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Remembering Tonie Nathan, 1923-2014: Libertarian Pioneer and Advocates Friend

in Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In 1972 I walked into a Georgia voting booth to proudly cast my vote for the presidential ticket of my John Hospers Tonie Nathanchoice.

My candidates weren’t on the ballot, though. I had to write their names in by hand:

John Hospers, Libertarian Party, President
Tonie Nathan, Libertarian Party, Vice President

Did I feel good about that vote? You bet! And I still do. It was the start of a revolution in American politics still going on today.

Alas, both of those two political pioneers are no longer with us.

John Hospers passed away on June 12, 2011.

And on March 20, 2014 Tonie Nathan died at the age of 91.

She was a charter member of the national Libertarian Party, which was founded in 1971. At their first presidential nominating convention in 1972, the LP nominated her as Hospers’ running mate.  

Tonie achieved a unique and permanent place in American history during that 1972 race: she became the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote in the Electoral College – many years before the far more highly publicized 1984 campaign of Democrat Geraldine Ferraro.How did that remarkable event come about?The brand-new Libertarian Party was only on the ballot in two states, Colorado and Washington State, though Hospers and Nathan actively campaigned in major cities and on college campuses, taking the libertarian message to large audiences.

Enter Roger MacBride, a Republican elector in Virginia who had libertarian views. MacBride was so fed up with the statist GOP Nixon and Agnew ticket that he decided to support Hospers and Nathan instead – thus giving Nathan that historic electoral vote.

MacBride later joined the Libertarian Party and became the party’s 1976 Libertarian presidential candidate.

Tonie remained active with the Libertarian Party, running as a Libertarian for federal and state offices from the 1970s right through the 1990s. She also served as a vice chair of the Libertarian Party.

She was active in other organizations as well. She was a founding member and former president of the Association of Libertarian Feminists. In 1977, Congresswoman Bella Abzug appointed her as a delegate-at-large to the National Conference of Women.

Tonie Nathan with Dagny SmithShe was a good friend of the Advocates from the early days of our founding, as the quote at the top of this issue of the Liberator Online indicates. She understood and appreciated the importance of the Advocates’ mission of helping libertarians become successful and effective communicators of the ideas of liberty.

She was a speaker at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, where a large crowd honored her for her many contributions to the Libertarian Party and the liberty movement. Many young people came up to her to thank her and to ask her advice. Friends of hers tell me that experience tickled her pink!

At that convention she was among the very first people inducted into the LP’s new “Hall of Liberty” program honoring “lifetime or significant achievement that has made a lasting effect on the Libertarian Party and/or libertarian movement.”

Also at that convention she presented Gary Johnson as the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

As I’ve written before, it’s vital for our movement to remember, respect and honor our libertarian heroes, our founding fathers, those who came before us. I think the LP’s Hall of Liberty is a fantastic idea, and I urge other organizations to consider similar programs.

Forty-two years later I am still proud of my 1972 vote. I had the great honor and pleasure of meeting and talking with Tonie numerous times over the years. Hers was a life well lived, and she leaves a rich legacy well worth celebrating.

Should Libertarians Work Within the Libertarian Party?

in Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 1 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: I’m very disappointed in the Libertarian Party (LP). It doesn’t elect many libertarians. Shouldn’t we just try to take over the GOP and work within that party instead?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Some individuals feel called to do that, but it’s tough. After Congressman Ron Paul qualified to be nominated for president in 2012, the GOP changed the rules at the last minute to exclude him.

The LP has had great success at rolling back Big Government without electing anyone. When the city of Kalamazoo tried to take some land by eminent domain shortly after my run for city commission, an elderly gentleman came up to me and put $200 cash into my hand.

“Dr. Ruwart,” he said, “the city wants to take my bicycle shop. I know your employer, Upjohn, is going to benefit, but YOU are a Libertarian, so I know you are on my side. Take this money and fight them for me!”

Clearly, I had a conflict of interest, but this gentleman trusted me because the LP candidates had made principle their campaign focal point. The local LP joined the fight — and stopped the land grab.

This is what the LP does best. It stops eminent domain, tax hikes, etc. at the local level, even without ever electing anyone.

The LP does this at the state and national level too. LP member Steve Kubby and the California LP were key players in getting the first medical marijuana bill passed. Many states now have medical marijuana laws and a couple have decriminalized it.  Big Government was rolled back without ever electing anyone.

About 80% of the visible critics of ClintonCare (myself included) were libertarians. Although Libertarians haven’t taken credit for it, they were the prime movers in stopping ClintonCare. Big Government was thwarted — for a while, at least — without ever electing anyone.

Maybe the LP should run candidates so that people know where to turn when Big Government comes knocking at their door. Rolling back Big Government is something the LP can do, whether or not it elects candidates.

LEARN MORE: Suggested further reading from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris on this topic:

* “7 Vital Reasons to Join the Libertarian Party Now.” In this short piece the Libertarian Party makes its case for why it is essential in the fight for liberty.

Libertarians Save Taxpayers Billions: “Libertarian Party Successes” by “Critto” is an informal forum post at the website of the Free State Project. It lists a number of major anti-tax efforts initiated by, led by, or joined by, the Libertarian Party. It argues persuasively that the Libertarian Party has helped save taxpayers literally billions of dollars. No doubt this list, which is ten years old, could be enormously expanded. Further, similar lists could be created showing how the LP has helped defeat other oppressive legislation.

(Note, this information is provided for educational purposes. The Advocates does not, and cannot, endorse parties or candidates.)