we accomplished in 1976
In 1976, the Libertarian Party achieved virtually all of the goals it had set for itself.
Status as the third party. The attention and respect of the media and public. Identity and name recognition. Credibility. All without compromising libertarian principles.
Here are the highlights of 1976
the LP's "breakthrough year."
Growth and Impact
From virtual obscurity at its
founding in 1971, the Libertarian Party has rocketed past all competitors to
become the third largest political party in America. While many of us could see
it coming, it took the 1976 presidential election to confirm that status
Our presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Rodger MacBride and Dave Bergland, were on the ballot in 32 states-more states than any party except the Republicans and Democrats. And we received 183,187 votes nationwide, more than any other third party presidential candidate.
In Alaska, the LP's presidential
ticket received 5.5 percent of the vote-the highest statewide percentage for any
third party candidate in the election (in Fairbanks, ten percent ). In several
states-Arizona, Nevada and Idaho among them-we achieved "balance of
power" status, by winning more votes than the difference between the totals
of the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Around the country, 250 candidates ran under the Libertarian Party banner.
Larry Fullmer, State Senate Candidate in Idaho received 30% of the vote. Helen Stevens, State Representative candidate in Arizona received 15% of the vote. And Martis Goodwin, LP nominee for Sheriff in Ingham County (Lansing), Michigan, won 20% of the vote.
These are just a few examples of the growing impact of the LP on the local level.
During the presidential campaign, we distributed nearly two million pieces of hard-hitting, uncompromising libertarian literature. The platform, presidential campaign flyer, position papers, and Roger MacBride's paperback book A New Dawn for America carried the libertarian message far and wide.
In his five-minute TV spots, Roger MacBride forcefully presented the libertarian alternative to the American people. Three different spots (on the economy, civil liberties, and foreign policy) were broadcast nationwide throughout the campaign. They were carried on every network, in prime evening time, reaching an estimated 15 to 20 million viewers with each telecast. It's safe to conclude that never before has the libertarian message been conveyed to such a huge audience.
Print ads were run in hundreds of college newspapers, in regional editions of national magazines like Time and Newsweek, and in political publications of all types.
Finally, appeals were mailed to an estimated 225,000 people, publicizing libertarianism and raising funds simultaneously
By this time, you know about the phenomenal coverage granted to the MacBride/Bergland campaign by the national and local media - truly unprecedented for a new party A brief recap is all that's required here.
From the New York Times to the Sunnyvale (Ca.) Scribe, from People Magazine to the Atlantic Monthly, there were more than 1000 major stories, columns, profiles and endorsements of Roger MacBride and the LP.
All three TV networks reported nationally on our campaign, including Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. In addition, Roger and Dave appeared on literally hundreds of TV and radio shows, including Meet the Press, Firing Line, the Today Show, good Morning America, and a half hour Public Broadcasting Service interview.
But Americans were not the only ones to hear the libertarian message. The rest of the world was also told about the Second Libertarian Revolution, as UPI's "World Horizons" newswire carried the story around the globe.
On the Campuses
1976 was also the year that the LP' established Young Libertarian Alliance chapters on 250 college and University campuses throughout the country.
College students are
traditionally in the forefront of support for activist political causes and
candidates. And it is in today's colleges and universities that tomorrow's
leaders and intellectuals are forming their ideas. For both of these reasons,
the YLA project marked a major step forward for the libertarian movement. It is
now evident that libertarianism is the only growing political movement on the
The increasing credibility of the Libertarian Party in the eyes of the media and the public was apparent throughout the campaign. We had shed the image of a "fringe" political group and become a party that deserved to be taken seriously.
"Already the Libertarian Party. . . looks upon itself as the natural successor to the Republican Party. Its gains over the last four years suggest that its boast is not wholly grounded in wishful thinking."
Chicago Tribune Editorial November 6,1976
"It is in the area of
detail, in the fine tuning they have given their ideology in so few years, that
the Libertarians' commitment to an undiluted human freedom is singularly
impressive" The Washington Post
"The Libertarian Party is
one of the most interesting and fastest growing new parties on the American
political spectrum. . . Consistency across the board and the principle of nearly
unrestrained individual rights characterize the Libertarian philosophy and
platform." The Progressive November 1976.
"Original thought in the 1976 campaign has come not from the major parties but from Gene McCarthy and Libertarian candidate Roger MacBride."
Our new legitimacy was
appropriately symbolized by the news that the University of Virginia, archivists
for the Thomas Jefferson collection, had requested to maintain the archives of
the LP. As a result, the essential documents of the Libertarian Party will now
be preserved, catalogued and made available to journalists. scholars and
Our program for 1977-78
As the above review demonstrates, the LP is a libertarian organization that's getting things done.
Important as our 1976 achievements were, however, the Libertarian Party cannot rest on its laurels if it is to become the alternative to the statist Republican/Democrat power structure.
And so, we're now planning a major program of organization, education and recruiting for 1977-78.
