For Immediate Release Monday, June 13, 2011
WASHINGTON – John Hospers, the Libertarian Party’s first presidential nominee in 1972, died on June 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 93.
Hospers became the Libertarian Party’s first nominee for U.S. President at its first national convention in Colorado on June 18, 1972. Hospers and his running mate, Tonie Nathan, each received one electoral vote in the 1972 election from Roger MacBride, a renegade elector in Virginia.
Hospers was a professor of philosophy at several universities, including the University of Southern California.
A brief biography is available at his website .
In 1971, he wrote the book Libertarianism – A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow , which described the libertarian political and economic philosophy.
Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle said, “I’ve been involved with the Libertarian Party since voting for John Hospers for president in 1972. Dr. Hospers was very influential in the formative days of our party, and we will miss him.”
A photo of a 1972 Hospers campaign poster is available here .
For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.
The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website .
The Libertarian Party (LP) is a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-fairecapitalism and the abolition of the welfare state. The party was conceived at meetings in the home of David F. Nolan in Westminster, Colorado in 1971 and was officially formed on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Nixon administration, the Vietnam War, conscription and the end of the gold standard.
The party generally promotes a classical liberal platform, in contrast to the Democrats' modern liberalism and progressivism and the Republicans' conservatism. Gary Johnson, the party's presidential nominee in 2012 and 2016, states that the Libertarian Party is more culturally liberal than Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than Republicans.Current fiscal policy positions include lowering taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), decreasing the national debt, allowing people to opt out of Social Security and eliminating the welfare state, in part by utilizing private charities. Current cultural policy positions include ending the prohibition of illegal drugs, supporting same-sex marriage, ending capital punishment and supporting gun ownership rights. Many Libertarians believe in lowering the drinking age to 18.
While it is the third largest political party in the United States and its votes have been increasing since 2012, it currently has no members in Congress or governorships and only a handful of state legislative seats. There are 511,277 voters registered as Libertarian in the 30 states that report Libertarian registration statistics and Washington, D.C. The Libertarian Party was the party under which the first electoral vote was cast for a woman (Tonie Nathan) for Vice President in the 1972 United States presidential election due to a faithless elector.
Main articles: History of the Libertarian Party (United States) and Electoral history of the Libertarian Party (United States)
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 (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 presidentialelections 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 receive an electoral vote.
The 2012 election Libertarian Party presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, received the highest number of votes—more than 1.2 million—of any Libertarian presidential candidate at the time. He was renominated for president in 2016, this time choosing former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his running mate. Johnson/Weld shattered the Libertarian record for a presidential ticket, earning over 4.4 million votes. Both Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein received significantly more news coverage in 2016 than third-party candidates usually get, with polls showing both candidates potentially increasing their support over the last election, especially among younger voters.
Though the party has never won a seat in the United States Congress, it has seen electoral success in the context of state legislatures and other local offices. Three Libertarians were elected to the Alaska House of Representatives between 1978 and 1984 and another four to the New Hampshire General Court in 1992. Neil Randall, a Libertarian, won the election to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1998 and was re-elected until 2002, which marked the last time to date a Libertarian was elected to a state legislature.Rhode Island State RepresentativeDaniel P. Gordon was expelled from the Republicans and joined the Libertarian Party in 2011. In July 2016 and June 2017, the Libertarians tied their 1992 peak of four legislators when four state legislators from four different states left the Republican Party to join the Libertarian Party: Nevada AssemblymanJohn Moore in January,Nebraska SenatorLaura Ebke (although the Nebraska Legislature is officially non-partisan) and New Hampshire RepresentativeMax Abramson in May and Utah SenatorMark B. Madsen in July. In the 2016 election cycle, Madsen and Abramson did not run for re-election to their respective offices while Moore lost his race after the Libertarian Party officially censured him over his support of taxpayer stadium funding. Ebke was not up for re-election in 2016. New Hampshire Representative Caleb Q. Dyer changed party affiliation to the Libertarian Party from the Republican Party in February 2017. New Hampshire Representative Joseph Stallcop changed party affiliation to the Libertarian Party from the Democrat Party in May 2017. New Hampshire State Legislator Brandon Phinney joined with the Libertarian Party from the Republican Party in June 2017, the third to do so in 2017 and matching their 1992 and 2016 peaks of sitting Libertarian state legislators.
In January 2018, sitting New Mexico Commissioner of Public LandsAubrey Dunn Jr. changed party affiliation from Republican to the Libertarian Party, becoming the first Libertarian statewide officeholder in history.
Name and symbols
In 1972, "Libertarian Party" was chosen as the party's name, selected over "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".
