What Went Wrong – or why the Libertarian Party did not become an effective tool for freedom – A personal account
(First in a multi-part series to include personal insights and research spanning from 1848 to present day with particular attention paid to covert action on the part of corporate interests (Greedville) from 1909 on.
by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Wage and Price Controls – August 15, 1971
When President Nixon's image appeared on television the Vietnam was still raged and protests were still building. As Nixon spoke on August 15, 1971, the nation began to learn, to its shock, about his brave new policy for our monetary system and the power of the executive order through No. 11615.
This act simultaneously caused thousands of Americans to figuratively burn their registration cards to the Republican Party and one man, David Nolan of Colorado, to write an article calling for the founding of a new political party and begin organizing, which he discussed in this article.
Dave had been the major organizer at MIT for Students for Goldwater and active in the renewal of energy for freedom around the Goldwater Campaign in 1964. Bob Poole, who later bought a faltering small magazine called, “Reason,” and wrote the first article on deregulation of the airlines, was a close friend of Dave's.
I was living in Los Angeles then and had been active in Young Republicans in college. Goldwater was my candidate and before my father had relocated us to Rome, Italy for his sabbatical, I had gone door to door with literature until we left, three months before the election. At the time I was reading through the works of Ayn Rand, chewing through the ideas and thinking about them.
We were all young then, and most of us were hampered by our innocence, or ignorance. Most of what matters is not available in books. Ideas are tools, and seductive.
As Dave's organizing efforts gathered steam newsletters proliferated. There was no Internet. Many of us read the Freeman or other publications focused on the ideas of freedom and many also considered ourselves Objectivists, though Ayn Rand had nipped her budding movement firmly in the bud when she dumped Nathaniel Brandon for refusing to sleep with her on August 24, 1968.
This abrupt end to Nathaniel Brandon Institute (NBI) caused a large number of people to exchange phone numbers outside the Empire State Building since they had been locked out of the offices where the NBI classes were conducted. [This will link to my later story about Nathaniel]
I was blissfully ignorant of these events and had no idea Rand was female or even still living. I just read the books and inflicted the ideas on my friends. Those of us interested in freedom read many of the same books. Books we read included Rand, Heinlein (many of us were science fiction fans), Mises, Rothbard, Mencken, Isabel Patterson and Rose Wilder Lane.
The voice of Toni Nathan on the radio was my first introduction to the Libertarian Party. I had not voted for president in 1972 because I was unwilling to cast a vote for Nixon. Within minutes of the phone call I had located the only listing for the Libertarian Party within drive distance. It was in the San Fernando Valley. A voice on the phone Shirley Gottlieb, put me in touch with a group near where I lived, in West Los Angeles.
Organizing had been taking place feverishly, since the organizing meeting in Dave Nolan's living room, attended by five people in December 1971. My first meeting with the Libertarians was a collating party in 1974. I had just given birth to my second child and was determined my next would be born at home, something I considered to be a freedom issue. While I did not know it, I was already in conflict with the dominant culture of the Libertarian Party. I was raised to believe women were equal, and smarter than men, by a father whose grandmother was a suffragist and early medical doctor. Mother was a mathematician.
The collating was soon followed by a meeting. Our 'speaker' was an audio tape on the Tea Pot Dome Scandal.
The Libertarian Party was not yet on the ballot in more than a tiny handful of states and in California ballot status looked impossible. The events of the next nine years saw the emergence of the Libertarian Party as a potential force to change the direction for America. By 1983 this promise was dead.
In my next two articles I'll show you what happened.