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Libertarian Party (United States)


Libertarian Party (United States)

Libertarian Party
Chairman Nicholas Sarwark
Founded December 11, 1971 (1971-12-11)
Headquarters 1444 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Student wing College Libertarians
Membership  (March 2014) >368,561[1]
Ideology Libertarianism
Fiscal conservatism
International affiliation Interlibertarians[2]
Colors      Gold
Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper House Seats
0 / 1,972
State Lower House Seats
0 / 5,411
Other elected offices 144 (2014)[3]
Politics of United States
Political parties

The Libertarian Party is an American national political party that reflects, represents and promotes the ideas and philosophies of libertarianism (freedom as a political end) and free-market, laissez-faire capitalism (no government interference in the economy).[4] The Libertarian Party was conceived at meetings in the home of David F. Nolan in Westminster, Colorado in 1971.[5] The official formation of the Libertarian Party occurred on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[5] The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Vietnam War, conscription, and the end of the gold standard.[6]

Although there is not an explicitly-labeled "left" or "right" designation of the party, many members, such as 2012 presidential nominee Gary Johnson, state that they are more socially liberal than the Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than the Republicans. The party has generally promoted a classical liberal platform, in contrast to the social liberal and progressive platform of the Democrats and the more conservative platform of the Republicans.[7] Current policy positions include lowering taxes,[8] allowing people to opt-out of Social Security,[9] abolishing welfare,[10] ending the prohibition of illegal drugs,[11] and supporting gun ownership rights.[12]

In the 30 states where voters can register by party, there is a combined total of 330,811 voters registered under the party.[13] By this count the Libertarian Party is the third-largest party by membership in the United States and it is the third-largest political party in the United States in terms of the popular vote in the country's elections and number of candidates run per election.

The Libertarian Party has many firsts to its credit, such as being the party under which the first electoral vote was cast for a woman in a United States presidential election, due to a faithless elector.[14] Though the party has never won a seat in the United States Congress, it has seen electoral success in state legislative races. Three Libertarians were elected in Alaska between 1978 and 1984, with another four elected in New Hampshire in 1992.[15][16]


  • History 1
  • Name and symbols 2
  • Structure and composition 3
    • Libertarian National Committee 3.1
    • State chapters 3.2
    • Membership 3.3
  • Platform 4
  • Size and influence 5
    • Presidential candidate performance 5.1
    • U.S. House of Representatives results 5.2
    • U.S. Senate results 5.3
    • Earning ballot status 5.4
    • Party supporters 5.5
    • Election victories 5.6
    • Best results in major races 5.7
    • Voter base 5.8
  • Ballot access 6
  • Recent issue stances 7
    • Economic issues 7.1
      • Education 7.1.1
      • Environment 7.1.2
      • Fiscal policies 7.1.3
      • Health care 7.1.4
      • Immigration and trade agreements 7.1.5
      • Labor 7.1.6
      • Retirement and Social Security 7.1.7
    • Social issues 7.2
      • Abortion 7.2.1
      • Crime and capital punishment 7.2.2
      • Freedom of speech and censorship 7.2.3
      • Government reform 7.2.4
      • LGBT issues 7.2.5
      • Pornography and prostitution 7.2.6
      • Second Amendment rights 7.2.7
    • Foreign policy issues 7.3
      • Political Status of Puerto Rico 7.3.1
  • Internal debates 8
    • "Principle" vs. "Pragmatism" debate 8.1
    • Intervention in Afghanistan 8.2
    • Platform revision 8.3
  • State and territorial parties 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13
    • Previous presidential candidates campaign sites 13.1


David Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party.

The first Libertarian National Convention was held in June, 1972. In 1978, Dick Randolph of Alaska became the first elected Libertarian state legislator. Following the 1980 federal elections, the Libertarian Party assumed the title of being the third-largest party for the first time after the American Independent Party and the Conservative Party of New York, which were the other largest minor parties at the time, continued to decline. In 1994, over 40 Libertarians were elected or appointed which was a record for the party at that time. 1995 saw a soaring membership and voter registration for the party. In 1996, the Libertarian Party became the first third party to earn ballot status in all 50 states two presidential elections in a row. By the end of 2009, 146 Libertarians were holding elected offices.

