts of the problem that have been mostly hidden from public view—namely, the huge unfunded liabilities for Social Security and the government pensions.
By exposing the older party’s shameful secrets, by speaking the unspeakable, Harry Browne will have a chance to shift the public debate. And the other candidates will have to address issues they would prefer to avoid.
Now it must be admitted that millions of Americans will continue to prefer the older parties let’s "play pretend" answers. But millions more, who have long suspected the truth, will be open to alternative views. Harry Browne’s libertarian alternative . . . .
Government doesn’t work. Why should we continue to squander our money on something that just doesn’t work?
Government is going to breakdown. It is going bankrupt. And the popular political support that keeps it limping along will dissipate sooner rather than later. Why? Because the politicians have lost the ability to confer favors on special interest groups without the costs being noticed by the rest of society.
The cost of government has grown so large that even slight increases are instantly noticed and objected to by the public.
And since government is going to breakdown anyway, why not stop the bleeding now. Why not engage in massive spending and tax cuts now, of a kind far beyond anything the Republicans have proposed?
There is a better way. Harry Browne can show in black and white the relative costs and benefits of government action versus private action. He can demonstrate in a clear, easily followed presentation, the "bottom line" gains the average American would receive from his massive tax and spending cuts.
People will be able to compare what Harry is offering with what the older parties are offering (not only their current anemic proposals but also their sorry history of pretend reforms).
But there’s even more that will help to make Harry’s message appealing . . .
As the upward trend of public discontent continues it will become a badge of dishonor to be either a Republican or a Democratic politician, or a professional politician of any kind. This process is already well underway and will turn what would have been liabilities on Harry’s part (his lack of political experience and his third party status) into assets.
The Democrats and Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. They cannot retain their current constituencies by removing the favors they have conferred on them. But how will they stop the Libertarian Party from carving out a third constituency based on truly massive tax and spending cuts?
We’re betting they won’t. And that Harry Browne’s unbeatable sales proposition will find its audience in 1996.
Part Six—The Five Step Program
There are two fulcrum points by which the Browne for President campaign could leverage itself into a contender. Those fulcrum points are the New Hampshire primary and the Presidential debates, but they are steps four and five in our five step action plan. There are three other projects that must be implemented first.
Step One: Complete funding for 50 state ballot status at the earliest possible date.
Fifty state ballot status is a minimum requirement without which other campaign actions cannot be taken.
It was one of the hurdles Andre Marrou had to jump in 1992 in order to be invited on the Larry King Show.
It is also a minimum requirement for being considered for the debates.
The Browne campaign will help the LP in this effort by urging its own "maxed out" contributors to donate to the LP's ballot access fund.
While $1,000 is the maximum contribution an individual may make to the Browne campaign, he or she may contribute a maximum of $20,000 to the Libertarian Party for ballot access purposes.
The sooner ballot drives are completed the sooner the Party will be able to expend its resources on other activities that will benefit the Presidential campaign and the less likely it will be that something will go wrong at the last moment that would jeopardize 50-state ballot status.
Let’s not wait till the last moment to finish this job. Let’s finish it now.
Step two: place a Harry Browne Presidential campaign book in the bookstores.
While Roger MacBride, Ed Clark, David Bergland and Ron Paul all produced excellent books, none of these were ever distributed in national bookstores. Harry Browne's proven track record as a best selling writer is a unique advantage. His campaign book, with its nationwide distribution, could play the same role in the 1996 campaign that "The Contract With America" played in 1994.
The book will be written by May 1, 1995, and will appear in bookstores by September of 1995. The book has already been sold to St. Martin's.
We will try to use our paid advertising to push the book onto the best seller lists.
Step three: produce a top quality 30 minute infomercial.
Since this will be a direct response campaign it will need to employ direct response tools in every area of outreach, including both "free" and paid media. An infomercial best fits this approach and can accomplish things that other kinds of TV advertising cannot:
It can present a complete sales argument, including responses to anticipated objections.
