The post-World War II period between the 1950s and 1970s was an era of great sociopolitical contrast. The civil rights movement, Marshall Plan, Peace Corps and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society juxtaposed heavily against the Cold War, Vietnam War, segregation, war on drugs and perceived enlargement of federal powers. Amidst the idealistic baby boomers-powered counterculture struggle across major cities and college grounds, libertarianism experienced a minor renaissance in American politics. Described by Ayn Rand as “hippies of the right," they began to converge in small groups to explore and expound on the ideals of liberty, individual rights, limited government, laissez-faire economics, and the evils of coercive taxation and imperialism.

One such group appeared at the home of David F. Nolan. However, unlike other informal libertarian gatherings, Nolan’s group-of-five (featuring his then-wife Susan, Luke Zell, Hue Futch and Dale Nelson) was focused on establishing a formal political structure to espouse the merits of libertarianism to the nation. Although the majority of their meetings were held in Nolan’s home in Westminster, Colorado, the Libertarian Party was formally established in Zell’s home in Colorado Springs on December 11, 1971. Interestingly, the decision was only made after over a 100 people on Nolan’s bumper-sticker sales mailing list, whom they’ve written to, responded positively to the idea of joining the new party. A month later, Nolan held a press conference to introduce the party to the nation.

However, the new party wasn’t warmly received by the libertarian community initially. In fact, Murray Rothbard, the godfather of the modern American libertarian movement, was downright critical of the party. But the Libertarian Party slowly gained the trust of the community, even as the leadership fought a bitter identity war in its early days. Less than ten years later, it fielded a libertarian presidential candidate against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election. Ed Crane and his running mate, David Koch (the younger brother of Charles Koch) received an admirable 921,128 votes in the election.

Although the party’s electoral success was rather limited during its first few decades, it managed to create a platform which allowed the dissemination of libertarian ideas to a broader audience on a wide range of issues. It also gave a home to Americans disillusioned by the big two political parties. In a 2001 interview, Nolan stated that “our greatest success is that we have created the only viable mechanism now existing to offer a reasonable hope of stopping the imposition of a very authoritarian system in this country that might last for generations.”

In terms of ballot access and number of registered party members, the Libertarian Party is arguably the biggest third-party in the country for the last three decades. With the high unfavorability ratings of the candidates of the two major parties and rising anti-establishment sentiment, many Libertarians are quietly confident that the party’s presidential candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, will perform strongly this November.

 2016 Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee

2016 Libertarian Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of New Mexico
2016 Libertarian Candidate  Gary Johnson
Governor Veto, as Gary Johnson was not-so-fondly known during his two terms as governor of New Mexico, has an enviable track record of success both in the private and public sector, an accomplishment that very few politicians can boast off. The fiscally conservative and socially liberal former construction company owner is seeking to build on his record breaking performance in 2012 by elevating the Libertarian Party to major party status in this election cycle.

Johnson Vice-Presidential Running Mate

2016 Libertarian Vice-Presidential Nominee
Businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts
Libertarian Vice-Presidential Nominee Bill Weld
There was a time when Gov. William Weld was considered as one of the rising stars of the Republican Party. He was a fearless prosecutor, and had an astonishing conviction record in corruption cases while serving as District Attorney for Massachusetts and head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. However, his ascension finally grounded to a halt in 1997 when one of the many toes he stepped on interfered with his Senate hearing as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. He’s launched a couple of comeback attempts since, but the marijuana decriminalization advocate’s nomination as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate is his first foray into national politics in about 20 years.

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