The American Independent Party is a paleoconservative U.S. political party that was founded in 1967 in California by Elieen and Bill Shearer, in part to support the presidential campaign of George C. Wallace. Paleoconservatism is typically characterized as a right-wing political philosophy with anti-imperialist and anti-communist tendencies and an emphasis on Christian and western European identity.
The Shearers believed that a new political party was needed because the leaders of the mainstream Democratic and Republican parties had disregarded the vision of the founding fathers' by contributing to a large and powerful federal government, levying excessive taxes, and engaging in diplomatic policy that did not protect the country's interests. The American Independent Party is represented by a blue eagle clutching a banner with the party name in its talons superimposed over a compass rose.
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The political platform of the party emphasizes the importance of the Christian faith and the desire for a small and less powerful federal government. Party members believe God to be the ultimate authority, that He granted man the inalienable rights described in the Declaration of Independence, and also that He imposed a series of duties on mankind. Gay marriage, abortion rights, liberalism are rejected, while limited federal government and taxation, gun rights, and strict border control are promoted. The party asserts that all politicians and all governments should embrace the Christian faith because they are servants of God who work for the good of the citizenry.
George C. Wallace was nominated as the American Independent Party's presidential candidate with Curtis E LeMay for vice president in 1968. Wallace was the governor of Alabama known for his populist and pro-segregation political stance. The party was able to achieve ballot status in California after a lengthy and intense registration drive and a series of rallies held by Wallace throughout the state. The ticket won approximately 7% of the vote in California and around 13% nationwide in 1968. Wallace was the party's presidential nominee in 1972 as well, but an assassination attempt left him paralyzed, and he played no further role in the party.
The American Independent Party has fractured into different but related parties since its founding in the late 1960s. The initial split occurred in 1976, when the more moderate American Party broke off, and it has generally attracted the support of northern conservatives. Party founder Bill Shearer joined with the Populist Party in the early 1980s,and later the Constitution Party, which he chaired from 1996 to 1999.
The party suffered a major schism over U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the Constitution Party during the 2008 presidential campaign with one faction supporting chairman Jim King and the other chairman Ed Noonan. Noonan's supporters left to form America's Independent Party.