On July 8, 1967, formal organization of California's American Independent Party was completed at a convention held in Bakersfield. A constitution and declaration of principles were adopted, and officers were elected. The declaration of principles proclaimed:
"A new party is urgently needed today because the leaders of the two existing parties,
Democratic and Republican, have deserted the principles and traditions of our nation's
founding fathers. Both of the existing parties have become the proponents of big government, crushing taxation, dictatorial federal power, waste and fiscal irresponsibility, unwholesome and disastrous internationalism, compromise with our nation's enemies, and authoritarian regimentation of the citizens of this Republic. Control of the government, under the domination of these two existing parties, has left the hands of the people our government was created ot serve."
The declaration pledged the support of the American Independent Party to "limited constitutional government, with emphasis on the rights of the several states to govern their own local affairs and educational systems without federal bureaucratic or court interference." As to foreign affairs, the declaration stated that "the American Independent Party supports a foreign policy based on America's best interests, not world opinion," and "preservation of our national sovereignty."
In 1967, Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama was on the move to run for President on a new party ticket. Second only to Alabama, California was the most important state in the Union in the eyes of the Wallace campaign. Wallace supporters greeted with enthusiasm the formation of the American Independent Party. Not only was California the most populous state, but it was also the jurisdiction with the earliest legal deadline by which ballot qualification had to be achieved for the 1968 presidential election.
The procedures for qualification in California were extremely difficult. To qualify a new party for the ballot required either 66,059 voter registrations showing affiliation with the new party, or a petition with over 660,000 valid voter signatures. Deadline for securing the registrations was January 2, 1968. Securing registrations was much more difficult than securing signatures on a petition. In 1967, California had no registration by mail system. Every registration form had to be executed in the presence of a person designated by county election officials as a deputy registrar of voters.
By mid 1967, in spite of the best endeavors of American Independent Party coordinators, the pace of registration acquisition did not appear to be adequate to achieve ballot qualification by the January 1968 deadline. In October, to bolster the effort, Governor Wallace came to California for a week of rallies and speaking engagements. Simultaneously with the Governor's appearances in California, the Wallace Campaign unleashed an all-out effort to qualify the American Independent Party for the California ballot Registration headquarters-ultimately 46 ni number—were opened ni every major population center in the state. An advertising campaign was launched in support of the registration drive, including radio, television, and newspaper advertisements.
After his initial campaign tour in California in early November, Governor Wallace returned to Alabama. But he was back in California on November 20, and from then until December 17, he sustained a backbreaking schedule of rallies throughout California in support of the registration drive. Never less than three rallies per day were held, with the number frequently rising to four or five. On December 15, Governor Wallace delivered a major television address urging California voters to register with the American Independent Party. Much of the final registration effort was conducted during inclement weather which struck in December and made registration efforts more difficult. Against overwhelming odds, the pace of AlP voter registration accelerated. On December 28, the "Los Angeles Times," carried a banner front page headline in its preview edition, proclaiming: "Wallace Does It-Party Registration May Hit 75,000." The actual registration total exceeded 100,000. The California victory gave inspiration to Wallace supporters throughout the country, and, in 1968, building on the California foundation, Wallace was able to qualify his presidential candidacy in every state in the nation.
There has been remarkable continuity in the party's platforms since the first one was adopted in 1968, but there has been evolution too. One marker of that evolution was the nomination of Ambassador Alan Keyes in 2008 as the AIP Presidential nominee. From a Segregationist Governor to a Black Ambassador to the UN, whose main assignment from President Reagan was, by the way, to throw a monkey wrench in the works! Quite a change. Yet Wallace and Keyes shared many things. They were both strong patriots, Anti-Socialist to the core, dedicated to the principles of limited government, and in favor of Free Enterprise as the practical expression of the Declaration's "pursuit of happiness."
Some have suggested that the American Independent Party may be out of step with young Americans whose views are alleged to be radically different from those of middle aged and older Americans. The commitment of Young Americans to the country's traditional moral, political, and economic values, however, remains comparable to that of other age groups. This fact was confirmed by a vintage Reader's Digest poll which found that: 74 percent of young Americans (18-30) believed that hard work is the key to getting ahead; 72 percent believed that unlimited opportunity is more important than ensuring greater equality of income; 70 percent believed that government poses the greatest threat to the nation's future; and 87 percent have always believed in God. Most people with these views feel comfortable in an AlP gathering. The future of the American Independent Party is assured by a market for its views among young Americans who do not have years of commitment to the dominant parties. Today, the political climate in America is changing. The people are looking for new voices, new choices, new vehicles for political expression. The people are looking at the American Independent Party for leadership.