National Platform of the
Convention, July 2, 2006, Portland Oregon
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.
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential
precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must
be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can
peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity
that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom
brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to
follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from
government or any authoritarian power.
In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and
enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles.
These specific policies are not our goal, however. 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.
Rights and Civil Order
Freedom and Responsibility
2. Freedom of Communication
3. Freedom of Religion
4. Property Rights
5. The Right to Privacy
6. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms
8. Reproductive Rights
9. Sexuality and Gender
Trade and the Economy
2. Corporate Welfare,
Monopolies & Subsidies
3. Public Services
Crime and Victimless Crime
2. The War on Drugs
Statement of Principles
We, the members of the
Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and
defend the rights of the individual.
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.
Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite
principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of
individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United
States, all political parties other than our own grant to government
the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of
their labor without their consent.
We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these
things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate
the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life --
accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical
force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action --
accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom
of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and
(3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government
interference with private property, such as confiscation,
nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of
robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.
Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights,
we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and
contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to
sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They
should be left free by government to deal with one another as free
traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible
with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.
Rights and Civil Order
No conflict exists between civil order and individual rights. Both
concepts are based on the same fundamental principle: that no
individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other
individual, group, or government.
I.1 Freedom and Responsibility
Personal responsibility is discouraged by government denying
individuals the opportunity to exercise it. In fact, the denial of
freedom fosters irresponsibility.
Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept
responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. We must
accept the right of others to choose for themselves if we are to have
the same right. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in
life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those
choices. We believe people must accept personal responsibility
for the consequences of their actions.
Libertarian policies will promote a society where people are free to
make and learn from their own decisions.
Transitional Action: Repeal all laws
that presume government knows better than the individual how to run
that person’s life. Encourage private sector dissemination of
information to help consumers make informed decisions on products and
services. Enforce laws against fraud and misrepresentation.
I.2 Freedom of Communication
We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government
censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including,
but not limited to, laws concerning:
a) Obscenity, including "pornography", as we hold this to be an
abridgment of liberty of expression despite claims that it instigates
rape or assault, or demeans and slanders women;
b) Reception and storage equipment, such as digital audio tape
recorders and radar warning devices, and the manufacture of video
terminals by telephone companies;
c) Electronic bulletin boards, communications networks, and other
interactive electronic media as we hold them to be the functional
equivalent of speaking halls and printing presses in the age of
electronic communications, and as such deserving of full freedom;
d) Electronic newspapers, electronic "Yellow Pages", file libraries,
websites, and other new information media, as these deserve full
e) Commercial speech or advertising. We oppose speech codes at
all schools that are primarily tax funded. Language that is deemed
offensive to certain groups is not a cause for legal action.
We strongly oppose the government's burgeoning practice of invading
newsrooms, or the premises of other innocent third parties, in the name
of law enforcement. We further oppose court orders gagging news
coverage of criminal proceedings -- the right to publish and broadcast
must not be abridged merely for the convenience of the judicial system.
We deplore any efforts to impose thought control on the media, either
by the use of anti-trust laws, or by any other government action in the
name of stopping "bias."
We defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech,
freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from
government itself. We recognize that full freedom of expression is
possible only as part of a system of full property rights. The freedom
to use one's own voice; the freedom to hire a hall; the freedom to own
a printing press, a broadcasting station, or a transmission cable; the
freedom to host and publish information on the Internet; the freedom to
wave or burn one's own flag; and similar property-based freedoms are
precisely what constitute freedom of communication. At the same time,
we recognize that freedom of communication does not extend to the use
of other people's property to promote one's ideas without the voluntary
consent of the owners.
We would provide for free market ownership of airwave frequencies,
deserving of full First Amendment protection. We oppose government
ownership or subsidy of, or funding for, any communications
organization. Removal of all of these regulations and practices
throughout the communications media would open the way to diversity and
innovation. We shall not be satisfied until the First Amendment is
expanded to protect full, unconditional freedom of communication.
Action: We advocate the abolition of the Federal
I.3 Freedom of Religion
Government routinely invades personal privacy rights based solely on
individuals’ religious beliefs. Arbitrary tax structures are designed
to give aid to certain religions, and deny it to others.