Tonie Nathan, running as the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate in the 1972 Presidential Election with John Hospers as the presidential candidate, was the first female candidate in the United States to receive an electoral vote.[5][14] John Hospers, who was the Libertarian Party's first presidential candidate that year, was the first openly gay man to run for president of the United States.[17]

The 2012 election Libertarian Party presidential candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, was chosen on May 4, 2012 at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention in Summerlin, Nevada.[18]

Name and symbols

In 1972, "Libertarian Party" was chosen as the party's name, selected over "New Liberty Party."[19] The first official slogan of the Libertarian Party was "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (abbreviated "TANSTAAFL"), a phrase popularized by Robert A Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, sometimes dubbed "a manifesto for a libertarian revolution". The current slogan of the party is "The Party of Principle".[20]

Also in 1972, the "Libersign"—an arrow angling upward through the abbreviation "TANSTAAFL"—was adopted as a party symbol.[19] Sometime after, this was replaced with the Lady Liberty, which has, ever since, served as the party's symbol or mascot.[21][22]

In the 1990s several state libertarian parties adopted the Liberty Penguin ("LP") as their official mascot.[23] Another mascot is the , an icon that was originally designed by Kevin Breen in March 2006, that is also often associated with the Free State Project.[24]

Structure and composition

The Libertarian Party is democratically governed by its members, with state affiliate parties each holding annual or biennial conventions at which delegates are elected to attend the party's biennial national convention. National convention delegates vote on changes to the party's national platform and bylaws, and elect officers and "At-Large" representatives to the party's National Committee.

The National Committee also has "Regional Representatives", some of whom are appointed by delegate caucuses at the national convention; others are appointed by the chairpersons of LP state affiliate chapters within a region.

Libertarian National Committee

The Libertarian National Committee (LNC)[25] is a 27-member body, currently chaired by Nicholas Sarwark. The LNC is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the Libertarian Party and its national office and staff. Wes Benedict is currently the Executive Director [26] of the Libertarian Party. Former executive director Carla Howell, whom he was picked to replace in 2013, was made the party's political director.

State chapters

The Libertarian Party is organized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state affiliate has a governing committee, usually consisting of statewide officers elected by state party members and regional representation of one kind or another. Similarly, county, town, city and ward committees, where organized, generally consist of members elected at the local level. State and local committees often coordinate campaign activities within their jurisdiction, oversee local conventions, and in some cases primaries or caucuses, and may have a role in nominating candidates for elected office under state law.


Since the Libertarian Party's inception, individuals have been able to join the party as voting members by signing their agreement with the organization's membership pledge, which states, based on the Non-Aggression Principle, that the signer does not advocate the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals. During the mid-1980s and into the early 1990s, this membership category was called an "instant" membership; currently these are referred to as "signature members". Persons joining the party are also asked to pay dues, which are on a sliding scale starting at $25 per year. Dues-paying members receive a subscription to the party's national newspaper, LP News.[27] Since 2006, membership in the party's state affiliates has been separate from membership in the national party,[28] with each state chapter maintaining its own membership rolls.


