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Darcy Richardson Comments on Reform National Convention & 2012 Endorsement

Historian and IPR contributor Darcy Richardson, who had sought the Reform Party USA presidential nomination, wrote the following about the party and his decision to not attend its National Convention this past weekend:

I never really liked going to funerals, so I skipped the Philadelphia convention.

For the record, I pulled out in late July, once it became clear the party wasn’t going to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas, New Jersey and a few of the other relatively easy states. At that point, the nomination really wasn’t worth fighting for… I wish the Reform Party well — and I may even endorse one of their congressional candidates — but, as far as the presidential contest is concerned, I’ll be putting my time and energy behind another minor-party candidate this autumn.

When asked which candidate he was supporting, Richardson responded:

While I deeply respect Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein, I’m in the process of organizing a Peace & Freedom Party affiliate here in Florida and hope to place Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan on the November ballot. We filed our qualifying paperwork — i.e., the party’s officers, bylaws and constitution — with the Division of Elections on Tuesday.

I’ve long admired the Peace & Freedom Party and was among those who encouraged the party in the past couple of years to expand beyond California for the first time in nearly four decades.


  1. Deran Deran August 16, 2012

    I think Mr. Richardson is right on the money abt the demise of the Reform Party. And I also completely agree with interest in creating a national Peace and Freedom Party. A multitendency feminist democratic ecosocialist party is exactly what the US Left needs to take real steps to build a viable national political party.

  2. give-me-liberty give-me-liberty August 16, 2012

    Not really Deran, there’s about 20 leftist parties in the US and expanding the P&F won’t change that. They’d be better off forming a big tent socialist party.

  3. Peter Gemma Peter Gemma August 16, 2012

    Too bad Darcy won’t be on the national stage – he’s articulate and interesting. Any earned media would be positive – I don’t think a reporter would walk away from an interview without feeling the guy is smart and his ideas are compelling.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2012

    Darcy’s ALWAYS on the national stage, and that’s a good thing.

    My understanding is that there was a point in the early 1970s when the Peace and Freedom Party and the California Libertarian Party formed some kind of strategic alliance (it may have been just a ballot access thing).

    As the Libertarian Party continues to become more and more an “opposition caucus” of the GOP, perhaps the P&FP represents a plausible home for libertarians who can’t stomach that but who want to remain politically engaged.

  5. NewFederalist NewFederalist August 16, 2012

    I lived in CA when there was an effort by libertarians to utilize the ballot access of the Peace & Freedom Party before the LP qualified for their own line. It was a hoot! There were socilaists and libertarians running for statewide office on the same party line. It made the debates rather confusing (or perhaps, interesting) since one didn’t really know what to expect from the P&F nominee but I do not recall any real nastiness between the two factions. The current day AIP could learn a lot from those times!

  6. JT JT August 16, 2012

    Knapp: “As the Libertarian Party continues to become more and more an “opposition caucus” of the GOP, perhaps the P&FP represents a plausible home for libertarians who can’t stomach that but who want to remain politically engaged.”

    If any Libertarian thinks it’s okay to join a party committed to socialism, then I encourage that.

  7. JamesT JamesT August 16, 2012

    I kinda like Cindy Sheehan. I wish the P&F had gotten started earlier.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2012


    The question is “how committed to socialism is the Peace and Freedom Party?”

    If their name is any indication, it may be that they place a higher priority on, um, peace and freedom than they do on socialist economic policy.

    Or, to put a finer point on it, now that they are expanding into new states, there exists the possibility that people who care more about peace and freedom than about socialist economic policy might become active in those new state affiliate parties, and make peace and freedom, rather than socialist economic policy, the central program points.

    I’m not saying it’s inevitable, or a given. Just suggesting it as a possibility.

  9. JT JT August 16, 2012

    Knapp: “If their name is any indication, it may be that they place a higher priority on, um, peace and freedom than they do on socialist economic policy.”

