This week holds two anniversaries worthy of note that Libertarian Party members should celebrate and publicize.
Today, Dec. 11, marks the 47th anniversary of the founding of the Libertarian Party in 1971. It was on that day that David F. Nolan gathered with other libertarians in Colorado Springs to declare that it was time for a new political party devoted to defending liberty and to restricting government to its only legitimate purpose: protecting the rights of its citizens.
Since that day, the Libertarian Party has become the third-largest political party in the United States. The LP is the only political party with a core mission of defending individual liberty, promoting personal responsibility, and protecting the right of people “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.”
During these 47 years we’ve laid groundwork for Libertarians to be elected, change public policy, reduce the size and scope of government, and increase the extent of liberty and responsibility in the United States. The extraordinary efforts of our members have made the LP into the only party (other than the Democrats and Republicans) that regularly achieves ballot access throughout the country. These accomplishments have been achieved in the face of tremendous burdens (e.g., discriminatory ballot access and campaign finance laws).
This year, 53 Libertarian Party candidates won election to public office; each of them is now in position to help protect the life, liberty, and property of those they serve.
Soon after the LP’s birthday anniversary is “Bill of Rights Day” on Dec. 15, which marks the 227th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 as part of the U.S. Constitution. During the debates concerning ratification of the Constitution, many citizens argued persuasively for inclusion of amendments that would explicitly provide protection for important rights, to guard against violation of those rights by the federal government.
The Bill of Rights is one of the most powerful, inspiring statements about the principles of individual liberty and limited government in history. When Americans are asked about the aspects of America that make them most proud, frequently their answers include the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. The common element of these answers is individual liberty and freedom from government interference.
Unfortunately, from the moment the Bill of Rights was ratified, there has been an incessant effort by politicians and government functionaries to abridge our rights. Indeed, many of those rights have been effectively eliminated by unconstitutional legislation, judicial misinterpretation, and bureaucratic edicts.
Libertarian Party members and supporters should recognize both of these dates by proclaiming that, for nearly a half-century, the Libertarian Party has proudly and resolutely promoted the principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility, and that elected Libertarians have worked ceaselessly to protect the inalienable rights of the people.
The Jefferson Area Libertarians, the local Libertarian Party of Virginia affiliate of which I have the honor of serving as secretary, will conduct our annual “Bill of Rights Acclamation” on Dec. 15 in Charlottesville, Va. Our “Acclamation” will include speeches about the importance of the Bill of Rights, along with a public reading of the Bill of Rights and its preamble. I encourage my Libertarian Party colleagues to organize similar events and publicize the extent to which our liberty is under increasing attack.
I wish my fellow members and supporters of the Libertarian Party a very happy birthday and many happy returns; please accept my thanks for your efforts to help the United States become truly a land of liberty.
James W. Lark, III
Dr. Lark, a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia, is the Region 5 representative on the Libertarian National Committee and a former national chair of the Libertarian Party. He was inducted into the LP’s “Hall of Liberty” this year.