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Peace & Freedom Party Plans National Organizing Conference

Published on May 30, 2009, by in General.

The Peace & Freedom Party is hosting a Conference in San Francisco on Saturday, August 1, to advance its hopes of building a nationwide political party. The conference is at the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. See here for more information.

28 Responses

  1. Phil Sawyer

    Phil Sawyer Says [on an earlier post):
    January 16th, 2009 at 9:47 am
    Deran Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 2:04 pm
    I do wish the PFP would more strongly pursue building a national multi-tendency democratic feminist ecosocialist party, as was proposed last year.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    The best thing about the Peace and Freedom Party of California’s plan to go national (in the form that is being discussed) is that, despite all of the talk over the many years, it still has not happened. It is not a good idea at all to take a Party that is as dysfunctional as PFP-CA and import it to other states; that would just spread the infection. Of course, there might be a way to do it and avoid that sort of problem: We could utilize some kind of “poison pill” mechanism that would keep other parties and organizations from taking over the new state PFP parties. Otherwise, please forget about the whole idea. It would be a much better idea for PFP-CA to merge with a national Party that is already in existence – something that I have been advocating for decades.

    In addition, for those of you who have not been down that road before (starting a new Party) – as I have a few times over the past few decades – I think that some of you may not realize just how difficult such a task is. With that being said, though, I do admit that we did pretty darn well with the Reform Party of the United States. The talk about a merger of PFP-CA with the watermelon greens (green on the outside and red on the inside) is rather fascinating, I also admit. Still, the above mentioned caveats do apply.

    Sincerely,

    Phil

    Philippe L. Sawyer, Member:

    Coalition for Free and Open Elections
    Communist Party USA
    Green Party of the United States
    Peace and Freedom Party of California
    Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    United Public Employees, Local #1
    Veterans For Peace

  2. We basically agree. Don Lake

    We wish them the best, but their own activists are part of the problem. Sad to say, sad to say.

  3. The Peace and Freedom Party was one of the plaintiffs in California Democratic Party v. Jones, in which the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the state-mandated blanket primary (2000).

    This is one of the main precedents for the suits against state-mandated open primaries.

  4. NE

    Didn’t the Liberty Union Party of Vermont and the Peace and Freedom Party used to be part of the same national organization at one point? Any chance of them reuniting?

  5. Phil Sawyer

    Yes, the Liberty Union Party of Vermont and the Peace and Freedom Party of California both were affiliated with the national Peoples Party back in the 70’s. Unfortunatley, the Peoples Party fell apart toward the latter part of 1979. No one has been able to put such a coalion back together since. There have been attempts but they all failed.

    The main problem with those two parties (VLUP and PFP-CA) reuniting would be the Old Guard that still controls the Peace and Freedom Party. They do not even want to affiliate with the Socialist Party USA – a Party that is virtually identical. The leadership of SPUSA has the same attitude. It is the old “big frog in little pond” syndrome at work.

  6. Actually, the Liberty Union Party was founded by very different people from the PFP.

  7. What could have been, what could have been!

    Any one got any suggestions for “Felons 4 POTUS” 2012?

  8. Peace and Freedom is part of Green Party platform.

    Peace and Freedom Party really is and should be part of Green Party.

  9. Oh come on, the Peace and Freedom types can not get with each other…………

  10. Phil Sawyer

    Third Party Revolution Says:
    May 30th, 2009 at 5:48 pm
    Actually, the Liberty Union Party was founded by very different people from the PFP.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    You missed the point. The Peoples Party was a national coalition made up of various state parties that were in favor of peace, freedom, and social justice.

    Lucy Stafford Says:
    May 30th, 2009 at 6:13 pm
    Peace and Freedom is part of Green Party platform.

    Peace and Freedom Party really is and should be part of Green Party.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    The major difference between the two parties is that the Peace and Freedom Party of California is a socialist party. The Green Party of the United States is a reform capitalist party. I know that for a fact because I belong to both.

