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The Citizens' Party was formed in 1980 as a more liberal alternative to the Democratic Party, led by President Jimmy Carter. Environmental science professor Barry Commoner ran for President that year and his running mate was La Donna Harris, a feminist and Comanche Indian woman married to Democratic Senator Fred Harris. The Citizens Party was remarkably successful for a third party, but won less than 1% of the vote in any state where they were on the ballot.
Their platform covered a diverse group of left-wing issues including environmentalism and social justice. They wanted to end the use of nuclear power and encourage the use of renewable energy sources over coal and oil. The party also argued that the minimum wage should be raised and workers should be protected in the work place. They also campaigned for more government regulation of corporations, including price controls on necessities, such as food and healthcare. The party argued that government should ensure access to birth control, abortion, and mental health services for all Americans. They wanted to punish criminals with fines based on their wealth rather than imprisonment, to end the death penalty, and address and change the social causes of crime. Their foreign policy called for world peace, disarmament, and human rights all over the world.
In 1984 Sonia Johnson, a radical feminist, ran for President for the Citizens' Party, but did not do as well as Commoner had four years earlier. The party disintegrated over the next four years.
Platform of the Citizens/Consumer Party as adopted at Party Convention April 1980. American Left Ephemera Collection 1894-2008 (AIS.2007.11, Box 1, Folder 195). Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.