Remembering Harry Browne…

With the recent death of Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party has lost a very prominent leader and spokesman. I decided to take a little bit of a look back at Browne’s two Presidential campaigns…

He was the only man to ever serve as the LP’s candidate for President more than once. In 1996, his 486,000 votes was the second largest number of votes and second highest percentage of votes the party had ever achieved. Only Ed Clark in 1980 posted a better showing, and although Ron Paul is thought of as a “dream candidate” by many, his bid in 1988 attracted only 431,000 votes.

The CNN website still contains this little item that sums up Browne’s campaign in 1996: Libertarian Browne Waged The Good Fight, But Never Had A Chance

It also includes this photo of Browne from a ‘96 appearance on Larry King Live:

When he ran again in 2000, most expected to see a major increase in support. Unfortunately, that did not materialize.

Despite running a very visible campaign, Browne actually received 100,000 fewer votes than in 1996. This seems to have been largely due to the extreme closeness of the race between Gore and Bush.

It wasn’t just Browne and the LP either, Howard Phillips of the U.S. Taxpayers (Constitution) Party saw his share of the vote fall by nearly half between 1996 and 2000. Even the high-profile Reform Party campaign of Pat Buchanan crashed and burned with a mere 450,000 votes, despite spending tens of millions of dollars.

Could any other Libertarian have scored much better than Browne’s showing during such a year? It seems fairly unlikely.

The Libertarian Party of DeKalb County has a nice gallery of photos from the 2000 Presidential campaign. One of my favorite shots is this crowd gathered at the airport in Atlanta waiting for Browne’s arrival:

Here’s another photo of Browne from the PBS website taken during his appearance on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:

This page also contains quite a few pictures from the 2000 campaign (scroll down toward the bottom) and even some from the protests that followed as some Libertarians joined the Republicans in denouncing Gore’s attempts to “steal the election” in the courts.

Finally, I came upon Harry’s own evaluation of his 2000 campaign. Certainly an interesting read, and perhaps quite useful for future campaigns…

On a personal note, in 2000 Harry Browne was the first Presidential candidate I ever voted for in the general election. (I voted for McCain in the GOP primary.) He will be missed.

2 Responses to “Remembering Harry Browne…”

  1. undercover_ararchist Says:

    Excellent retrospective.

  2. George Whitfield Says:

    Thank you for that article.

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