The Libertarian Party (LP) is a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism, and the abolition of the welfare state. The LP 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 LP is more culturally liberal than Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than Republicans. Current fiscal policy positions include lowering taxes, abolishing the 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, it currently has no members in Congress or governorships. There are 499,492 voters registered as Libertarian in the 27 states that report Libertarian registration statistics and Washington, D.C. The LP 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.
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