Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Harry Browne – Emerling – Willis Campaign 1996 and 2000

A meeting of need and opportunity

"Why did you decide to run for President?" "It was my wife's idea." -- Harry Browne

"I have no temptation to vote, to campaign, to try and stop a candidate who promises new follies." -- Harry Browne, "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World", 1973

Harry Browne wrote, “How You Can Profit from the Coming Devaluation,” in 1970. The book sold well because of the instability of the market and was soon followed by, “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World.” The two books were self-help books that appealed directly to those who were concerned about the state of their finances and about ways to detach themselves from the control of both government and the constraints of society. While “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,” purports to be about freedom this is not really true. It is actually about avoiding the constraints that human culture devised to protect those who are vulnerable from manipulation. For example, marriage by contract or agreement is an institution that precedes government but today has become an instrument of government, asserting control into the personal lives and relationships of men and women. Freedom as envisioned by the Founders mandates informed consent and mutual benefit, each acting without constraints imposed by the State.

Harry Browne was well known throughout the Libertarian Party and Movement as an adherent of the “non party' faction, meaning he did not approve of political process. Other long time adherents of that viewpoint, including Kenneth R. Gregg, expressed shock when they learned he was seeking the Libertarian nomination for President. Browne had been influenced by the work of Andrew J. Galambos, an astrophysicist living in Los Angeles who began giving workshops in the ideas of freedom around 1960.

Galambos is one of the few prominent Libertarians who died without having written at least one book. Students taking his workshops had to sign a contract guaranteeing they would not use his ideas. His structural understanding of freedom was based on the idea of private property, and whether Browne had already accepted this as a basis for his own ideas or borrowed it from Galambos it became central to his own work. Those thinkers who came through the Galambos workshops in large part were nonpolitical. Browne remained nonpolitical up until the time he decided to run for President.

Running for office was Browne's own idea. Harry Browne contacted John Hix, the respected expert in internal political campaigns, and paid $1000.00 for a day's advice in how to secure the nomination.

The reason for this change is clear. Browne's book sales were falling, each one selling less than the one before and he had accustomed himself to a lavish life style.

Soon after he announced Browne had acquired a supporter who was very enthusiastic about a possible Browne candidacy. That was Michael Emerling Cloud who would have the help of those then in control of the Libertarian Party, the Berglandista.

The Long Tour of the Book was about to begin. It would prove to be lucrative for all involved. Browne's venture into politics yielded $100,000.00 a year to him from either his campaign or the LP from 1995 – 2001.

Securing the nomination for Harry Browne began in August of 1994. To secure the nomination the Berglandista were prepared to do anything necessary. Perry Willis, then National Director through a previous manipulation of events, was already covertly working for the Browne Campaign. He did all within his power to ensure that other candidates had no access to mailing lists or other Libertarian resources.

Crane most likely admired the means and the outcome and later did cooperate with Willis and Browne in other efforts.

Browne secured the nomination handily and those who had helped him were set up to profit. Later, Perry Willis would write a 20 page letter, “confessing” to but justifying his actions as necessary to the cause of liberty. The hope of a campaign and an LP that would support and empower local organizing again fizzled.

Both Browne campaigns, 1996 and 2000, and those in control of the LP during what became known as the Brown Cloud Years, were actively hostile to local organizing. Perry Willis, in particular, discouraged serious local campaigns.

Perry Willis had begun his career as an activist in San Diego in the wake of a highly profitable state convention run there by the local LP. He approached the San Diego leadership with the proposition that they hire him as their paid executive director. They did so. A year later he moved on, having exhausted the money in their treasury. The pattern would repeat.

Carla Howell

Eventually, having worked his way up the food chain and building heavily on personal charm, Perry met Michael Emerling Cloud and began working with him when he replaced Emerling as campaign manager for the Marrou Campaign. There was both synergy and similarity of goals. The two men clicked. During his early years as a Libertarian Emerling had openly admitted that he was a con artist with activists such as Gail Lightfoot of California. This frankness only stopped when he became involved with a woman in Massachusetts named Carla Howell. Carla, a professional women who owned her own home, became Emerling's significant other. For her he needed to be respectable. Howell was connected to a moderately old New England family and moving towards respectability meant that Emerling had to publicly reform. Howell also had other attractions, ones that could extend the never-ending Presidential campaign.

Therefore Emerling reinvented himself, manufacturing organizations and a presence in the LP that spun him as the Great Communicator of Libertarianism. The two Browne campaigns and those carried out in Massachusetts served to profit him personally while avoiding the possibility that any local organization would arise to challenge his hegemony.

Howell had, through fluke of timing, run against Ted Kennedy for US Senate in a race where the Republican was Jack E. Robinson, who lost the support of the Republican Party when accusations of drunk driving surfaced before his campaign had really started. Howell did well against the Republican while Kennedy walked away with the seat yet again. Emerling – Cloud managed the Howell campaign and a report from by Dean Chambers on June 6, 2000, “ Cloud, ....convinces his clients to spend large amounts of money on direct mail fundraising of questionable effectiveness. The Howell campaign's disclosures with the Federal Election Commission show its expenses for fundraising are not much below the money those efforts brought in. So after Cloud receives his 15 percent fundraising commission, and his preferred mailing house gets their cut, there's not much money left for the actual campaign." Several other campaigns followed, taking advantage of Howell's social capital as the grand daughter of a socialite of the 1950s.

. The Berglandista plan to run Howell for President in 2004 began even before the 2000 Libertarian Convention in Anaheim. This hopeful sinecure would whimper to a slow death as activists in Massachusetts began the process of retaking their state party in the wake of the 2002 defeat of Berglandista candidate Eli Israel in Indianapolis.

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