What is the Future of This Party?
Political Alternatives: The Natural Law Party
Claiming to be the “fastest growing new party,” the Natural Law Party, founded in 1992, bills itself as the party to “bring the light of science into politics.” Playing along with the decade-long disgruntlement of the American public with the two party system, the Natural Law Party has an agenda focusing on new age and science based solutions for crime, education reform, defense, abortion, energy, and “green” issues like pollution and the global environment.
The party’s Presidential candidate and foremost spokesperson, John Hagelin is a Quantum Physicist from Harvard University who offers a set of issue answers based on several new age concepts, including transcendental meditation, expansion of consciousness, and his extensive research in unified quantum field theories. Quantum theory is the theory that energy is not absorbed nor radiated continuously but discontinuously, and only in multiples of definite, indivisible units or quanta. Hagelin’s biggest flaw is perhaps his over-the-head ideas that confound and confuse the general public. Can the American average Joe make head or tails of how quantum theory directly supports ideas supplied by the party? Probably not.
On the other hand, the party does outline a 50-point plan addressing just about every pertinent issue in the headlines today. For instance, the party would implement an economic policy enforcing a “truly balanced budget” and proposing a flat tax of 10% to be implemented by 2006. They also promise to “protect the integrity of our important social programs” while saving tax dollars as a result of their proposed implementation of cost-effective central government solutions. Such proposals appease the socially conscious liberal, while trying to attract Forbes followers with the flat tax and government reformers in general (Hagelin rallied for the Reform Party presidential candidate, losing to ex-Republican ultra-conservative Pat Buchanan).
As an answer to crime, the party pushes rehabilitation by hoping to “support systematic, scientifically proven programs to reduce stress in the individual and throughout society — thus eliminating the root cause of crime.” Such abstract and high and mighty proposals like stress reduction for violent criminals sound like the administration of a Band-Aid to a bullet wound. The party also claims that the individuals who are at the highest risk for crime are “the current prison inmate population,” and offers help via “proven rehabilitation programs and advanced scientific methods to assess rehabilitation and eligibility for parole.”
They say: Stress is the root of crime. The biggest victims of crime in America are prison inmates. Therefore elimination of crime is hidden in the treasures of the Natural Law Party’s “scientifically proven programs” and rehabilitation. Why not instead overhaul the prisons, restrict prisoner rights, and eliminate prison corruption first? The pitching of endless “rehabilitation programs”(which tends to be another sacred cow) for a problem that may just be a human condition is questionable, especially in a society that provides a lot of support for capital punishment. Where is the proof for all of these “proven” programs?
The good news is that the party wants to abolish the Electoral College and promises to restrict the power of the lobby and to limit congressional privileges. These are perhaps the three most significant third party ideas that would be most effective in curbing corruption in Washington and in the election process.
The party supports the right of choice for women to have abortions but emphasizes educational programs to improve moral reasoning, admitting, “it is difficult to legislate morality.” They propose a shift to private funding of abortion and a gradual elimination of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, except for in the cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity. Private charities would be permitted for funding and allowing pro-choice abortions. With this the party hopes to satisfy both the pro-lifers and pro-choicers and forces the separation of public monies for the morality based abortion issue. Not altogether a bad idea, but critics see this as supplying perfect targets for conspiratorial pro-lifers who would most likely point their aggressions, bombs, and guns to the private clinics.
An underlying theme for the whole party agenda is preventative measures, a newly popular and idealized set of solutions that remain unproven. Although there is a big following of the ideas regarding preventative medicine, a hot topic these days within the confines of health care reform, preventative measures for violent crime and the country’s defense are a bit scary. The idea that the military defense can be replaced with a “prevention wing,” utilizing TM (transcendental meditation) and stress reduction as preventative measures for terrorism and war is like something out of a science fiction novel.
Like most modern third parties, such as the Libertarian and Reform Parties, the Natural Law Party is key in providing a subset of good solutions to key problems, especially when addressing those sacred cow issues that the current tribe of lifer politician/ex-lawyers refuse to address. Perhaps the disturbing attributes of the party: the good-vibe, mystic, hippie approaches to serious problems could be reformulated, or maybe Hagelin will instead share with us some of his “scientifically proven methods” that he so strongly pushes and supports. Either way, it’s good fodder for voter and candidate alike. For more information on the Natural Law Party, go to http://www.natural-law.org.