    It would not be logical for PFP-CA to affiliate with the Green Party. At any rate, there already is a ballot-qualified affiliate of GPUS on the ballot in the Golden State. What would be logical would be for PFP-CA to affiliate with the Socialist Party USA. However, the Old Guard Leaders of PFP-CA have never been famous for logic.

  11. as someone who’s been a green party supporter for years, i no longer believe the green party can be the progressive front we all hoped it would be.

    a note for left wing folks who believe its possible for us to some how win a majority in a nation state, no where in the industrialized world has a truly radical left wing coalition or left wing party won a majority in an a election in the last 30 years. even with the global economic fallout, the best we have been able to do is win 25% or so in iceland. when i say the politics of the left, i mean as in parties that want a radically different economic and social system)

    as a media studies major, i look at how messaging influences behavior. those with more money can help determine the policies of a country through messaging, pr campaigns, more experienced consultants, and out financing your opponents etc… ultimately, even in the most desperate situation, getting more than 30% is almost, or is impossible.

    thats not an argument against the radical leftist organizing parties and running campaigns, it just means that ultimately what could create the situation where feel we won control over the direction of the politics of our society will not emerge out of playing “democracy” with the big boys.,

    i dont have an answer for a better way to move towards the society i think most of us want etc… a fair wage and healthcare for all, the end of social oppression and freedom. but, i will say we need to wake up, and realize, at least as long as elections are privately financed, we cant win the debate, because we can always be outspent.

    the green party should consider becoming one of multiple partners in a coalition. it cant be the coalition itself. if the greens cant get labor and the green NGOs behind them, then they are not playing ball. we need a new progressive party, one that includes the greens, the SP-usa, and other social movement groups. without that, they dont even get a seat at the table of power. much less a shot at running the show.

  12. Kevin Akin

    I am the current California State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party, apparently part of that mythical “old guard,” and I would like to give some more information and weigh in with some opinions.
    First, on the responders so far: Phil Sawyer, though he added the PFP to his list of enthusiasms again last year, became embittered a few months later when he proposed expelling me (after I was just unanimously elected at the convention) and no one would go along. I am afraid that every organization Phil joins turns out to have an “old guard” that will not hand him the levers of power, and he takes to his computer to condemn them as often as possible. Not meaning to discount his opinions, just that his bias needs to be taken into account.
    Don Lake, aka Citizens for a Better Veterans Home, is a far looser cannon, who for unfathomable reasons sincerely hates all leaders and activists of the Peace and Freedom Party, and nurses each grievance over the years to his bosom. Most of what he says about our party appears based on things that never happened in our universe. He used to send letters to individuals, but now through the blessings of the internet he can slander us to thousands. I would suggest discounting his opinions steeply.
    Now for the actual facts.
    In California, the Peace and Freedom Party functions as a broad electoral umbrella group under whose banner various Left groups and individuals run for office. Over the years, we have functioned as a sort of coalition that does electoral and non-electoral work both, though in California the boundaries are not as clear, because any issue is liable to become the subject of a ballot initiative, and we take positions and work for or against most of those.
    The platform of the California Peace and Freedom Party represents a general consensus of the various tendencies and schools of thought whose members have been active in our party over the years. It is certainly worth reading, and it, like much other actual information about the Peace and Freedom Party, can be found on our website at http://www.peaceandfreedom.org .
    The Peace and Freedom Party was organized in 1967, and quickly registered over 100,000 voters and obtained ballot status in California. This galvanized the Left nationally, and Peace and Freedom parties and candidates emerged in at least 20 states during the spring and summer of 1968. Some kept ballot status, and others kept organizations, until 1972, when they ran a national ticket as part of the Peoples Party, in coalition with some other individual state parties. The Peoples Party slate of 1976, topped by Dr. Benjamin Spock, was the last national slate, and the Peoples Party fell apart before 1980.
    Basically, what the Peace and Freedom Party is proposing is to put together a national organization of Left parties, and the immediate goal is to run a national slate for US Senate and House of Representatives in 2010. In most states it would be necessary to put together a new organization to obtain ballot status, in some there are existing ballot-status parties that might join such a national organization. We want to hear from them!
    The dividing line between Greens and Peace and Freedom is not always clear, but several things distinguish us. The Peace and Freedom Party describes itself as committed to “socialism, feminism, democracy, environmentalism, and racial equality.” The Greens, at least as presently organized, are quite determined not to include socialism on their list. Kind of a basic point that reflects another difference.
    Unlike lots of organizations that proclaim their devotion to the working class, the Peace and Freedom Party is actually composed of workers. Our membership (around 56,000 right now) is overwhelmingly drawn from the working class, and all of our elected officers this year are active or retired workers. (Not a requirement, it just happens to be the case this time.)
    We sometimes say (and mean) that in considering every political question, we ask “what is good for workers?” We figure that peace is good for workers, higher wages and better working conditions are good for workers, a decent national health system would be good for workers, saving our environment would be good for workers, racism is bad for workers, rule by the wealthy few is bad for workers, and so on. Others agree with each of these positions, often for other reasons, and we are happy to work with them.
    Another thing that distinguishes us from the Greens is that we do not hamstring ourselves with super-majority “consensus” requirements for making decisions. While consensus requirements appear to work well within the Quakers, a religious group that has endless patience, they do not transfer well into broad political groups. We have a policy of not targeting the Green Party with recruitment efforts, but a number of former leading Greens have become leading Peace and Freedom Party activists, in part because they are impressed by how we are able to make quick decisions and act on them. Perhaps ironically, we find that most of our decisions do reflect a consensus or near-consensus, perhaps because there is no incentive for a minority caucus to rally 30% or 35% to block a decision.
    I am sure that this post is too long already, but I will watch this discussion as I can, and make more comments later. -Kevin Akin