    Tom, “freedom” means something, um, different to socialists than to libertarians. People don’t always use the same words to refer to the same concepts. That’s why it’s important, IMO, for Libertarian candidates, at least for federal offices, to identify what freedom really means, how we don’t actually live in a free country today–many people’s unexamined belief to the contrary notwithstanding–and how much better life would be if we did.

    Have you checked out the P&F website? Their commitment to socialism goes hand-in-hand with their opposition to imperialism–as if these 2 are diametrically opposed to each other. If that’s attractive to any LP member over free markets and the price system for allocation of resources, then that person is way beyond clueless & perhaps would like to unite with people who are equally clueless.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2012


    “Tom, ‘freedom’ means something, um, different to socialists than to libertarians.”

    That’s a strange statement, given that many people are both.

  11. langa langa August 16, 2012

    As a Libertarian, I’ve always envied the Peace & Freedom Party, simply because their name is a perfectly succinct and clear description of what libertarianism is really all about (even though the members of the P&FP may disagree with the members of the LP over what the terms “peace” and “freedom” actually mean, both in theory and in practice). It would be a great name for the LP.

  12. RedPhillips RedPhillips August 16, 2012

    “They’d be better off forming a big tent socialist party.”

    The far left is even more prone to schism than is the far-right. I have never understood that.

  13. Steven Wilson Steven Wilson August 16, 2012

    The left is more ego I think. The right is more individual sovereignty. Inherently, individual sovereigns don’t break off to follow another fool. Individual sovereigns don’t follow anyone.

    Just imagine an Anarchist saying “follow me to anarchy and make sure it is my kind of anarchy.”

    Socialist offer more means to control. Inherently their persona is that of a follower or sheep.

    When you have a great number of sheep you are going to get a huge number of applicants for shepherds. The ego manifests itself , “I can take you to a better pasture”.

    Sheep can’t be anything else.

  14. roseanne-rothbard report roseanne-rothbard report August 16, 2012

    @4 — You aren’t the first to have that idea. Murray Rothbard was active in the Peace & Freedom Party for a time in New York.

  15. Deran Deran August 16, 2012

    I blame Leninism for the fractious nature of the Left. The vangaurdism and the elitism of Leninism is deadly.

    I will say that among some Trotsyists it is not so bad, but even most of them believe they are the true leaders.

    And Maxism-Leninism is very much about the notion that party leaders are to be obeyed. It really goes back to the 1930s and the death of the SP and the IWW and the rise of the CPUSA and the Socialist Workers Party.

    And then the 1960s Maoism was used to try and reign in the libertarian socialism/anarchism of much of the “counter culture”.

    As I’ve said, my hope for a national P&F is that it remains democratic and multitendency.

  16. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 16, 2012

    To clarify the history a bit.
    In 1968 Murray Rothbard became involved in the New York Peace & Freedom Party, and he mentioned it in his article “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” published in Ramparts Magazine in 1968.

    Murray became involved in PFP because he opposed the Vietnam War, but he dropped out because it became little more than a place for faction fights between two groups of socialists – Maoists around the Progressive Labor Party, and left Schachtmanites in the Independent Socialist Clubs. Murray allied with the PLP Maoists against the ISC, even though ISC was much more libertarian in its views and its critique of Stalinism.

  17. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 16, 2012

    I read “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” and I knew some people involved in the California Peace & Freedom Party. So, after the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention led to a split in that organization, and the creation of The California Libertarian Alliance, I convinced a couple of CLA activists to get involved with me in PFP.

    After several years of minimal activity in PFP, we managed to nominate a libertarian for Governor in a contested primary. We also nominated a libertarian for State Controller, without a contest, and several local candidates.

    In response to our success in the primary, the socialists ran a write-in candidate for Governor, and we had a big split at the state convention. In 1975 our faction pulled out of PFP and announced our support for The Libertarian Party, because there was just no future in an organization dominated by totalitarian aligned Marxists.

  18. NewFederalist NewFederalist August 16, 2012

    Gene- was the comptroller nominee Corey Cassanova? I seem to remember him from that time period.

  19. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 16, 2012

    NF – yes, the PFP candidate for Controller was Corey Casanova, a good friend of mine, who also lived in Venice beach, (aka “Free Venice”) which was where our little group operated out of.

    Corey’s campaign platform was that he would refuse to sign state government checks. He offered his experience as Treasurer of the Venice Peace & Freedom Club in support – we never had money so he did not sign any checks.

    The Democrat nominee was Ken Cory, who put billboards all over that said “Vote Cory – Controller” and we think that helped get votes for our guy.

    The Libertarian Party of California Ex Comm endorsed Corey Casanova for Controller, and he was the high vote getter on the PFP ticket – 152,000 votes, 2.7% which kept PFP on the ballot.

  20. JT JT August 16, 2012

    Knapp: “That’s a strange statement, given that many people are both.”

    My point was that just because some socialists say they’re for “freedom” doesn’t mean they’re actually for freedom.

  21. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2012

    JT, @ 20,

    And my point is that you seem to be making some universal assumptions about socialists that aren’t necessarily accurate.

  22. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy August 16, 2012

    I think Darcy is exactly correct, this was more funeral than political convention.

    Looks like Chuck Baldwin will go down in history as the 2012 nominee of the Reform Party, since he’ll actually appear on the ballot in Kansas as the Reform Party candidate.

    It seems highly unlikely that Barnett will get it together enough to appear on any state ballots. And if he does, against all odds, get on one or two of the very easiest states, he’ll be significantly out-polled by Baldwin’s one-state total.

    Stick a fork in it…

  23. Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler August 17, 2012

    It is interesting that Austin Cassidy doesn’t write this way about other minor parties, which have ballot access in a few states. Under the post of “Reform Party Nominates Andre Barnett for President”, he wrote, “I wish someone would put this “party” out of its misery.” I am not sure what the Reform Party has personally done to him, but his bitterness towards the Reform Party is perplexing. Does he blame Perot for “costing” Bush the election in 92? Who knows?

  24. paulie paulie August 17, 2012


    I thought I read you all lost the PFP nomination battle. You just walked out?


    Barnett will be on in Florida and Louisiana, and is welcome to call me if he has any money and wants to be on additional ballots, but he better do that quick if so.

  25. JT JT August 17, 2012

    Knapp: “And my point is that you seem to be making some universal assumptions about socialists that aren’t necessarily accurate.”

    What are those assumptions?

    A wider question: What is your concept of socialism? Does it include the price system as the method of production & exchange?

  26. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 17, 2012


    “What are those assumptions?”

    The main one is that “socialist” and “libertarian” are mutually exclusive.

    As far as my concept of socialism is concerned, probably the closest referent would be Spangler’s analysis of Rothbardian “anarcho-capitalism” as actually being a form of stigmergic socialism. And yes, any form of socialism that could plausibly hope to work would have to accommodate the price system as method of production and exchange.

  27. JT JT August 17, 2012

    Knapp: “The main one is that “socialist” and “libertarian” are mutually exclusive.”

    Okay. That’s an assumption of mine. I think “libertarian” is at root an individualistic view, with the individual as the proper unit of social-political analysis, while a socialist views a group, society, etc. as that unit & the individual as a cog in the wheel of the social whole.

    In any case, you wrote:
    “If their name is any indication, it may be that they place a higher priority on, um, peace and freedom than they do on socialist economic policy.”

    The salient point which I responded to is that you can’t judge by that name what they really believe by the terms “peace and freedom.” It’s sure as hell not what I mean by them, nor is it what the vast majority of libertarians I’ve ever met mean by them.

  28. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 17, 2012

    Paulie – in 1974 our faction won a contested primary for Governor, and we nominated our candidate for State Controller without opposition, and we had a candidate for State Senate in Venice.