Here are the Key elements of
Written in a straightforward,
easy-to-understand manner, designed with attractive and striking graphics, our
revised set of publications will serve as essential tools for publicity,
education and recruitment. The common theme linking all of these publications is
the connection between libertarian principles and political action.
· A New Introductory Flyer.
Combining the best of four existing publications, this new piece will be the
basic introduction to the LP'. The planned initial press run is 250,000.
· Fact Sheets.
Condensed, one page flyers outlining the essential facts on major topics such as
health care, education, foreign policy and others. At a single glance, the
libertarian alternative on important subjects of current interest will be clear.
Issue Booklets. A family
of publications, each 12 to 15 pages, focusing on selected issues of public
policy. Carefully researched and documented, these booklets will stress that the
major creator of social problems -and the obstacle to their solution is
government. The initial titles in this series will cover national defense and
the intelligence agencies, the economy, environment and pollution, and community
issues (zoning, schools, local taxes, etc.). prior to the 1978 elections, we
intend to update and combine these pamphlets into a book, for use as a major
Articulate speakers on current affairs are in constant demand -by college groups, community organizations, professional societies, and others. To capitalize on this demand, the Libertarian Party is now establishing a national speakers' bureau. We will supply such distinguished libertarian spokesmen as economist Dr. Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs. editor of Libertarian Review and Dr. Nathanial Branden.
While addressing groups around the country, our speakers will almost assume the role of "candidates," winning audiences to libertarian principles and acting as advisors to local party organizations Additionally, the LP Speakers Bureau will arrange press interviews and radio and TV appearances in each community on their schedule.
The l978 Elections
Contrary to popular belief, 1978 is a major election year. The entire House and one-third of the Senate is up for re-election. So are 34 state governors and many important seats in state legislatures along with hundreds of important municipal races.
Because there is no presidential
election in 1978, the attention of the Libertarian Party will shift to the state
and local level. The LP's National Headquarters will encourage libertarians to
run for office, and will provide assistance to local organizations and
candidates (see next section). Our goal is to have 200 LP congressional
candidates in 1978 which would guarantee us major media coverage and inclusion
in national polls.
In 1976, 48 congressional
incumbents ran without major party opposition. We think their constituents are
ready for the libertarian alternative. Accordingly, we've targeted these
districts for top priority in 1978. LP National will help build organizations
and recruit candidates in these districts. We proved last year that we can get
at least 30 percent of the vote in this type of race.
The 1978 elections are not as far off as they might appear. planning must begin as early as this coming August if we are to achieve the above goals.
Grassroots Organization and
Most important of the LP's efforts in 1977-78 is the building of a national political organization from the neighborhood level upward. For history shows that only in this way can a truly effective political force be created.
LP National will supply state and local parties and candidates with the following:
· Ongoing Support. Recruiting literature, organizational assistance, advice on fund-raising.
· Campaign Kits. To help overcome the problems that discourage many people from running for office, the LP will create and distribute campaign Kits. These kits will contain prepared speeches, typeset ads (with space for inserting names of candidates and local headquarters), a suggested schedule, publicity materials, and helpful suggestions for running an effective campaign.
· Candidates and Activists Workshop. Our Workshop will travel around the country, helping local party organizations with petition drives and other Key campaign projects.
· Regional Conferences For Libertarians to discuss common problems, hear authoritative speakers and share new ideas.
Other National Activities
An important part of the LP's program, often overlooked, is the day-to-day functioning of our National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Operated by a full-time staff
plus an enthusiastic core of part-time volunteers, the LP's National
Headquarters processes inquiries and orders for literature, drafts news releases
and schedules press interviews, supports the Young Libertarian Alliance,
publishes the LP News, copes with membership, legal and financial matters, and
coordinates the research for all publications. LP Headquarters also sponsors
special events, like the annual national convention, and regional gatherings
such as the recent Southern Libertarian Conference.
Currently, LP National is
encouraging and assisting in the creating of Libertarian political Action
Committees, (PAC's), such as the recently formed Libertarian Health Association.
These committees will promote the party, recruit new members and raise funds for
Libertarian candidates within various professions. PAC's represent an important
new dimension in the LP's continued growth and increasing political
Prospects for the LP
The 1976 election turnout served
to emphasize the dissatisfaction of most Americans with conventional politics.
This was the fourth consecutive presidential election in which the participation
of eligible voters declined.
Echoing this conclusion is the
fact that 50 percent of American voters now call themselves "independents,"
contrasted with between five and ten percent only a few years ago.
Where are these disgruntled
millions to turn? We believe that libertarianism is the alternative they will
seize. In the months ahead, as a result of the publicity and educational efforts
outlined above, they will discover both libertarian principles and the
The future of the LP at this writing, then, looks bright indeed. We're the fastest growing political party in America. Our appeal cuts across all segments of the electorate, as demonstrated by the fact that the LP has been eagerly embraced by Americans of all ages, all geographical areas and all political labels.
This is the LP's year of opportunity. Other parties will be sitting out 1977 with traditional
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party will launch the dynamic program of expansion
and recruitment you've just read about.
That program may determine the
future of the Libertarian Portend of America.