Natural Law Party

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Natural Law Party

Citizens of Fairfield, Iowa, formed the Natural Law Party in April 1992. In a few short months, the party had succeeded in placing its presidential ticket on the ballot in 28 states for the 1992 election. By 1996 the party was offering candidates for elective office in all 50 states.

Fairfield, Iowa, is the site of Maharishi International University, a school that teaches students to use transcendental meditation (TM) to achieve good health and a heightened awareness and understanding of the self and the world. The school, founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, has provided the Natural Law Party with the inspiration and resources to enter the field of electoral politics.

The Natural Law Party has fashioned an unusual and ambitious political platform. The party endorses the practice of TM as a humane and cost-effective way to rehabilitate convicted and accused criminals. The party offers a proactive alternative to the current health care system, a system that party candidates call "disease care." Instead of pouring millions of dollars each year into the creation of drugs to manage disease, the Natural Law Party would promote health education and stress management, along with TM, as ways to avoid disease.

Dr. John S. Hagelin has been the standard-bearer for the Natural Law Party. Hagelin, a renowned physicist, was the party's nominee for president in 1992 and 1996. Although he is a professor at the Maharishi International University and a staunch proponent of the benefits of TM, Hagelin has worked to expand the party's scope beyond the TM message. The party emphasizes the importance of social equality for all persons, and party candidates talk of world peace as a reachable goal. The party platform also stresses environmental protection. For example, the party endorses alternative methods of energy production, such as a redirection of resources away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

Although party membership has grown rapidly, and may be over 100,000 members, the party's goals in the political process have proved elusive. In 1996 Hagelin was one of only five presidential candidates who was on enough ballots to conceivably win the election in the Electoral College and from a party that had held primaries. Hagelin, along with Reform Party candidate H. Ross Perot and Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne, sought to participate in the nationally televised presidential debates based on these accomplishments. However, the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private nonprofit organization formed by the Democratic and Republican National Committees, concluded that Hagelin, Perot, and Browne had no realistic chance of winning the election and thus excluded all three from the debates. Hagelin won 113,667 votes in the national election, or about 0.12 percent of the vote.

In 1999 Hagelin announced his candidacy for both the Natural Law Party and the Reform Party presidential nominations. When the Reform Party split over the candidacy of patrick buchanan, supporters of Hagelin took the name Independence Party. In the 2000 elections, Natural Law-Independence Party coalition candidates received more than 1.4 million votes. In March 2003 the Natural Law Party condemned the invasion of Iraq by the United States. In April 2003, the Natural Law Party announced that Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) had reintroduced his legislation to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, legislation that Hagelin had helped to draft.

Further readings

Carlson, Peter. 2000. "A Two-System Party Results in Dual (and Dueling) Nominees." Washington Post (August 14).

Natural Law Party. Available online at <www.naturallaw.org>.

Roth, Robert. 1999. A Reason to Vote: Breaking the Two-Party Stranglehold. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.

Cross-references

Libertarian Party; Third Party.

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