    Our candidate for Governor was Elizabeth Keathley, and she received 75,000 votes in the general election – 20,000 more votes than Ricardo Romo received for Governor in 1970 on the PFP ticket, and it was not until 1990 that a PFP candidate for Governor received more votes than our candidate in 1974.

    Following the election, we more or less dropped out of activity in the Peace & Freedom Party, and formally quit at a press conference in June 1976, at which we announced our support for the Libertarian Party.

  29. Bobert Bilnes Bobert Bilnes August 17, 2012

    If the Reform Party had used CPFS–the Conservative-Progressive-Friendliness-Strategy, they would win!

  30. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy August 17, 2012

    @23 – Had I been old enough to vote in 1992, I’d probably have voted for Perot or Marrou… so you’re quite incorrect.

    The sad thing about the Reform Party is that it had such great potential, but it was totally squandered.

    That’s what makes these scattered little bits of the Reform Party so particularly annoying to me.

  31. Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler August 17, 2012

    @30 – You certainly know the history. Yes, the party did have great potential, especially after Ventura’s election as governor in 98. Hey, we all know what happened in the year 2000. I just don’t see the point of wishing the party to die, when despite the past, it is trying to move forward.

  32. Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler August 17, 2012

    @30- As for “scattered little bits of the Reform Party”, you’ve earlier mentioned the Kansas party that endorsed Chuck Baldwin. But in 2000, one (the recognized group) of the 2 rival Arizona Libertarian Party groups refused to support Harry Browne, and placed Neil Smith on the ballot, instead. So what? There are still other state chapters of the Reform Party, besides Kansas, just as there were other state chapters of the Libertarian Party in 2000, besides Arizona. So having the national party nominate one candidate, and the state party place another candidate on the ballot is not unprecedented.

  33. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy August 18, 2012

    Yes, you’re absolutely right… the Libertarian Party is exactly on par with today’s Reform Party. LOL

    There is no viable national Reform Party. It is a fictional entity.

    Barnett is a joke candidate and will probably fail to qualify for the ballot in ANY state.

    The ballot access link on his campaign website is to an online petition asking all 50 states to list his name. The goal of the petition is to gather 750,000 signatures… he has collected 51 signatures.

    Even the easy states like LA and FL have paperwork requirements that are, quite likely, beyond their grasp.

    In 2008 they only put Ted Weil on in Mississippi, and they’ve since lost the Mississippi line.

    Why do I wish the party would just fold up and go away? Because every time I hear about the party, whether it’s nominating a clown like Andre Barnett for President, or it’s some news about one faction suing another faction for a ballot line or control of a website, I feel sad. I think about what could have been, the opportunity that was wasted.

    The Buddy Roemer flirtation earlier this year was interesting. Had the party embraced the former governor, who knows what might have been possible. But they held a straw poll and strongly supported this unknown underwear model. They deserve exactly what they’re going to get — laughed at, and then ignored completely.

  34. Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler August 18, 2012

    The Reform Party is not on par with the Libertarian Party. I was making the point that your Kansas example is not unique. No one is arguing that the Reform Party is on the same level as the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, or the Constitution Party. However, to claim that it is a “fictional” party is not accurate. Would a fictional party have national party officers? Run candidates for Congress? The national Reform Party will be on the ballot in Florida. It is not going away. As far as Buddy Roemer is concerned, the Reform Party did reach out to Buddy Roemer. However, he did not show up to the straw poll, that you have mentioned. It is understandable that he had another engagement. However, his campaign refused to send even a surrogate to speak on his behalf, despite being told about the event. It was clear that Buddy Roemer was first and foremost interested in seeking the Americans Elect nomination. If you look at major alternative parties, you would see that when prominent figures refuse to attend state conventions, and expect everyone to support them simply because of their name ID, they get turned down. Then people begin to wonder why the Libertarian Party didn’t nominate Russell Means in 1987 or the Green Party didn’t nominate Roseanne Barr in 2012.

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