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What is the Peace and Freedom Party?

By Laura Evans
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Peace and Freedom Party (P&F) is a California political party that was formed in 1967. This party was created in opposition to the Vietnam War. Its platform continues to promote socialism, feminism, organized labor, and equal rights. Today, bringing deployed military troops home, having free health care for all and doubling the minimum wage are among the P&F's top priorities.

P&F formed out of dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party's stand of the War in Vietnam even though the Democrats were leading the opposition to the war at the time. In addition, the Peace and Freedom Party was concerned about both the Democratic and Republican parties' emphasis on "law and order," which P&F members considered to be an excuse to prevent blacks, farm laborers, and women from bettering their lives. Political activist and beatnik poet John Haag (1930-2006), who ran for California lieutenant governor in 1970 and California state controller in 1986, was a founder of the Peace and Freedom Party.

The Peace and Freedom Party ran Eldrigde Cleaver (1935-1998) for president and Douglas Fitzgerald Dowd for vice president on its ticket for the 1968 election. In 1968, Cleaver was a convicted felon, was the Black Panther's minister of information and was not old enough legally to be President of the United States. Dowd (b. 1919) is a radical activist, historian and economist.

Among the presidential candidates that the Peace and Freedom Party has offered are activist and pediatrician Benjamin Spock (1903-1998) in 1972, feminist activist Sonia Johnson (b. 1936) in 1984, and Native American activist and convicted murderer Leonard Peltier (b. 1944) in 2004. Vice-presidential candidates included Benjamin Spock in 1976, Matinecoc Nation Native American activist Asiba Tupahache in 1992, and lawyer and politician Matthew Edward Gonzalez (b. 1965) in 2008. California candidates for governor have included Chicana feminist and activist Elizabeth Martínez (b. 1925), Chicana activist Maria Elizabeth Muñoz in 1986, and again in 1990, and activist Janice Jordan (b. 1964) in 2006.

In addition to the Peace and Freedom Party's top priorities, P&F supports abolishing the death penalty, changing the economy from war-oriented to peace- oriented and ending homelessness. P&F would like the United States government to abolish any governmental organizations such as the CIA that interfere in other countries' internal affairs, to tax the rich to meet others' needs, and to reduce the work week to 30 hours without reducing pay. The Peace and Freedom Party proposes indexing wages to cost of living rates, providing free education through the university level, and restoring Affirmative Action.

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Discussion Comments
By ceilingcat — On Oct 04, 2011

@indemnifyme - I see what you're saying, but never say never. I think the Peace and Freedom party might have a chance to one day succeed.

Their platform of free health care and reducing the workweek could appeal to a lot of people. I know it's a long shot, but I think this political party could at least get a governor in somewhere. Never say never, right?

By indemnifyme — On Oct 03, 2011

It seems like the Peace and Freedom party has quite a history of running convicts for governmental office. I admire their guts, but somehow I don't think a convicted felon is ever going to be President of the United States.

Actually, I don't think anyone but a Democrat or a Republican is ever going to be President. Just to be realistic. The whole two-party system is so ingrained in the politics of this country, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Usually when people vote for a member of a non-dominant party, it just takes votes away from the major political party that has the closest views. For example, a lot of my friends feel that any votes for Ralph Nader in 2000 just took votes away form Al Gore and helped Bush secure his win.

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