Compare and Contrast Part 2

    To continue my series we will now focus on the Libertarians party since it was the next one in alphabetical order. Yes a lot of this is copy and pasted but I’m just showing a look at the three before I make my conclusion.

Stances on Issues:

Economic Issues:

  • Opposition to regulations on how businesses should run themselves (i.e. smoking bans).
  • Adoption of laissez-faire principles which would reduce the state’s role in the economy. This would include, among other things, markedly reduced taxation, privatization of Social Security and welfare (for individuals as well as elimination of “corporate welfare”), markedly reduced regulation of business, rollbacks of labor regulations, and reduction of government interference in foreign trade.
  • Support for a fiscally responsible government including a hard currency (commodity-based money supply as opposed to fiat currency).

Social Issues:

  • Strong civil liberties positions, including privacy protections, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and sexual freedom.
  • No government interference in reproductive rights, including access to abortion.
  • Support for the unrestricted right to the means of self-defense (such as gun rights, the right to carry mace or pepper spray, etc).
  • Abolition of laws against what are called victimless crimes (prostitution, driving without a seatbelt, use of controlled substances, fraternization, incest etc.).
  • Opposition to military conscription (“the draft”).
  • Protection of property rights.
  • Minimal government bureaucracy. The Libertarian Party states that the government’s responsibilities should be limited to the protection of individual rights from the initiation of force and fraud.

Foreign Policy:

  • A foreign policy of free trade and non-interventionism.

Libertarians state that their platform follows from the consistent application of their guiding principle: “mutual respect for rights.” They are therefore deeply supportive of the concept of individual liberty as a precondition for moral and stable societies. In their “Statement of Principles,” they declare: “We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.” To this end, Libertarians want to reduce the size of government (eliminating many of its current functions entirely).

Libertarians reject the view of politics as a one-dimensional spectrum, divided between Democrats representing the Left or Center-left and Republicans representing the Right or Center-right.

Among outside political watchers, some consider Libertarians to be conservative (primarily because of their support of the right to bear arms and because of their views on taxes and states’ rights); while others consider them liberal because of their advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy, the repeal of drug prohibition, and the elimination of laws that interfere with private consensual acts (such as prostitution and gambling). Libertarians consider themselves neither conservative nor liberal; rather, they believe they represent a unique philosophy that is all their own.

The party advocates limiting the government as much as possible within the confines of the United States Constitution. As in any political party, there is some internal debate about the platform, and not all of the party’s supporters advocate its complete or immediate implementation, but most think that the United States would benefit from most of its proposed changes.


The Libertarian Party was formed in the home of David Nolan on December 11, 1971, after several months of debate among members of the Committee to Form a Libertarian Party, founded July 17. This group included John Hospers, Edward Crane, Manuel Klausner, Murray Rothbard, R.A. Childs, Theodora (Tonie) Nathan, and Jim Dean. Prompted in part by price controls and the end of the Gold Standard implemented by President Richard Nixon, the Libertarian Party viewed the dominant Republican and Democratic parties as having diverged from what they viewed as the libertarian principles of the American Founding Fathers.

According to Ron Crickenberger, former Political Director of the LP, a search of LP records showed that the LP had elected Miguel Gilson-De Lemos in a partisan local board race in New York even before the adoption of its first platform. Several others were also elected or appointed that year. LP leaders initially doubted they would even see 6 people elected or appointed by 2001, so this led to early optimism among some. However, in subsequent years the number of people in office seemed to be about 1% of its donor base: approximately 30 officeholders with 3,000 donors in 1981; 100 in office and 10,000 donors in 1991; and 600 and 60,000 in 2001.

By the 1972 presidential election, the party had grown to over 80 members and had attained ballot access in two states. Their presidential ticket, John Hospers and Theodora Nathan, earned fewer than 3,000 votes, but received the first and only electoral college vote for a Libertarian ticket, from Roger MacBride of Virginia, who was pledged to Richard Nixon. His was the first vote ever cast for a woman in the United States Electoral College. MacBride became the party’s presidential nominee in the 1976 Presidential Election.

In 1978 Dick Randolph became the first Libertarian elected to state office with his election to the Alaska House of Representatives.

