"In both 1996 and 1998, the majority of the American people didnít
vote," he noted. "In the l996 election, 51 percent of people didnít
vote; in 1998, almost two-thirds of the people didnít vote. That silent
majority is the target of our efforts. We want to see them stand up and
take back their country."
Peters sees creating a third party to run alternative candidates as the
way to give the silent majority a voice. The party he and his wife,
Catherine, have co-founded has been registered in all 50 states under
the name of We The People (WTP), The Peopleís Party, or variations
thereof (having no connection, past or present, with 1992 presidential
candidates Ross Perot or Jerry Brown).
While Peters has not yet filed papers with New Hampshireís secretary of
state as a year 2000 presidential candidate, he is already working on
WTPís campaign, the first portion of which involves creating public
"In 1999," he told us, "the focus is on bringing people into the fold."
To that end, a We The People campaign bus will travel from Jackson to
Jacksonville, Fla., starting the second week in February and featuring a
stopover in Philadelphia where the WTP nominating convention will be
held in the year 2000.
Also planned is a WTP citizensí action initiative on clean money campaign financing during the week of April 7-14, when handbills demanding public financing of congressional and presidential elections will be distributed in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court.
"As a grassroots, from-the-bottom-up, non-profit citizens membership
organization," Peters explained, "no issue or candidate is approved by
We The People until 60 percent or more of our supporters approve it. To
find out what our fellow citizens feel are the priority problems facing
our country, weíll also be holding public referenda in May, to which
every citizen can respond by mail, phone or computer.
"Right now," he stressed, "our priority issue is campaign finance
reform. Weíre running an alternative campaign because we believe the
current finance system is broken and needs to be fixed ó and we know the
incumbents wonít fix it."
"Today," he noted, "the average cost to win a seat in the House of
Representatives is $600,000, in the Senate $6 million, and in the Oval
Office of the White House $100 million. In 1996, the combined
presidential and congressional campaigns cost $2 billion. A Time
magazine article showed that, after those elections, $125 billion was
granted to party supporters in tax loopholes, tax subsidies and
government contracts ó basically as welfare for the wealthy. Thatís a
return of 50-to-one on their investment! It used to be a bad joke that
we have the best government money can buy, but thatís become the sad
With media coverage the most expensive part of any campaign, Peters
supports ongoing efforts to persuade the Federal Communications
Commission to set aside free time for all viable candidates from
September to November in election years.
As well as promoting clean money campaign reform for all congressional and presidential elections, he also advocates shorter campaigns. "Our elections go on too long," he believes. "We want to cut the time of election campaigns." Thatís one reason why Peters will not officially file papers until the year 2000. Another reason is that "Since our goal is to do whatís right for the country, if we can attract somebody with higher name recognition than mine, Iíll step down in his or her favor."
Other WTP goals include:
- Full employment for every American who needs a job to make ends meet.
- Making it easier for voters to vote by following New Hampshireís and
Minnesotaís lead in allowing people to register as late as election day
itself, and by following Oregonís example whereby votes can be mailed in
two-to-four weeks ahead of time.
- Modernizing the political system so that voters can also vote by
phone and computer, using personal identification numbers (PINs).
- Changing election day from Tuesday to a weekend, with polls open from
Saturday morning through Sunday evening, to facilitate voting for
- Returning responsibility for running presidential debates to the
League of Women Voters, instead of leaving it in the hands of a
commission comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats, since
"They donít want to let anyone else in."
- Launching a nationwide write-in campaign for the office of President,
because "Can you think of a better way of showing that youíve had enough
of the existing parties telling you who the candidates will be?"
CREATING a successful third political party has precedents in American
history, Peters pointed out, In 1801, Thomas Jefferson set up the Democratic party because at the time the Federalist party was the party of big government and he wanted to return government to the people. Only two generations ago, Abraham Lincoln was one of the founders of the Republican party when the existing two-party system consisted of Whigs and Democrats. Most people today arenít even aware that Lincoln set a precedent for a third party coming onto the scene and fielding a winning presidential candidate. "But," Peters continued, "if Jefferson and Lincoln were alive now, I donít think theyíd be proud of present-day versions of the Democratic and Republican parties, with their partisan politics and reliance on character assassination."
Basically, Peters says "We The People see the Democratic party as
controlled about 20 percent by the left and the Republican as controlled
about 20 percent by the right, with no one representing the 60 percent
majority in the middle. We want to become the common sense alternative
to the Democratic and Republican parties, and return to the message of
our Founding Fathers, putting the country first. We want a government
With a background in both business and politics, the tall, personable,
50-year-old Peters feels he brings an entrepreneurial spirit to that
initiative. He has been an independent consultant to the World Bank,
assistant vice-president of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company,
executive director of the U.S.-Mexico Quadri-partite Commission, and
from 1979 to the present President/CEO of his own real estate, finance
and new business development company.
Starting out as an Independent, his past political affiliations have
been with both the Democratic and Republican parties. Currently, he is
serving on a committee of the New Hampshire Citizensí Alliance which has
drafted a bill promoting clean elections legislation for this yearís
session of the New Hampshire Legislature. That bill has already been
submitted and is due to be signed by its sponsors this week.
Unless a We The People candidate with greater name recognition
surfaces, Peters is prepared to launch his presidential campaign during
next yearís New Hampshire primary. Like Abraham Lincoln, if he doesnít
win in the year 2000, heís prepared to try again four years later.
"In a three-party race," he says, "you can win with between 34 and 40 percent of the vote. Even with only half the two-thirds of people who donít vote now, we could win in 2000 or 2004." Thus, for the balance of 1999, WTP emphasis will be on reminding the American people that, in a democracy, we have both the right and the responsibility to make our voices heard.
"The only time you and I are just as powerful as the President is on election day when you and I and he each have one vote," Peters notes. "We The People want to see the country returned to government of, for and by the people, as described by Jefferson and reiterated by Lincoln. We want a government Jefferson and Lincoln could be proud of. I believe the American people will see the corruption of our present political system," he concluded, "so we want to be the alternative that isnít there now."
Editor's Note: The following was received as a followup to our article and was reprinted in a subsequent issue of THE MT. EAR.
Ms. Nina Perry
The Mountain Ear
P.O. Box 530
Conway, NH 03818
February 2, 1999
In compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act and regulations, I wanted to confirm that I am not, at this time, a candidate for President, nor did I make or authorize any statement referring to myself as a Presidential Candidate in my interview with Gabrielle Griswold.
In the text, Gabrielle made the appropriate distinction that I was a "potential" presidential candidate. However, the three highlighted quotations refer to me as the "We The People Presidential Candidate" which is inaccurate and not correct.
None of the above clarifications detracts from my strong satisfaction with the positive thrust of the article, for which I am extremely grateful.
Jeffrey B. Peters