The preamble outlines the party's goal: "As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others." Its Statement of Principles begins: "We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual." The platform emphasizes individual liberty in personal and economic affairs, avoidance of "foreign entanglements" and military and economic intervention in other nations' affairs, and free trade and migration. It calls for Constitutional limitations on government as well as the elimination of most state functions. It includes a "Self-determination" section which quotes from the Declaration of Independence and reads: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty." It also includes an "Omissions" section which reads: "Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval."[29]

This includes favoring minimally regulated markets, a less powerful federal government, strong civil liberties (including LGBT rights), the legal abolition of marriage (but, should it not be abolished, the party supports same-sex marriage), the liberalization of drug laws, separation of church and state, open immigration, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations, free trade and free movement to all foreign countries, and a more representative republic.[29] The party's position on abortion is that government should stay out of the matter and leave it to the individual, but recognizes that some libertarians' opinions on this issue are different. Ron Paul, one of the former leaders of the Libertarian Party, is strictly pro-life, but believes that that is an issue that should be left to the states and not enforced federally. Meanwhile Gary Johnson, the party's 2012 presidential candidate, is pro-choice.

The Libertarian Party has also supported the repeal of [31]

Size and influence

Presidential candidate performance

Former Gov. Gary Johnson during the 2012 election.

The first Libertarian Presidential candidate, John Hospers, received one electoral vote in 1972 when Roger MacBride, a Republican faithless elector pledged to Nixon, cast his ballot for the Libertarian ticket. His vote for Theodora ("Tonie") Nathan as Vice President was the first electoral college vote ever to be cast for a woman in a U.S. Presidential election.[32] MacBride became the Libertarian nominee himself in 1976.

During the 1980 presidential election, Ed Clark and David H. Koch received a record percentage of 921,128 votes (1.06%), getting as much as 11.66% in Alaska. In the 2012 presidential election, Gary Johnson and running mate Jim Gray received 1,275,821 votes (0.99%),[33] the most cast for a Libertarian ticket since the party's founding in 1971.

Year Pres. Candidate / VP Popular Votes Percentage Electoral Votes
1972 John Hospers / Theodora Nathan 3,674 0.0047% 1
1976 Roger MacBride / David Bergland 172,553 0.21% 0
1980 Ed Clark / David Koch 921,128 1.06% 0
1984 David Bergland / James Lewis 228,111 0.25% 0
1988 Ron Paul / Andre Marrou 431,750 0.47% 0
1992 Andre Marrou / Nancy Lord 290,087 0.28% 0
1996 Jo Jorgensen 485,759 0.50% 0
2000 Harry Browne / Art Olivier 384,431 0.36% 0
2004 Michael Badnarik / Richard Campagna 397,265 0.32% 0
2008 Bob Barr / Wayne Allyn Root 523,713 0.40% 0
2012 Gary Johnson / Jim Gray 1,275,821 0.99% 0
United States presidential election, 2012[34]

Election on November 6, 2012

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Barack Obama (inc.) 65,899,583 51.03% -1.84%
Republican Mitt Romney 60,931,966 47.19% +1.59%
Libertarian Gary Johnson 1,275,821 0.99% +0.59%
Green Jill Stein 468,907 0.36% +0.24%
Constitution Virgil Goode 121,616 0.09% -0.06%
Others Others 434,247 0.34% -0.52%
Majority (1,333,513) (1.03%)
Turnout 129,132,140 100.00%
Democratic hold Swing

U.S. House of Representatives results

Year Popular Votes Percentage Number of Seats
1972 2,028 0.003% 0
1974 3,099 0.01% 0
1976 71,791 0.10% 0
1978 64,310 0.12% 0
1980 568,131 0.73% 0
1982 462,767 0.72% 0
1984 275,865 0.33% 0
1986 121,076 0.20% 0
1988 445,708 0.55% 0
1990 396,131 0.64% 0
1992 848,614 0.87% 0
1994 415,650 0.59% 0
1996 651,448 0.72% 0
1998 880,024 1.32% 0
2000 1,610,292 1.63% 0
2002 1,050,776 1.41% 0
2004 1,056,844 0.93% 0
2006 656,764 0.81% 0
2008 1,083,096 0.88% 0
2010 1,010,891 1.16% 0
2012 1,366,338 1.12% [33] 0

