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What's Happening

Sunday, October 22, 2000


Moderated by Tim Russert, NBC News

MR. RUSSERT: Coming next: the Libertarian Party, the Natural Law Party and the Constitution Party. All have presidential candidates, all on the ballot in most states and all three will be here....

MR. RUSSERT: And we're back. Welcome all.... John Hagelin, if a member--if you join the Natural Law Party, what do you believe?

DR. JOHN HAGELIN, (Natural Law Presidential Candidate): You believe in taking back our stolen democracy from special interest control, you believe in commonsense, forward-looking solutions that are being ignored by government for purely political reasons, the prevention of disease, the proven preventive medicine, ending our costly energy addiction of foreign oil through the development of renewable, abundant energy sources. Educational innovations that are working spectacularly at our most successful public and private schools. Commonsense solutions that the overwhelming majority of Americans already support, but will never see the light of day under Republicans or Democrats bought and paid for by special interest groups....

MR. RUSSERT: I had the opportunity to spend with the weekend reading the party platforms of your respective organizations.... DR. HAGELIN, should we legalize drugs?

DR. HAGELIN: I would decriminalize non-violent drug offenses. I would focus instead on drug education, drug prevention, drug rehabilitation, because the fact is, where educational opportunities are greatest, drug abuse is least.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you an element of the Natural Law Party, and put it on the screen and have a chance to talk about it: "The Natural Law Party also supports programs that have been shown to dissolve social stress and conflict, thereby providing a more positive and stable environment for economic growth and prosperity. ... For example, research has found that even a single group of 7,000 to 10,000 practitioners or Transcendental Meditation... can produce a significant decrease in inflation and unemployment rates, as well as improvements in other economic indicators." How can 7,000 people meditating, in effect, affect unemployment and other economic indicators in a country of 260 million people?

DR. HAGELIN: We're living in an epidemic of stress. This is a fact. Stress drives crime, domestic violence, drug dependency. A lot of our problems are due to historically high levels of stress. If you can reduce societal stress and tensions, even the economy, the behavior of people, essentially, becomes more stable.

So interestingly enough, our stock market is a terribly psychological index. It swings with the moods of the people. If you can take away or reduce a certain amount of instability in the tendencies of the people simply by stress reduction, it has an impact....

MR. RUSSERT: How big would your defense budget be and would you have women in combat?

DR. HAGELIN: Women should be able to serve their country with honor, of course, as they always have. We can cut the size and cost of our military by about $100 billion a year and strengthen the military at the same time. Get rid of pork barrel spending for very expensive weapons systems, like the B-2 bomber, like the failed missile defense shield that do not work. More importantly, for the security of our country, stop creating enemies throughout the world through a highly meddlesome foreign policy and shift our foreign aid away from military aid towards the export of technical assistance and entrepreneurism, education, sustainable agriculture, energy and environmental technologies that would allow more countries to stand on their own feet, become food and economically self-sufficient and contribute to a more prosperous and secure family of nations....

I agree with Harry [Browne, Libertarian presidential candidate], that government has been a bit of a hell in the past. It has been terribly ineffective, terribly invasive, but I'd rather fix it than throw it out. There are commonsense solutions that are being resisted by government because they're bought and paid for by special interest groups. Our energy dependence on foreign oil today has a lot to do with the fact that both the Republican and Democrat candidates for president are marinated in oil. We have abundant renewable energy resources in this country. We should be energy self-sufficient now. We would no longer be held hostage by OPEC or by our own oil barons....

MR. RUSSERT: DR. HAGELIN, [your thoughts on abortion]?

DR. HAGELIN: The American people are deeply divided on this issue, and when the American people haven't decided, the federal government does not have the moral or constitutional authority to usurp a woman's right to choose. Therefore, I would vigorously defend a woman's right to choose....

MR. RUSSERT: What is transcendental meditation?

DR. HAGELIN: It's a technique for gaining deep rest, for developing the brain more effectively. The National Institutes of Health has poured millions of dollars into researching and applying meditation to reduce hypertension, prevent stroke and heart disease. As a scientist, I'm very bold about what works. I'll stick my neck out for whatever works, and if transcendental meditation is the most effective preventative treatment against heart disease, I would be for it. By the same token, I will unsupport what doesn't work. And the reason our federal government continues to grow without bounds is there's no review of any of our federal programs. "Once on the books, stays on the books" is the saying. That's why--unless somebody like myself, a scientist, goes to Washington, D.C., and gets rid of all kinds of failed and obsolete federal programs, our government will grow forever....

MR. RUSSERT: [Is] Natural Law, a wasted vote?

DR. HAGELIN: Third-party votes are the only votes that have ever accomplished anything in our democracy: the right of women to vote, the abolition of slavery, child labor laws, the balanced budget. These came from third-party candidates who did not win. Therefore, it is very essential, every third-party vote sends a wake-up call to Washington, D.C., and says, "These are the sorts of solutions we support." I am building a powerful coalition of American Independents, a voice for the 50 billion Independent voters who have no voice in either party and the 115 million frustrated non-voters who Ralph Nader isn't speaking for--he's not reaching beyond his narrow constituency. I'm building a new political movement. It may take four more years, but we will take back our stolen democracy from special interests.