The Libertarian Party (LP) is a libertarian political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire economics and abolition of the welfare state. The LP was conceived at meetings in the home of David F. Nolan in Westminster, Colorado during 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 Vietnam War, conscription, and the end of the gold standard.
Gary Johnson, the party's presidential nominee in 2012 and 2016, states that the party is more culturally liberal than the Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than the Republicans. The party has generally promoted a classical liberal platform, in contrast to the modern liberal and progressive platform of the Democrats and the more conservative platform of the Republicans. Current policy positions include lowering taxes, allowing people to opt out of Social Security, ending welfare, ending the prohibition of illegal drugs, supporting same-sex marriage rights, and supporting gun ownership rights.
There are 411,250 voters registered as Libertarian in the 27 states and Washington, D.C. that report Libertarian registration statistics. By that count, it is the fifth largest party in the country. By other measures, such as popular vote in elections and number of candidates run per election, the LP is the country's third largest party. It has also many firsts to its credit, such as being the party under which the first electoral vote was cast for a woman for Vice President in a United States presidential election, due to a faithless elector.
Though the party has never won a seat in the United States Congress, it has seen electoral success in the context of state legislatures. 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 won election to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1998, which marked the last time to date a Libertarian was elected to a state house. Rhode Island State Representative Daniel P. Gordon was expelled from the Republicans and joined the Libertarian Party in 2011. John Moore, a Nevada State Assemblyman, switched from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party in 2016. Laura Ebke, a Nebraska State Senator switched registration from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party in June 2016.
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