Founded in 1995, the Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN) describes itself as a coalition of “organizations and individuals committed to the achievement of a national, non-sectarian, independent progressive political party, or an alliance of such parties, as an alternative to the corporate-controlled, Democratic/Republican system.” Depicting the United States as a nation rife with oppression and injustice, the network’s ultimate goal is to facilitate “the transformation of this country through the unity of its peoples in active opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia, economic class exploitation, age discrimination and all other forms of oppression and discrimination.”
IPPN lists the following as some of its major accomplishments in recent years:
“Played a central role in the organization of Democracy Summer week-long trainings for over 200 young people, predominantly youth of color, in the summers of 2001 and 2002”
“Initiated organizing after 9-11-01 which led to the formation of the 9-11 Emergency National Network and played a key role [in organizing] a peace and justice demonstration of 80,000 people in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2002”
“Conducted eight training sessions in different parts of the country for electoral candidates or campaign workers”
“Created a Democracy 2004 project … which … gathered and publicized information … about campaigns to do organized voter registration and education, issue-oriented popular mobilization and defense of democracy … ”
“Played an active role in the organization of peace demonstrations in the first three months of 2003 as part of United for Peace and Justice, helped to organize UFPJ’s national conference in June of that year, and [has] been active on [UFPJ’s] steering committee … and in its Elections 2004 working group ever since”
IPPN’s member organizations include, among others: Alternative Communications, the Black Farmers Association, Citizen Soldier, the Community Organizing Center, the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, the Green Alliance, the Green Party, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, the National Lawyers Guild, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Progressive Peoples Network, the Socialist Forum, the Socialist Party USA, Solidarity, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, TIKKUN, the Unity Party, the War Zone Education Foundation, and We the People.
A prominent feature of the IPPN website is “Racism Watch,” whose purpose is to monitor everything that political candidates say prior to important elections for any hint of possible bigotry. “Racism,” says IPPN, “has been a conscious and deliberate part of Presidential election campaigns, as well as local and state campaigns” for decades. In IPPN’s view, a candidate is a “racist” if he or she supports the privatization of prisons; supports racial profiling for national security purposes; supports the death penalty; opposes racial preferences in business and academia; or opposes the expansion of civil rights and welfare benefits for illegal aliens.
To spread its message, IPPN publishes a quarterly newsletter and organizes conferences where the aforementioned issues are discussed. At a recent IPPN national summit, activists representing more than fifty organizations from eighteen states and Washinton, D.C. gathered at the University of Michigan, where, according to IPPN, the “highlight of the weekend” was the keynote speech of former Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney, who captured “the spirit of resistance” that “pervaded the conference from beginning to end.” Other conference “highlights” included “inspiring speeches” given by members of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the Green Party, and the Labor Party. The conference also featured a presentation by the Reverend Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan, who denounced the allegedly pervasive scourge of police brutality in America and made an impassioned call for economic and social justice.
IPPN’s major beliefs include the following:
Progressive Unity: “A powerful movement for change will emerge when everyday people aligned with grassroots activists, leaders and organizations operating from community, workplace and school power bases com[e] together in a unified, national, massive and mass-based, independent political movement and party, or an alliance of parties.”
Economic Justice: Deploring “the gross and obscene concentration of corporate power and personal wealth,” IPPN advocates “the achievement of basic economic rights for all: secure jobs at living wages; decent, affordable housing; adequate food and clothing; universal health care; quality education; a safe, clean environment; an equitable, progressive tax system which taxes unearned wealth; sustainable food production based upon family farms and farm cooperatives; and protection from economic insecurity caused by disability, old age, sickness, accident or unemployment.”
Economic Democracy/Workers’ Rights: Favoring a socialist economic model, IPPN “support[s] the development of new kind of economy which is democratically run by the people, including at the workplace, and not based on corporate greed.”
Political Democracy: Charging that “[t]he current electoral system has been privatized and bought up by the corporate rich who fund political campaigns,” IPPN rejects “the electoral system’s winner-take-all rules” that “deny racial and political minorities their fair share of representation and power.” The organization supports “publicly-financed elections”; “voting rights for immigrants” (including non-citizens and illegal aliens); and “proportional [racial and ethnic] representation in the election of legislative bodies.”
Human Rights for All People: Reasoning from the premise that the United States is infested with ineradicable white racism, sexism, and discrimination, IPPN supports “affirmative action and reparations for people of color, women and other victims of historic injustice and oppression.” Moreover, the organization laments the “scapegoating and repression” allegedly “directed against immigrants, particularly immigrants of color.” It also supports women’s unrestricted right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, which it terms “full reproductive freedom.”
Equal Justice: “We oppose the deep-seated racism and class bias that permeate our so-called ‘criminal justice system.’ We call for a crash program to re-train and re-structure those police departments that are steeped in a culture of racism, abuse, corruption and brutality. We support the development of a humane criminal sanction system that is genuinely about the rehabilitation of those who have engaged in anti-social activity; that punishes based on behavior, not race, gender, gender identity or class; and which depends on alternatives to incarceration except for those who pose a clear danger to society unless incarcerated. We oppose the racist and class-biased death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment.”
Peace and Anti-imperialism: Condemning the “militarism and the culture of violence which permeates our society,” IPPN calls for “major cuts in the [U.S.] military budget and the conversion of weapons-producing industries to socially-needed production.”
Sustainable Environment: “An ecologically sustainable society requires replacing the endless ‘growth’ compelled by a profit-oriented economy with a democratic economy enabling people to gear production to human needs on a sustainable basis. We support the creation of an ecological economy where everyone’s basic material needs are met through the sustainable use of non-toxic and renewable energy and materials.”
In 2009 the Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, served as an IPPN advisory committee member.
The current National Coordinator of IPPN is Ted Glick, who is also active with Campus Climate Challenge and the U.S. Climate Emergency Council; in addition, he has been a guest speaker at events sponsored by World Can’t Wait.