In the 1980 presidential contest, the Libertarian Party gained ballot access in all 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and Guam, the first time a third party accomplished this since the Socialist Party in 1916. The ticket of Ed Clark and David H. Koch spent several million dollars on this political campaign and earned more than one percent of the popular vote, the most successful Libertarian presidential campaign to date.

On December 29, 1981, the first widely reported successful election in the continental United States of a Libertarian Party candidate in a partisan race occurred as Richard P. Siano, a Boeing 707 pilot for Trans World Airlines, running against both a Republican and a Democrat, was elected to the office of Kingwood Township Committeeman in western Hunterdon County, New Jersey. His election resulted from the special election held on December 29, 1981 to break a tie vote in the general election between him and the Democratic candidate. He received 63% of the votes cast in the special election. He served a three-year term of office.

In 1983, the party was divided by internal disputes; former party leaders Edward Crane and David Koch left, taking a number of their supporters with them.

In 1984, the party’s presidential nominee, David Bergland, gained access to the ballot in 36 states and earned one-quarter of one percent of the popular vote.

In 1987, Doug Anderson became the first Libertarian elected to office in a major city, elected to the Denver Election Commission (later, in 2005, Anderson was elected to the Lakewood, Colorado city council).

In 1988, former Republican Congressman Ron Paul won the Libertarian nomination for president and was on the ballot in 46 states. Paul later successfully ran for United States House of Representatives from Texas, once again as a Republican, an office in which he still serves.

In 1992, Andre Marrou, a Libertarian elected to the Alaska state legislature and Ron Paul’s running mate in 1988, led the ticket, with attorney Nancy Lord as his Vice Presidential (VP) running mate. For the first time since the Clark campaign in 1980, the Libertarian Party made the ballot in all 50 states, DC, and Guam.

In 1994, radio personality Howard Stern embarked on a political campaign for Governor of New York, formally announcing his candidacy under the Libertarian Party ticket. Although he legally qualified for the office and campaigned for a time after his nomination, many viewed the run for office as nothing more than a publicity stunt. He subsequently withdrew his candidacy because he did not want to comply with the financial disclosure requirements for candidates.

Investment adviser Harry Browne headed the 1996 and 2000 tickets. The VP candidate in 1996 was South Carolina entrepreneur Jo Jorgensen; in 2000, Art Olivier of California was Browne’s running mate. Again the Party made the ballot in all 50 states, DC and Guam.

In all of these cases, the party’s presidential nominee drew in between one third and one half of one percent of the popular vote. In 2000, the Arizona Libertarian Party, which had been disaffiliated from the national organization in late 1999, but which controlled the Libertarian ballot line in that state, nominated science fiction author L. Neil Smith and newspaperman Vin Suprynowicz, rather than Browne and Olivier, as its presidential slate. Smith and Suprynowicz polled 5,775 votes (0.38%) in Arizona.

In the 2004 election cycle, the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination race was the closest to date. Three candidates — gun-rights activist and software engineer Michael Badnarik, talk radio host Gary Nolan, and Hollywood producer Aaron Russo — came within two percent of each other on the first two ballots at the 2004 national convention in Atlanta. Badnarik was chosen as the party’s presidential nominee on the third ballot after Nolan was eliminated, a comeback many saw as surprising, as Badnarik had not been viewed as a frontrunner for the nomination — many delegates were won over during the convention itself, due to Badnarik’s perceived strong performance in a formal candidate debate.

The Badnarik campaign secured ballot status in 48 states (plus DC and Guam) and earned 397,265 votes. Despite less name recognition and a much smaller campaign checkbook, Badnarik polled nearly as well as independent candidate Ralph Nader. The Libertarian party also garnered more votes than the Green Party that year. His running mate was Richard Campagna who secured the vice presidential nod at the party’s Atlanta convention with a landslide victory.

The Libertarian Party’s current national chair is Bill Redpath. Its current executive director is Shane Cory.

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. While those efforts were in some measure 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, the overriding theme of the platform remains largely the same.

Members differ as to the reasons why the changes were relatively more drastic than any platform actions at previous conventions. For instance, 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.

Naturally, not all Party members approved of the changes; believing them to be a setback to libertarianism and an abandonment of what they see as the most important purpose of the Libertarian Party.


Libertarian Party Site

Finally we shall look at the Republican Party.


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