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Libertarian Party Co-Founder David Nolan Dies

by @ 12:34 pm on November 22, 2010. Filed under Libertarians, Political Parties, Politics

One of the men behind the birth of the Libertarian Party passed away over the weekend:

David Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party and recent U.S. Senate candidate, has died at the age of 66.

One of Nolan’s closest friends told CBS 5 News that Nolan was driving in Tucson Saturday when he had a stroke and crashed.

He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. “This was very unexpected,” said Joe Cobb, who said he planned to spend Thanksgiving with Nolan and his wife, Elizabeth. Nolan recently lost to Republican incumbent John McCain in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona. He was most famous for his role in starting the Libertarian Party, which advocates open trade markets and strong civil liberties.

“Nolan was a towering figure with the vision we needed in this country,” said Cobb.

Robert Poole, the founder of Reason magazine and the Reason Foundation, remembers Nolan:

Dave and I came to libertarianism by similar paths, growing up reading Robert Heinlein’s individualist-oriented science fiction and then discovering Ayn Rand’s writings. It was many discussions and debates with my MIT YAF friends that persuaded me to finally read Atlas Shrugged in the summer of ’64, a summer during which I spent many evenings distributing Goldwater literature door-to-door in the Miami area where I grew up.

Dave was also active in student politics at MIT, running unsuccessfully for UAP—Undergraduate Activities President—and also bringing outside speakers to lecture on campus. One such speaker was Willis Stone, head of the Liberty Amendment Committee (which sought an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal the income tax). While I never shared Dave’s enthusiasm for the viability of this cause, it was Stone’s MIT lecture that planted in me the seed of privatization (since that was part of Stone’s idea for downsizing the federal government).

After graduation, Dave went into the advertising business in Denver, and it was in Denver that he introduced what will be his two legacy contributions to the cause of liberty: the Nolan Chart and the Libertarian Party.

Dave introduced the former in a January 1971 article in The Individualist, the magazine of the Society for Individual Liberty (and an early competitor of Reason magazine). The basic idea was to discredit the typical left-to-right political spectrum as leaving no room for the libertarian position. Instead of a straight line, engineer Dave introduced a two-dimensional chart, with economic freedom on one axis and individual liberty on the other. The chart made it easy to see how liberals, conservatives, populists, and libertarians compared, and was a true breakthrough that reshaped political analysis, polling, and news reporting, helping to introduce “libertarian” as a distinct political position.

The Nolan Chart, also known as The World’s Smallest Political Quiz, remain a part of Libertarian Party outreach literature to this day. You can take an online version of the quiz as well.

Not surprisingly, here’s how I did on the quiz:

FireShot Pro capture #037 - 'Advocates for Self Government' - www_theadvocates_org_quiz_result_e=100&i=100_100_gif&p=100

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