Editorial note: The following is the second and final part of a speech to the Republican Liberty Caucus of California, delivered March 2, 2013. The first part appeared on Monday, and can be seen here.
In the summer of 1983, there was a major split in the Libertarian Party. I had been a member since 1977. The split took out a good portion of the Party’s leading activists, and most of the money: although at the time the internal conflict looked to be over organizational and even personal issues, the split went much deeper than that – but it took time for the differences to play out. However, that’s another story: the story I want to tell you now is how an intrepid band of libertarians left the LP, and founded the first serious attempt to create an explicitly libertarian Republican organization.
In the wake of what was a debilitating split, two problems with the LP appeared insuperable: 1) it was clear to me, and a few others, that the LP had peaked. After a few years of seemingly unstoppable growth – we got 5.5 percent for governor [of California, in 1978], and the same candidate – Ed Clark – had polled nearly a million votes [for President] in 1980, although John Anderson’s third party campaign stole much of the media spotlight from the LP that year. Beyond that, however, we saw no opportunities for further growth, which led to the second big problem with the LP: ballot access laws. More than half the Party’s resources were spent just getting on the ballot: after that, there wasn’t much left to put into actually campaigning.
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