July 8, 1967, formal organization of California's American Independent
Party was completed at a convention held in Bakersfield. A constitution
and declaration of principles were adopted, and officers were
elected. The declaration of principles proclaimed:
new party is urgently needed today because the leaders of the
two existing parties, Democratic and Republican, have deserted
the principles and traditions of our nation's founding fathers.
Both of the existing parties have become the proponents of big government,
crushing taxation, dictatorial federal power, waste and fiscal
irresponsibility, unwholesome and disastrous internationalism,
compromise with our nation's enemies, and authoritarian regimentation
of the citizens of this Republic. Control of the government, under
the domination of these two existing parties, has left the hands
of the people our government was created to serve."
declaration pledged the support of the American Independent Party
to "limited constitutional government, with emphasis on the
rights of the several states to govern their own local affairs
and educational systems without federal bureaucratic or court
interference." As to foreign affairs, the declaration stated
that "the American Independent Party supports a foreign policy
based on America's best interests, not world opinion," and
"preservation of our national sovereignty."
1967, Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama was on the move to run
for President on a new party ticket. Second only to Alabama, California
was the most important state in the Union in the eyes of the Wallace
campaign. Wallace supporters greeted with enthusiasm the formation
of the American Independent Party. Not only was California the
most populous state, but it was also the jurisdiction with the
earliest legal deadline by which ballot qualification had to be
achieved for the 1968 presidential election.
procedures for qualification in California were extremely difficult.
To qualify a new party for the ballot required either 66,059 voter
registrations showing affiliation with the new party, or a petition
with over 660,000 valid voter signatures. Deadline for securing
the registrations was January 2, 1968. Securing registrations
was much more difficult than securing signatures on a petition.
In 1967, California had no registration by mail system. And, every
registration form had to be executed in the presence of a person
designated by county election officials as a deputy registrar
mid 1967, in spite of the best endeavors of American Independent
Party coordinators, the pace of registration acquisition did not
appear to be adequate to achieve ballot qualification by the January,
1968 deadline. In October, to bolster the effort, Governor Wallace
came to California for a week of rallies and speaking engagements.
Simultaneously with the Governor's appearances in California,
the Wallace Campaign unleashed an all-out effort to qualify the
American Independent Party for the California ballot. Registration
headquarters—ultimately 46 in number—were opened in
every major population center in the state. An advertising campaign
was launched in support of the registration drive, including radio,
television, and newspaper advertisements.
his initial campaign tour in California in early November, Governor
Wallace returned to Alabama. But he was back in California on
November 20, and from then until December 17, he sustained a backbreaking
schedule of rallies throughout California in support of the registration
drive. Never less than three rallies per day were held, with the
number frequently rising to four or five. On December 15, Governor
Wallace delivered a major television address urging California
voters to register with the American Independent Party. Much of
the final registration effort was conducted during inclement weather
which struck in December, and made registration efforts more difficult.
Against overwhelming odds, the pace of AIP voter registration
accelerated. On December 28, the "Los Angeles Times,"
carried a banner front page headline in its preview edition, proclaiming:
"Wallace Does It—Party Registration May Hit 75,000."
The actual registration total exceeded 100,000. The California
victory gave inspiration to Wallace supporters throughout the
country, and, in 1968, building on the California foundation,
Wallace was able to qualify his presidential candidacy in every
state in the nation. He owed this success in large part to the
founder of the AIP in California, William Shearer.
three year period of turbulence followed the January 2, 1968,
qualification of the American Independent Party for the California
Ballot. The Alabama leaders of the Wallace Campaign decided that
the party should have no separate existence from that of the campaign.
They believed the party should be put quietly on ice after the
1968 election, only to be revived if Governor Wallace should again
seek the presidency on a third party ticket in a subsequent election.
But the California leaders of the AIP— particularly William
Shearer its founder and Wallace point man for the organization
of State party efforts nationwide—had a very different view.
They wanted the new party to be a permanent vehicle for political
participation in California and the nation, and they wanted all
necessary steps taken to assure that the party was organized and
structured to achieve this objective. A costly three year battle
between the AIP and Wallace Campaign ensued.
repeated itself after the death of our revered founder, William
Shearer in early 2007. Once again outside forces sought to determine
the AIP's future, but this time it was the Constitution
Party that sought to dominate the American Independent Party of
California though surrogates, a misguided rump faction that came
to be known as "The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight."
Defeating this assault on the independence of the AIP also took
three long and costly years from 2008 to 2011. After illegitimate
attempts to eject Edward Noonan from the Chairmanship by the daughter
of the late founder William Shearer failed, the rump faction she
led sought aid from the founder of the Constitution Party, Howard
Phillips, to deny the American Independent Party its rightful
voice at the Presidential nominating Convention in 2008 by a series
of dastardly tricks. After successfully maintaining its right
to vote on the Presidential nomination, the AIP was subjected
to a further attack when the rump group held its own "Convention"
and elected its own officers, entirely without authorization and
contrary to both AIP Bylaws and the California Election Code.
