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San Antonio Libertarians Message Board › Fouding the Bexar LP circa 1975

Fouding the Bexar LP circa 1975

A former member
Post #: 102
The Origins of The Modern Libertarian Movement in South Texas, Circa 1975

During final exams at the end of my first semester in college in San Antonio, Texas I received a phone call from Lonnie Brantley, the first chairman of the Texas Libertarian Party. This was in December 1975. He asked me if I could start or was interested in starting a college chapter for the express purpose of having presidential candidate Roger Lea Macbride come and address the students on campus. Roger was the second Libertarian to ever run for president. He was also a former legislator from Virginia and the electoral college member who famously crossed out the names of Nixon/Agnew and wrote in Dr John Hospers and Ms Tonie Nathan in 1972. He was also the heir to the estate of Rose Wilder Lane. [Miss Lane spent her winters in Harlengen, Texas]
I had to decline as my college load was too much. He then suggested an alternative.
Get permission from the Dean to approach other existing campus organizations and get one of them to sponsor him. It sounded intriguing so I replied,”Sure, how hard could it be.” Oh to be young and naive again. Not knowing you had limits. Nothing is impossible.

I got permission and got a list from the Dean. The first two times I got shot down quickly. I needed an angle. I looked at the remaining half dozen or so and picked one. It just stood out for some reason. The Black Student Union. I approached them and told them about the alternative to the Republocrats. How the message differs. “How so?” they asked. “Equality can only go so far. Everyone can be made equal. By brute force. All you need is a hatchet, an ax and a saw. The next wave in civil rights is upon us through libertarianism. Do you want to made equal or do you want to choose freedom?
Do you want equality or liberty? That is the message you will hear.” They liked what I said and wanted to hear more. They agreed to sponsor our 2nd libertarian candidate for president, Roger Lea Macbride.

I made an appointment the next day with Paul Shaffer at channel 4 news. We set a date for after the first of the year. Television coverage and the Express News would be there.
The next day the announcement was printed and the phone did not stop ringing. By early March we had about 43 members as well as help from Bill Howell and Terry Parker from Austin. We also brought in guests to appear on local talk radio. I wish I could remember the hosts names. Carol became our vice chair. I cant remember her last name
but she was a great cook! Captain John Kelly and his wife from Randolph Air Force base were additional officers. Then we began ballot training. All would be for nothing if we could not get our candidate on the ballot. We were told we would need 16,000 signatures. 16,000! Thats great! Not so fast. There was a catch. A big one. In order to circulate those petitions we would have to become a notary. Not kidding. Texas had
no intention of allowing any 3rd party competition. They barely allowed Republicans on the ballot. There were none in office statewide. And none at all in Bexar County. [The
first Republican would be elected in Bexar County later that year.]We thought we were worthy of the challenge before us and began searching for candidates to place on the ballot. None of us were up to a professional campaign. This was to serve simply as name recognition. No one had ever heard of us. We never existed before that time as an organized body politic. We started a massive very organized letter writing campaign. The Express published them. The Light ignored us. We would pick a topic like the draft or public transportation and have one person write and send it in. That person would present a libertarian solution to a problem but present it in a very weak fashion, leaving it extremely vulnerable to attack. One, two or three opponents to our side of the issue would pounce on the letter writer like a pack of wolves on a sheep. Just like we planned. Half a dozen of us would reply back and rip them to shreds. Great fun. Very successful as well. We had three candidates ready to appear on the ballot that fall. I was running as tax assessor.

Now came the time for Roger Macbride to meet his public. When I called him to tell him he had a sponsor and what they expected to hear from I thought he would be upset. Just the opposite. He was pleasantly surprised and excited. He had a friend in California he wanted to share it with. Then the day came. Everything was set perfectly. TV cameras, Paul Shaffer from channel 4 and the Express News. We had an earlier write up on the 3rd page of the A section. A quarter page article. While waiting for him to show up the phone rang from Houston. A severe thunderstorm had caused all flights into San Antonio to be diverted to Austin. As Roger was due to speak on the UT campus later that day he would not be able to reschedule. He apologized and urged me to contact the state headquarters to see what they could due. Unfortunately they either could not or would not do anything to help us. I had some opinions on that back then but some things are better off buried. I did make it up to Austin that evening and met privately with Roger. We remained friends until he died. During our friendship he informed me that it was Rose Wilder Lane and not her mother Laura Ingalls who wrote the Little House books.

We suffered a setback but remained upbeat. We still had the ballot drive to work on. And we had speaking engagements. My first public speech was before the Young Gay Alliance of San Antonio. The Socialist Workers Party was represented, I represented the Libertarians, the Democrats sent no one but the Republicans sent one. He was running for a council seat I believe. He went on to win. The first Republican to ever serve. His name was Jeff Wentworth.

One other event also occurred. Some of our members formed an additional splinter
group called The Society for The Official Control of Knifes or S.O.C.K. Research of the previous years revealed that more people had died from knife wounds than gun wounds.
The goal of S.O.C.K. Was to show through satire that pointy household objects were more dangerous than firearms. (They are.) So the goal was to get the government to approve a registration program for all sharp objects in the home that are capable of murder, death, kill. Still waiting by the way. Perhaps Mayor Castro could look into this for us?

The ballot access drive was going well for us but not so well in other parts of the state.
We each had our own unique problems so I am not judging the rest of the state chapters.
The deck was stacked against us. We were not supposed to succeed. And we did not. The Libertarian Party was not on the Texas ballot in 1976. But our efforts paved the way for ballot reform in 1980. We have been on the ballot ever since. I hope this helps new members not to be discouraged when you suffer defeat. There are many setbacks but our victories are even more sweet. No one ever heard of us or knew who we were in 1975.
Today it is hard to find someone who has not. As my friend in Alaska used to say, “Dream big and dare to fail.” Thanks for listening.

Jean Robert Kutzer Jr
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