Lower taxes and, er, yogic flying

Californians will have the chance to vote NLP

As top US politicians begin jostling for the 1996 elections, few can claim the lofty ideals of the Natural Law Party - global prosperity, perfect health and, most incredible of all, conflict-free politics. This is not a party limited by internecine squabbling.

"You could call us the human-potential party," says NLP's Harvard-educated presidential candidate, Dr John Hagelin. "We seek to harness the full creativity and intelligence of the American workforce. We are very pragmatic - we are always looking at innovative, scientifically tested solutions designed to bring our national policy more into harmony with natural law," says vice-presidential candidate, Mike Tomkins.

While some NLP ideas might seem far fetched - Hagelin believes mass meditation at US bases could reduce political infighting in Congress - the party remains highly focused in its US campaign. Last week, on the same day as Ross Perot's Reform Party announced it had collected enough registrations to be placed on the California ballot, the NLP also announced it would be a golden state contender, having collected more than 100,000 party registrations.

The US branch of the NLP, formed in April 1992 - only months before the November election - managed to make its way on to ballots in 32 states that year. But while the party has raised $250,000 for its presidential bid thus far, it still has a long way to go to reach its goal of $40-$45 million by the time the US goes to the polls a year from now.

The NLP traces its roots to the transcendental meditation movement and the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - the Indian guru who gained worldwide fame after the Beatles made a pilgrimage to his Himalayan retreat in 1968. However, party officials like Hagelin, who meditates twice daily, are uneasy with the party's association with meditation and the Maharishi.

"We see transcendental meditation as important, but no more so than many other programmes we endorse," says Hagelin, who says that fewer than 5 per cent of supporters meditate regularly.

The party's other programmes include sustainable farming techniques discouraging farmers from using pesticides; preventative health care; lower taxation; tough environmental safeguards and, er, yogic flying. The party claims that mass meditation and yogic flying (where meditators bounce up to four feet in the air while in the lotus position) can lower crime rates by reducing stress.

In just three years the NLP has spread to more than 40 countries including virtually every European nation, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Thus far it has won only a single parliamentary seat - in Croatia - but it claims growing dissatisfaction with traditional parties will become the basis of support in years to come.

The US is a particularly difficult proving ground for new parties. The campaign process is lengthy and expensive. Major presidential candidates are expected to have a war-chest of at least $40m and presidential debates are controlled jointly by the Republicans and Democrats. Historically, few third parties have managed to make any long-term impact on the political scene.

The NLP's platform booklet is the thickest of any party - running to 176 pages and referring to scientific journals and treatises. For many supporters this is the party's greatest appeal. Says San Diego organiser Bill Harper: "We have to come back to that higher idealism and turn to great ideas again - the old ones don't seem to be working."

RICHARD KELLY HEFT

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there