The Centrist Party for Minnesota
The centrist party for the state of Minnesota – and one of the preeminent centrist parties in the country – is the Independence Party of Minnesota. Originally a chapter of the Reform Party, the MN IP has been working to represent the centrist voters of the land of 10,000 lakes for over 25 years now.
The Independence Party of Minnesota
The primary centrist party for the state of Minnesota is the Independence Party of Minnesota (IPMN). Launched in 1992, as a state chapter of the national organization that became the Reform Party of the United States of America (or just the Reform Party), that was brought together to support the presidential campaign for centrist independent candidate Ross Perot, who received about 24% of the vote in Minnesota in 1992, and 12% of the vote in 1996.
The IPMN has been a ballot-qualified major political party in Minnesota for all but the last few years, as they didn’t run a statewide candidate in 1994 that earned enough votes to keep that status. Throughout the centrist party organization’s life, it’s put a few major names into office, and is currently in the process of reorganizing and preparing for the 2018 and 2020 election seasons.
IPMN Centrist Party Platform
As with centrist and moderate voters’ stances, the IPMN’s platform generally represents liberal to libertarian-esque social acceptance and what used to be called fiscally conservative (fiscally sane or fiscally responsible are being used more of late, as the term conservative has been equated more and more with right wing positions.
On economic issues, the Independence Party of Minnesota has a small business focus, and recognizes that “a strong, free, and engaged working middle class is a key driver of economic growth and investment.”
They also rightly recognize the hindrance that political cronyism has on economic growth. From their platform:
“Government policies that favor the political and economic elite restrict growth and lead to wealth inequality. Higher levels of inequality and a smaller working middle class diminish public engagement in government, and reduce broad acceptance of free market values.”
As any truly centrist party would, the IPMN is very strong on anti-corruption and election reform. They support independent redistricting, same day voter registration and term limits, reinstatement of voting rights once someone has finished their time incarcerated and strongly condemn the Supreme Court’s misguided ‘Citizens United’ ruling, that has paved the way for so many problems in our current political landscape.
From their platform:
Elections should not be driven by special interest money, overly restrictive ballot access and debate criteria, and/or affiliation with one of two major political parties. We believe a better election process, including partial public funding of campaigns and alternative voting methods, will lead to more civil campaigns, legislatures that are more reflective of the general populace and, ultimately, reformed government that is inclusive and “by the people” in a way that doesn’t exist today.
Click here to see their complete 2016 platform.
Independence Party of Minnesota’s Plans for 2018 & 2020
I asked for an update from IPMN’s Chairman, seen here:
“The Independence Party of Minnesota was formed in 1992 and held major party status from 1995 to 2014 when it fell about 1300 votes short. The IP’s goal for 2018 is to regain major party status and then to move from what we have called a “mini major” party to a competitive third choice.
Looking out to 2020 the IP is co-leading talks with similar-minded centrist / moderate state parties around the country in effort to pull together a coalition of 15 to 18 states that would offer a base of support and/or ballot access to a qualified independent seeking to run for the Presidency. Getting on the ballot in all 50 states is a difficult and expensive prospect – our hope is to pull together a large enough coalition that it entices a candidate to run as an independent with the knowledge that a significant amount of time, money and effort can be diverted from ballot access activities.’
Affiliations with Other Centrist Party Organizations
Minnesota’s centrist party broke with the national Reform Party in 2000 when Pat Buchanan managed to stage an organizational coup of sorts and take control of the Reform Party for a period of time. They changed their name back to the ‘Independence Party’ after doing so.
MNIP was briefly affiliated with a short-lived centrist party endeavor called the ‘Independence Party of America’, which appears to have fizzled out following Michael Bloomberg’s decision not to run for president in 2008.
In 2016, the two trailblazing centrist party organizations in Minnesota and Oregon (the Independent Party of Oregon) announced a partnership. Having spoken with them about this, this loose affiliation is still in place, and they aim to work toward the ultimate goal of a national network of centrist parties, with the ultimate goal of electing enough representatives to Washington to ensure that neither major party can ram through one-sided, hyper-partisan legislation again.
Speaking on why the two centrist parties were teaming up, IPMN Chair Philip Fuehrer noted that:
“We have been in a long decline in the civility of the nation’s politics with a matching rise in negative partisanship. This year’s presidential spectacles have clearly shown it is time to discuss creating a better way.”
There are a number of newer and smaller centrist to moderate groups working toward building themselves up to represent the underrepresented center in their states, and a growing number of polls that show the American people want alternatives. Uniters.org will be working together with the best organized of them to form a national coalition, in hopes of building the national centrist party (and building it right – with institutional safeguards to make it harder to corrupt) our nation so desperately needs.
Noteworthy Independence Party of Minnesota Stances
Like most centrists and moderates, the Independence Party of Minnesota is for the “legalization, taxation, and regulation of cannabis”, which has been both a boon to the state tax coffers of the states that have already done so, and saves money on punishing people for victimless crimes. The IPMN saw the writing on the wall well before either major party, and their stance has proven to have a number of benefits, from not ruining the future job prospects and long-term earning potential of those who are caught with it, as well as lowering use of addictive and harmful hard drugs in recent studies.
The IPM is likely the first state party – centrist or otherwise – to experiment with instant runoff voting (IRV), which has been gaining in popularity in recent years. They used an IRV-based straw poll to decide on what presidential candidate to back in 2004 (they also voted on their mascot that year – they chose the buffalo you see above), and also showed forward thinking in their decision to allow people to participate online.
The Independence Party of Minnesota was the first American political party to nominate a transgender candidate for US Congress, in 2014 (she also ran in 2016) with Paula Overby. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Overby and in their nomination, as well as related statements and conversations I’ve had with their leaders, Minnesota’s centrist party sets a bar neither party is willing to reach for on yet another issue here – that what matters is the content of a person’s character, not demographic traits.
In a blog post on the MNIP website, Ms. Overby spoke to why she ran with the MNIP:
“As a political candidate it was not my intention to gain social or political acceptance as a transgender woman. Nor was it my intention to gain social or political parity as a woman. Gender was not an emphasis and never central to any discussion. What I emphasized was parity for traditional feminine values: the future of our children, the support of family values, the restoration of our communities, and social engagement.
In our two major political parties I found those traditional values displaced by the relentless pursuit of wealth and a reckless disregard for future generations: the national debt, the budget deficit, student loan debt, environmental neglect, outsourcing of jobs, and the institution of a visa work force. I see two political parties that have abandoned the economic strength of this nation in favor of military domination.
I see in the Independence party a transformation of political values with a focus on the future of our young people. I see a party shedding the political rhetoric of the past in favor of a new political agenda based on accountability, transparency, individual liberty and “We the People”. The power of a great campaign is in the message we create and the impact it has on our culture. That’s how we win.”
Independence Party of Minnesota – Carving a Path Forward for Centrist Parties
The Independence Party of Minnesota has ridden the ups and downs that the American political center has gone through, and has been carving a path forward for other centrist parties to learn from and follow, for over a quarter of a century now. Regardless of whether you live in Minnesota or not, if you want to do your part and help them, or just follow them, click through the links below: