Friday, September 28, 2007

1996 & 2000 - The Harry Browne – Emerling (Cloud) – Willis Campaigns

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 events, and paid $1000.00 for a days 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 from his campaign or the LP from 1995 – 2001 just for him personally.

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 but covertly working for the Browne Campaign, did all within his power to ensure that other candidates had no access to mailing lists or other Libertarian resources. 
Crane would have admired the means and the outcome. Browne secured the nomination handily and those who had helped him were set to profit. Later, Perry Willis would write a 30 page letter, “confessing” to but justifying his actions. The hope of a campaign and LP that would support and empower local organizing again fizzled. 
Both Browne campaigns 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. 
Eventually, having worked his way up the food chain and building heavily on personal charm, Perry met Michael Emerling Cloud. The synergy developed in the wake of the Marrou for President campaign. 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 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. 
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. The Berglandista planned to run Howell for President in 2004 began even before the 2000 Libertarian Convention in Anaheim. This would whimper to a slow death as activists in Massachusetts began the process of retaking their state party. 
In effect, the LP had been converted into the private property of the same clique who had ousted the Crane Machine. The group followed the same patterns of self-dealing, top down management, deceptive practices, and overweening arrogance. Another round of the same behavior would be repeated in the largest State organization of the LP, the Libertarian Party of California. That continues to this day.

The following is just one incident in a reaction against the Berglandista that eventually ousted then entirely from any positions of respect in the LP.

=====LP of Pa. Board of Directors resolution passed 3:01pm 9/23/2001====
"Whereas, certain individuals associated with the Libertarian Party conspired to violate National Libertarian Party policy, libertarian principles, and normal standards of business ethics, and

Whereas, we have in the past supported, promoted and endorsed these individuals by our official actions and in our publications and appeals, and

Whereas, we have an obligation to keep our membership informed;

Therefore, we the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania withdraw any expressed or implied endorsement of any of these individuals or organizations or projects in which they are involved. The individuals are, in alphabetical order:
Sharon Ayres
David Bergland
Harry Browne
Michael (Emerling) Cloud
Jack Harris Dean
Perry Willis

The grip of the Berglandista on the LP was finally wrested away by a determined coalition of activists at the 2002 Convention in Indianapolis. The Berglandista candidate for National Chairman, Eli Israel, went down to defeat, opposed by Jeff Neale from Texas and George Phillies of Massachusetts. George, a professor of physics, would be the central force in excising the Emerling influence from his own state several years later.

Today, four years later, the LP remains disjointed and without a strategic vision that connects to a plan of action. However, it remains an effective meeting point for people seeking personal freedom and political alternatives and, as with all life, there is yet hope. If the LP assembles a strategically sound plan, taking into account the need for governance and began building at the most local level, becoming itself a model for the solution, anything would be possible. 
Through its origination of 'idea tools,' the LP changed the direction of politics in America. Those tools include privatization (Bob Poole of Reason Foundation), outsourcing, deregulation, and others intended to make the process more efficient. However, efficiency is neither a substitute or equivalent for freedom though many have confused these things.

Additionally, these ideas were not used as originally anticipated because, as with all ideas, they were sold through such outlets as Cato as tools that actually served to decouple profit and accountability and applied through legislation. These did not, therefore produce the benefits of a free market but rather allowed for the optimization of profit by corporations that also used the legislative process to minimize or even eliminate their potential for liability. 

The issues of Global Warming, which is now acknowledged to be supported by overwhelming evidence was evaded for the last 30 years in large part through the actions of Cato, which assumed the role of objective third party while accepting most of its funding from the oil industry. Cato performed similar services on issues related to women, dismissing all issues that go to the foundational, Constitutional difference between the rights of women, which are only supported through legislative action, and of men, which are guaranteed through the Constitution.

Just because you feel like someone is not proof they aren't trying to do so. 
This was probably not all by design. The underlying mythology of Objectivism is pointedly pro-business and anti-woman, ironically enough since Rand was herself a woman. Ideas always have consequences, which is one of the reasons we need to be careful about how well the ideas that represent action match the action to be taken. To this day libertarians bemoan the absence of women who are willing to invest time and money in the LP. Never have they thought to question if this decided preference might reflect a real problem internal to the LP itself. If the car doesn't run better check the engine. 
On the issue of global warming it is curious that a movement that endorses accountability ignored the need to ensure that if global warming was real when the consequences would impact all uf us while the profit for creating the conditions would be specific to certain industries and individuals.

That doubtless comes from romanticizing business and ignoring the deceptive and unethical practices so prevalent in large corporations today. Bill Hunscher and Roger Mac Bride, both now deceased, would not be surprised.

Life is itself a joke on all of us.

(Author's Note)
I noticed the tendency to turn the Libertarian Party into a hierarchal, for profit, institution in at the time of the Clark Campaign. I also noted the behavioral strategies and the disconnect between rhetoric and reality. Libertarianism was supposed to make us freer. I strongly objected to it instead being used to make a few richer.

Until you give freedom to everyone none of us are free.

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