The Common Ground Declaration

The Final Document of the Third Parties '96 Conference
Washington, DC, June 4, 1995


The Third Parties '96 Conference, with delegates from 26 independent political parties in the United States, on June 4, 1995 adopted the following draft Declaration of common principles. These statements were approved during two days of debate, negotiation, and compromise, using a modified full consensus process.

We believe this Common Ground Declaration is an important step toward more effective cooperation among our nation's growing movement of independent third parties.

We who signed this Declaration did so as individuals. From this First Conference, and from these First Principles, we believe, can grow broader and deeper political dialogue and closer alliances among third parties

These principles, we know, represent the views of a strong New Mainstream, which can successfully challenge the two-party stranglehold on political power in the United States. We welcome more participants to this process, and recognize that these draft principles are but a beginning. They are, we believe, a very good beginning indeed.


Third Parties '96 Participants
At the George Washington University
Washington, DC
June 4, 1995

Our process encouraged open discussion and compromise, producing a large number of important issues on which our very diverse group of participants - including activists from green, libertarian, socialist, and populist parties - were able to reach complete agreement. As a result, many statements in this Declaration were adopted by full consensus. These are numbered below. Other items were not unanimously approved, but were favored by super-majorities of at least four-fifths (80%) of the delegates. A few items were adopted with majorities of three-fifths (60%).

The Declaration


1. We support proportional representation.

2. We support campaign finance reform to provide a level playing field in elections.

3. We support initiative, referendum and recall. We oppose the abuse of these citizen votes to restrict civil or human rights.

4. We support genuinely open and fair access to the ballot in all elections.

We support the removal of all barriers to public access to voting. (80%)

We call on the broadcast media to fairly report on all ballot qualified candidates. (80%)

We propose for voting to occur on non-working days. (60%)


5. We believe that all economic activities should improve and protect the health of the earth, while promoting the happiness and prosperity of its inhabitants.

6. We must end corporate welfare.

We want those who can afford to pay taxes to do so; those who can't, should not. (80%)

We support taking the tax burden off of the middle and lower classes and putting it back onto those who can afford to pay. (60%)

We support the equalization and improvement of per-pupil funding of public schools, between states, and within each state. (60%)


7. We support public policies which respect all forms of life, preserve and promote biodiversity, protect endangered species, conserve natural resources and eliminate pollution.

8. We support developing and promoting environmentally friendly, energy efficient technologies and renewable energy sources, especially all forms of solar energy.

9. We would encourage, through economic measures and education, the practices of source reduction, re-use, and recycling, and we advocate the elimination of toxic, nuclear, and other environmentally harmful substances.


10. We oppose race and class discrimination in exposure to environmental hazards, in communities and workplaces, including the siting of toxic waste facilities, employment in hazardous industries, and the location of energy and mining facilities.

We urge the defeat of anti-affirmative action proposals and we support an even stronger committment by government and the public and private sector to a more inclusive and just society. (80%)

We would identify and remove barriers to equal opportunities for all people irrespective of gender, race, age, class, disability, religious or political beliefs, family responsibilities, marital status or sexual orientation, medical condition and citizenship. (80%)

We envision a society that, as a minimum, guarantees all groups equal access to jobs, housing, education and political representation, in proportion to their size in the population. (60%)

We support the widest possible generation and availability of health and wellness information and education. (60%)


11. We support people's right to control their own sexual and reproductive lives.

12. We propose an end to the war on drugs and its replacement with policies that treat addiction as a health matter, not a crime.

We believe that housing is a fundamental human right. (80%)


13. We would cut military expenditures dramatically, and provide for displaced workers.

14. We support the elimination of US military bases in foreign territories.


15. We believe that economic decisions should be made democratically, with participation by all affected workers, communities and consumers.


16. We support the maximum empowerment of people in their communities, consistent with fairness, social responsibility and human rights, to meet local needs, and to defend those communities against exploitive forces.

17. We support community courts and justice centers with emphasis on intervention, prevention and mediation, alternative sentencing for juvenile and nonviolent offenders. We support community controlled law enforcement to handle lesser offenses and disputes and to maintain community order.

We encourage community owned and managed communication systems. (60%)

Please note that not all the listed parties and individuals participated in the entire drafting process, and that individuals who endorsed this declaration did so as individuals.
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