• U.S.

Nation: Quixotic Quest

2 minute read

Tilting at the major parties

“Our system today no more resembles free enterprise than a freeway resembles a dirt road.” So said Environmentalist Barry Commoner, 62, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, last week as he launched a drive to form the Citizens Party. The new political party will promote alternative energy programs, environmental issues and greater government control of big corporations. Said Commoner: “Elevating the national interest above vested private interests is the heart of what the Citizens Party is all about.”

Among Commoner’s fellow organizers are Chicago Author Studs Terkel (Working); Maggie Kuhn of the Gray Panthers in Philadelphia; Harriet Barlow of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington; Archibald Gillies, former head of the John Hay Whitney Foundation in New York City; and Political Strategist Don Rose, who earlier this year helped Jane Byrne win her upset victory over Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic.

Low on cash (a 1979 budget of $300,000) but high on idealism, Commoner and his colleagues plan a national convention early next year and hope to nominate a presidential candidate. Said he: “We do not intend to be a third party nibbling away at the crumbs left over by the other two parties. We’re going to challenge them for their existence.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com