We defend the rights of individuals to engage in (or abstain from) any
religious activities that do not violate the rights of others.
In order to defend freedom, we advocate a strict separation of church
and State. We oppose government actions that either aid or attack any
religion. We oppose taxation of church property for the same reason
that we oppose all taxation. We condemn the attempts by parents or any
others -- via kidnappings or conservatorships -- to force children to
conform to any religious views. Government harassment or obstruction of
religious groups for their beliefs or non-violent activities must end.
Action: We call for an end to the harassment of churches
by the Internal Revenue Service through threats to deny tax-exempt
status to churches that refuse to disclose massive amounts of
information about themselves.
I.4 Property Rights
The right to property and its physical resources, which is the
fundamental cornerstone of a free and prosperous society, has been
severely compromised by government at all levels. Public Policy
instruments including eminent domain, zoning laws, building codes, rent
control, regional planning, property taxes, resource management and
public health legislation remove property rights from owners and
transfer them to the State, while raising costs of property ownership.
Public ownership of real property, beyond that which is explicitly
authorized in the Constitution, and claims against resources both owned
and unowned (such as the oceans or waterways) is illegitimate and
creates scarcity and conflict where none would otherwise exist.
Principle: Only individuals and private entities have
the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy
their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of
their control infringes on the valid rights of others. Resource
management and planning are the responsibility and right of the
legitimate owners of land, water and other natural resources.
Individuals have the right to homestead unowned resources, both within
the jurisdictions of governments and within such unclaimed territory as
the ocean, Antarctica and extraterrestrial bodies.
All public lands and resources, as well as claims thereto, except as
explicitly allowed by the Constitution, shall be returned to private
ownership, with the proceeds of sale going to retire public
liabilities. Resource rights shall be defined as property rights,
including riparian rights. All publicly owned infrastructures including
dams and parks shall be returned to private ownership and all taxing
authority for such public improvements shall sunset. Property related
services shall be supplied by private markets and paid for by user
fees, and regulation of property shall be limited to that which secures
the rights of individuals. There will be no legal barriers to peaceful,
private, voluntary attempts to explore, industrialize and colonize any
extra-terrestrial resources. The federal government shall be held as
liable as any individual for pollution or other transgression against
property or resources.
Action: Rescind all taxation of real property. Property,
resources and rights taken from their legitimate owners by government
or by government supported private action, shall be restored to the
rightful owners. Reverse the Supreme Court decision regarding eminent
domain - Kelo v City of New London. Repeal all legislation that
transfers property rights to the state, including those enacted in the
name of aesthetic values, risk, moral standards, cost-benefit
estimates, the promotion or restriction of economic growth, health or
national security claims. Sunset all federal agencies that own,
regulate or administer property, as well as agencies at the local level
which exercise control over private property and resources. Rescind and
oppose all international treaties that exercise government control over
I.5 The Right to Privacy
Privacy protections have been eroded gradually over many years. The
Social Security Number has become a universal ID number, causing
rampant and massive identity theft. Government routinely keeps records
on the bank accounts, travel plans, and spending habits of law-abiding
civilians, for no other reason than they “might” commit a crime in the
The Principle: The individual's
right to privacy, property, and right to speak or not to speak should
not be infringed by the government. The government should not use
electronic or other means of covert surveillance of an individual's
actions or private property without the consent of the owner or
occupant. Correspondence, bank and other financial transactions and
records, doctors' and lawyers' communications, employment records, and
the like should not be open to review by government without the consent
of all parties involved in those actions.
Private contractual arrangements, including labor contracts, must be
founded on mutual consent and agreement in a society that upholds
freedom of association. On the other hand, we oppose any use of such
screening by government or regulations requiring government contractors
to impose any such screening.
