The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States. It is also identified by many as the fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects the ideas of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated markets, a less powerful state, strong civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), the legalization of cannabis, separation of church and state, open immigration, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations (i.e., avoiding foreign military or economic entanglements with other nations), freedom of trade and travel to all foreign countries, and a more responsive and direct democracy. Some members of the Libertarian Party have also supported the repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, and similar trade agreements, as well as the United States' exit from the United Nations, WTO, and NATO.
Although there is not an explicitly-labeled "left" or "right" designation of the party, it is considered by many to be more right-wing than the Democratic Party but more left-wing than the Republican Party when comparing the parties' positions to each other. On the two-axis Nolan Chart, the party appears in the uppermost quadrant.
In the 30 states where voters can register by party, there are over 282,000 voters registered as Libertarians. Hundreds of Libertarian candidates have been elected or appointed to public office, and thousands have run for office under the Libertarian banner. The Libertarian Party has many firsts in its credit, such as being the first party to get an electoral vote for a woman in a United States presidential election.
On May 5, 2012, Gary Johnson received the Libertarian Party's official nomination for President of the United States in the 2012 election.
The Libertarian Party was formed in Westminster, Colorado, in the home of David Nolan on December 11, 1971. The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Vietnam War, conscription, and the end of the Gold Standard. 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 after the American Independent Party, which had previously been the third largest political party, continued to fracture. 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.
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."
Structure and composition
The Libertarian Party is democratically governed by its members, with state affiliate parties each holding annual conventions at which delegates are elected to attend the party's national conventions, held every two years. National convention delegates vote on changes to the party's national platform and bylaws, and elect representatives to the Libertarian National Committee(LNC). This 27-member body, currently chaired by Geoff Neale, is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the Libertarian Party and its office and staff. Some LNC members are also elected by the governing bodies of LP state affiliate chapters.
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, with each state chapter maintaining its own membership rolls.
Name and symbols
In 1972, "Libertarian Party" was chosen as the party's name, narrowly beating out "New Liberty Party." 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".
For many years, there has been a small movement to adopt "LP" the Liberty Penguin as the official mascot, much like the Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey. The Libertarian parties of Tennessee, North Carolina, Utah, Hawaii, Delaware and Iowa have all adopted "LP" as their mascot. Another popular mascot is the Libertarian porcupine, an icon designed by Kevin Breen in March 2006 and is often associated with the Free State Project.
2012 Presidential candidate
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.
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