Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Libertarian Party gots its start in Colorado, and state convention starts today

The country's third-largest political party, the Libertarian Party, got its start here in Colorado 41 years ago. And this morning, the Libertarian Party of Colorado will fire up its state convention at the Double Tree in Aurora (a new convention hotspot), with a schedule that includes a presidential debate Sunday featuring Governor Gary Johnson, Scott Keller, Carl Person and Lee Wrights.

No Bob Barr, the former Republican who wound up snagging the Libertarian Party presidential slot back in 2008. And no Christine Smith, the John Denver-loving Colorado Libertarian whose own bid for the presidency was stymied by Barr.

But after that sideshow, the organization is returning to its roots. Here they are, as outlined in the official history on the Libertarian Party of Colorado website:

David Nolan and several other friends got together in the summer of 1971 after being disgusted with then president, Richard Nixon announced to the public the implementation of wage and price controls, which basically removed the gold standard and allowed the government to impose inflation easier. Along with the 'illegal' Vietnam War, loss of fiscal conservative direction of the Republican Party and the socialist directions of the Democrat Party, the group started the think tank to come up with a better political solution for real limited government and individual freedom.

The group had many preliminary meetings in Westminster, Colorado and decided to start sending letters across the country to libertarian minded people. They decided that if they received 100 positive responses, they would move forward with a new political party.

After receiving overwhelming responses on December 11, 1971, David Nolan and seven other friends met at the home of Luke Zell in Colorado Springs to officially form the 'United States' Libertarian Party. The group held a press conference early the following year to announce the new "Libertarian Party," which amazingly the mass press welcomed.

Thus, Colorado is the Birthplace of the Libertarian Party.

Party on!

Bob Barr wasn't the only renegade to break out of the Republican Party. Tom Tancredo's run for governor as the candidate of the American Constitution Party wound up turning the ACP into a major party in Colorado -- a move that had big repercussions. Read about them in "American Constitution Party faces major headaches as a major Colorado party."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun