A Roundup of the events and comments of the week

4 October 1996

by Dan Murphy

Good evening.

There's been a lot of fuss recently about the decision by the presidential debate commission to exclude Ross Perot from this year's debates. Admittedly, it's Ross Perot himself who is responsible for most of the fuss, but he has the resources to make a lot of it.

True to its usual practice of covering the biggest or the loudest, the mass media has given lots of time and space to Perot while almost completely ignoring another candidate who, arguably, has far better grounds to be included in any national presidential debates. I'm referring to Harry Browne, the nominee of the Libertarian Party.

At this point, let me issue a clear disclaimer. I'm not a member of the Libertarian party, card-carrying or otherwise, and I'm not endorsing Harry Browne for president. Nonetheless, I think the Libertarian party deserves a closer look by every thinking voter and especially by any non-voter who has given up exercising the franchise from disgust or indifference, or from the impression that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Compared to the Libertarians, there isn't much difference between the two major parties, or between them and Ross Perot's so-called reform party, for that matter. The Libertarian party really is different and is a very far cry from politics as usual.

It's also on the ballot in all 50 states as it was 4 years ago. It is fielding candidates for congress and state offices in many areas, and it has been in existence for over 24 years. This is all in marked contrast to Ross Perot's personal fiefdom knows as the Reform party, a creature created primarily by application of tons of money and which yet has the audacity to call itself "reform".

The Libertarian presidential candidate, Harry Browne, is an effective and articulate spokesman for the Libertarian platform, which he is running ON, not FROM, by the way, and he would make an excellent addition to what is likely to be a rather boring and entirely predictable encounter between Clinton and Dole.

With Harry Browne, we'd finally have someone that couldn't be pigeonholed by the label of conservative or liberal. Extreme, maybe, but definitely different from your run-of-the-mill politico. In some ways, the Libertarian party is far more conservative than the most radical of Gingrich conservatives -- they want the federal government reduced to a small fraction of its current size, not just whittled and trimmed here and there.

In other ways, they're more liberal than the most progressive of Democrats, particularly as regards bill-of-rights issues. The Libertarians believe that the Constitution and bill of rights are absolute guarantees of individual liberty -- that the government may not interfere in the slightest with your rights either to free speech OR to bear arms. Kinda refreshing actually, this consistency, in contrast to most politicians today who will defend the first amendment but prefer to wink at the second, or vice versa.

In general, if there is any issue where you would like less government involvement, intrusion, or interference, the Libertarian platform should appeal. Their basic principle is that government should do only what the constitution explicitly provides, that government is doing way more than that now and is failing miserably at all of it. In a Libertarian world, the federal government would be a small fraction of its current size, and the income tax would be completely eliminated, not just cut by, oh, say, 15 percent.

If all this sounds unbelievable and wacky, stop and think for a moment why that is. Why have we become so accustomed to government taking 30 to 40 percent or more of all of our productive output, and controlling our lives in uncountable ways, big and small and sometimes intimate? Why do we take that so much for granted that living free of it seems unthinkable?

Time doesn't permit me to further describe the Libertarian view of how things should be, but if you would like to know more, you can visit their web site at www.lp.org -- that's www.lp.org. You may agree with much or little of their philosophy, but the Libertarian party is the strongest and most legitimate third pary in existence today, and you might want to know why. Their writings and speeches are also clearly focussed on principles and issues and devoid of the negative personal garbage that constitutes most of the propaganda of the major parties.

The Libertarian party also has a clear and coherent position on the other issue that I want to talk about tonight, and that's drug policy. Or more specifically, the destructive, unproductive, insane War on Drugs that is decimating our nation every hour and every day.

Yes, this really is an area where there isn't a dime bag's worth of difference between Dole and Clinton and their respective parties. Throw in Ross Perot and you still don't get any difference, just more brain-deal talk about the evils of drugs and promises of ever-tougher penalities and more militaristic actions.

Yes, folks, the War on Drugs is the Viet Nam of the 90s. It's a massive failure, it rains down collateral damages on our cities every day, and most national leaders consider opposition to it about the same as they did the anti-war movement of the mid-60s -- as just slightly short of treason. The only debate between Dole and Clinton is who can appear tougher, and the Gingrich congress just weighed in with yet another (yawn) bill increasing penalties for this or that, as if the internation drug business pays any attention whatever to such things.

Legalizing, or even decriminalizing drug possession and use, remains unthinkable to most major politicians. And I do mean unthinkable. They simple refuse to think at all about what the war is doing and what the alternatives might be. Fight drugs is a dogma as firmly held as the domino theory of the 60s.

Other parallels abound as well. Does anyone not remember the infamous statement from the Viet Nam war, "we had to destroy the village in order to save it"? Yes, in the doublethink of the time, destroying a village was somehow saving it from some horriable fate. What fate? Continued existence and life under some other political leadership apparently.

Now in this war, we're destroying our own people in order to save them. Throwing them in jail to save them from their own choices and habits.

This is just one example of why I say, the problem is not the drugs, the problem is the War on drugs. This is a war that needs to be stopped, as surely as did the Viet Nam war. This is a war that's unwinnable, this is a war that's destroying our society from within, it's a war with casualties, and it's a war where the enemy is us. There is no light, there is only tunnel -- darker and deeper and leading to a dead end. Our leaders are congenitally unable to realize or admit that it's a giant mistake. In the 60's, people of courage stood up and said, Stop the War! Today, thinking people of courage are saying the same thing -- Stop this insane war on drugs.

For this week, that's the view from the Outpost. For WMBR and No Censorship Radio, this is Dan Murphy.