Solutions: We support the
protections provided by the Fourth Amendment and oppose any government
use of search warrants to examine or seize materials belonging to
innocent third parties. We oppose all restrictions and regulations on
the private development, sale, and use of encryption technology. We
specifically oppose any requirement for disclosure of encryption
methods or keys, including the government's proposals for so-called
"key escrow" which is truly government access to keys, and any
requirement for use of government-specified devices or protocols. We
also oppose government classification of civilian research on
encryption methods. If a private employer screens prospective or
current employees via questionnaires, polygraph tests, urine tests for
drugs, blood tests for AIDS, or other means, this is a condition of
that employer's labor contracts. Such screening does not violate the
rights of employees, who have the right to boycott such employers if
they choose. We oppose the issuance by the government of an identity
card, to be required for any purpose, such as employment, voting, or
border crossing. We further oppose the nearly universal requirement for
use of the Social Security Number as a personal identification code,
whether by government agencies or by intimidation of private companies
Transitional Action: We also oppose police
roadblocks aimed at randomly, and without probable cause, testing
drivers for intoxication and police practices to stop mass transit
vehicles and search passengers without probable cause. So long as the
National Census and all federal, state, and other government agencies'
compilations of data on an individual continue to exist, they should be
conducted only with the consent of the persons from whom the data is
sought. We oppose government regulations that require employers to
provide health insurance coverage for employees, which often encourage
unnecessary intrusions by employers into the privacy of their employees.
I.6 The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms
Governments at all levels often violate their citizens’ right of self
defense with laws that restrict, limit or outright prohibit the
ownership and use of firearms. These “gun control” laws are often
justified by the mistaken premise that they will lead to a reduction in
the level of violence in our society.
The Principle: The Bill of Rights
recognizes that an armed citizenry is essential to a free society. We
affirm the right to keep and bear arms.
Solutions: We oppose all laws at any
level of government restricting, regulating or requiring the ownership,
manufacture, transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition. We oppose all
laws requiring registration of firearms or ammunition. We support
repeal of all gun control laws. We demand the immediate abolition of
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Transition: We oppose any government
efforts to ban or restrict the use of tear gas, "mace" or other
self-protection devices. We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons
or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe. We favor
the repeal of laws banning the concealment of weapons or prohibiting
pocket weapons. We also oppose the banning of inexpensive handguns
("Saturday night specials") and semi-automatic or so-called assault
weapons and their magazines or feeding devices.
Any form of coerced national service program is a type of involuntary
servitude. Examples include conscription into the military and
compulsory youth labor programs.
Coerced national service programs presume the government can claim
ownership of the lives of individuals. Such programs are a form of
involuntary servitude and are a clear violation of the US Constitution
All forms of national service will be staffed by willing participants
without the need for conscription or other means of mandating such
service. When people perceive a just cause, history has shown that they
willingly volunteer to serve.
Action: All schemes for automatic registration through
government invasions of the privacy of school, motor vehicle or other
records should be immediately eliminated. The still-functioning
elements of the Selective Service System should be abolished and all
associated records should be destroyed. The President should
immediately pardon, providing unconditional exoneration, for all who
have been accused or convicted of draft evasion, desertion from the
military in cases of conscription or fraud and other acts of civil
I.8 Reproductive Rights
The tragedies caused by unplanned, unwanted pregnancies are aggravated
and sometimes created by government policies of censorship,
restriction, regulation and prohibition.
Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold
good-faith views on both sides, we believe that government should be
kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their
Individual rights should not be denied nor abridged on the basis of
sex, age, dependency, or location. Taxpayers should not be forced to
pay for other people's abortions, nor should any government or
individual force a woman to have an abortion. It is the right and
obligation of the pregnant woman regardless of age, not the state, to
decide the desirability or appropriateness of prenatal testing,
Caesarean births, fetal surgery, voluntary surrogacy arrangements
and/or home births.
We oppose government actions that either compel or prohibit abortion,
sterilization or any other form of birth control. Specifically we
condemn the practice of forced sterilization of welfare recipients, or
of mentally retarded or "genetically defective" individual. We support
the voluntary exchange of goods, services or information regarding
human sexuality, reproduction, birth control or related medical or
biological technologies. We oppose government laws and policies that
restrict the opportunity to choose alternatives to abortion.
Action: We support an end to all subsidies for childbearing or
child prevention built into our present laws.
I.9 Sexuality and Gender
Politicians use popular fears and taboos to legally impose a particular
code of moral and social values. Government regularly denies rights and
privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Consenting adults should be free to choose their
own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not
have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships.
Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.
