In 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and liberal members of the then communist-dominated American Labor Party, formed the Liberal Party of New York State to help FDR secure a ballot line countering forces favoring the election of Henry Wallace. New York was not then the ‘blue state’ that it has become. Votes on the Liberal Party line won NY State for FDR.
The first chairman of the Liberal Party was Adolf A. Berle, Assistant Secretary of State in the Roosevelt Administration who worked with unionists David Dubinsky and Alex Rose, academicians John Dewey and Timothy Costello, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, liberal forces in business and labor and community activists throughout the State to make the Liberal Party an alternative to the corruption dominated Democratic Party and a Republican Party ruled by Big Business and special interests; to make the Democrats honest and the Republicans more moderate.
The Liberal Party has a history of supporting candidates on the basis of merit, independence and progressive viewpoints regardless of party affiliation. Past nominees have included Governors Averill Harriman, High Carey and Mario Cuomo; U.S. Senators Herbert Lehman, Robert Wagner Sr., Jacob Javits, Robert Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton; NYC Mayors Fiorello LaGuardia, Robert Wagner and John Lindsay.
In 1960 the Liberal Party’s 406,000 votes for John F. Kennedy helped him win NY State and forge an Electoral College victory over Richard Nixon.
In the 1940’s and 50’s, the Liberal Party pioneered such local and national legislation as the G.I. Bill of Rights, rent control in NYC, academic freedom and tenure in our schools, consumer protection laws, separation of church and state, the differences between private and public rights and an independent judiciary. In the 1960’s, the Liberal Party championed the Civil Rights Act and initiated a suit in the U.S. Supreme Court for Congressional Reapportionment that resulted in the election of Shirley Chisholm, the nation’s first African-American congresswoman.
In the 1980’s, the Liberal Party was the first political party in America to support a woman’s Right to Choose and filed a friend of the court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.
Today the Liberal Party is especially aware of the erosion of the liberal principles which made America the greatest force for freedom and justice the world has known. Begun in the Reagan era with the pledge to rid America of FDR’s New Deal progressive legislation that would lead to Medicare and Medicaid in later years, and continuing through the years of Karl Rove and George W. Bush and now the Tea Party and the overwhelming influence of Big Business, the Liberal Party has developed a Platform which is based on the continuation of its core principles: freedom, justice and a level playing field of opportunity for all citizens.
America’s once great public school system no longer prepares our children to become the knowledgeable citizens they must be to help maintain our government and free society. This national epidemic of failure has continued for thirty years despite efforts to stop it. The failure has a singular cause which has yet to become widely known or accepted. According to the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) – the agency which accredits all our Schools of Education – the teaching of teachers is “totally inadequate” and must be completely revised in order to succeed.
The Liberal Party supports these findings and the recommendations that student teachers must begin working in public school classrooms in their freshman year not in the final months of their senior year. Today three of five young teachers leave teaching within five years – an unheard of result in any professional field, but a perfect example of their inability to do the job.
In addition, the Liberal Party supports a national program of continuing education for present teachers on a scale never before attempted in this country. Years ago, New York State had a teacher mentoring program led by present NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Mother, Mathilda. Such a program could serve as a model for a retraining effort. With three of four high school graduates in New York unable to attend a community college without at least a year of remediation, such a program is a dire necessity.
The Liberal Party supports universal health care and every effort to make that result a reality in this country. We support current legislative efforts to make affordable health care available to millions who have never received it. We believe that a public insurance option remains the best safeguard against the continued dominance of private health insurers who literally now control the day to day practice of medicine. We will continue to pursue that addition to health care legislation at every opportunity.
A woman’s Right to Choose remains a continuing issue in America. We continue to support the Roe v. Wade decision and will work continuously to counter efforts on a State level to overthrow this hard-won freedom. Recent efforts to remove payment for birth control from our Health Care legislation, is an example of why liberal forces must always be vigilant.
Marriage equality has won the support of the New York State Legislature. Now gender equality is being sought. We support this effort. And we support the development of a fair and equitable national immigration movement which provides a level playing field of opportunity for those immigrants who are here and those who want to be in this country.
The Liberal Party retains its long held belief that the death penalty is both inhumane and not a deterrent to violent crime. We recognize the serious flaws in our criminal justice system which has a recidivism rate so high that America has more people in jails and orisons than any other nation in the world.
We also recognize the flaws in our juvenile justice system where there is a greater dependence upon detention than prevention. Both systems need to be changed.
The battle to protect our environment from man-made dangers is a never-ending effort. The Liberal Party supports opposition to unregulated hydro-fracking, the process which frees natural gas from deep-underground shale but seriously endangers the water supply. Unless strict regulation is provided by government – not industry – the clean water supply is endangered in every community where fracking exists. Until such regulation is in place, the Liberal Party opposes fracking.