BRIEF HISTORY AND CURRENT CONDITION OF THE UNITED STATES PACIFIST PARTY (USPP)
The United States Pacifist Party (USPP) in principle rejects military force. Its main platform planks are zero military budge, defense by nonviolent resistance, and massive aid to abolish poverty worldwide. The party was founded in 1983 by Bradford Lyttle, when he was a graduate student of political science at the University of Chicago (UofC). Although a religious pacifist, Lyttle for decades had had a strong interest in creating secular arguments for pacifism. While at the UofC, with help from a professor in the UofC’s statistics department, and his nephew, Christopher (a computer programer and network specialist), Lyttle developed a mathematical probability model that he called the “Apocalypse Equation” (AE), that shows that nuclear deterrence, the foundation of U.S. foreign policy, can be expected at any time to produce catastrophic accidents with nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The AE produces an irrefutable scientific argument that national security cannot be founded on military force, and therefore indirectly establishes a scientific basis for pacifism and defense by nonviolent resistance. Lyttle realized that the AE made it possible to argue the realism of pacifism in any political arena, and, therefore, could be made one of the foundations of a pacifist political party. He founded the USPP mainly as an educational vehicle to promote what he called “scientific pacifism”. Under USPP auspices, he ran for President in the 1984 election. He chose to run for President, rather than for some other office, because the President determines foreign policy.
Although Lyttle ran only as a writein candidate in 1984, there was enough response to his campaign to make him realize that the USPP could be an effective vehicle for promoting pacifism. Therefore, he has run as a writein candidate for President two more times, in 1996 and 2000.
In 1998, Gary Swing, a resident of Denver, Colorado, ran for the Senate under USPP auspices. He was on the ballot and received about 1900 votes, the least of any candidate. Although this result discouraged him, Lyttle regards it as a remarkable showing in what may be the most heavily militarized state in the nation. Extrapolated to the 50 states in the Union, the result suggests that there are at least 100,000 people in the U.S. who will support a pacifist party.
In regard to the media, Lyttle’s expectation that a pacifist political party would be an effective educational vehicle has been borne out. Normally, the media, and most other channels to the general public, have little interest in pacifism. However, at election times, nearly all of these channels become interested in at least informing the public about the existence of different political perspectives, however “far out” they may seem. It is Lyttle’s impression that they develop this interest because they believe it their democratic duty to make the public aware of all options. Also, it may be that this last reason gives private sympathizers with pacifism the opportunity to “come public” to some degree with their views without great fear of suffering retaliation. Whatever the reason or reasons, the USPP has proven a remarkably effective vehicle for exciting the media to bring pacifism to the public’s attention. During his national campaigns, Lyttle received numerous invitations for radio and TV interviews, to appear on panels, and to speak at colleges.
The period just after September 11, 2001, particularly showed the effectiveness of the USPP as a vehicle for conveying ideas. For several weeks after 9/11, the media showed great interest in the pacifist response to such an attack on the U.S. This resulted in Lyttle’s appearing on a halfhour interview program conducted by Bill O’Reilly (“The O’Reilly Factor”; Fox network), and on a onehour CNN interview program. The format of the O’Reilly show included Lyttle in Chicago, Jim Matlack, the American Friends Service Committee’s Washington representative, in Washington, and Mr. O’Reilly asking questions in a New York City studio. It is Lyttle’s impression that O’Reilly wanted to “show up” the pacifist position, but seemed displeased with the answers that Lyttle gave to his questions, and, after awhile, did not address more questions to Lyttle. Lyttle doubted that O’Reilly would use the tape of the program, but learned over succeeding weeks that the tape had been widely shown throughout the U.S.
The format of the live CNN program included Lyttle in CNN’s NYC studio (he happened to be on the East Coast when CNN caught up with him), a Berkeley student in Berkeley, a rightwing woman attorney in San Francisco, a rightwing journalist in Boston, and the woman moderator with an audience in Atlanta. At that time, Lyttle had considerable opportunity to elaborate the pacifist position.
Media interest also included two hours of interviews by a radio station in Fairbanks, AK, that claimed to have national coverage. In this case, the interviewer was sympathetic.
The O’Reilly Factor program reached Lyttle through a reference by Kathy Kelly, one of the founders of Voices in the Wilderness, that calls for an end to the sanctions against Iraq. The other media may have approached Lyttle because the O’Reilly Factor program had made Lyttle the most visible spokesperson for the pacifist position.
