Dear Harry,

Thank you for responding so quickly to my column. Your obvious concern for what I had to say wasn’t a big surprise either. And, even though I have never met you, everything I have ever heard about you indicates that you, too, are an “intelligent, good-hearted, well-meaning person who has done a great deal of good for the cause of liberty.” You are no doubt a very sincere person, Harry. But I believe in the areas of this dialogue, you are sincerely mistaken.

The drug war

To begin, I think you have mischaracterized the nature of the Constitution Party’s position on the drug war. By dismantling federal laws and punishments and leaving such things to the states, it effectively ends the drug war. If any state wants to criminalize drugs, whether you like it or not, that is its right under the 10th Amendment – so long as they do not violate other provisions of the Constitution.

I find it particularly appalling that you would make the assertion that “the Constitution Party is unwilling to say flat-out that it opposes this terrible war.” Indeed. That is precisely what Libertarians say about abortion – it’s not a federal matter, leave it to the states – the Libertarian Party is not willing to say flat-out that it opposes abortion. More about the abortion topic later, but for now, suffice it to say that this selective use of the 10th Amendment on your part is illogical and inconsistent. Moreover, it suggests that the freedom to take drugs is more important to Libertarians than protecting the lives of unborn children. If that is your position, it is disgraceful.

Finally, on the drug war, you dedicated several paragraphs to attempting to discredit the Constitution Party’s position of protecting our national borders from drug traffic. You made your feelings on this point most clear when you said:

    In other words, it’s OK for the federal government to keep foreign cars out of the U.S., because any state can produce its own cars if it wants to. It’s OK for the federal government to decide which drugs can come into the country and which can’t, even though there is nothing in the Constitution granting the federal government such authority. It’s OK for the federal government to “protect” our borders by defining “protection” as prohibiting the importation of anything politicians take it in their heads to prohibit.

    This is not constitutional thinking. It is weaseling, in order to appeal to any conservatives who aren’t ready yet to abandon their desires to use government to enforce their own moral thinking on others.

This apparently will come as a surprise to someone so knowledgeable as yourself, Harry, but the Constitution most definitely does grant this authority to the federal government in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Among several relevant items, let me cite item 3, which states, “[Congress shall have the power] To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States. …”

Regrettably, our government has also misused this same provision in the Constitution to wage the drug war on its own citizens. However, most reasonable people should be able to see that as long as a state does not export or import drugs, the federal government has no lawful basis for meddling in this issue with the states.

But it is equally clear that the Constitution most definitely does, contrary to your assertion, give the federal government precisely the power to determine what does or does not cross the national borders of these United States. Additionally, I call to your attention the Preamble to the Constitution:

    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In their wisdom, the founders gave us our Constitution for the above-mentioned reasons – including giving the federal government the right to regulate commerce with foreign nations. So, though you may not agree with everything the Constitution stands for, Harry, I will prefer their wisdom over the Libertarian Party’s wisdom any day of the week. More to the point, “the Libertarians have applied the principles of liberty and the Constitution” neither consistently nor correctly.

Abortion

I am glad to see that you are opposed to abortion. It is regrettable to see, however, that your politics do not match your convictions.

You make the point that “although ‘murder is universally recognized as wrong,’ abortion is not universally recognized as wrong or as murder.” I certainly would agree with you on this point but, in doing so, I would note that just because the multi-billion-dollar-a-year, baby-butchering business has done a good job of convincing Americans that it is morally acceptable to exercise the “choice” to rip their babies apart limb-by-limb – simply because they are inconveniently located in their mother’s womb – does not mean that doing such an abominable thing is morally justified. And if our politics do not reflect our convictions, Harry, then what good are they?

You went on to assert that, “Every day you spend trying to get government to do something about abortion is a day wasted, a day that could have been spent doing something effective. … ” I don’t think so. So long as this issue is in front of the American people, they are going to have to confront their own thoughts and feelings about this atrocity.

You then asked the question, “Where in the Constitution is the federal government given the authority to legislate on abortion – or even murder?” Surely you are aware of that other great document of our founding entitled the “Declaration of Independence”? In that document are the words:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

“Created” equal? The unalienable right of “life”? Apparently not under current Libertarian thinking.

You cannot read the Constitution and ignore the other founding documents, Harry. The Constitution is designed to protect the rights found in the Declaration of Independence by putting a leash on the government and carefully defining its proper role.

And, once again, you engage this unbecoming selective hypocrisy of falling back on states rights to justify allowing abortion when you say:

    My approach to the presidency was quite different. I am anti-abortion and anti-government. As president, my anti-abortion feelings would be irrelevant, because the federal government has no authority to deal with common crimes in any way. But my anti-government feelings are all-important; they mean I won’t make the mistake of allowing the federal government to enter this area – or any other area not authorized by the Constitution – and mess it up even more.

In other words, you won’t make any attempt to stop the state-sanctioned murder of unborn children but you earlier made it quite clear that you have no problem with preventing states from legislating against drugs. You can’t have it both ways, Harry. Make up your mind.

Finally, I would remind you that prior to Roe vs. Wade – a decision widely considered to be judicial activism at its worst – abortion was generally understood as murder, and performing such a procedure was illegal. That was a mere 30 years ago in our nation’s 225-year history – we have regressed as a nation, not progressed. And it will take principled leadership to show the American people the way out of this degenerative malaise that we have blundered into.

Merging the parties

Finally, we come to what I found to be the most surprising of your responses to my column, in reference to my plea to consider joining together. You said:

    I understand your intentions, but I believe you have things backward. The Libertarian Party is a much larger party, much more successful in influencing public opinion, runs far more candidates, and pulls far more votes. Neither party is anywhere near as successful as you and I would like. But it is the Libertarian Party that has made a name for itself with the public and is leading the fight to bring back liberty to America.

Indeed. This almost has the ring of a petulant child insisting that since he is the bigger kid on the block, that things must be his way or nothing. This sort of petty snobbery is unbecoming and unwarranted.

I made a plea to the leaders of these two parties to see if they could not find enough principled middle ground to leverage the many similarities that exist between them into a more powerful combined organization. Just as is the case with every other independent national party, the Libertarian Party is but a mere splinter compared to the huge blocks of lumber that comprise the Democrats and Republicans – perhaps one of the larger splinters, but a splinter nonetheless. What I proposed was that if the two parties could find enough acceptable middle ground, they could turn two splinters into a baseball bat.

You see, Harry, even after all the years and work, the Libertarian Party is still unable to woo the huge block of Christian conservative voters who make up the Republican Party – abortion has much to do with that. And let’s face it, you may be the biggest splinter among splinters (assuming the Reform Party disintegrates), but even with all of your personal charm and savvy, you still couldn’t even pull 5 percent of the presidential vote.

Moreover, given how much is now at stake in our national elections, I would think a real leader – such as you seemingly fancy yourself to be – would not be as hasty to close off his options so quickly. A real leader would be willing to consider the possibility that maybe he or she has made some miscalculations in their political philosophy and make the necessary adjustments. A real leader would put his or her pride and ego aside if necessary to fulfill the obligations he or she bears for the greater good and the people whom they represent.

What kind of a leader are you, Harry Browne?

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.