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USA - 1933-1972 - Fifth Party System

American Independent Party

The American Independent Party is "the party of ordered liberty in a nation under God. We believe in strict adherence to written law. We believe the Constitution is the contract America has with itself. Its willful distortion has led to the violation of our Tenth Amendment guaranteed right to limited government—which inevitably requires oppressive taxation. Its faithful application will lift that burden. We assert the absolute, concurrent Second Amendment guaranteed individual right to self defense coupled with a strong common defense, a common defense which requires a national sovereignty not damaged by imprudent treaties. We oppose all illegal immigration."

American Independent Party / American Party was founded in 1967 in Bakersfield, California. Its party platform was published in San Francisco, California on Oct. 13, 1968 and its candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States were George C. Wallace and Curtis E. LeMay. The party was still active in 2008. The American Party was one of the names of state affiliates of the George Wallace campaign. After the 1972 election, the different state affiliates divided into two parties, usually called the American and American Independent Parties but with state affiliates sometimes using different names. The American Party candidates for president and vice president last appeared on the ballot in 1996 although they held national conventions in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

George Wallace lost the 1958 gubernatorial election to John Patterson. Although both campaigned as segregationists, Patterson, as attorney general, had established a stronger record as a defender of racial discrimination, and Wallace placed less emphasis on segregation in his speeches and advertisements. After his loss Wallace vowed never to be outdone as an advocate and defender of segregation.

Citizens Party

The Citizens Party was founded 11-13 April 1980 by nearly 500 political activists gathered in Cleveland, Ohio as a new third party “people’s alternative” to the two parties of monopoly capital. Barry Commoner, the widely-known scientist and anti-nuke activist, and La Donna Harris, Native American activist and wife of former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, were proposed as the party’s respective presidential and vice-presidential candidates. In its initial platform discussions, the Citizens Party took a clear stand opposing corporate power’s stranglehold over the lives of the American people. Speeches and workshops hit out at the lack of representation and political power for working people in the US society today and targetted the special oppression of women and minorities. A general orientation against war and the aggression of the superpowers also prevailed.

La Donna Harris, in her speech, stressed what has become a crucial issue for the new party: “As a Comanche woman fighter, I’m proud to be a part of this party. The traditions of my people have always held to the unity of the oppressed. That is why I want to show that we care about the problems of Chicanos, the Blacks, women, the elderly and the poor.”

A sharp debate took place in the foreign-policy work shop. Afghanistan was the issue starting it off, with one side wanting only to criticize the U.S. for trying to start a “cold war.” Mario Savio of the northern California delegation, submitted an amendment. It targetted both the U.S. and USSR for “expanding their spheres of influence,” and said that the parties must oppose the “hegemonism of either super-power.” The Afghan invasion was condemned while Carter was also opposed for using the issue to increase the war danger. Savio’s position won by a large majority. Other items in the plank generally supported drastic military cutbacks, mutual disarmament and self-determination for third world countries and peoples, including Puerto Rico and Palestine.

The established environmental movement turned its back; Commoner’s integration of ecology and social justice had little appeal for its upper-class leadership. The labor unions — committed to the Democratic Party — stayed away. Commoner received 234,294 votes—less than one percent. The Citizens party struggled with several different kinds of problems, including how to define the party and its policies; how to balance a fierce commitment to participatory democracy with efficient leadership and direction; how to finance an infant national party; how to overcome structural obstacles, including ballot access procedures which were costly and different in each state; whether to concentrate on building the party from grassroots efforts or try to run a national campaign immediately; and how to be taken seriously by national and regional media accustomed to the two established parties.

The Citizens Party ran a ticket in 1984 on a budget of $500,000 plus matching Federal funds of $140,000. But the two obscure nominees won only 72,200 votes. One year later, the party was gone. A Vermont supporter named Bernie Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont a year later. Tom Andrews, a delegate from Maine to the Cleveland convention, went on to become a congressman.

Barry Commoner died on 30 September 2012 at the age of 95. The New York Times called him “a founder of modern ecology and one of its most provocative thinkers and mobilizers in making environmentalism a people’s cause.” Among many accomplishments, his pioneering work on the effects of radiation was a major factor in building public support for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in the middle of the Cold War. Time magazine put him on its cover in 1970, the first year of Earth Day.

Eugene McCarthy

Eugene Robert McCarthy was born in the town of Watkins, in rural Meeker County, MN, on March 29, 1916. He eventually became a professor of economics and education at St. John's University from 1940 to 1943. In 1944, his service to the United States began during World War II, when he was a civilian technical assistant in the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department. He was first elected to the U.S. Congress as a Representative from Minnesota in 1948 and served five terms. In 1958, he won a seat in the Senate where he remained for two terms. One of the focuses of his Senate career was the work of the Senate Foreign Relations Committe.