U.S. Senate results

Year Popular Votes Percentage Number of Seats
1972 N/A 0% 0
1974 N/A 0% 0
1976 78,588 0.13% 0
1978 25,071 0.09% 0
1980 401,077 0.67% 0
1982 291,576 0.57% 0
1984 160,798 0.35% 0
1986 104,338 0.21% 0
1988 268,053 0.40% 0
1990 142,003 0.41% 0
1992 986,617 1.40% 0
1994 666,183 1.16% 0
1996 362,208 0.74% 0
1998 419,452 0.78% 0
2000 1,036,684 1.33% 0
2002 724,969 1.74% 0
2004 754,861 0.86% 0
2006 612,732 1.01% 0
2008 798,154 1.23% 0
2010 755,812 1.14% 0
2012 956,745 1.02% 0

Earning ballot status

Historically, Libertarians have also achieved 50-state ballot access for their presidential candidate three times, in 1980, 1992, and 1996 (in 2000 L. Neil Smith was on the Arizona ballot instead of the nominee, Harry Browne).[35]

In April, 2012, the Libertarian Party of Nebraska successfully lobbied for a reform in ballot access with the new law requiring parties to requalify every four years instead of two.[36] Following the 2012 election, the party will have ballot status in 30 states.[37]

Party supporters

In the Libertarian Party, some donors are not necessarily "members", because the Party since its founding in 1972 has defined a "member" as being someone who agrees with the Party's membership statement. The precise language of this statement is found in the Party Bylaws.[38] There were 115,401 Americans who were on record as having signed the membership statement as of the most recent report.[39] A survey by David Kirby and David Boaz found a minimum of 14 percent American voters to have libertarian-leaning views.[40][41]

There is another measure the Party uses internally as well. Since its founding, the Party has apportioned delegate seats to its national convention based on the number of members in each state who have paid minimum dues (with additional delegates given to state affiliates for good performance in winning more votes than normal for the Party's presidential candidate). This is the most-used number by Party activists. As of December 31, 2006, the Libertarian Party reported that there were 15,505 donating members. 1,108 of the donors gave the federal minimum ($200) or more for required individually itemized contributions.[42]

Historically, dues were $15 throughout the 1980s; in 1991, they were increased to $25. Between February 1, 2006 and the close of the 2006 Libertarian party convention on May 31, 2006, dues were set to $0.[43] However, the change to $0 dues was controversial and was de facto reversed by the 2006 Libertarian National Convention in Portland, Oregon; at which the members re-established a basic $25 dues category (now called Sustaining membership), and further added a requirement that all National Committee officers must henceforth be at least Sustaining members (which was not required prior to the convention).

Election victories

Libertarians have had limited success in electing candidates at the state and local level. In 1988, The Rev. Dr. James W. Clifton made Michigan state history by becoming the first Libertarian to win office in a partisan contest for city council in Addison. He received more votes than either his Democratic or Republican opponents. Following the 2002 elections, according to its site,[44] 599 Libertarians held elected or appointed local offices and appointed state offices. Since the party's creation, ten Libertarians have been elected to state legislatures. The most recent Libertarian candidate elected to a state legislature was Steve Vaillancourt to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2000. Vaillancourt, then a Democratic member of the House with libertarian leanings, had lost the Democratic primary for a seat in the New Hampshire Senate that year and accepted the Libertarian nomination so as to keep his House seat.[45]

Nationwide, there are 135 Libertarians holding elected office: 36 of them partisan offices and 99 of them non-partisan offices.[46] In addition, some party members, who were elected to public office on other party lines, explicitly retained their Libertarian Party membership; these include former Representative Ron Paul, who has repeatedly stated that he remains a Life Member of the Libertarian Party.

Best results in major races

Some Libertarian candidates for state office have performed relatively strongly in statewide races. In two John Monds became the first Libertarian in history to garner 1,076,726 votes (33.4%).[48] His opponent, Republican H. Doug Everett, won the race with 2,147,012 votes (66.6%). In 2012, Mike Fellows, the Libertarian Party candidate in Montana for the statewide position of Clerk of the Supreme Court received 42.90% of the vote as the sole opponent to Democratic candidate Ed Smith, winning 27 of the state's 56 counties. This was the best a Libertarian candidate has ever polled percentage wise for a statewide office.