Also in 1972, the "Libersign"—an arrow angling upward through the abbreviation "TANSTAAFL"—was adopted as a party symbol. By the end of the decade, this was replaced with the Lady Liberty until 2015, with the adoption of the current "Torch Eagle" logo.
In the 1990s, several state Libertarian parties adopted the Liberty Penguin ("LP") as their official mascot. Another mascot is the Libertarian porcupine, an icon that was originally designed by Kevin Breen in March 2006 and inspired by the logo of the Free State Project (FSP).
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 whereas others are appointed by the chairpersons of LP state affiliate chapters within a region.
Libertarian National Committee
The Libertarian National Committee (LNC) is a 27-member body including alternates, or 17 voting members and is currently chaired by Nicholas Sarwark. 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 of the Libertarian Party.
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 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, but currently, these are referred to as "signature members". People joining the party are also asked to pay dues, which are on a sliding scale starting at $25 per year. Lifetime membership is granted with a $1,500 donation in one calendar 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.
Most rights to participate in the governance of the party are limited to "bylaws-sustaining members" who have either purchased a lifetime membership or donated at least $25 within the past year. Most state parties maintain separate membership, which may be tied to either payment of dues to the state party, or voter registration as a Libertarian, depending on the state's election laws.
The preamble outlines the party's goals: "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" and "Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands". 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 Statement of Principles is foundational to the ideology of the party and was created specifically to bind the party to certain core principles with a high parliamentary burden for any amendment. 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".
This includes favoring minimally regulated markets, a less powerful federal government, strong civil liberties (including LGBT rights, with the party supporting same-sex marriage), the liberalization of drug laws, 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. 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 "good-faith" opinions on this issue are different.Ron Paul, one of the former presidential nominees of the Libertarian Party in 1988, is strictly pro-life. Gary Johnson, the party's 2012 and 2016 presidential candidate, is pro-choice as were most of the party's past nominees other than Paul.
The Statement of Principles was written by John Hospers. The Libertarian Party's bylaws specify that a 7/8ths supermajority of delegates is required to change the Statement of Principles. Any proposed platform plank found by the Judicial Committee to conflict with the Statement requires approval by a three-fourths supermajority of delegates. Early platform debates included at the first convention whether to support tax resistance and at the 1974 convention whether to support anarchism. In both cases, a compromise was reached.
Size and influence
Presidential candidate performance
The first Libertarian presidential candidate, John Hospers, received one electoral vote in 1972 when Roger MacBride, a VirginiaRepublicanfaithless elector pledged to Richard 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 United States presidential election. MacBride became the Libertarian nominee himself in 1976. This was the last time that the Libertarian Party won an electoral vote until 44 years later when Texas Republican faithless elector Bill Greene, who was pledged to cast his vote for Donald Trump, instead cast his vote for Libertarian Party member and former congressman Ron Paul for President.
During the 2016 presidential election, Gary Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld received a record percentage of 3.28% of the popular vote (4,488,919 votes), getting as much as 9.34% in New Mexico, where Johnson had previously been elected Governor. In the 2012 presidential election, Johnson and running mate Jim Gray received 1,275,821 votes (1%).
|Year||Presidential/Vice presidential candidate||Popular votes||Percentage||Electoral votes|
|1972||John Hospers/Theodora Nathan||3,674||<0.01%||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 (campaign)||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 (campaign)||384,431||0.36%||0|
|2004||Michael Badnarik/Richard Campagna (campaign)||397,265||0.32%||0|
|2008||Bob Barr/Wayne Allyn Root (campaign)||523,713||0.40%||0|
|2012||Gary Johnson/Jim Gray (campaign)||1,275,923||0.99%||0|
|2016||Gary Johnson/William Weld (campaign)||4,489,233||3.28%||0|
|Republicangain from Democratic||Swing|
House of Representatives results
|Year||Popular votes||Percentage||Number of seats|
|Year||Popular votes||Percentage||Number of seats|
Earning ballot status
Historically, Libertarians have achieved 50-state ballot access for their presidential candidate four times: in 1980, 1992, 1996 (in 2000, L. Neil Smith was on the Arizona ballot instead of the nominee, Harry Browne) and most recently in 2016.
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. Following the 2012 election, the party gained automatic ballot status in 30 states.
Following the 2016 election, the party announced that it had achieved automatic ballot status in 37 or 38 states plus the District of Columbia.
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. As of the end of 2017, there were 138,815 Americans who were on record as having signed the membership statement. A survey by David Kirby and David Boaz found a minimum of 14 percent American voters to have libertarian-leaning views.