  13. Phil Sawyer

    Did you forget about France in the early 80’s, Will? The Communist and Socialist Parties managed to get a Socialist Party member elected President: Francois Mitterand.

    Your idea about a progressive coalition is very good. However, there has been much talk and very little action since the Peoples Party fell apart in the latter part of 1979. It is sad but true. Perhaps Americans are too individualistic to work together in harmony for very long. I hope that is not the case, though.

  14. Richard

    There may have been 20 states in 1968-1972 that had Peace & Freedom (or Freedom & Peace) organizations, but in 1970 most of them had no ballot presence. The only parties on the ballot in 1970 were California, Vermont (Liberty Union), Washington state (Buffalo Party) and Rhode Island. Somewhat associated was the Consumer Party in Pennsylvania. Starting in 1971, when D.C. voters got to vote for Delegate to the US House, there was the Statehood Party.

    In 1972, Dr. Spock was on the ballot in California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan (Human Rights Party), Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin (10 states). He didn’t get on in D.C. In D.C., Spock backers sued the District to include write-ins for president, a case that was won in 1974.

  15. NE

    Thanks for posting, Mr. Akin. I think a new broad-left, nationwide party would be great. I hope that the PFP decides to try organizing one.

  16. Phil Sawyer

    Although I will not debate Kevin Akin anymore because he is not logical enough to carry on reasonable dialectics with, I must say (for you all to know) that what he wrote about me is incorrect. For one thing, I did not try to have him expelled from the Party; I wanted him removed as State Chairperson. I continue to hold that position.

    By the way, the 1976 Peoples Party nominee for president was Margaret Wright (and Benjamin Spock was the nominee for vice president). Dr. Spock was actually the presidential nominee in 1972, as Richard pointed out above.

    As a matter of fact, I remember that in the 1976 PFP-CA presidential primary, I voted for Ms. Wright – being the young and adventurous person that I was (and not knowing very much about Frank Zeidler and the Socialist Party USA). Now being older, and knowing more, I can see that Mr. Zeidler would have been just as good of a nominee as Ms. Wright was – plus he was probably better known. I stand by my vote, though. I always think my votes through very well and then I take responsibility for them. Furthermore, at that time, I was a full-time, volunteer activist (and a California Elector) for Eugene J. McCarthy’s independent campaign for president and I knew that I would be voting for the former U.S. Senator in the November general election anyway.

