Heritage Edition – The History and Legacy of The Libertarian Party

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Gwendolyn Janik, Writer

Everyone in America knows the Democrat and Republican Parties. However, how much do you know about the third-party options? The Libertarian Party, also known as “The Party of Principle,” was founded in 1971 in Westminster, Colorado (“David Nolan Reflects on the Libertarian Party on its 30th Anniversary”). It was the first third party to be on the presidential ballot of all 50 states two years in a row. Since then, it has always been on all of the ballots and is the largest third party. You might be wondering why it is the biggest third party and another third party, like the Green or Constitutional parties, isn’t. It could be that like the Republican and Democrat Parties have large platforms on a large variety of issues, the Libertarian Party’s platform covers a large cross-section of topics (“Libertarian”). 

Being known as “The Party of Principle” means that Libertarians have foundational beliefs that they stick to. These beliefs are focused on the freedoms of the individual. Due to this, most views held by Libertarians overlap with views held by Liberals and Conservatives. Like Liberals, they want reform in the justice system. The main difference is that Liberals focus on the social parts and would like to reform the system to not be as harsh on minorities. Libertarians want that too, but their main focus is on getting rid of victimless crimes like drug use, gambling, and sex work. Libertarians agree with Republicans about a lot of things, such as limiting gun control and keeping the markets as free as possible. The Libertarian platform also has made it clear that they believe that all medical choices should be made by the individual instead of the government. Meaning they think that all drugs should be legalized, abortion shouldn’t be controlled in any way by the government, and everyone should make their own choices about vaccinations. In recent years, we have seen that Liberals have switched their position on medical freedoms, where they tend to disagree about vaccines being a personal choice. Conservatives also switched. They now think that vaccinations should be up to the individual. Libertarians have always been steadfast in their belief that medicine should be a personal choice. This is an example of why the Libertarian Party is called “The Party of Principle.” They believe that everyone has a right to self-ownership and that everyone should get treated equally, no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other factor of being human. This set of beliefs is what makes the Libertarian Party a tempting choice for many people, including myself.

Not only do they represent people more completely, but their candidates have made several historic firsts. The first woman to receive an electoral vote in a presidential election ran as the vice president on the Libertarian platform of 1972. Tonie Nathan graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree and wrote in Lew Rockwell, she said, “[The voters] should vote their consciences and pick the candidate who best represents their values. This way is the only way of getting their concerns before those who will ultimately determine the direction of this country on matters of supreme importance,” (“LewRockwell.com”). Tonie Nathan advocated for people to not feel forced into the lesser of the two evils mentality, and to truly stand up for what they believe in. She noted that the media doesn’t cover Libertarians, or any third-party, very often. Tonie Nathan questioned why that might be before concluding, “Could it be that most Americans share the Libertarian ideals of Republican fiscal conservatism (reducing the size and cost of government) and Democratic social liberalism (allowing citizens control over their personal lives)? Perhaps such Libertarian views represent a genuine threat to both major parties…” Tonie Nathan led the way by not only being the first woman to receive a presidential nomination, but she was also the first Jew to receive a nomination. To this day, she is still the only Libertarian to be nominated for vice-president from Oregon.

Every state has Libertarian affiliates and groups that have always been fighting for what they believe in. Often overlooked, the Libertarian Party continues to grow and attempt to improve the country the best that it can. They continue to advocate for complete freedom, not just the economic freedom that the Republicans push for, or the social freedoms that the Democrats advocate for. All freedoms.