In the Republican presidential debate Monday, each candidate tried to
prove that he’s qualified to run the country.

George W. Bush bragged about how well he has run Texas, and promised
to do the same for America. John McCain wants to reform government by
restricting your access to political campaigns. Gary Bauer and Alan
Keyes want a moral revival. Steve Forbes wants to let you have school
vouchers and a little of your retirement money. And Orrin Hatch — well,
Orrin Hatch just wants to be president.

I was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1996, and in February
I will announce my candidacy for 2000.

Unlike the Republican candidates, I don’t believe I can run the
country. I don’t believe I can run your life. I don’t believe I can know
how much you should put aside for your retirement or what schools your
children should attend.

And I don’t believe any Republican or Democratic candidate can do
these things either. America was founded on the principle that you are a
sovereign individual capable of deciding what to do with your life —
how to spend the money you earn, how to raise your own children. The
Founding Fathers would be astounded at the idea that the politicians
should run your life, the economy, or the country.

But today virtually every politician presumes to know what’s best for
everyone. As a result, unless you’re way below average, at least 47
percent of everything you earn is taxed and spent by federal, state, and
local governments. And you must choose among candidates who actually are
arguing over whether the government’s share of your earnings should go
up to 48 percent or down to 46 percent.

I have a different attitude.

I want to make the federal government so small that we don’t need an
income tax at all — and we don’t need anything to replace it. I want
you to be free to keep every dollar you earn — to spend it, save it, or
give it away as you think best, not as the politicians decide.

I want you to be completely free of the 15 percent Social Security
tax — so you can use that money for a truly secure retirement that
suits you, not the politicians.

I want you to be able to live in a safe city and a safe neighborhood
— free of the criminal black markets, gang warfare and drive-by
shootings that are fueled by the politicians’ great moral crusade to
make America a drug-free zone.

In short, I believe you should decide for yourself what to do with
the money you earn. I believe you’re the one to decide how to raise your
children. And I believe you know best how to live your own life.

I don’t believe in vouchers or medical savings accounts. I don’t
believe in taking your money and giving it to “faith-based
organizations” of my choice. I don’t believe in Social Security or the
income tax or the War on Drugs. I don’t believe in politicians making
decisions about your life.

I believe in you.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.