Voter base

Ballot access expert Richard Winger, the editor of Ballot Access News, periodically compiles and analyzes voter registration statistics as reported by state voter agencies, and he reports that as of October 2012, the Libertarians ranked fifth in voter registration nationally with 325,807.[13]

Ballot access

In the 2012 Presidential election, the Libertarian Party gained ballot access in 48 states plus the District of Columbia, missing only Michigan (write-in only) and Oklahoma.[49]

During the 2008 United States Presidential election, the Libertarian Party gained ballot access in 45 states;[50] missing Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maine (write-in only), Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

The following is a table comparison of ballot status for the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2012, and for Statewide office (signatures/needed) in 2014.

  Electoral Votes 2012 [51] 2014 [52]
States 50 (and DC) 48 (and DC) 34 (and DC)
Electoral Votes 538 515 n/a
Percent of population (EVs) 100% 95.1% (95.7%) n/a
Alabama 9 On ballot in court
Alaska 3 On ballot On ballot
Arizona 11 On ballot On ballot
Arkansas 6 On ballot On ballot
California 55 On ballot On ballot
Colorado 9 On ballot On ballot
Connecticut 7 On ballot can't start
Delaware 3 On ballot On ballot
Florida 29 On ballot On ballot
Georgia 16 On ballot On ballot
Hawaii 4 On ballot 0/25
Idaho 4 On ballot On ballot
Illinois 20 On ballot can't start
Indiana 11 On ballot On ballot
Iowa 6 On ballot 0/1,500
Kansas 6 On ballot On ballot
Kentucky 8 On ballot can't start
Louisiana 8 On ballot On ballot
Maine 4 On ballot 0/4,000
Maryland 10 On ballot On ballot
Massachusetts 11 On ballot 0/10,000
Michigan 16 (write-in) On ballot
Minnesota 10 On ballot 0/2,000
Mississippi 6 On ballot On ballot
Missouri 10 On ballot On ballot
Montana 3 On ballot On ballot
Nebraska 5 On ballot On ballot
Nevada 6 On ballot On ballot
New Hampshire 4 On ballot 0/3,000
New Jersey 14 On ballot 0/800
New Mexico 5 On ballot On ballot
New York 29 On ballot can't start
North Carolina 15 On ballot On ballot
North Dakota 3 On ballot On ballot
Ohio 18 On ballot On ballot
Oklahoma 7 NOT on ballot in court
Oregon 7 On ballot On ballot
Pennsylvania 20 On ballot On ballot
Rhode Island 4 On ballot 0/1,000
South Carolina 9 On ballot On ballot
South Dakota 3 On ballot On ballot
Tennessee 11 On ballot 0/25
Texas 38 On ballot On ballot
Utah 6 On ballot On ballot
Vermont 3 On ballot On ballot
Virginia 13 On ballot can't start
Washington 12 On ballot can't start
West Virginia 5 On ballot On ballot
Wisconsin 10 On ballot On ballot
Wyoming 3 On ballot On ballot
District of Columbia 3 On ballot On ballot

Recent issue stances

The Libertarian Party adopts pro-civil liberties and pro-cultural liberal approaches to cultural and social issues, and a laissez-faire approach to economic issues. Paul H. Rubin, professor of law and economics at Emory University, believes that while liberal Democrats generally seek to control economic activities and conservative Republicans generally seek to control consumption activities such as sexual behavior, abortion etc., the Libertarian Party is the largest political party in the United States that advocates little or no regulations in what he deems "social" and "economic" issues.[53]

Economic issues

The Libertarian Party's platform opposes government intervention in the economy. According to the party platform "The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected." – Libertarian Party Platform, Section 2.0 (adopted: May 2008) [4]

