World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Libertarian Party (US)

Libertarian Party
Chairman Geoff Neale
Founded December 11, 1971 (1971-12-11) (42 years ago)
Headquarters 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20037
Student wing College Libertarians
Membership  (January 2013) >330,811 [1]
Ideology Libertarianism (United States)
Internal factions:
 • Anarcho-capitalism[2]
 • Paleolibertarianism[3]
 • Classical liberalism
 • Minarchism
 • Austrian economics
 • Left-libertarianism
 • Non-interventionism
 • Voluntaryism
Political position

Economic policy: Free market, Laissez-faire[4]
Social policy: Civil libertarianism, Cultural liberalism[5]

Foreign policy: Non-interventionism, Free trade
International affiliation Interlibertarians [4]
Colors      Gold, Yellow
Seats in the Senate
Seats in the House
State Upper House Seats
State Lower House Seats
Other elected offices 145 (2013)[6]
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. The Libertarian Party was formed in Westminster, Colorado, in the home of David Nolan on December 11, 1971.[7] The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Vietnam War, conscription, and the end of the Gold Standard.[8] 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 modern liberal and progressive platform of the Democrats and the more conservative platform of the Republicans.[9] Current policy positions include lowering taxes,[10] allowing people to opt-out of Social Security,[11] abolishing welfare,[12] ending the prohibition on illegal drugs,[13] and supporting gun ownership rights.[14]

In the 30 states where voters can register by party, there is a combined total of 330,811 voters registered under the party.[1] 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. Due to this, it has been labelled by some as the United States' third-largest political party.[15] It is also identified by many as the fastest growing political party in the United States.[16][dated info]

Hundreds of Libertarian candidates have been elected or appointed to public office, and thousands have run for office under the Libertarian banner.[17][18][19] 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.[20] The party has also 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.[21][22]


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 win an electoral vote.[7][20] 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.[23]

Name and symbols

In 1972, "Libertarian Party" was chosen as the party's name, selected over "New Liberty Party."[24] 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".[25]

Also in 1972, the "Libersign"—an arrow angling upward through the abbreviation "TANSTAAFL" (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch)—was selected as the party's emblem.[24] Sometime after, this was replaced with the Lady Liberty, which has, ever since, served as the party's symbol or mascot.[26][27]

In the 1990s several state libertarian parties adopted the Liberty Penguin ("LP") as their official mascot.[28] Another mascot is the Libertarian porcupine, an icon designed by Kevin Breen in March 2006 and is often associated with the Free State Project.[29]

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)[30] is a 27-member body, currently chaired by Geoff Neale. 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 [31] 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. Since 2006, membership in the party's state affiliates has been separate from membership in the national party,[32] 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."[33]

This includes favoring minimally regulated markets, a less powerful federal government, strong civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), the drug liberalization, 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.[33] 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 NAFTA, CAFTA, and similar trade agreements, as well as the United States' exit from the World Trade Organization and NATO.[34]

Size and influence

Presidential candidate performance

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.[35] 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%),[36] the largest amount ever cast for a Libertarian ticket since the party's founding in 1971, although it was much lower than expected by polls.

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 Harry Browne / 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[37]

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 1,365,727 1.11% [36] 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).[38]

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.[39] Following the 2012 election, the party will have ballot status in 30 states.[40]

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.[41] There were 115,401 Americans who were on record as having signed the membership statement as of the most recent report.[42] A survey by David Kirby and David Boaz found a minimum of 14 percent American voters to have libertarian-leaning views.[43][44]

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.[45]

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.[46] 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,[47] 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, 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.[48]

Nationwide, there are 135 Libertarians holding elected office: 36 of them partisan offices and 99 of them non-partisan offices.[49] 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 Massachusetts Senate races (2000 and 2002), Libertarian candidates Carla Howell and Michael Cloud, who did not face serious Republican contenders (in 2002 the candidate failed to make the ballot), received a party record-setting 11.3% and 16.7% [50] respectively. In Indiana's 2006 U.S. Senate race, which lacked a Democratic candidate, Steve Osborn received 12.6% of the vote. In 2012, Joel Balam set a record for the largest percent of the vote in a U.S. House election, running in Kansas's 3rd congressional district against Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder without a Democratic opponent and receiving 31.5% of the vote, he received 92,675 votes according to official Kansas State voting records. In 1982, Dick Randolph earned 14.9% of the vote in his race for Alaska Governor (best ever Libertarian result for Governor). In 2002, Ed Thompson, the brother of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, received 10.5% of the vote (second best ever Libertarian result for Governor) running for the same office, resulting in a seat on the state elections board for the Libertarian Party. In 2008, Libertarian Party of Georgia Public Service Commission candidate John Monds became the first Libertarian in history to garner 1,076,726 votes (33.4%).[51] 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.[1]

In 2011, the Pew Research Center conducted a study and found that roughly 67% of Libertarians were male, and that about 85% were white. At least 71% attended college to some extent, while overall they were more likely to be employed than Democratic or Republican voters.[52]

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.[53]

