Conceived in part by ecologist Barry Commoner, nurtured by Gray Panthers and blessed by Ralph Nader, the just-born Citizens Party arrived on the Washington scene yesterday.
Cofounder Commoner and his allies announced they intend to field a 1980 presidental candidate to win over the 50 percent of all eligible voters they claim stay away from the polls every year out of disenchantment with Democrats and Republicans.
Commoner is a likely party choice for presidential nominee at the planned convention next spring.
Others prominent in the orgganization are Maggie Kuhn of the Gray Panthers, author Studs Terkel, Archibald Gillies on the John Hay Whitney Foundation, Harriet Barlow of the Institute for Local Self-reliance and Don Rose, the political organizer who managed Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne's upset victory this year.
Nader called the alliance "progressive" for its stands on environmental, consumer an dpublic-financing issues.
At a press conference yesterday, Rose announced the "spcoa;ost-in-spired" eight-point party platform:
Public control of the energy industries, either by government contract or nationalize. "It's time to make what corporations do subsidiary to the national interest, rather than the other way around," Commoner said.
An end to development of nuclear power. Gillies said "the horror of Three Mile Island" was a major impetus to the party's emergence.
A push for conservation and solar energy. Rose claimed a "decentralized" solar economy would add jobs.
Cutbacks in military spending.
Guaranteed jobs for all willing to work. Rose said the Citizens Party could provide jobs by "national and local planning -- redirecting the role of government."
Price controls to curb inflation. Party officials bland both the oil and armaments industries for runaway prices.
International and domestic support for human rights.
"Citizen control" of corporations. Rose said the party advocates government control over corporate decisions such as whether to relocate factories or rechannel investments.
New party has registered with the Federal Election Commission and is embarking on the "herculean task" of getting on state ballots, according to Barlow. "We've got a lot of good organizers, and we'll use every technique of organizing that we know" to net votes, she said.
Party workers have already collected about $25,000 from individual donations, and are confident they can muster the $3 million to $5 million dollars they estimate will be necessary for a presidential campaign. A steering committee of about 100 academicians, policy analysts and political organizers launched a campaign yesterday to solicit support from major labor, consumer and environmental groups.
Asked if the liberal group would ultimately take votes from Democratic candidates, Commoner said the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans are "so blurred that it's not a major concern to us." he compared the coalition to the Republican Party 125 years ago, which was formed because the dominant Whig and Democrat parties evaded the issue of salvery.
Today's parties, Commoner alleged, "have abandoned even the discussion of the major issue of the day -- who governs the economic interests of this country."
Citizens Party stands on energy and the environment are strikingly akin to those of unannounced presidential candidate, California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. With This in mind, Rose said party officials have held "informal discussions" with Brown supporters Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, but "these are people who make up their own minds."