The impact of the war in Vietnam in domestic politics became a significant factor by early 1968. McCarthy certainly seized opportunities. He announced that he was willing and available to be President in November of 1968 and two months later stunned President Johnson, and the political world with a close second place finish in the New Hampshire primary. His success encouraged Robert Kennedy to enter the race and President Johnson withdrew shortly thereafter. McCarthy did not win the nomination, which went to fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey, but he changed the dynamics of politics in America. McCarthy’s long shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 as an example of the pre-Watergate campaign finance regime. McCarthy’s campaign was bankrolled primarily by a handful of wealthy donors.

In 1976, Eugene McCarthy announced his candidacy for the presidency as an independent. National media coverage of Eugene McCarthy's 1976 candidacy was unbiased but meager. McCarthy believes that the two-party system is an idea whose time has gone. He says that the Democratic and Republican parties "are beginning to pay the penalty of incompetence. We have had a bipartisan war, bipartisan economic failures, and abuse of the Bill of Rights under both parties."

The Eugene McCarthy for President 1976 Campaign Brochure platform included "The United States must take initiatives to end the nuclear arms race, a contest which is dangerous and irrational. There is no excuse for continued stockpiling of nuclear bombs when we already have enough to destroy the USSR many times over. ... Both government and private agencies have infringed upon Americans' personal and political rights by such practices as spying, wiretapping, bugging, and improper disclosure of personal records. These practices must be ended; the Bill of Rights must be sustained."

He appeared on the ballot in 30 states. Nationally McCarthy received 740,460 votes for 0.91% of the total vote finishing third in the election. His best showing came in Oregon where he received 40,207 votes for 3.90% of the vote.

Eugene J. McCarthy died on December 10, 2005.

National States Rights Party

National States Rights Party was formed in July, 1958 in Knoxville, TN. A report by the FBI in 1970 suggested it had members in 13 states, including Indiana. It was based on racism and bigotry and a number of members also held membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Edward Reed Fields was its National Director and Jesse Benjamin Stoner was the National Chairman. Nationally, it was anti-black and anti-Jewish in ideology, with regional prejudices against Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans. It also insisted that the Federal Government stop infringing on states' rights through statutes, administrative decrees and judicial decisions.

New Politics Party

The New Politics Party was formed in 1968 as an alternative to the traditional two party system which was termed inadequate for presenting citizens with a true choice to vote. Some of the party's beliefs were peace in the world and especially in Vietnam, and a later deadline for fall election candidate petitions to be allowed on the ballot. The party apparently supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy for President in 1968, but Dick Gregory ran a "write me in" campaign. There was a convention in Indianapolis, IN on Sept. 14 and 15, 1968. The New Politics Party folded after the election.

New Party

The New Party was established in 1992, seeking to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party leftward to ultimately form a third major U.S. political party with a socialist agenda. USA Today reported on the founding of the New Party on November 16, 1992. The paper reported the New Party was “self-described [as] ‘socialist democratic.’“ The New Party was a creation of union activist Sandy Pope and University of Wisconsin professor Joel Rogers.

The New Party’s founding members included such DSA luminaries as radical professor Noam Chomsky, Marxist activist Carl Davidson, Harvard Labor studies lecturer Elaine Bernard, black activist and academic Cornel West, sociologist Frances Fox Piven (acknowledged as the theoretician behind ACORN), former Maoist Bill Fletcher, feminist Barbara Ehrenreich, and Chicago physician and “single payer” health activist Quentin Young.

The DSA, which describes itself as the “principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International,” is perhaps the largest socialist organization in the United States. “We are socialists,” reads the organization’s agenda, “because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.”

Comprised largely of members of the Democratic Socialists for America, or DSA, the party was an electoral alliance that worked alongside ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The New Party’s aim was to help elect politicians who espouse its agenda to office. The New Party was created to take strategic advantage of what was known as electoral “fusion,” which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. One year after the fusion loophole was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1997, the New Party essentially became defunct, although it still maintained a website and a membership seeking to lobby for the reinstitution of fusion.

Reform Party / H. Ross Perot

H. Ross Perot came from relative obscurity in the spring, 1992 and within seven months received 19% of the popular vote in the presidential campaign. Perot became an Eagle Scout at thirteen; president of his junior and senior classes at the United States Naval Academy; founder of a successful business, Electronic Data Systems; and, finally, a third-party presidential candidate in 1992.