During the 2008 United States Presidential election, the Libertarian Party gained ballot access in 45 states;[54] 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 [55] 2014 [56]
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.[57]

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.[58] 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.[59]


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.[60]


The Libertarian platform 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.[33] 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."[61] 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.[61]

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.[62]

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".[63] 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.[61]

Retirement and Social Security

The party believes that retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The Libertarians feel that the proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of 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.[64]

Social issues

The Libertarian Party supports the legalization of all drugs,[65][66][67][68] pornography,[65] prostitution,[65][66][67][68] gambling,[69] removal of restrictions on homosexuality,[67] opposes any kind of censorship and supports freedom of speech,[70] and supports the right to keep and bear arms [66] while opposing capital punishment.[71] 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."[72]


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."[73] 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,[74] 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 2000 elections, the party released a "Libertarian Party Program on Crime" in which they criticize the failures of a recently proposed Omnibus Crime Bill, especially detailing how it expands the list of capital crimes.[71] Denouncing all executions, they also describe how the party would increase and safeguard the rights of the accused in legal settings as well as limit the use of excessive force by police. Instead, criminal laws would be reduced to violations of the rights of others through either force or fraud with maximum restitution given to victims of the criminals or negligent persons.[63]

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."[70]

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.[75]

LGBT issues

The Libertarian Party advocates repealing all laws that control or prohibit homosexuality.[76] 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."[72]

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,[77] 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.[78] 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.[79] The policy was repealed at the end of 2010.[80]

Pornography and prostitution

The Libertarian Party views attempts by government to control obscenity or pornography as "an abridgment of liberty of expression"[70] and opposes any government intervention to regulate it. According to former Libertarian National Committee Chairman Mark Hinkle, "Federal anti-obscenity laws are unconstitutional in two ways. First, because the Constitution does not grant Congress any power to regulate or criminalize obscenity, and second, because the First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech."[81] This also means that the party supports the legalization of prostitution.[65][66][67][68] Many men and women[82][83][84][85] with background in prostitution and activists for sex workers' rights, such as Norma Jean Almodovar [82][83] and Starchild,[84][85] have run for office on the Libertarian Party ticket or are active members of the party. Norma Jean Almodovar, a former officer with the Los Angeles Police Department and former call girl who authored the book From Cop To Call Girl about her experiences, ran on the Libertarian Party ticket for California lieutenant governor in 1986 and was actively supported by the party. Mark Hinkle described her as being the most able "of any Libertarian" "to generate publicity".[82] The Massachusetts Libertarian Party was one of the few organizations to support a 1980s campaign to repeal prostitution laws.[86]

Second Amendment rights

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.[61]

Foreign policy issues

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.[87]

Political Status of Puerto Rico

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.[88]

Internal debates

Main article: Factions in the Libertarian Party (United States)

"Principle" vs. "Pragmatism" debate

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.[89][90][91] 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.

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.[92] 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.[93]

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 Atlanta, Georgia, and worked up several proposals to alter many aspects of the Libertarian Party's operations. Two of their proposals (substantially altering the platform and abolishing the membership pledge) attracted a lot of attention and opposition sprang up in the form of another committee called PLEDGE. In the long run, CLM's proposals attracted some support at the national convention but did not prevail.

Beginning in roughly 2004, the debate arose anew, 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.[94]LPRadicals emerged in response and was active at the 2008 and 2010 Libertarian National Conventions.[95][96][97]

Intervention in Afghanistan

On September 13, 2001, just two days after the Libertarians for Peace to encourage the party to continue promoting a consistent non-interventionist position.

Platform revision

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.[98] 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.[99]

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.[100][unreliable source?]

Not all party members approved of the changes, some believing them to be a setback to libertarianism[101] and an abandonment of what they see as the most important purpose of the Libertarian Party.[102]

At the 2008 national convention, the changes went even further; with the approval of an entirely revamped platform.[103] Much of the new platform recycles language from pre-millennial platforms.[104] While the planks were renamed, most address ideas found in earlier platforms and run no longer than three to four sentences.[103]

State and territorial parties

See also


  1. Alternate URL
  2. Raymond A. Smith and Donald P. Haider-Markel, ISBN 978-1-57607-256-1, "The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States."
  3. Howard Troxler, Democrats, GOP aren't the only game in town, St. Petersburg Times, June 4, 1996. "The Reform Party, organized by 1992 candidate Ross Perot, and the Libertarian Party, the nation's third-largest party behind the Democrats and Republicans, both say they have enough signatures."
  4. [dated info]

Further reading

  • 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.
  • Cato Institute, October 18, 2006.
  • David Kirby and Cato Institute, January 21, 2010.

External links

  • (Official Website)
  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter Page
  • (Libertarian news aggregator)
  • 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.

Previous presidential candidates campaign sites

  • Gary Johnson 2012 web site
  • Archive of 2004 LP presidential candidate web site
  • Archive of 2000 LP presidential candidate web site
  • Archive of 1996 LP presidential candidate web site
  • Archive of 1996 LP vice presidential candidate web site
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.