Culture wars, social friction and prejudice will fade when marriage and
other personal relationships are treated as private contracts, solely
defined by the individuals involved, and government discrimination is
Action: Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state
laws and amendments defining marriage. Oppose any new laws or
Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private
relationships. Repeal any state or federal law assigning special
benefits to people based on marital status, family structure, sexual
orientation or gender identification. Repeal any state or federal laws
denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of
children and spousal immigration. End the Defense Department practice
of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation.
Upgrade all less-than-honorable discharges previously assigned solely
for such reasons to honorable status, and delete related information
from military personnel files. Repeal all laws discriminating by
gender, such as protective labor laws and marriage, divorce, and
custody laws which deny the full rights of each individual.
II. Trade and the Economy
We believe that each person
has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market.
Therefore we oppose all intervention by government into the area of
economics. The only proper role of existing governments in the economic
realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a
legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected.
Efforts to forcibly redistribute wealth or forcibly manage trade are
intolerable. Government manipulation of the economy creates an
entrenched privileged class -- those with access to tax money -- and an
exploited class -- those who are net taxpayers.
We believe that all individuals have the right to dispose of the fruits
of their labor as they see fit and that government has no right to take
such wealth. We oppose government-enforced charity such as welfare
programs and subsidies, but we heartily applaud those individuals and
private charitable organizations that help the needy and contribute to
a wide array of worthwhile causes through voluntary activities.
II.1 Government Debt
The national debt imposes debt upon Americans without their consent,
and loads our economy with a fiscal anchor that will burden many future
generations. Our escalating national debt is nothing less than
theft from our grandchildren.
The government should operate on a "pay as you go" basis, and not incur
A debt-free government frees up economic resources, allowing for lower
taxes, economic growth and lower interest rates.
Action: Eliminate the national debt using an incremental
approach, being careful to avoid social disruption. We support
the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the US Constitution
that restricts Congress from spending any more than it collected in
revenue the previous year.
Eliminate earmarks, pork-barrel spending, and other forms of political
Congress should sell assets and reduce spending on non-essential
functions to pay off the national debt as quickly as possible.
II.2 Corporate Welfare, Monopolies & Subsidies
Subsidies, government-granted monopolies, and other forms of corporate
welfare today exist as privileges granted by government to those with
political access. These destroy the level playing field that free
markets depend on, create a corrupt relationship between government
authority and special interests, and are unconstitutional. Furthermore,
the loans by government-sponsored entities, even when not guaranteed by
the government, constitute another form of subsidy.
Individuals must be free to be aggressive competitors and form
corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on
voluntary association in the market place, and must enjoy no
state-sponsored advantage. Those who best supply a good or service in
the market will enjoy natural dominance only as long as they continue
to benefit consumers. Subsidies and government-granted monopolies
protect the non-competitive from market forces.
Replacement of all government-granted monopolies and subsidies with
deregulated free markets and informed consumers will benefit both
consumers and producers, eliminate political favoritism, and maintain a
strict separation of markets and state authority. Genuine crimes
committed to create a monopoly, such as blackmail, bribery, fraud,
libel or slander are prosecuted as any other crime.
Action: Eliminate all federal grants of monopoly or subsidy to
any private companies, such as utilities, airlines, energy companies,
agriculture, science, medicine, broadcasting, the arts and sports
teams. Repeal all anti-trust laws. All federal agencies whose primary
function is to make or guarantee corporate loans must be abolished or
II.3 Public Services
Federal, state and local governments have created inefficient service
monopolies throughout the economy. From the US Postal Service to
municipal garbage collection and water works, government is forcing
citizens to use monopoly services. These are services that the private
sector is already capable of providing in a manner that gives the
public better service at a competitive price.
A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient
Consumers of services should not have their choices arbitrarily limited
Libertarian policies will seek to divest government of all functions
that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private
Actions: All rate regulation in utilities should transition to
free market pricing.
End the Postal Service's monopoly and allow for the free competition in
all aspects of mail delivery.
State and local monopoly services should be opened to free-market
Local and state governments can auction assets such as utility systems
and landfills to private industry, thereby immediately reducing the tax
burden on their citizens.
