1976 Libertarian Presidential Campaign

The 1975 Libertarian Party national convention nominated Roger MacBride for president and David Bergland for vice [resident. MacBride had become a libertarian celebrity when he cast an electoral vote for the 1972 Libertarian candidates as a Republican presidential elector. The Libertarian ticket was on 33 ballots, and won 173,011 votes (0.2%).

The 1975 Convention

Bergland remembers, "Roger brought political savvy, but a somewhat limited understanding of the radical libertarian personality of the delegates. This came to a head with the Vice Presidential nomination. Two candidates for the position were not what Roger wanted. One, the late (and great, in my view) John Vernon, was gay. The other, Jim Trotter, was a gold smuggler. Well, that's all the delegates needed to go into an uproar (rejecting MacBride's preference) and deadlock the convention because no one of several candidates could get a majority. I was not then at the convention, but was telephoned by friends, flew red-eye from L.A. to New York and was nominated. Perhaps my most important qualification was being over 35. Not many delegates attending were that old in 1975."

The Campaign

The Atlantic described MacBride's ideas:

The Libertarian platform this year swings so quickly from left to right that it will give you nosebleed. Here's a list of what they propose to abolish: preventive detention, tariffs, import quotas, no-fault insurance, involuntary commitment to mental institutions, compulsory drug programs, government-funded research, the FBI and the CIA, right-to-work laws, minimum wage laws, government access to personal papers, antigun laws, compulsory arbitration, antidiscrimination laws, deficit spending, the Federal Reserve, antitrust laws, farm subsidies, wage and price and rent and profit and production and interest ceilings, income taxation, regulation of energy resources, federal control of the Post Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, safety-belt and crash-helmet requirements, any restrictions at all on the sale or use of any drugs whatsoever, compulsory education, public schools, taxes on private schools, busing, child labor laws, the National Labor Relations Act, welfare, government poverty programs, Medicare and Medicaid and any form of national health insurance, the Professional Standards Review Board, building codes, zoning, eminent domain, regional planning, urban renewal programs, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Social Security, the Civil Service system, campaign finance laws, ballot restrictions, foreign aid, the Export-Import Bank, laws restricting trade with any nation or organization by a private citizen, national claims to offshore rights, overseas Army bases, our involvement with NATO and SEATO and other alliances, the Monroe Doctrine, presidential emergency powers, membership in the United Nations.

MacBride wrote a book, New Dawn for America, to support his campaign. (Every Libertarian presidential candidate through 1988 was an author.)

MacBride campaigned extensively, especially in the West. In the Saturday Evening Post, he wrote, "Early Americans ... struggling for survival in a hard wilderness ... grasped somehow that they were free, that no authority controlled them ... That truth released a burst of creative human energy such as the planet had never known, and created the modern world. The American libertarian revolution swept away absolutist regimes and beehive societies of much of the European world, teaching freedom."

According to Bergland, "Roger bought a DC-3 (World War II vintage two engine prop plane for you youngsters) and had it outfitted to fly to campaign stops. It was dubbed 'No Force One' by Ed Crane, the campaign manager."

The Results

The Libertarian ticket was on 33 ballots, and won 173,011 votes (0.2% of total), up from two ballots and 3,000 votes four years earlier. Voter turnout was 54.4%. The Federal Elections Commission certified $24,264,593.88 for matching funds for fifteen Republican and Democratic candidates.