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Libertarians the Largest Third Party

I was reading Friday’s issue of The Tech and noticed the full-page section describing the presidential candidates. Most publications leave the reader with only the two main candidates, and leave many voters choosing the lesser of the two evils, or making them too apathetic to vote at all. I was very glad to see that your selection wasn’t so limited.

However, I was curious as to why the Libertarian presidential candidate, Harry Browne, wasn’t listed as well. The Libertarian Party is the largest “third party” in America, by almost any means of counting. Libertarians boast 168 elected officials, which is more than every other third party combined. For reference, the Reform Party, who was listed in your article, has only nine elected officials. The Libertarian Party also has more registered voters than the Reform Party -- 182,000 vs. 124,000.

In addition, several recent national polls have put Harry Browne very close to, and in some cases, ahead of, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. In fact, a recent Rasmussen Research Poll of likely voters found that 16 percent of the American population responded with Libertarian answers, as compared with 13 percent liberal and 7 percent conservative, and the remaining divided between borderline, centrist, or authoritarian.

The questions used were taken directly from the ten-question “World’s Smallest Political Quiz,” which adopts a two-dimensional political map, as opposed to the more traditional left/right, one-dimensional line which leaves many Americans lost on either side.

One of the reasons Harry Browne is not as popular as his counterparts in other third parties is that he qualified for Federal matching funds, both this year and in 1996, but he has refused to accept this subsidy both times. Harry Browne believes that it is wrong to force all taxpayers, especially those who disagree with his beliefs, to fund his campaign.

Harry Browne is a man of principles, and his stance on the issues should be made public, so your readers have an even broader view of the political spectrum, and will be less likely to stay home on Election Day.

Steve Stern ’04