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Harry Browne, John Hagelin and Howard Phillips: A Breath Of Fresh Air

Yesterday's Meet The Press featured a rare joint appearance by the three minor party candidates for the president of the United States: Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne, Constitution party presidential candidate Howard Phillips, and Natural Law party candidate John Hagelin. Their short joint appearance and some wide open questioning from moderator Tim Russert, should have been enough to show any reasonable person that the political process in this country is being undermined by the self-fulfilling prophecy that results from the "mainstream" media's obsession with the Republican and Democratic Party's presidential candidates.

What stood out immediately about their question and answer period was the lack of concern that the three men hold for political correctness. It was refreshing to see three men get before a nationwide audience and speak from their deeply held political convictions, all the while knowing that their views and policy initiatives would alienate them from a significant portion of the American electorate.

The result was a discussion/debate on issues like U.S. drug policy, immigration and health issues that you would never hear from George W. Bush and Al Gore and to a much lesser extent from Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan.

Just think of how the American electorate would have benefited from at least one debate, just one, which featured Browne, Hagelin, Phillips, Nader and Buchanan right along with Bush and Gore. What harm could have been done to the political process or democracy?

In fact, the exclusion from the debate of these five other candidates is possibly one of the clearest indications that an elite group has an inordinate amount of influence over American politics and the American people.

Interestingly, Harry Browne and John Hagelin were both willing to concede that they stood little chance of winning this election but made the case that support for them was support for a movement that would eventually reach the halls of Congress and the Oval Office, probably within the next decade.

Hagelin made an especially sharp point that history shows that while third-party campaigns have been generally unsuccessful in winning the White House, they have been very successful in bringing issues into the political forum and eventually into law. He accurately pointed out how this was the case with the balanced budget issue championed by third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot in 1992.

Sure, some of their ideas may sound strange and a bit quirky but that impression is also a by-product of the stifled and limited coverage of political issues and public policy debate, courtesy of the major media outlets.

But with over half of the eligible voting population inactive and critical issues pertaining to the poor and young not even being discussed by Bush and Gore, is it really fair to characterize Nader, Buchanan, Hagelin, Browne and Phillips as "fringe candidates"?

Yesterday's fringe could very well be tomorrow's mainstream.

So, just because the mainstream media and two-party system may want to ignore Browne, Hagelin and Phillips doesn't mean that you have to.

Cedric Muhammad

Monday, October 23, 2000

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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