(From the Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions section in Volume 19, No. 27 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)
Editor’s Note: Several years ago, Harry Browne — 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, world-renowned libertarian speaker and writer, and very good friend of the Advocates — made his New Year’s resolutions.
The result was a compact how-to of effective libertarian communication, by one of history’s most persuasive advocates of the ideas of liberty.
We are delighted to share this inspiring and uplifting classic with you. Consider adding them to your own resolutions this year — and share them with other libertarians.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 problems.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Harry passed away in March of 2006, and we greatly miss him. If enough of us follow Harry’s advice, we can make 2015 the best year yet for the libertarian movement. He is the author of Liberty A to Z, available from the Advocates’ Liberty Store.