  17. Kevin Atkin seems to be unaware of the obvious. Maybe he has not tried to work with ctweber, in San Diego or Sacramento. ct is constant bout saying one thing, to lure you into the ct project, and then the schedule or agenda or goal or plan is completely changed. [Such criticism of ct is wide spread, unethical, deceitful, back stabing!]

    The phrase ‘flexible memory’ sure fits here.

    A couple of years ago the owner of this site alerted patriotic citizens that that Schwarzenegger’s ballot access appointee kicked the PFP off of the list of recognized parties. Some, a distinct minority of the groud swell, PFP types joined the 50 hour out rage. And the majority of PFP ‘leadership’ awoke from their beauty sleep only after the heavy lifting and repositioning of PFP was done.

    They, including Janice Jordan and ctweber, then declared that they had been aware of the situation and in the fight from the beginning. [These are the same folks that —– over the phone —— whom expressed nothing but surprise and shock on day three. Duh! ]

    Slippery memories and lies, lies, lies.

    And the candidates, one federal felon after another.

    Kevin, ya just do not have the documentation for unreasonable formulas of the many former and current PFP types whom are just disgusted with party malfeasance. Pillar the messengers as you may, the legion of unhappy campers grows and grows.

  18. Many state green parties operate by simple majority or even plurality votes.

    Our state party nominates by plurality all green candidates.

  19. Vaughn

    (First, I’m from Ohio) And I’m a member of both the Green Party and Socialist Party USA, and its obvious that the PFP has ground in common with both parties. But, honestly I think that it would be best for them to become the state affiliate of SP-USA. Brian Moore (the Socialist candidate) won 5% in their non-binding primary for the PFP in 2008, but didn’t end up in the ballot in the general election. Cynthia McKinney did well in that primary too, though. Ralph Nader running skewed a lot of things last year…

    Either that, or a merger with the California Green Party to reduce competition among progressives in the state.

  20. NE

    PFP has a larger membership than SPUSA does. It does not make sense for them to merge into a smaller party. I think what the US needs is a left-coalition type party, like Germany’s Die Linke. PFP creating a nationwide party could become that.

  21. Vaughn

    NE,

    How about a nation wide ‘Progressive Party’? “Progressive” is a more favorable term than liberal or conservative, according to a recent poll I read.

  22. Phil Sawyer

    Vaughn Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 9:28 am
    (First, I’m from Ohio) And I’m a member of both the Green Party and Socialist Party USA, and its obvious that the PFP has ground in common with both parties. But, honestly I think that it would be best for them to become the state affiliate of SP-USA. Brian Moore (the Socialist candidate) won 5% in their non-binding primary for the PFP in 2008, but didn’t end up in the ballot in the general election. Cynthia McKinney did well in that primary too, though. Ralph Nader running skewed a lot of things last year…

    Either that, or a merger with the California Green Party to reduce competition among progressives in the state.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    Thank you for your support, Vaughn. For many years now, I have been trying to convince the Old Guard (Big Frog in Little Pond) Leaders of the Peace and Freedom Party of California and the Socialist Party USA that a merger would be very beneficial to both. The two Parties are almost identical, as a matter of fact. The Leaders will not listen to reason. Their minds are made up and that is all that there is to it.

    NE Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 1:36 pm
    PFP has a larger membership than SPUSA does. It does not make sense for them to merge into a smaller party. I think what the US needs is a left-coalition type party, like Germany’s Die Linke. PFP creating a nationwide party could become that.

    Phil Sawyer replies:

    Actually, “NE,” it makes perfect sense for the two Parties to merge. For SPUSA, having a ballot-qualified, state Party in the Golden State would give it the biggest shot in the arm that it has had in a very long time. For PFP-CA, it could finally be affiliated with a national Party again. I am not “going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen,” though (see above).

    Vaughn Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 5:31 pm
    NE,

    How about a nation wide ‘Progressive Party’? “Progressive” is a more favorable term than liberal or conservative, according to a recent poll I read.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    Several times, over the past few decades, I have been part of small groups attempting to create a narional Progressive Party. Nothing ever got going in a big way; we never could find enough interested people to join us and help out with the cause. At this point, what I have to say is that “I am listening.” Others will have to take the lead, though, on any new adventures related to the above postings.

