The Citizens party was founded by people frustrated with a lack of political alternatives who found little to like about the political options in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The party was founded in 1979, by Barry Commoner.
The party was effectively a splinter group, with Commoner hoping to rally the environmental and liberal elements of democratic party unhappy with the direction of President Carter.
The group was labeled socialist by some at the time, but the party was clearly not. Their economic platform focused on the freedom of businesses but provided for government regulation.