There were a number of other media programs. All of which reached Lyttle through the USPP’s website. For all of the people arranging programs, the website proved an exceptionally efficient way to obtain information about the USPP.
In the 1984 campaign Lyttle relied on mailings, a newsletter, and a few ads to promote the USPP. In the 1996 and 2000 campaigns, and in Gary Swing’s 1998 senatorial campaign, the USPP website(s) were the main promotional vehicles.
This history of the websites is complicated and significant The first site was developed by Chrisotpher in 1996. The domain name and URL for the site were obtained by Gary through Geocities, a free server. In his 1998 campaign, Gary used the site to promote his campaign. He has always had some disagreement with Lyttle about the philosophic foundations of the USPP, and did not participate deeply in Lyttle’s 2000 campaign. In 2002 Gary changed the content of the site from the USPP to the Colorado Independence Party (CIP), whose main plank was secession from the U.S. People using Google to search the internet for the United States Pacifist Party would encounter instead the front page of the CIP site, and a message saying that the USPP site was no longer there, and they could obtain information about the USPP through Lyttle’s email address. Since about March of 2002, the CIP has disappeared from the site, and the USPP’s front page has reappeared, but still with the message that that is not the USPP’s site.
About 1999, Tex Horning, a friend of Lyttle’s living in the Sunnyvale area of California, assumed responsibility for the site. Because of the difficulties with the original site, Lyttle worked with Horning to set up a second site that, essentially, had the content of the first site. They took this course because they did not have authority to make changes in the Geocities site. The content of this second site is essentially the same as the content for the first site, but its URL is different. Lyttle calls it the “official site”, and its URL is: www.uspacifistparty.org
The Geocities site is valuable because it was set up many years ago, and achieved the first listing in Google and other search engines after a search for “United States Pacifist Party”. For about two years, Lyttle and Horning were unable to achieve a listing of the second site in any search engine. The site could be accessed only through its URL.
About the middle of 2002, for no clear reason, this situation changed. Google suddenly began to give prominent listing to the second site. It is possible that Google had studied information about the sites that Lyttle had sent, and had come to the conclusion that the www.uspacifistparty.org site should be prominently listed. At any rate, although Google continued to list the Geocities site first, it noted that this was not the official site of the USPP. In addition, Google added some objective, descriptive, information about the USPP. There has been a sharp increase in the number of email inquiries about the USPP since Google began to give it prominent listing.
Tragically, Tex Horning died early in 2002.
In regard to other promotional vehicles, a graphic artist in Chicago designed a logo and bumper sticker for the USPP for the 1984 campaign.
In 1993, a conference was held in Chicago to launch the USPP. A second conference was held in Chicago in June of 2002.
During all of the USPP’s campaigns, there has been a small but steady number of regular and email letters inquiring about the USPP. Lyttle has copies of almost all of these messages. Besides the votes for Gary Swing, they constitute the main evidence of a “constituency”for the USPP. Other evidence is that, from time to time, people have told Lyttle that they have voted for him.
The USPP also has stimulated hate mail. After 9/11, Lyttle received several email messages that could be interpreted as death threats.
The USPP has been funded mainly by a few appeal letters, and from Lyttle’s own pocket. Its expenses, particularly since the website was set up, have not been heavy. Presently, there is a small balance in its bank account.
Although Lyttle founded the USPP, and the party has vindicated itself as an exceptionally effective vehicle for reaching the general public with the pacifist message, Lyttle has always been ambivalent about it. He does not fully understand this ambivalence. He is not principally opposed to voting in national elections. However, pacifism has anarchist implications, and nation states are mainly justified on the grounds that they can provide military “protection” for populations. Additional considerations are that any “third party” can be considered a “spoiler” in a close election (the Green Party and Ralph Nader have been strongly condemned in some circles for causing George Bush to be elected), promoting any political party requires sustained work, and the hate mail suggests that there is considerable personal risk involved in promoting pacifism through a political party in a country as highly militarized as the U.S.
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Additional copies of this document are available from: United States Pacifist Party, 5729 S. Dorchester Ave., Chicago, IL 60637; Tel: 773.324.0654; Fax: 773.324.6426; Email: email@example.com.