It can create prolonged exposure of our "800" number to viewers.
It can sell Harry's book.
The video of the ad can double as a premium for contributions (along with the book) and can also be used by volunteers for retail outreach to friends and neighbors.
Production of the ad will cost about $100,000 and will be completed on the following time line:
Script by June 1, 1995
Video production completed by September 1, 1995
First airing by October 1, 1995
Step four: build a large donor base
The outcome of this project cannot be anticipated, but a matrix of possibilities can be. We have identified four "list universes" that should respond well to a Harry Browne appeal . . . .
Approximately 150,000 known Libertarians . . .
Approximately 400,000 subscribers to investment newsletters written by Harry Browne supporters . . .
Approximately 1,000,000 subscribers to gun magazines, and . . .
Approximately 1,000,000 early adopters (computer professionals and others)
From these list universes we hope to extract between 50,000 and 100,000 contributors, and $10-to-$20 million dollars, gross.
Step five: use the New Hampshire primary to build momentum, name ID, poll standing, and a media entourage.
For several months in late 1995 and early 1996 the political eyes of America will focus on New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation primary. We will be there too, conducting a referendum on the two party system. Our own primary will be open to all voters. Those voters who object to the choices offered by the older parties will be able to express that dissatisfaction by voting for us.
In 1992, despite fewer resources and a smaller campaign than we can muster in 1996, the Libertarian Party was . . .
Able to capture a great deal of attention from the New Hampshire media and voters.
Top the national news for an entire day after it won the vote in Dixville Notch.
Now, with more money and growing interest in third parties, we expect to move far beyond the accomplishments of 1992.
New Hampshire, because of its small size, gives us an excellent opportunity to concentrate our resources and create a high repetition media campaign. We intend to begin advertising, at least on a small basis, before anyone else, not only to build early name recognition, but also because the media reports on all campaign "firsts." This was a factor that we used to good effect in 1992 and we will repeat and expand on it in 1996.
Since the New Hampshire primary is also noted for intense person-to-person campaigning where nearly every voter gets to meet or hear every candidate, it is likely that we will move Harry into the state on a full time basis for a period of several months.
We may also buy or rent a bus to take him around the state and to facilitate the acquisition of a full time media entourage. In 1980, John Anderson received daily media coverage primarily because the media entourage he had developed while seeking the Republican Presidential nomination stuck with him after he declared his independent Presidential bid. This daily coverage occurred even though he was very unlikely to win. Our campaign in New Hampshire will be our best and earliest opportunity to develop just such a media entourage.
All of these factors will play into . . . .
Step six: implement an aggressive strategy to get into the debates.
In 1992, just before the October 11th debate, Ross Perot stood at just 7% in a CNN-USA TODAY opinion poll.
It is possible, through the combined effect of massive direct mail, Harry's book, aggressive pursuit of radio talk show appearances, the New Hampshire jump start, the media entourage, and early, if low level advertising, to find ourselves at around 7% in the polls at debate time. But two other factors argue strongly in favor of our being included, even if we stand at less than 7% in the polls.
As argued earlier, it appears increasingly unlikely that there will be any other major third party candidates in 1996, despite continuing talk of the need for a third party. The ballot access laws dictate that any other would-be party founder would need to spend something like the $18.5 million Perot invested in ballot access, just to be taken seriously as a candidate, and then millions more to build and promote the party.
Moreover, charismatic candidates such as Colin Powell, while having the capacity to get themselves on the ballot, could probably win the Republican or Democratic nomination with less effort than would be required to get on the ballot as independents. Odds are that they will follow the path of least resistance.
Bill Clinton will need a third party candidate in the debate if he is to have any chance of being reelected. He may come to view us as playing the same role in 1996 that Ross Perot played in 1992.
Toward this end, contact has already been made with forces in the Clinton camp proposing exactly this scenario. And when the time comes, we will mount an advertising, letter writing, and telephone campaign designed to urge the Presidential Debates Commission to include us. This campaign will be prepared far in advance of the time that it will be needed, and then kept ready to implement at a moments notice.
