Harry Browne: ‘A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions’


by Harry Browne
Forwarded by Advocates for Self-Government
Harry Browne (RIP) was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000.

1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.

2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.

3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.

4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.

5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problem.

6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.

7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.

8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.

9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.

10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.

11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?

12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.

13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.

14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

14 thoughts on “Harry Browne: ‘A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions’

  1. wolfefan

    I’d not seen this before, but I really like it. These principles are adaptable to many settings. Based on this board a number of Libertarians (and at least one of their potential 2012 candidates) disagree with Mr. Browne’s resolutions, but then again, that’s one of the things that makes the board interesting

  2. paulie Post author

    a number of Libertarians (and at least one of their potential 2012 candidates) disagree with Mr. Browne’s resolutions

    Only one? Which one would you say, and how?

  3. Catholic Trotskyist

    Lots of these could be adapted easily to non-libertarians, just taking out the “free society” phrases.

    I think I will write a New Years resolutions for Catholic Trotskyists.

  4. wolfefan

    Hi paulie –

    I had Wayne Root in mind, based on the press releases and statements that are often posted here.

    Without debating the merits of his (or anyone else’s) positions, it’s hard to say that his releases are civil to his opponents or their positions, nor do I think they are compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that cause people to seek government help. I can’t look inside Mr. Root’s heart (I’m not GW Bush) but his rhetoric does not seem to me to fit one who seeks to cleanse himself of hate or resentment. The releases do not promote Mr. Root as one who speaks in a respectable manner or make a good first impression. I’ve never heard Mr. Root speak, but he certainly “raises his voice”, so to speak, in his material that I’ve read here. His accusations of racism being a motivating factor for Pres. Obama, as well as implications that there’ s something phony about Pres. Obama’s Columbia experiences verge on character assasination, and are certainly not civil and respectful.

    All of this, of course, is just my opinion and YMMV. I’m speaking solely of what I’ve read on this site – there may be a compassionate, civil, respectful side of Mr. Root that doesn’t show up here.

    Thanks to you, paulie, and all the others who make this an interesting place to visit, read and learn. Best wishes for 2010!

  5. paulie Post author

    As you can see from the comments we republished this in 2009.

    It came across my radar and I updated the timestamp.

  6. Pingback: Harry Browne: ‘A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions’ | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

  7. wolfefan

    Thanks for re-posting, Paulie! Best wishes to all for a new year filled with joy and peace and blessings…

  8. George Whitfield

    Thank you for that article Paulie. Harry Browne was our best spokesperson and he kept improving. I will keep these resolutions in mind this new year. Happy New Year to all IPR contributers and readers!

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