Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

California's Minor Parties

Here is a guide to the LPC's competition among California's minor parties. Under California law a party is qualified to participate in primary (and thus also general) elections if 1) it achieves as many registrants as 1% of the voter turnout in the last regular gubernatorial election, or 2) had a statewide candidate win a 2% share in that election. Here are the registration numbers and statewide vote totals for the minor parties that have been ballot-qualified in the last four election cycles.

Registrants in 1000s
American Independent
309 (2%)
140 (.90%)
82 (.84%)
Peace and Freedom
Natural Law
Brackets indicate lack of ballot qualification that year.

Votes in %
2002 Gov
2002 SecState
2004 Sen
2004 Pres
American Independent

Peace and Freedom

Natural Law



American Independent was founded as a national party in 1968 to support the Presidential candidacy of segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace. In 1991 the California AIP became an affiliate of the right-wing Constitution Party, which was formerly the U.S. Taxpayers' Party. In the 2004 Presidential election, AIP's vote in California was just 8% of its registered base, compared to 56% for the LP, 25% for the Greens, and 40% for P&F. This confirms the judgment of analysts who say that AIP's registration numbers are wildly inflated by voters trying to register as Decline To State. The AIP favors a moratorium on all immigration, the deportation of all illegal immigrants, and the denial of citizenship to their children born here. The AIP favors bans on all obscenity, all drugs, any form of same-sex unions, and any form of abortion. The AIP defends religious displays on public property and voluntary prayer in public schools. The AIP's foreign policy is nearly identical to the LP's, except the AIP demands U.S. reclaim the Panama Canal. The AIP opposes all free-trade treaties and favors tariffs on each imported item equal to the difference in the cost of its production abroad compared to in America.

The Green Party was formed in 1996 as an association of state Green parties and quickly eclipsed the Green Party USA that had been established in 1991 (and still exists). The Greens out-elected the LP-US 25-7 in 1996, 47-34 in 2000, 81-43 in 2002, and 71 to (at most) 42 in 2004. The Greens also list 47 election wins in 2005, 65 in 2003, and 64 in 2001. Half of all registered Greens are in California. The Greens are radical leftists who favor "restructuring our patterns of income distribution", nationalized health insurance, municipal veto over "large economic projects", a 30-35 hour workweek, gun control, "more progressive taxation" including inheritance taxes, and "
increased funding for Social Security, public housing, higher education, public transportation". They say "the artificial dichotomy between 'employment' and 'unemployment' has become a tool of social leverage for corporate exploiters."

Peace and Freedom was founded in 1967, and anti-war Rothbardian left-libertarians competed with Marxists to control it. (Rothbardians took over the California PFP long enough to have Bill Evers co-write its 1974 platform, but Rothbard then joined the LP and Evers followed, where they proceeded to rewrite the LP platform in 1975.) P&F lost ballot status in 1998, but was able to to regain it in 2003 because low turnout in the 2002 gubernatorial election set the registration threshold at only 77K. Like the LP and Greens, the PFP needs to win 2% in some statewide race this year to retain ballot status. PFP calls for "social ownership and democratic control of industry, financial institutions, and natural resources", doubling the minimum wage, a 30-hour work week, and "free high-quality health care for everyone". If you're surprised that PFP "supports the right of working people to keep and bear arms", then remember that The Internationale is featured prominently on their web site.

The Natural Law Party was founded in the early 1990's by followers of Transcendental Meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He stopped funding the party after its failed hostile takeover of the Reform Party in 2000, and the California NLP will lose its ballot status this year because it is running no statewide candidates. The NLP platform called for a flat income tax, market-based healthcare reform, school vouchers, sustainable agriculture, and energy conservation. It straddled many issues, e.g. by supporting the status quo on abortion, immigration and gun control.

The Reform Party was founded in 1995 by Ross Perot and has been plagued by infighting since he abandoned it in 1997. The Reform Party agenda consists of protectionism, procedural political reforms, balanced budgets, and restricted immigration. RP lost its California ballot status in 2003 and will likely never regain it.

Thus the LPC's biggest competitor by far is the ten-year-old Green Party, which positions itself to capture the loyalty of anyone with libertarian impulses but who doesn't understand free market economics. The GP's growth seems to be leveling off, perhaps due to a ceiling effect imposed by the presence of an existing major party in their quadrant of political space. If the LP wants to regain its undisputed title as America's third party, it needs to take advantage of the the absence of competition in its own quadrant by branding itself as the market-smart choice for the plurality of Americans who favor social tolerance.

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