    Sincerely,

    Phil

    Philippe L. Sawyer, Member:

    Amnesty International USA
    Coalition for Free and Open Elections
    Communist Party USA
    Green Party of the United States
    Peace and Freedom Party of California
    Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    United Public Employees, Local #1
    Veterans For Peace

    Former Member:

    American Independent Party of California
    California Party
    Citizens’ Party of the United States
    Committee for a Constitutional Presidency (McCarthy ’76)
    Democratic Party of the United States
    Democratic Socialists of America
    Natural Law Party of California
    Party for Socialism and Liberation (Candidate Member)
    Patriot Party of the United States
    Peoples Party of the United States
    Progressive Coordinating Council (Founding Member)
    Reform Party of the United States (Founding Member)
    Republican Party of the United States
    Socialist Party USA
    United We Stand America (Founding Member)
    etc.

  23. Deran

    I really hope the mtg in SF is not dominated by a bunch of reminiscing and cat-fighting abt 30 years ago.

    As far as the SPUSA and the PFP, I think ideally the SPUSA would become a part of a new national democratic socialist party, but that may be too much to hope for. I would hope though that they can see their way clear to allying with a national PFP.

    The PFP is not that similar to the GP. The GP is a “soft capitalism” party (the national GP in the US is anyway). I do think that it would be smart for the various remaining active state GPs to participate in supporting this proposed slate for 2010.

    I also hope the Trotskyists, in all their many many flavors can be kept from wrecking the project). I’m all for trotskyist participation – there are many good individuals whole call them selves trotskyists – but the various sects are too prone to trying to take things over. And that sort of old style, industrialism focused socialism is no longer valid.

  24. Phil Sawyer

    Also, Former Member:

    Americans for Common Sense
    Committee for a Unified Independent Party
    Democratic Socialist Refoundation
    McGovern Million Member Club
    National Unity Party
    New Democrats (the original group)
    New Frontier Party

  25. Vaughn

    Although it’s probably more likely that if they became part of a national party it might be the Party for Socialism and Liberation and not SP-USA, since Gloria La Riva was their candidate and is already associated with the PFP. Again, I assert that because Nader became the PFP candidate it makes it harder to judge things. Personally, I still think that they should become part a national party instead of creating (yet another) nation-wide socialist party.

    I really looking forward to how this plays out because it is such a large party.

  26. Phil Sawyer

    Deran Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 7:55 pm
    I really hope the mtg in SF is not dominated by a bunch of reminiscing and cat-fighting abt 30 years ago.

    As far as the SPUSA and the PFP, I think ideally the SPUSA would become a part of a new national democratic socialist party, but that may be too much to hope for. I would hope though that they can see their way clear to allying with a national PFP.

    The PFP is not that similar to the GP. The GP is a “soft capitalism” party (the national GP in the US is anyway). I do think that it would be smart for the various remaining active state GPs to participate in supporting this proposed slate for 2010.

    I also hope the Trotskyists, in all their many many flavors can be kept from wrecking the project). I’m all for trotskyist participation – there are many good individuals whole call them selves trotskyists – but the various sects are too prone to trying to take things over. And that sort of old style, industrialism focused socialism is no longer valid.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    Deran: There is no “new national democratic socialist party” that has gotten off the ground in any significant way. I know that Gabe Ross has been working his heart out, over the past few years, to create one but I do not think that he has been receiving much assistance. The Socialist Party USA is (underlined) the “national democratic socialist party.” PFP-CA would affiliate with it if the Old Guard (Big Frog in Little Pond) Leaders could “wake up and smell the coffee” (and, of course, if the Old Guard – Big Frog in Little Pond – Leaders of the Socialist Party USA would also drink some very strong French Roast or Espresso and let PFP-CA affiliate as a state Party). “Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen,” though.