The Libertarian Party believes government regulations in the form of minimum wage laws drive up the cost of employing additional workers.[54] This is why Libertarians favor loosening minimum wage laws so that overall unemployment rate can be reduced and low-wage workers, unskilled workers, visa immigrants, and those with limited education or job experience can find employment.[55]


The party's official platform states that education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability and efficiency with more diversity of school choice. Seeing the education of children as a parental responsibility, the party would give authority to parents to determine the education of their children at their expense without interference from government. Libertarians have expressed that parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education.[56]


The Libertarian highway supports a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of natural resources, believing that private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining such natural resources.[29] The party has also expressed that "governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to the environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection."[57] The party contends that the environment is best protected when individual rights pertaining to natural resources are clearly defined and enforced. The party also contends that free markets and property rights (implicitly, without government intervention) will stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect the environment and ecosystem because environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.[57]

Fiscal policies

The Libertarian Party opposes all government intervention and regulation on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates and advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. The party's recent platform calls for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services, such as the Federal Reserve System. The party does not feel that government should incur debt and supports the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced preferably by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes. Libertarians favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. The party also wants a halt to inflationary monetary policies and legal tender laws. While the party defends the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies, it opposes government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest.[58]

Health care

The Libertarian Party favors a free-market health care system, without government oversight, approval, regulation, and licensing. The party states that it "recognizes the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the amount of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions." They support the repeal of all social insurance policies, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The Libertarian Party has been advocating for Americans' ability to purchase health insurance across state lines.

Immigration and trade agreements

The Libertarian Party consistently lobbies for the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. This is because their platform states that "political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries".[59] To promote economic freedom, they demand the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, the party encourages control over the entry into the country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.


The Libertarian Party supports the repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment while opposing government-fostered/forced retirement and heavy interference in the bargaining process. The party supports the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and believes that employers should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union.[57]

Retirement and Social Security

The party believes that private groups and individuals, believing members of society will become more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.[60]

Social issues

The Libertarian Party supports the legalization of all [68] The Libertarian Party's platform states: "Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships."[69]

A Libertarian banner at a Pro-Choice rally, emphasizing the party's support for giving voters more choices in nearly all aspects of society.


The official Libertarian party platform states, "Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration."[70] Libertarians have very different opinions on the issue, just like in the general public. Some, like the group Libertarians for Life, consider abortion to be an act of aggression from the government or mother against a fetus. Others, like the group Pro-Choice Libertarians,[71] consider denying a woman the right to choose abortion to be an act of aggression from the government against her.

Crime and capital punishment

Shortly before the [59]

Freedom of speech and censorship

The Libertarian Party supports unrestricted freedom of speech and is opposed to any kind of censorship. The party describes the issue in its website: "We defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from government itself.... We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media." The party claims it is the only political party in the United States "with an explicit stand against censorship of computer communications in its platform."[67]

Government reform

The Libertarian Party favors election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. The party platform calls for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. As a minor party, it opposes laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. Libertarians also advocate the use of direct democracy through the initiative, referendum, and recall processes.[72]

LGBT issues

The Libertarian Party advocates repealing all laws that control or prohibit homosexuality.[73] According to the Libertarian Party's platform, "Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws."[69]

Gay activist Richard Sincere has pointed to the longstanding support of gay rights by the party, which has supported marriage equality since its first platform was drafted in 1972 (40 years before the Democratic Party adopted marriage equality into their platform in 2012). Many LGBT political candidates have run for office on the Libertarian Party ticket,[74] and there have been numerous LGBT caucuses in the party, with the most active in recent years being the Outright Libertarians.