Perot was frequently accused of being insensitive toward diversity issues during the campaign, including newspaper reports of Perot's June 11, 1992 speech to the NAACP convention. The Washington Post reported "Perot drew a cool reception from the group when he referred to blacks as 'you people' and 'your people''. (Washington Post, July 12, 1992). Perot also said "Our diversity is our strength, we've turned it into a weakness. . . . If you hate people I don't want your vote" (10/11/92). "If you don't mind living in a society where one out of eight women are raped I don't want your vote" (5/5/92). "We're not gonna turn the clock back. Segregating would hurt the economy" (3/18/92). "Our country will not be great until we are all united and equal. . . . I cannot be free until we are all free" (7/11/92).

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot arguably played the role of spoiler. But he also played the role of realist. Throughout that campaign, Perot made it a point to highlight just how harmful so-called “free trade” agreements were for the United States. At one debate during the 1992 presidential campaign, Perot warned that, if NAFTA were ratified, “there will be a giant sucking sound going south” as U.S. industries headed across the Mexican border in search of cheap labor.

The popular movement and candidacy of H. Ross Perot added an historic dimension to the 1992 presidential election. By winning 19 percent of the popular vote, Perot outdistanced all independent candidates in the 20th century except Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as a popular ex-president in 1912. Perot;s success in mobilizing thousands of activists and attracting millions of votes raised questions about the health of the American two-party system, and whether he would be able to transform his movement into an enduring third party. Four years later, in 1996 businessman Ross Perot was again candidate in the presidential race. He won the nomination of the Reform Party which he started a year earlier. Clinton and Al Gore easily won the election, defeating Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. Ross Perot received just eight percent of the popular vote this time.

In the year 2000 Conservative Patrick Buchanan ran as the Reform Party candidate. Buchanan later wrote "the U.S. Supreme Court has systematically de-Christianized and paganized American society and declared abortion and homosexual marriage constitutional rights.... When did we vote to institute pervasive discrimination against white folks, especially white males, with affirmative action, quotas and racial set-asides?" Social conservatives had a chance when conservative Pat Buchanan ran as the Reform Party nominee, but he got less than one percent of the vote and was an absolutely non-factor in the election.

States' Rights Party - Dixiecrats

The States' Rights party, also known as the "Dixiecrats," was a rump party that split off from the national Democratic party and ran candidates in the 1948 presidential election. The party sprang into existence on July 17, 1948 when it held its national convention in Birmingham, Alabama. It was the formal expression of a growing sectional and civil rights revolt against the national Democratic party. South Carolina Governor J. Strom Thurmond and Mississippi Governor J. Fielding Wright were nominated, respectively, for president and vice-president. Dixiecrats portrayed their movement in the best possible light, as one designed to guarantee state sovereignty and constitutionally-guaranteed states' rights and reestablish Southern preeminence in the Democratic party. But the most important motive behind the movement was securing states' rights and constitutional principles in order to accomplish an overriding goal: preservation of the South's racial status quo.

Despite the splintering of the Democratic party by the Dixiecrats on the right, and the Progressive party on the left (which nominated former Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace), President Truman won reelection in the biggest upset in American political history. His margin of victory over Republican Thomas E. Dewey was only four-tenths of one percent. The Dixiecrats and the Progressives polled over a million votes, and the Dixiecrats were able to sweep four states (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina), securing 39 electoral votes.

Taxpayers Party

In 1992 a coalition of independent state parties united to form the U.S. Taxpayers Party at its first national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Among the notable convention speakers was former Congressman Ron Paul. The party’s founder, Howard Phillips of Virginia, Chairman of the grass-roots lobby, the Conservative Caucus, was nominated to be the party’s first candidate for President with retired Army Brigadier General Albion Knight of Maryland nominated as the party’s first vice-presidential running mate. The US Taxpayer’s Party secured ballot position in 21 states.

In 1996 Howard Phillips was again nominated to be the party’s presidential candidate for the 1996 campaign at the party’s national convention held in San Diego, California. Attorney and writer Herb Titus of Oregon was the Constitution Party’s Vice President nominee. Ballot access was achieved in 39 states for the 1996 elections, representing over 80% of the Electoral College votes available.

In 2000 delegates attending the National Convention in September 1999 voted to change the name of the US Taxpayer’s Party to “Constitution Party” to better reflect the party’s primary focus of returning government to the U.S. Constitution’s provisions and limitations.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:29:11 ZULU