    There is a Trotskyists wing in the Socialist Party USA. I do not see a problem there. I have a streak of Trotskysism in me, actually. I am against Stalinism and all of the evil forms that it has taken througout history. I am a Left Conservative. For political philosophy, I should be described as a Christian Communist Revolutionary Reformer (who utilizes democratic centralism as basic policy and procedure). My universal philosophy is Christian Calvinistic Dialectical Existentialism.

    Vaughn Says:
    June 2nd, 2009 at 3:37 pm
    Although it’s probably more likely that if they became part of a national party it might be the Party for Socialism and Liberation and not SP-USA, since Gloria La Riva was their candidate and is already associated with the PFP. Again, I assert that because Nader became the PFP candidate it makes it harder to judge things. Personally, I still think that they should become part a national party instead of creating (yet another) nation-wide socialist party.

    I really looking forward to how this plays out because it is such a large party.

    Phil Sawyer replies:

    Vaughn: You are so correct about PFP-CA needing to “become part [of] a national party instead of creating (yet another) nation-wide socialist party.” Not to worry, though. The Old Guard Leaders have been talking about doing the latter for years and years. Just because they are going to hold one conference does not mean all that much. If they do go ahead and do something like that, “I will believe it when I see it.”

    By the way, in post #24 above, I should have added “(founding member)” after New Frontier Party.

  27. Kevin Akin

    In putting together a national slate in 2010 (if that is what happens), the Peace and Freedom Party hopes to work with the Socialist Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and many other socialist and broad left groups, as well as with activists not otherwise affiliated. With every member of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate up in 2010, there is a lot of room for candidates from many groups to work together.

    People who sit back and come up with ideal schemes for how other people ought to run (or combine) their political organizations usually ignore inconvenient realities. I am certainly in favor of a more united, active and successful independent Left in this country, but I recognize that it takes a lot of hard work to build the necessary mechanisms for cooperation, and to build the mutual trust required, that is perhaps the hardest part when each group has its own interests and its own desire to determine its future. I think we have a great opportunity this coming year to build something effective, in circumstances in which each group can benefit and grow.

    I can’t speak to the personal motives of all the members of our large collective leadership, but my own incentive is clear: The stronger the independent left, the more we can win for the working class. For the last 40 years, while working as a carpenter, steelworker, and stationary engineer, my work in four unions, the Peace and Freedom Party, and a host of other political groups and coalitions has all been directed toward improving the conditions and increasing the power of workers. I learned from wonderful older activists, and I have tried to pass on what I have learned, so that my grandchildren will have what none of us have yet seen, except in the mind’s eye: a world that belongs to working people.

    (By the way, of course Don Lake/Veterans Home is wrong in what he claims about people outside of the Peace and Freedom Party being the ones who led the effort to overrule the Secretary of State who tried to take us off the ballot 3 years ago. I was State Chair at the time, and spent the whole week on the phone and computer, in constant touch with our state officers and key activists, starting the moment the SoS told us and the press about his crazy decision. Our lawyers were drafting their briefs before Don Lake even knew about the issue, and while we are very grateful for the work of people in other parties who helped (especially Richard Winger, Cres Vellucci, and Debra Bowen), we were actively managing our own defense. We won because the law and the precedents were clearly on our side, but we won big and embarrassed the SoS statewide because we did a good job. This demonstration of malicious partisan incompetence is one of the many reasons why he was defeated in the next election.)

  28. I learned through the Peace and Freedom Party discussion list that Phil Sawyer misapprehends the situations regarding the P&FP, and then reports those (they become lies, then) with directives of what to do according to him, which suggestions are outside of our stated objectives – often opposite them.
    I’m sure Mr Sawyer means well.
    His erroneous involvements here indicate a deeper problem, perhaps arising largely from his personal situation, but likely as well, the errors are systemic.
    The system in which we live requires that it lie to us about what is happening to us, what is going on in the world around us, near and far; what the possibilities are for addressing our environment; etc.
    People have different abilities to access (more) accurate information or to dodge the lies and develop their own wiser understandings. This stands in the way too often, of people coming to common, useful understandings about these concerns.
    Fighting the system means fighting for accurate information. Sawyer’s is the opposite; it serves the system that oppresses us all.

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