In 2009, the Libertarian Party of Washington encouraged voters to approve Washington Referendum 71 that extended LGBT relationship rights. According to the party, withholding domestic partnership rights from same-sex couples is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.[75] In September 2010, in the light of the failure to repeal the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy (which banned openly gay people from serving in the military) during the Obama administration, the Libertarian Party urged gay voters to stop supporting the Democratic Party.[76] The policy was repealed at the end of 2010.[77]

Pornography and prostitution

The Libertarian Party views attempts by government to control

  • Gary Johnson 2012 web site
  • Archive of 2004 LP presidential candidate web site at the Wayback Machine (archived November 5, 2004)
  • Archive of 2000 LP presidential candidate web site
  • Archive of 1996 LP presidential candidate web site at the Wayback Machine (archived November 5, 1996)
  • Archive of 1996 LP vice presidential candidate web site at the Wayback Machine (archived November 5, 1996)

Previous presidential candidates campaign sites

  • (Official Website)
  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter Page
  • (Libertarian news aggregator)
  • Libertarian (party) at DMOZ
  • Elected Libertarian officials, a site that keeps an independent tally; also includes candidates who identify themselves as libertarian but outside of the U.S. LP.

External links

  • Epstein, David A. (2012). Left, Right, Out: The History of Third Parties in America. Arts and Letters Imperium Publications. ISBN 978-0-578-10654-0.
  • David Boaz and David Kirby, The Libertarian Vote, Policy Analysis, Cato Institute, October 18, 2006.
  • David Kirby and David Boaz, The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama, Policy Analysis, Cato Institute, January 21, 2010.

Further reading

  1. ^ Press Release: Libertarian Party bucks trend with 11% increase in voter registration, dated April 2, 2014
  2. ^
  3. ^ Elected Officials | Libertarian Party
  4. ^ a b Current Issues | Libertarian Party
  5. ^ a b c David Nolan Reflects on the Libertarian Party on its 30th Anniversary, Colorado Freedom Report
  6. ^ Michael Patrick Murphy, The Government, p. 555, iUniverse, 2004, ISBN 978-0-595-30863-7.
  7. ^ Julie Ershadi (April 30, 2013). "Gary Johnson: I’m More Conservative and More Liberal Than Both Parties". Roll Call. 
  8. ^ Taxes. Official Website. Accessed: 13 October 2013.
  9. ^ Social Security. Official Website. Accessed: 13 October 2013.
  10. ^ Replace Welfare: Cut Taxes. Official Website. Accessed: 13 October 2013.
  11. ^ Crime and Violence. Official Website. Accessed: 13 October 2013.
  12. ^ Gun Laws. Official Website. Accessed: 13 October 2013.
  13. ^ a b "October 2012 Registration Totals".  
  14. ^ a b  
  15. ^ "Election Results". Alaska Division of Elections. November 7, 1978 Also (1980 & 1984). Retrieved 10-12-2013. 
  16. ^ "The Third Party Myth". Young Politicians of America. January 1, 2001. Retrieved 10-12-2013. 
  17. ^ John Hospers, RIP. reason. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  18. ^ Malcolm, Andrew, "Las Vegas gets its first national political convention", Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Winter, Bill, "1971–2001: The Libertarian Party's 30th Anniversary Year: Remembering the first three decades of America's 'Party of Principle'" LP News
  20. ^ What is Libertarianism?
  21. ^ "footer-logo (Libertarian Party domain shows current use)". Libertarian Party. Retrieved 10-12-2013. 
  22. ^ "LP-Logo-t (archived page shows prior use of "Lady Liberty")". Libertarian Party. November 6, 1996. Retrieved 10-12-2013. 
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See also

State and territorial parties

At the 2008 national convention, the changes went even further; with the approval of an entirely revamped platform.[101] Much of the new platform recycles language from pre-millennial platforms.[102] While the planks were renamed, most address ideas found in earlier platforms and run no longer than three to four sentences.[101]

Not all party members approved of the changes, some believing them to be a setback to libertarianism[99] and an abandonment of what they see as the most important purpose of the Libertarian Party.[100]

