|Peace and Freedom Party|
|Chairperson||State Central Committee|
|Founded||June 23, 1967|
|Political position||Fiscal: Left-wing
|Politics of the United States
The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) is a ballot-listed minor political party in California. It is a left-wing feminist and socialist party. Although its first candidates appeared on the ballot in 1966, the national party was founded in 1967 as a leftist organization opposed to the Vietnam War. Since that time, the party has become consolidated in California. The party nominated Ralph Nader for President in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.
Peace and Freedom Party from the very beginning has been a left-of-center political organization. It is a strong advocate of protecting the environment from pollution and nuclear waste. It advocates the right of self-determination, personal liberties, and universal free access to education and health care. Its understanding of socialism includes a socialist economy, where industries, financial institutions, and natural resources are owned by the people as a whole and democratically managed by the people who work in them and use them.
The Peace and Freedom Party is governed by its State Central Committee (SCC) and local County Central Committees. The party central committees are elected in the direct primary election, with any Peace and Freedom registrant eligible to run. Local County Central Committees and the State Central Committee may also appoint persons to membership who wish to be active in the party. A biennial state convention adopts the PFP platform.
The Peace and Freedom Party was organized on January 23, 1967 by social activists in the farm workers, civil rights, and anti-Vietnam War movements. Its initial registration drive began at a demonstration against Lyndon Johnson at the Century City Plaza in Los Angeles, California.
The party's name was created by tina danfluff. The name has sometimes created confusion with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, an international anti-war organization. While many Peace and Freedom Party members are also members of WILPF, the two organizations are not affiliated with each other and have no historical connection.
The Peace and Freedom Party grew out of unhappiness with the Democratic Party's support for the war in Vietnam and failure to effectively support the civil rights movement.
In 1966, three men ran for the U.S. House on the Peace & Freedom Party label. Herbert Aptheker received 3,562 votes in New York's 12th Congressional District; Robert B. Shaw received 1,974 votes in Washington's 7th Congressional District; and Frank L. Patterson received 1,105 votes in Washington's 2d Congressional District.
The party achieved ballot status in California at the start of 1968 by registering over 105,000 voters under its banner. It later got ballot status in 13 other states, but in most of those, the election laws and small organization meant that it was unable to retain ballot status after 1968.
The PFP's first national convention to nominate candidates for President and Vice President was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan on August 17-August 18, 1968. Eldridge Cleaver was nominated for President over Richard C. "Dick" Gregory by a margin of 161.5 to 54. Cleaver, a convicted felon and Black Panther spokesman, was technically not eligible to run since he was only 34 years old at the time. Due to the needs of the state parties to collect signatures, the party fielded several different vice presidential nominees, including Chicago activist Peggy Terry, activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, radical economist Doug Dowd, and Judith Mage, who had been nominated at the national convention. Cleaver personally preferred Yippie leader Jerry Rubin. Gregory formed a competing Freedom and Peace party and ran separately. Two states (California and Utah) refused to list Cleaver on the ballot, although each state listed the Presidential Electors and candidates for Vice President (Terry in California and Gonzales in Utah).
A variety of people joined the PFP in its first election. Bob Avakian was a spokesman for the party in the San Francisco Area. The New York Peace and Freedom Party consisted of a fractious coalition of competing Marxist groups, along with libertarians led by economist Murray Rothbard. Libertarians briefly took over the California branch of the party as well.
In the election of 1968, the PFP fared fairly well for a new third party. Gregory outpolled Cleaver, receiving 47,097 votes to Cleaver's 36,623. In California and Utah, where no presidential nominee appeared on the ballot, the voters cast 27,887 votes for the PFP. The full nationwide vote for Presidential Electors was thus 111,607. PFP candidates for the U.S. Senate garnered an aggregate nationwide total of 105,411 votes. In Utah, the PFP fielded folk musician Bruce "Utah" Phillips for Congress, garnering 2,019 votes. The PFP gained ballot access in California, which it retained except for the brief period 1999-2003.
After 1968, the PFP affiliates in most states dissolved, with the California party as the primary exception. Throughout the 1970s, the California party continued to contest local elections but endorsed the national candidates of the left-wing People's Party. In 1972, the People's Party nominated the democratic socialist and anti-war activist Benjamin Spock for President, and in 1976 it nominated Margaret Wright of California for President.
In 1998, the PFP failed to attain more than the required two percent of the votes cast in the general election, causing the party to lose ballot status in the state. Their position on the ballot was restored in 2003 after a voter registration drive. Longtime PFP activist CT Weber was one of 135 candidates who ran for governor in the October 2003 recall election, in which voters removed then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, and elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the August 2004 State Convention, the Native American activist Leonard Peltier was nominated as the party's presidential candidate. Peltier was at the time (and as of 2010, still is) imprisoned as a convicted murderer; however, his supporters believe that he was framed and is a political prisoner instead. Party members who supported Peltier’s candidacy hoped to draw attention to his case, and to the effort to win a presidential pardon for Peltier.
The party again fell under the required number of registered voters to retain ballot status in February 2006, and was declared disqualified by the California Secretary of State. However, citing previous instances in which parties not meeting the 'ballot qualification' criteria were still allowed to participate in primary elections and the fact that there had not yet been a regular gubernatorial election since the party regained its ballot status (and as such, the decision was premature), the decision to bar the party from the June 2006 Primary was reversed after less than a week.
In the 2006 general election, two Peace and Freedom Party candidates received over two percent of the vote, thus ensuring the party's ballot status for the next four years. (Elizabeth Barron received 212,383 votes, 2.5% of the total, for Controller, and Tom Condit received 187,618 votes, 2.2% of the total, for Insurance Commissioner.)
On the March 30, 2008 the State Central Committee endorsed a plan to create a National Organizing Committee and national political party. The NOC is instructed to work toward a national "multi-tendency non-sectarian organization committed to socialism, democracy, feminism, environmentalism and racial equality." . A national organizing conference was set for December 2008, following the general election.
A political convention was held August 2-3, 2008 in Sacramento to select the party's 2008 presidential ticket. Contending for the nomination were Gloria La Riva, also nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Cynthia McKinney, also nominee of the Green Party, Brian Moore, also nominee of the Socialist Party and independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Nader won the vote as follows: Nader 46, Gloria La Riva 27, Brian Moore 10, Cynthia McKinney 6. Nader's running mate, former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, was endorsed for Vice President by acclamation.  The nomination ensured that the Nader/Gonzalez presidential ticket would appear on the ballot in California for the 2008 election.
On August 6, 2008, the Nader/Gonzalez campaign submitted sufficient signatures to appear on the Iowa ballot as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. This was the first expansion of the party beyond California since the 1970s.  However, the party did not achieve the 1% of the vote necessary to guarantee ballot access in subequent elections.