We have received news that David F. Nolan, a founder of the Libertarian Party, passed away this weekend. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 in Mr. Nolan's living room. He had remained active with the Libertarian Party including currently serving on the Libertarian National Committee and running for U.S. Senator from Arizona in the recent elections. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth. He will be dearly missed by the Libertarian Party and the liberty community. We'll have more information about David Nolan soon.From Tom Knapp at Independent Political Report:
I just received a phone call from R. Lee Wrights, who is en route home from the Libertarian National Committee meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after adjournment of the LNC meeting today, he was informed that Libertarian Party founder David F. Nolan has died. Steve Kubby has also reported this, and confirms it via conversation with Nolan’s wife, Elizabeth. Best wishes from everyone here at IPR to David’s family and loved ones.From Richard Winger at Ballot Access News:
David F. Nolan, who founded the Libertarian Party along with a group of others in Nolan’s living room, died on November 21 at the age of 66. He had just completed a vigorous and relatively successful election campaign for the U.S. Senate this month, receiving 4.7% of the vote in a 4-person race against incumbent Senator John McCain. Nolan was two days away from his next birthday. He lived in Tucson. Apparently he suffered a stroke while driving his automobile, on November 20. On a personal note, this is very sad news.From Austin Cassidy at Uncovered Politics:
Nolan was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked in the publishing and advertising industries for several decades. He was a founding member of the Students for Goldwater group at MIT in 1964 and heavily involved in the “liberty movement” prior to 1971, when he served as the driving force behind the creation of the Libertarian Party.
Aside from his role as founder of the LP, Nolan is best known as the person who popularized the “Nolan Chart,” a diagram of political philosophies that goes beyond just liberal and conservative labels.
“He was sort of a guiding light,” Jack Dean, a longtime friend and political ally told the Arizona Daily Star. “He was kind of our conscience. Dave was a presence at every national convention; everyone respected him. He kept reminding everybody what the goal was.”Uncovered Politics has also re-published a seminal article by Nolan, entitled The Case for a Libertarian Political Party, from 1971. In a central passage of the article, Nolan elaborates upon the idea that the "two-party system" is a myth:
The Myth of the Two-Party System
This statement may seem a little strong, at first reading – especially as most of us have been raised from first childhood to believe that the two-party system is The Best Of All Possible Arrangements.
We are told, for instance, that it is the hallmark of a free society – with the Soviet one-party system held up as its antithesis. Conversely, we are told that a multi-party system produces “chaos”, which in turn means loss of freedom for those persons so unfortunate as to live under such a system.
The fact of the matter, however, is that, logically speaking, if a one-party system is tyrannical, a two-party system is only one step removed from tyranny. And empirical evidence shows that citizens of a country which has a multi-party system can be just as free as we are here in the United States; such countries as Germany, France, and Australia, while hardly libertarian nirvanas, are not significantly more repressive than our own country – and Switzerland, which has a four-party system, is probably the least despotic of any of the world’s major nations.
The second popular argument against a multi-party system – that is produces “chaos” – is, from a libertarian viewpoint, actually an argument in its favor. The prospect of a coalition government, where any of a number of small parties can veto legislation, is far from horrifying to anyone who is inclined toward a limited-government (or no-government) philosophy.
A third argument, often brought to bear against anyone who advocates the establishment of a third party here in the United States, is that (historically speaking), third-party candidates “can’t win”. This argument has two basic flaws in it, however.
First, third-party candidates CAN win – especially in local or nonpartisan elections. Even at the national-government level, it happens occasionally. Third-party candidates have been elected to Congress more than one hundred times in this century, and there are two “third-party” Senators (Buckley and Byrd) in office at this very moment.
And second, “winning” (in the sense of electing someone to office) is not the only reason for having a political party – especially in the short term sense.
In fact, this very mania for “winning now” is one of the factors that makes both of our present major political parties unlikely vehicles for libertarianism. Both the Democrats and Republicans are so concerned with “winning” that they are almost rabidly hostile to the idea of candidates who would “rather be right than President”. A third party, in contrast, can take a long-range approach – running candidates with no intention of immediate victory, for the purpose of building up support and organization for future elections.