Saturday, March 15, 2008

Alaskan Independence Party Currently Holding Its 2008 Convention In Fairbanks; Wants To Shed Its "Fringe" Persona

The Alaskan Independence Party is currently in the midst of its convention in Fairbanks, Alaska, and wants to shed its image of a fringe party and be considered a viable third-party option. Full story published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The party opened its statewide convention on Friday March 14th, 2008 at the Regency Fairbanks Hotel. Party business such as officer elections and reports from party officials will be taken care of, although political candidates were invited to speak. It will conclude on Sunday March 16th.

The convention will address what has worked and what has not worked so well and change them,” said Dexter Clark, a founder of the party and current vice chairman of the party’s northern district. See the party's convention page for more information.

Lynette Clark, a founder and chairwoman for AIP, said the party has matured since its inception almost 30 years ago. She points out the party has seated a governor and a lieutenant governor (Walter Hickel and Jack Coghill) and has had representatives in the Alaska Senate and House of Representatives. She also said that although people mainly associate the party with secession of Alaska from the U.S., that is just one solution members advocate to resolve the conflicts between federal and local authority. According to the AIP, the biggest conflict for the state is how the vote for statehood was conducted in 1958. “The change we want is how the U.S. treats Alaska,” Clark said.

The party’s platform includes 24 items, including such topics as abolishing all property taxes and direct popular elections for attorney general, all judges and magistrates. There's also a strong libertarian component, including promoting the right of juries to judge the law as well as the facts.

The party differs from the two major political parties because its platform has barely changed since it was created. After 23 years, the AIP's platform still fits on a single sheet of paper. In contrast, the Republicans and Democrats are constantly finagling their platforms based on changing social trends and whichever minority group is officially in favor at a given moment.

Key Outsiders in attendance include Jim Clymer, the national chairman of the Constitution Party, and Frank McEnulty, the presidential candidate of the New American Independent Party. Clymer singles out compliance with the Constitution and Bill of Rights as one of the most important goals, and said the greatest similarity between his party and AIP is the strong belief in limited government influence and recognition of the sovereignty of the state. Clymer wll address the convention on Sunday.

Dexter Clark said the AIP hasn’t grown as much as he would like but the growth it has experienced came because the party has stood its ground. Although he admits the “independence” part of the party has scared Alaskans off, he also said the party’s platform can benefit Alaskans.

However, there is another reason the party has bogged down; lack of quality candidates. Since the Hickel-Coghill duo in 1990, the only candidates I'm aware of who have been taken seriously by the public have been Larry Wood, who got 25 percent of the vote against Bill Stolze in the House District 16 race in 2002, Eddie Burke, who ran against the phlegmatic District O Senator John Cowdery in 2004 and got 8.4 percent of the vote, and Dr. Nick "Angels Don't Play This HAARP" Begich, who scored 36 percent of the vote in the House District 17 race against Pete Kott in Eagle River, also in 2004.

But more characteristic of the party's recent electoral offerings have been Daniel deNardo, an articulate man who's argued cases before the Alaska Supreme Court but who wastes campaign time talking about the "Soviet occupation of Alaska", and the absolutely, positively, and terminally unelectable Don Wright, who was inexplicably selected over Eddie Burke as the AIP's gubernatorial candidate in 2006 and who showed his gratitude by refusing to campaign or even respond to any candidate surveys. By the way, deNardo's running again, this time against District 31's Bob Lynn, of all people.

Another decision contributing to the party's "black helicopter" image is its decision to formally recognize the so-called "Lakota secession" engineered by Russell Means. This secession is completely bogus because Means did not seek any input from tribal leadership, which has disavowed his actions. Means also did not seek any type of mandate from tribal members; he just basically pulled it out of his ass as a publicity stunt.

But perhaps one final reason why the AIP looks like a fringe party is because the two major parties have moved so far away from the Constitution.

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