III. Domestic Ills
Current problems in such
areas as energy, pollution, health care delivery, decaying cities, and
poverty are not solved, but are primarily caused, by government. The
welfare state, supposedly designed to aid the poor, is in reality a
growing and parasitic burden on all productive people, and injures,
rather than benefits, the poor themselves.
III.1 Crime and Victimless Crime
The Issue: Violent
crime and fraud threaten the lives, happiness and belongings of
Americans. Government's ability to protect the rights and property of
individuals from crimes of violence and fraud is compromised because
resources are focused on vice rather than on real crimes. Laws that
codify "victimless crimes" turn those who simply conduct voluntary
transactions and exercise free choice into criminals. This results in
the United States having one of the highest percentages of the
population in prison of any country in the world; yet real crime
remains prevalent in many parts of the country.
Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including
life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to
violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate
actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of
harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of
harm to themselves in the exercise of free choice.
The appropriate way for the federal government to address crime is
through consistent and impartial enforcement of laws that protect
individual rights. The law enforcement resources of the federal
government can be used most efficiently if limited to appropriate
federal concerns. Limiting law enforcement to true crime will restore
respect for the law and those who enforce it.
Action: Immediately reform the justice system's mandatory
sentencing policies to ensure that violent offenders are not released
from jail to make room for non-violent offenders. Repeal criminal laws
which work against the protection of the rights and freedom of American
citizens, residents or visitors, particularly laws which create a crime
where no victim exists.
III.2 The War on Drugs
The suffering that drug misuse has brought about is deplorable;
however, drug prohibition causes more harm than drugs themselves. The
so-called "War on Drugs" is in reality a war against the American
people, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is a grave threat
to individual liberty, to domestic order and to peace in the world.
Individuals should have the right to use drugs, whether for medical or
recreational purposes, without fear of legal reprisals, but must be
held legally responsible for the consequences of their actions only if
they violate others’ rights.
Social involvement by individuals is essential to address the problem
of substance misuse and abuse. Popular education and assistance
groups are a better approach than prohibition, and we support the
activities of private organizations as the best way to move forward on
Action: Repeal all laws establishing criminal or civil
penalties for the use of drugs. Repeal laws that infringe upon
individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property as
protected by the Fourth Amendment. Stop the use of "anti-crime"
measures such as profiling or civil asset forfeiture that reduce the
standard of proof historically borne by government in
prosecutions. Stop prosecuting accused non-violent drug
offenders, and pardon those previously convicted.
IV. Foreign Affairs
American foreign policy
should seek an America at peace with the world and the defense --
against attack from abroad -- of the lives, liberty, and property of
the American people on American soil. Provision of such defense must
respect the individual rights of people everywhere.
The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between
governments. The United States government should return to the historic
libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining
totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and
recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration.
Our borders are currently neither open, closed, nor secure. This
situation restricts the labor pool, encouraging employers to hire
undocumented workers, while leaving those workers neither subject to
nor protected by the law. A completely open border allows foreign
criminals, carriers of communicable diseases, terrorists and other
potential threats to enter the country unchecked. Pandering politicians
guarantee access to public services for undocumented aliens, to the
detriment of those who would enter to work productively, and increasing
the burden on taxpayers.
The legitimate function and obligation of government to protect the
lives, rights and property of its citizens, requires awareness of and
control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a
threat to security, health or property. Political freedom and escape
from tyranny demands that individuals not be unreasonably constrained
by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom
demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital
across national borders.
Borders will be secure, with free entry to those who have demonstrated
compliance with certain requirements. The terms and conditions of entry
into the United States must be simple and clearly spelled out.
Documenting the entry of individuals must be restricted to screening
for criminal background and threats to public health and national
security. It is the obligation of the prospective immigrant to
demonstrate compliance with these requirements. Once effective
immigration policies are in place, general amnesties will no longer be
Action: Ensure immigration requirements include only
appropriate documentation, screening for criminal background and
threats to public health and national security. Simplifying the
immigration process and redeployment of surveillance technology to
focus on the borders will encourage the use of regular and monitored
entry points, thus preventing trespass and saving lives. End federal
requirements that benefits and services be provided to those in the
country illegally. Repeal all measures that punish employers for hiring
undocumented workers. Repeal all immigration quotas.
© Copyright 2006 National Libertarian Party