Members differ as to the reasons why the changes were relatively more drastic than any platform actions at previous conventions. Some delegates voted for changes so the Party could appeal to a wider audience, while others simply thought the entire document needed an overhaul. It was also pointed out that the text of the existing platform was not provided to the delegates, making many reluctant to vote to retain the planks when the existing language wasn't provided for review.[98]

In 1999, a working group of leading LP activists proposed to reformat and retire the platform to serve as a guide for legislative projects (its main purpose to that point) and create a series of custom platforms on current issues for different purposes, including the needs of the growing number of Libertarians in office. The proposal was incorporated in a new party-wide strategic plan and a joint platform-program committee proposed a reformatted project platform that isolated talking points on issues, principles and solutions, and an array of projects for adaptation. This platform, along with a short Summary for talking points, was approved in 2004. Confusion arose when prior to the 2006 convention, there was a push to repeal or substantially rewrite the Platform, at the center of which were groups such as the Libertarian Reform Caucus.[96] Their agenda was partially successful in that the current platform was much shortened (going from 61 to 15 planks – 11 new planks and 4 retained from the old platform) over the previous one.[97]

Platform revision

On September 13, 2001, just two days after the September 11 attacks and in response to what they saw as ambiguous statements about U.S. intervention in Afghanistan by the Libertarian National Committee, party members formed Libertarians for Peace to encourage the party to continue promoting a consistent non-interventionist position.

Intervention in Afghanistan

The debate quieted for a time, then arose again in the mid-1990s, when a "Committee for a Libertarian Majority" (CLM) was formed and met in [91] with the formation of several "pragmatist" groups, such as the Libertarian Party Reform Caucus. These groups generally advocate(d) revising the party's platform, eliminating or altering the membership statement, and focusing on a politics-oriented approach aimed at presenting libertarianism to voters in what they deemed a "less threatening" manner.[92] LPRadicals emerged in response and was active at the 2008 and 2010 Libertarian National Conventions.[93][94][95]

In the opinion of some Party officials, members who emphasize "principle," even at the expense of electoral success, have dominated the party since the early 1980s. Libertarian members often cite the departure of Ed Crane (of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank) as a key turning point.[89] Crane, who in the 1970s had been the party's first Executive Director, and some of his allies resigned from the Party in 1983 when their preferred candidates for national committee seats lost in the elections at the national convention. Others, like Mary Ruwart say that despite this apparent victory of those favoring principle, the party has for decades been slowly moving away from its ideals.[90]

The debate that has survived the longest is referred to by libertarians as the anarchist-minarchist debate. In 1974, anarchists and minarchists within the Party agreed to "cease fire" about the specific question of whether governments should exist at all, and focus on promoting voluntary solutions to the problems caused by government instead. This agreement has become known as the Dallas Accord, having taken place at the party's convention that year in Dallas, Texas. Another debate was created by Mike Hihn's claim that the term libertarianism has been used by anarchists longer than by minarchists.[86][87][88] A related internal discussion concerns the philosophical divide over whether the Party should aim to be mainstream and pragmatic, or whether it should focus on being consistent and principled.

"Principle" vs. "Pragmatism" debate

Internal debates

The Libertarian Party has not officially commented on their position of the status of Puerto Rico. However, they did publish an article in which Bruce Majors, the party's 2012 candidate for the District of Columbia's at-large congressional district delegate election, expressed support to "put a referendum on the ballot and let...residents decide whether they would like to be a state" and thereby give residents of Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico greater control over their level of taxation.[85]

Political Status of Puerto Rico

Libertarians generally prefer an attitude of mutual respect between all nations. The party describes how both encouraging free trade and preventing military intervention builds positive relationships and avoids negative relationships. Libertarian candidates have promised to cut foreign aid if elected and withdraw American troops from the Middle East and other areas throughout the world to spur the global economy by promoting peace.[84]

Foreign policy issues

The Libertarian Party affirms an individual's right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and opposes the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. They oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.[57]

Second Amendment rights


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