OREGON – APR 11, 2011 -- On April 13, the House Rules Committee of the Oregon Legislature will consider a bill to abolish the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO).
The bill bans using the word "independent" in the name of any political party, thus forcing the Independent Party to change its name by the end of the year or be disbanded.
“The free speech and free association implications of this bill are stunning, particularly when you consider that no legislator has listed his or her name as a sponsor,” said Party Chair, Linda Williams. “This is a transparent partisan attempt by a handful of legislators to strangle the Independent Party of Oregon in its infancy."
Richard Winger, the nation's leading expert on political parties and author of Ballot Access News said, "At no time in U.S. history in any state has any ballot-qualified political party been ordered to change its name."
(Link to bill: http://www.leg.state.or.us/11reg/measpdf/hb2400.dir/hb2442.intro.pdf )
The Independent Party of Oregon was formed in response to legislation in 2005 that removed the word “independent” from the ballot and made it more difficult to run for public office as a non-affiliated candidate.
The Independent Party has worked to bring some gravity back to the public interest center and to assemble a coalition of legislators who are willing to provide our members with a greater voice in the Oregon legislature. In 2010, the IPO became the first Oregon political party in more than 100 years to hold a primary election at our own expense. Our election was the largest nominating process ever held by an Oregon minor political party. Read more ...
The Independent Party is not the first political party in Oregon to use the word “Independent” in its name. Ross Perot formed the Independent Initiative Party to gain ballot access in Oregon (later changed to the Reform Party).
“I have been involved in politics for most of my adult life, and it has never once occurred to me that an American state or the federal government might ever consider disbanding a duly constituted political party that is meeting all of its statutory obligations and requirements,” said Sal Peralta, the Party’s Secretary “Shouldn't our legislators be focused on working together to get Oregon unstuck rather than figuring out how to destroy a potential rival?"
WHAT DO INDEPENDENT PARTY MEMBERS THINK ABOUT THIS BILL?
On Saturday, April 9th, we sent a petition via email to several hundred of our members asking them to oppose this legislation. So far over 340 have signed the petition, with over 160 providing their own comments. Here is a small sample of some of the milder responses:
"To those that have taken an oath to uphold the rights of Oregonians and to respect the ideas of fairness and transparency in Oregon Governance: We are in a period of polarization that has crippled our state and our nation. I urge all of you to not only allow the Independent Party of Oregon to continue, but also any other legitimate group that seeks a voice in Oregon Politics. Sincerely, Jim Wright" (Former Mayor of Damascus Oregon)
"What are the major parties afraid of?" Fred McCord, Eugene
To sign the petition and leave comments, go here: http://indparty.com/survey/petition.php
See the petition and all responses here: http://www.indparty.com/survey/responses5.php
Two days after the Independent Party released its legislative agenda, we received notice that we would have to go and defend our right to exist at the Legislature. The party's agenda, which was based on a series of surveys of Independent Party members, can be viewed on the front page of our web site (top left corner): http://www.indparty.com
A recent Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of Americans believe a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic Parties do a poor job of representing the American people. http://www.gallup.com/poll/143051/Americans-Renew-Call-Third-Party.aspx
A professor at Harvard released a study this week showing that members of congress spend 27% of their time taunting their colleagues: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2014732487_danny10.h...
INSTANCES OF POLITICAL PARTIES BEING FORCIBLY DISBANDED BY GOVERNMENT
We have researched instances of lawfully constituted political parties being outlawed, and the only instances we have found in the United States involve the Communist Party and/or parties involved in subversive activities. All of the laws specifically targeting a political party have been repealed, including the 1954 Communist Control Act, which stated that the Communist Party is "not entitled to any of the rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States or any political subdivision thereof; and whatever rights, privileges, and immunities which have heretofore been granted to said party or any subsidiary organization by reason of the laws of the United States or any political subdivision thereof, are hereby terminated.”
Here are some recent examples where a government has forcibly disbanded a political party:
2011 – GABON: National Union Party forcibly disbanded after losing 2009 election.
2010 – MYANMAR: Myanmar Government disbanded 10 political parties including main opposition party, NLD.
2010 – IRAN: Iranian Supreme Court disbanded 2 leading opposition parties, IIPF and IRMO.
2007 – THAILAND: Thailand's 4 leading opposition parties were disbanded by the Thai Constitution Court.
OTHER HISTORICAL EXAMPLES
1953 - 1973 – EGYPT: Government dissolved all opposition parties in favor of one-party rule.
July 14, 1933 – GERMANY: The Nazi Party officially declared itself the only lawful political party in Germany.
WHAT OTHER STATES HAVE POLITICAL PARTIES THAT USE THE WORD “INDEPENDENT” IN THEIR NAMES?
Note: The Independent Party of Oregon is not affiliated with any other state or national political party.
HB 2442 would ban any party using the word "independent." If adopted in other states, it would ban these currently existing parties:
Independent Party: New Mexico, Florida, Delaware, Connecticut
Independent American Party: Nevada
American Independent Party: California
Green Independent Party: Maine
Independent Democrats: Florida
Other parties using the word "independent" have existed recently. None of them were ever outlawed or forced to change their names:
Independent Party of Arkansas
Independent Party of South Carolina (George Wallace)
Independent Party of Utah
Independent American Party of Utah
HISTORY OF THE INDEPENDENT PARTY OF OREGON
The Independent Party of Oregon was formed in response to legislation in 2005 that made it more difficult for non-affiliated candidates to run for public office in Oregon and which removed the word “independent” to describe those candidates on the ballot.
The party’s original mission was to protect the rights of Independent and non-affiliated voters and candidates and minor political parties. In 2008, the party nominated several candidates, becoming the first Oregon minor political party in nearly a century to cross-nominate major party candidates, including U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, former State Treasurer Ben Westlund, and State Representative Vicki Berger. The party sued to have its name printed on the ballot line of its cross-nominated candidates. The lawsuit was settled when the 2009 Legislature passed a fusion voting law to allow up the names of up to three political parties to be listed on each candidate’s ballot line.
That year, the party broadened its agenda to include reducing special-interest influence over the legislative process; increasing citizen participation in government; and increasing government transparency.
In 2010, the Independent Party became the first Oregon political party to conduct a binding primary election at its own expense in more than 100 years. The election included 85 candidates from across the political spectrum seeking nominations to 60 public offices. The party’s nominees included the current Governor and 30 of Oregon's 90 sitting legislators, many of whom prominently displayed their Independent Party nomination in communications during the General Election.
Independent Party Growing Fast in Oregon - OPB
Lots of Legislative Candidates want Independent Party Nomination - Oregonian
Independents: The third way - Democrat-Herald
Independent Party Gaining Clout
Candidates Woo Independent Party - News-Times
Voting Kicks off in Independent Party Primary - OPB
Kitzhaber Wins Independent Party Primary Nod - AP
Independent voters leave their mark in Oregon - Ashland Daily Tidings