Timeframe: 1971 - 1971
The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971, on December 11th, in the home of David Nolan. Dissillusioned Republicans, Democrats, and political newcomers hoped to create an alternative to the old parties, standing on firm principles of individual freedoms and a commitment to government non-intervention. The first national convention was later held in Denver, Colorado. John Hospers, a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California, was nominated as the presidential candidate, and the vice presidential candidate was Tonie Nathan. She became the first woman in United States history to recieve an electoral vote.
The next national convention, in New York city, nominated Roger MacBride and David Bergland on the presidential ticket; they were able to recieve ballot status in 32 states but still only recieved a little amount of popular vote--common for third parties facing the system set up in laws by the two established political parties. Two years later, Ed Clark, a Libertarian candidate for Governor of California, recieved 5% of the vote, and Randolph of Alaska became the first Libertarian legislator.
By 1980, the Libertarian party had recieved ballot status in all 50 states, and the party made their most impressive showing, and were at this time first considered as a political force, albeit one through ideology rather than political presence. The campaign by Ed Clark ran extensive television advertisements, offering the public a look at what the libertarian party had to offer. The next election, the Libertarian party made significant headway; the Louisiana congressional candidate James Agnew recieved 23% of the vote, and the Alaskan gubernatorial candidate Randolph recieved 13% of the vote. The Libertarian party continued to grow in a slow, painful process. Former Congressman Ron Paul of the Republican Party left to join the Libertarian party.
A decade later, in 1990, Libertarian congressional candidates were able to recieve up to about twenty percent of the vote, but would still not be able to win. Yet, the Libertarian party was proud that the Libertarian candidates for Senate recieved over one million votes, the highest total for a nationally organized party since 1914. However, this was greatly dwarfed in 1996, when in every race, candidates of the newly formed Reform Party came in third place, ahead of every Libertarian candidate in the race.
In 1996, the Libertarian party ran Harry Browne as their presidential candidate, with running mate Jo Jorgeson. This year, the Libertarian party recieved the most press coverage, as did all third political parties, who gained significantly higher visibility since the founding of the Reform Party by Ross Perot. The Libertarian candidate, along with other third party candidates were allowed to speak on Larry King Live and in third party debates, being shut out from the televised presidential debates. Yet, this increased visibility was not enough, and the Libertarians still recieved less than one percent of the presidential vote nationwide. Libertarians at this time were dissilusioned by the fact that they were overshadowed by the new Reform Party, and many people with Libertarianistic positions joined the Reform Party instead of them, who were increasingly called by the media, a "fringe group."