If successful, our strategy for placing Harry Browne in the debates could result in "the night that changed American politics forever." This will depend on Harry’s ability to articulate his unbeatable sales proposition to a national television audience.
This plan has laid out a framework for the campaign. It will be a "direct response" campaign. But general plans are much less important than specific tasks. The devil is in the details, as Ross Perot likes to say. Likewise, Napoleon observed that "an army marches on its stomach" -- by which he meant that the logistics of moving and preparing food were often more important that the disposition of forces on the battle field. We believe the same is true of a political campaign. Our ability to do simple, repetitive tasks, with ease and speed, will decide the ultimate success of our "rhetorical brilliance."
We now have caging, fulfillment, accounting, FEC reporting, and inquiry follow up functions in place and running.
We have begun consulting with experts in direct response advertising about our prospecting mailings and our infomercial.
Our campaign outreach tools are being developed. By this summer our advertising and direct mail campaign should be in full swing.
Then it will only be a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition until election day 1996.
Part Eight—Your future?
Nothing lasts forever. Neither will the current two party system. The pundits, consultants and journalists are already talking about its demise. And this talk will only grow as public knowledge of the true dimensions of the Social Security mess (among others) increases.
If you think people want a third party now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Will the Republicans be able to blame it all on the Democrats? Not likely. The Republicans could have sounded the alarm years ago. They could have talked about this problem incessantly for decades, because it has always been there. And they should have, because the problem is that big.
The Republicans could have pounded on this issue as their prime concern until something was done. But they didn’t, because they were too busy conspiring with the Democrats to make the problem worse—trading short term gains for long term disaster.
The Republicans, even more than the Democrats, deserve extinction, because they knew better. The Democrats were merely stupid. But the Republicans were corrupt, lazy and cowardly.
And now the Republican faithful are ready for one last fling. They live on a hope and a prayer named Phil Gramm. Phil Gramm of Gramm-Rudman fame. The old Texas Democrat who found Republican religion, and who even claims to be something of a libertarian, but who has supported as many pork barrel boondoggles as anyone else on Capitol Hill—everything from the $12 billion super collider to honey bee subsidies.
The die is already cast. Mr. Gramm may become President, but that will be the last gasp of the Republican Party, because then the bills will come due. And we believe that what comes afterwards will be unlike anything that went before it. Not just the Second American Revolution, but the American Revolution times two.
Had their been pundits in the age of the dinosaurs they would not have been able to predict the rise of the mammals, and neither will today’s pundits be able to foresee the rise of the Libertarian Party, until it has already happened. It is happening now.
The Democrats and Republicans have made the rise of the LP inevitable, not only through their crimes, but also through the ballot access laws they erected to protect them from competition. For those very laws, which have kept the Libertarian Party down for all these years, will now insure that it alone is able to answer the call for a third party.
Ross Perot was the herald of this coming transformation, but already he is talking of leaving the field of battle, and handing over leadership to someone like Lowell Weiker. The flames of third party status for United We Stand are flickering out before they had even begun to burn.
Is it your future to help build a party that has a future—the Libertarian Party? We hope so. In Harry Browne the LP has an articulate, intelligent candidate who begin a true libertarian revolution in America.
But such an achievement will not come with a bang, but instead, one incremental step at a time. And the next step for the Browne campaign is to complete 50 state ballot status as soon as possible. Can you help with this effort by making your best contribution—$1,000 to $20,000—to the Libertarian Party’s ballot access fund? We cannot begin to produce or broadcast Harry’s infomercial until the ballot access job is fully funded.
The LP is so good at ballot access that this big job could be essentially completed (by being pre-funded) one year in advance of what has ever been achieved before (by anyone). And then Harry’s advertising campaign could begin in earnest—months ahead of the competition. All it would take is a few big contributions.
We hope that you will support this effort to create a new major party in America.