Senior Editor Brian Doherty, author of the 2007 book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, has interviewed dozens of people across the years about their role in creating and operating what has been over the past decade America's third most successful political party. Quotations have been edited and condensed for style and coherence. The interviews that comprise this oral history were conducted in 2022 unless otherwise noted.
When an internal caucus led a self-styled "takeover" of the Libertarian Party (L.P.) at its biennial national convention this past May, old-timers recognized a recurring conflict that has riven the party since its first national convention a half-century ago.
"The best analogy within the party history is 1983, when [Earl] Ravenal did not get the [presidential] nomination, and all the Cato people walked out," says Chuck Moulton, former vice chair of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC). "We see repeatedly with different caucuses, whether it be the Radical Caucus or the Pragmatic Caucus or whatever, they will gain attention, and then they'll leave, and then they'll come back. There's an ebb and flow."