OUR NATIONS FOUNDERS strove to create a democracy that would guarantee fundamental human rights and hold the government accountable to the people. The Natural Law Party is committed to restoring this vision to the American political process and overcoming the bipartisan conflict and special interest control that has paralyzed and subverted our government.
The Natural Law Party supports long-overdue election and campaign reforms to ensure (a) equal access to the ballot, the media, and the public for all qualified candidates, (b) the elimination of PAC and soft-money funding of campaigns, and (c) a shift toward public sponsorship of campaigns in order to reduce the undue influence of special interest money on election outcomes. Such reforms will fulfill every Americans right to complete information about all candidates and their platforms while freeing elected officials to focus on serving their country rather than seeking campaign contributions.
The Natural Law Party envisions a future in which elections are a time of national celebration, free of negative campaigning -- a time when the nation takes pride in its achievements and plans collectively for the future.
There is no Constitutional basis for Americas current two-party system. In fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson specifically warned against political parties, which they feared would become entrenched as elitists and servers of special interests, unresponsive to the needs and desires of the people.
Today we find ourselves in this very situation. Frustrated by political gridlock, many Americans feel that government has grown into a self-serving, self-perpetuating partisan body that neither reflects nor recognizes their desires. Recent polls indicate that 86% of Americans feel that their elected officials will never solve the nations problems, partly because political infighting has frozen the machinery of government. Consequently, the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout of any country in the world.
Over 60% of Americans favor the formation of a new, major political party. Americans want change and are deeply frustrated with both Republican and Democratic candidates. Traditionally, third parties have introduced important new ideas, such as womens suffrage and the abolition of slavery, into our national political debate. As former Chief Justice Earl Warren commented:
All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups, which innumerable times have been in the vanguard of democratic thought and whose programs were ultimately accepted. The absence of such voices would be a symptom of grave illness in our society .
Yet the Republican and Democratic parties continue to exert an effective stranglehold on the political process, preventing crucial new ideas from emerging via third parties and their candidates.
Current campaign laws unfairly discriminate against independent and third-party candidates. In 1996, Republicans and Democrats received $148 million taxpayer dollars to run their general election campaigns -- including $25 million to hold meaningless presidential nominating conventions -- while independent and new-party candidates typically receive nothing. In most cases, access to the ballot is automatic for Republicans and Democrats, but independent and third-party candidates face the most rigid, discriminative, and unwieldy procedures in the world. For example, until 1998, it was more difficult for a new party to get on the ballot in Florida than in all the countries of Europe combined .
The present ballot-access barriers for third parties blatantly violate the 1990 international Helsinki accords that guarantee universal and equal suffrage to all adult citizens without discrimination, including equal access to the ballot and the media. Ironically, the United States is the worlds foremost proponent of these accords .
The Natural Law Party supports election reform that returns American democracy to the high ideals envisioned by our nations founders -- a democracy that fairly represent the views of all its citizens and candidates. To achieve this, the Natural Law Party supports the following initiatives:
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
The election process is far too long and expensive. Elected representatives spend too much of their terms fundraising and campaigning for re-election. The United States has the longest campaign season -- yet the lowest voter turnout -- of any country in the world. The exorbitant cost of campaigns favors the wealthy candidates and those who receive large contributions from political action committees (PACs) and other special interest groups. Research has shown that over 90% of all campaigns are won by the candidate who spends the most. Consequently, government has become a hostage to wealthy special interests rather than responsive to the people.
In 1994, the Republicans supported campaign finance reform and won a landslide victory. However, once they became the majority party, the Republicans became the majority beneficiaries of PAC funds. Now they are the biggest recipients of special interest money in history , and the recent Republican filibuster ensured that no campaign finance reform will take place during the current Congress.
The savings and loan crisis is a prime example of what happens when government is financed and controlled by special interest groups. The savings and loan deregulation was brought about by the influence of the powerful savings and loan lobby, which furnished large campaign contributions to the President and to Congress. The effects of this S&L deregulation and the consequent irresponsible handling of depositors funds have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars -- thousands of dollars for every taxpayer.
Campaign finances have usurped the focus of our elected leaders by forcing them to attend to fundraising rather than doing their jobs and solving the nations problems. For example, it can take $10 million or more to run an effective Senate campaign; consequently, incumbents must raise $5,000 every day they are in office. Hence the lure of PAC funding becomes too compelling to resist.
Unlike the major-party candidates with PAC funding, independent and third-party candidates encounter formidable financial obstacles to media access in this electronic age. In addition, the frequent exclusion of these candidates from participation in televised debates, due to the stranglehold of the two major parties on the democratic process, prevents new ideas and new solutions from entering the political process.
The Natural Law Party will promote fairness in campaign financing through public sponsorship of election campaigns and will support legislation to correct injustices through the following campaign finance reforms:
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