A legal battle for control of the Party ensued, which was finally
resolved in favor of the legitimate party leadership on August
August 3, 1968, the delegates to the state convention of the American
Independent Party adopted the party's first platform. This document
held tremendous significance for AIP activists who had joined
the new party because they wanted major changes in public policies.
Many AIP leaders had specific legislative proposals which they
wanted addressed, and debate and adoption of the platform gave
them an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.
Further, California party activists needed a rallying point. George
Wallace, their presidential candidate, would normally have filled
this void, but Governor Wallace had shunned the state party organization.
Therefore, the party activists rallied around the platform which
they had helped create. The 1968 platform of the California American
Independent Party was to become the cornerstone of future national
and state party expressions on matters of public policy.
The 1968 election brought Wallace 7 percent of the California
vote, a total of over 482,000 votes. Wallace's popular vote in
the nation was 9,906,473. The American Independent Party and the
Wallace Campaign continued to be at odds until 1971, when the
Governor and the state party organization had a complete reconciliation.
In 1972, the American Independent Party was once again the potential
vehicle for Gov. Wallace in his quest for the presidency. Sadly,
the terrible injuries inflicted upon him by a would-be assassin
ended his candidacy, and Gov. Wallace played no further leadership
role in the AIP. The seed, however, had been sown, and the state
party organization was able to cultivate it, enabling the American
Independent Party to bloom and survive.
Gov. George Wallace, 1968 AIP Presidential Candidate
has been remarkable continuity in the party's platforms since
the first one was adopted in 1968, but there has been evolution
too. One marker of that evolution was the nomination of Ambassador
Alan Keyes in 2008 as the AIP Presidential nominee. From
a Segregationist Governor to a Black Ambassador to the UN, whose
main assignment from President Reagan was, by the way, to throw
a monkey wrench in the works! Quite a change. Yet Wallace and
Keyes shared many things. They were both strong patriots, Anti-Socialist
to the core, dedicated to the principles of limited government,
and in favor of Free Enterprise as the practical expression of
the Declaration's "pursuit of happiness."
Amb. Alan Keyes, 2008 AIP Presidential Candidate
The AIP has changed from "non-interventionist"
to highly selective and intelligently managed intervention, where
necessary to American interests and consistent with American principles
of liberty. The AIP recognizes the important role of international
trade in the American Economy. The AIP favors free, fair and safe
trade that takes very seriously national security aspects
of trade, particularly self-sufficiency in strategic goods. The
fear of entangling alliances appropriate to a young, weak country
is inappropriate to the most powerful nation on earth. The Founders
were forward-thinkers and realists and would surely have recognized
the fundamental change in circumstances occurring in 200 years.
However, the AIP remains adamantly opposed to international
treaties that exceed the Constitutionally delegated powers of
the United States and thereby destroy the hard-won liberties that
our Declaration of Independence asserted and our Constitution
sought to secure.
The American Independent Party has kept alive the best of the
American principles which have largely been abandoned by the Democratic
and Republican parties. The American Independent Party of California
has been continually ballot qualified since January, 1968. Over
the years, it has been affiliated with several national party
efforts. From 1991-2008, the AIP was the California affiliate
of the US Taxpayers Party, now the Constitution Party. The
current national affiliation of the AIP is America's Independent
Party, but sentiment is growing for reviving the AIP as a national
party. As a viable ballot-qualified party in California, the most
populous state in the Union, the American Independent Party has
an opportunity to play an important role in the restructuring
of the nation's political system. The American Independent Party
has survived for over forty years, because the party has had effective
leaders, along with a popular platform, emphasizing respect for
life, fiscal responsibility, a reduced role of government in people's
lives, reduction of the tax burden, control of crime, protection
of American businesses, workers, and farmers from unfair foreign
competition, and a foreign policy loyal to American interests.
Some have suggested that the American Independent Party may be
out of step with young Americans whose views are alleged to be
radically different from those of middle aged and older Americans.
The commitment of Young Americans to the country's traditional
moral, political, and economic values, however, remains comparable
to that of other age groups. This fact was confirmed by a vintage
Reader's Digest poll which found that: 74 percent of young Americans
(18-30) believed that hard work is the key to getting ahead; 72
percent believed that unlimited opportunity is more important
than ensuring greater equality of income; 70 percent believed
that government poses the greatest threat to the nation's future;
and 87 percent have always believed in God. Most people with these
views feel comfortable in an AIP gathering. The future of the
American Independent Party is assured by a market for its views
among young Americans who do not have years of commitment to the
dominant parties. Today, the political climate in America is changing.
The people are looking for new voices, new choices, new vehicles
for political expression. The people are looking to the American
Independent Party for leadership.