Remembering Nancy Lord

Nancy Lord, M.D., J.D.

February 8, 1952 – February 14, 2022

Nancy Lord was The LP vice-presidential candidate in 1992, when Perot and the incumbent elder Bush lost to Clinton – and one of the most remarkable people to ever grace the national ticket. For the broader pro-liberty community active near Atlanta in the later nineties or earlier aughts, no introduction will be necessary.

A pistol-packing, polyglot genius with earned doctorates in law and medicine, she might have stepped out of a Heinlein novel. But in reality, Nancy grew up near D.C. with family connections to New York City, which you could hear if you had a good ear for accent. She was the antithesis of a one-issue libertarian—an early opponent of the Vietnam War, part of the national leadership of both NORML and FIJA, and an outspoken defender of the Second Amendment. Nancy was best known for her opposition to the War on D̶r̶u̶g̶s̶ the Constitution.

In 1990, she ran for mayor of Washington, DC, carrying the LP flag to the belly of the beast. The second half of this Reason article on the ’92 campaign paints an accurate portrait of this remarkable woman. The intellectual style the author notes wasn’t her only rhetorical mode, though. Sometimes, in front of a friendly audience, you could hear more than a trace of the high school cheerleader. In regards to the description of her being “unhappy as a physician” Nancy told it as a funny story—at the first surgery she observed as an intern, when the incision was made, she instantly fainted. This sealed her decision to become a lawyer.

She played a notable role in the Southern Lights case during this period, which rightfully attracted national attention. Novelist Vin Suprinowitz would later incorporate the case into his notable work, The Black Arrow, as the “Northern Waters Case.” Losing that case, which served as a wake-up call for many on the harmful nature of the War on Drugs, hurt her deeply.

Her husband was Michael Tanner and his Atlanta job was a stepping stone to Cato, where he remains, still fighting the good fight. His stock-in-trade is the written word, but if you’re lucky enough to get a chance to hear him speak, grab it.

Nancy was a vital part of the Libertarian Party presence in Atlanta, a publicly recognizable Libertarian in the state for more than a decade. While living in Georgia, Nancy was also part of “the Committee for a Libertarian Majority,” which made several proposals aimed at improving electoral success. All but one of those ideas were adopted at the next national convention and, for a while, were referred to as “The Atlanta Reforms.”

When she moved to Nevada, the area was a hotbed of ancap and libertarian types, but creeping suburbanization of the rural areas later took its toll on its individualist culture. Nancy ran for District Attorney of Nye County in 2010. After that, the local establishment types were quite hostile to libertarians, enticing Nancy to move to Arizona where, as John Myers once wrote, the spirit of “the Old West went to die.”

We’ll miss you, Nancy. Say hello to David Nolan, Harry Browne, Ron Crickenberger, & L. Neil Smith for us.

– Philip Mundhenk

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