National Convention 1978

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1978 Libertarian National Convention
Convention 1978 Logo.png
Dates: September 1978
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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The 1978 Libertarian Party National Convention was held on Labor Day weekend 1978 at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston Massachusetts.

Scheduled Speakers


First-person accounts provided by convention participants.

Steve Trinward

Submitted 17 November 2017

In 1978 we Massachusetts Libertarians decided it was time for another convention, with us as the host. We sought ways to present a broad spectrum of views about liberty, inviting speakers from all over the political map, and presenting issues that had barely been touched. These ranged from divestiture of funds from the South African apartheid battleground, to the rights of children and animals, to more affirmations of sexual equality. Oddly enough, though, the speaker who caused the most chaos was one of our breakfast speakers, and our greatest opponent in bringing him onto the program was . . . Murray Rothbard!

We had invited a left-wing anarchist of some note, one Murray Bookchin, to speak on the topic, “Non-Hierarchical Forms of Organization.” The topic was intended to enhance our message, and to provoke some interesting discussion after the speech. But before we could do this, we had to endure a special meeting with . . . National Chair David Bergland, who had to make another coast-to-coast flight to resolve trouble: Rothbard had made a big stink about Bookchin’s appearance in an LP forum, and demanded that David put a stop to it. Instead the latter met with us in Boston, and after about an hour concluded we were not in any way diluting the message, as MR had charged, and that the convention agenda had real potential for moving us forward, especially with the New Left.

And then the convention went forth in all its glory, held at the downtown-Boston Copley Square Hotel. As PR and Publicity/Press-Relations Chair for the convention, I opened the proceedings with a Candidates’ Cocktail Party, with Barney Frank as the speaker. He represented just about the only local politician who showed libertarian principles on even a few issues. (At the time he was a state representative, soon to move to Congress, where he would remain for the next several decades). That event went off pretty well, as the several dozen LP-endorsed candidates from all across the country (including me, but that’s another story).

What we did not learn until almost showtime was that another set of events would be taking place at the same time, and the same hotel: In support of troglodyte-conservative Republican Howard Phillips in his campaign for U.S. Senate, one Anita Bryant would be appearing (oddly enough, in the very same room that had only a couple hours before been occupied by Murray Bookchin giving his “controversial” breakfast speech.

I also got to see “media bias” up close and personal. At the time, in addition to my duties with the convention, I had been serving as Managing Editor (by title, actually I was the de facto Editor in all aspects of the job) of Esplanade, a bi-weekly entertainment newspaper focused on the Boston gay community. In those two years I had also covered sports, film and politics, and crossed paths with most of the reporters from both mainstream and alternative media, including several from the local television and radio stations. When I began putting out notices about the convention, I got a lot of positive feedback, and informal promises from several reporters that they’d come cover the events.

Imagine my surprise when NONE of these presumed colleagues showed up for the Cocktail Party. Imagine my bigger surprise when nobody was there for the first day’s events, or the next one’s—yet when Anita Bryant gave her hateful speech against those she disagreed with, just about every one of those folks trooped past the LP convention information table, went into the room for the speech, and then trooped back, past the same info-table . . . and not one of them even paused, even to pick up a single piece of literature in passing! (When I collared one colleague, with whom I’d shared some fun times in press boxes and at other events, I asked him point-blank why he had not even stopped to look. “My assignment editor,” he explained, “sorry, but he said just cover Bryant and get out of there!”)


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