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The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States, with 368,561 registered votes as of April 2014, according to Ballot Access News.

Eight activists founded the party in 1971 after several meetings in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The party has had presidential candidates in almost every election since then, but the Libertarians have yet to have a President from their party sit in the Oval Office.

The Issues

The Libertarians’ platform is based on liberty and the idea of a world in which “all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others,” according to the party’s platform preamble. The Libertarians emphasize the importance of the individual while questioning the effectiveness of an all-powerful state.

The Economy

The Libertarians believe that all members of American society should have the opportunity to achieve economic success through a free and competitive market. The party calls for the repeal of income taxes and the termination of the Internal Revenue service in its platform, as well as the elimination of the entire welfare system, saying in the platform, “None of the proposals currently being advanced by either conservatives or liberals is likely to fix the fundamental problems with our welfare system.”

Gender, Sexuality, Race and Religious Minorities

One of the main parts of the Libertarians’ foundation is the importance of the individual and personal liberties. The party states in its platform, “Individuals own their bodies and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate…No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.” Libertarians believe that the government should not have the authority to impact personal relationships and treatment of individuals as it does in current marriage and immigration laws, saying in the platform, “Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.”

Healthcare

Libertarians support a free-market health care system in which citizens are free to determine what type and how much health care/insurance they desire. The party believes that the government should not interfere with the decisions of the individual that involves one’s body, from healthcare and treatment to reproductive choices. One topic the party pinpoints in its platform is abortion, saying, “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

Foreign Policy

The Libertarian Party wants to end the current U.S. foreign policy that includes military and economic aid abroad, saying, “American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements.” The Libertarians still support the military, though, just in a less aggressive manner as it is being used now, saying in the platform, “We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world.”

Environmental Issues

Increasing competitive free markets and private investments in natural resources are some of the ways Libertarians believe the environment would benefit most from.

“Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights and responsibilities regarding resources like land, water, air, and wildlife,” the party states in its platform.

Libertarians believe that the government needs to stay out of the energy sector by ending all subsides and current control of energy pricing and production.

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Sydney Herdle is a political reporter for The Daily Collegian. Follow her on Twitter at @weathernerd4257 or email her at sfh5281@psu.edu