What Is Third Parties '96?

An Introductory Letter from the Planning Team

Dear fellow citizen,

We live in extraordinary times.

Incumbent Democrats are abandoning the Congress in numbers unseen in our lifetime. The public is becoming disillusioned with the Republican "revolution" of de-regulation and de-funding and public opinion polls reflect this.

Ralph Nader says the "tear the system down" congressional crowd really wants a system that does nothing for ordinary citizens and everything for big corporations. We agree with Nader when he says:

"Of course, we don't want big government. But we do want -- and deserve -- responsive and efficient government. We need a government that works for ordinary citizens and checks corporate power."

We think the best way to challenge the corporate take-over and their parties is at the ballot box in '96. THIS IS YOUR INVITATION TO JOIN OUR AMBITIOUS EFFORT.

The coming election cycle is an unusual moment in our national history, with surveys showing that 62% of Americans want a choice in '96 other than Clinton-Dole. Rarely has there been a more opportune time to present a new political alternative for the neglected mainstream of American voters and non-voters -- a new way of looking at our nation's problems honestly and intelligently.

Third Parties `96 is a bold national organizing effort to do just that -- create a common-sense alternative for the nation's voters in `96: AN ELECTORAL COALITION FOR A NEW MAINSTREAM.

Yes, there are other efforts underway. Perot has begun organizing a third party in a few key states, but the initiative did not come out of a convention of his grassroots supporters. It was a top-down decision by a billionaire of uncertain motive and purpose and the party-building activities will be supported by Perot's personal fortune and supervised by his paid staffers. The intent may be honorable but the process has the odor of money.

There is more talk of an independent candidacy with participation by Senator Bill Bradley, former Gov. Lowell Weicker, Colin Powell, et al. They've hinted that they are open to contributions from the corporate world, specifically, the entertainment industry. That sounds like new actors, same script. Third Parties '96 believes that citizens should be able to make a difference electorally without depending on campaign contributions from corporations and a tiny wealthy elite.

There are other organizing initiatives around the country that are aimed, generally, at creating a movement for the disenfranchised. These are long-range efforts with no plan to be involved electorally in '96. Third Parties '96 planners believe that time is a luxury we don't have -- that the iron is hot NOW to reclaim our democracy from a systematically corrupt Washington elite and their financial backers.

Third Parties 96 had a national conference in June with more than 40 organizations participating, including representatives from 26 emerging political parties. Through a respectful democratic process, this diverse group created the first draft of the Common Ground Declaration, a negotiated set of guiding principles which we've included in this mailing. We've also enclosed a brief summary of the conference report explaining the process we used to reach agreement plus the action plan that came out of the final conference plenary. We invite you to join in the process of refining and amending the Common Ground Declaration, the action plan, and TP'96 "shadow government" strategy.

Since the June conference, we have presented our Common Ground Declaration to groups across the country, recruiting organizers, developing a plan and introducing ourselves to potential candidates for a coalition slate. With advice from Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News and quintessential expert on ballot access laws across the nation, we have developed a winning strategy. Now it is time to convene THE COMMON GROUND TALKS, ROUND TWO.

Join us for the second national Third Parties '96 conference, COMMON GROUND TALKS, ROUND TWO, January 5-7 at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (A registration form is available at this web site.)

Round Two will advance the Third Party Alliance by

For the long-term, the alliance strategy provides the opportunity to qualify independent emerging state parties through ballot status (some states have no other process for qualifying minor parties than a statewide contest for governor or president). The widely discussed slate concept gives concrete form to our multi-party alliance to better articulate the national issues in the Common Ground Declaration.

Consistent with our philosophy that in a well-functioning democracy it should not require more than small amounts of money for citizens to participate in electoral politics effectively, every effort has been made to contain the cost of attending the Third Parties '96 conferences and meetings, but transportation costs or job constraints will still deter many from attending. TP '96 does not want participation in its efforts to be dependent upon financial resources and has been using E-mail communications intensively. Anyone with access to E-mail can stay actively involved in TP '96.

Based on the action plan that emerged from the first TP '96 conference, four committees have been formed. You may communicate concerning the work of these committees as follows:

Networking/national coordination:
Linda Martin (lindamartin@igc.apc.org)
Common Ground Declaration development:
Sam Smith (ssmith@igc.apc.org) and John Rensenbrink (jrensenb@polar.bowdoin.edu)
Candidate search/strategy:
Local campaigns: Hank Chapot (hchapot@igc.apc.org)

Additionally, Richard Winger has agreed to be our Ballot Access Consultant.

If your organization is participating in any of the TP '96 activities, please contact your local radio stations and newspapers. It is essential that we reach the general public through the mass media and alternative publications and news outlets. We will be posting media alerts online. Please re-distribute these postings to your local reporters. Remember, if we don't exist for the mass and local media, we don't exist for much of the voting public who do not have access to alternative publications. It ain't fair, but that's life in a two-party monopoly where corporate money calls the communications shots.

Come to the Common Ground Talks, Round Two or get in touch online. Let's show the two-party monopoly that we CAN pull together -- we CAN work in coalition to give voice to the voiceless, to create a common-sense electoral alternative in l996 and beyond.

If you have any questions about anything in this mailing, please contact one of us online, or call me at 703.642.5710. Leave a message on the answering machine and I'll return your calls as soon as possible.


Linda Martin
For the Planning Team

"The Team":

Tony Affigne, Green Party of Rhode Island
Hank Chapot, Green Party of California
Laurie Geller, Boulder Progressive Coalition
Sam Jordan, DC Statehood Party
Linda Martin, Green Politics Network & NOVA Greens
Judith Mohling, Boulder Progressive Coalition
Sue Ellen Peralta, Student Lobbyist, New Mexico State Govt.
John Rensenbrink, Maine Green Party
Sam Smith, Progressive Review
Bruce Weiner, Workers of America

*Richard Winger, Ballot Access Consultant

P.S. - Third Parties '96 is an all volunteer effort that draws deeply on the resources of its planning group members. You can help us become more efficient and assure our success by providing financial support. If you are able, please send a check or money order (for no more than $l00, please) to: Third Parties '96, 4714 Minor Circle, Alexandria, VA 22312.

Thank you.

Back to TP'96 The CGD Boulder Addendum Agenda for Round Two Register for Round Two