The Wanderer, September 16,
1999; Washington Watch)
September 8, 1999
For the last decade
Ive devoted countless columns and articles to the
central problem, as I see it, of American politics: the nearly total erosion
of the U.S. Constitution. Now Ive suddenly been offered the chance
to address this problem in a new way. I am running for the vice presidency.
Of the United States. On the ticket of
the Constitution Party.
My old friend Howard Phillips, founder of
the U.S. Taxpayers Party and its 1992 and 1996 presidential candidate, has
asked me to be his running mate next year. I was flattered and astounded
by his request; and even amused. Those who know me best have never
thought of me as executive material.
But Howard insisted Id be an
asset to his ticket, and maybe its time for a midlife change. After
thinking it over for a few days, I gratefully accepted. The very fact that he
thought I could help was enough; I have boundless respect for Howard, who
not only understands the Constitution correctly but knows the nuts and
bolts of politics like nobody else Ive ever met. Hes also a
devout Christian and an amazingly energetic leader.
The Taxpayers Party held its convention
in St. Louis the first weekend in September, with about 500 delegates in
attendance. Howard staved off a challenge from the estimable Herb Titus,
a constitutional scholar of wisdom and integrity, and I was accepted as
his running mate. These good people welcomed me with a warmth and
enthusiasm that overwhelmed me.
The party also formally changed its name
to the Constitution Party a good move, I believe. But the party
faces several daunting hurdles. First, the two big parties are determined
to use every means to keep other parties off the ballot. You can spend
millions gathering signatures, only to see them disqualified on the
slightest technicalities (if John Doe signs Johnny Doe, his
sig is thrown out). Second, of course, the media support the Big Two and
rarely notice smaller parties, unless they achieve celebrity, as the Reform
Party has done. Even Warren Beatty, toying with the idea of running as a
Democrat, gets more coverage than a Howard Phillips, who has spent years
building a whole grassroots party.
Most of the conservative
press, of course, is married to the Republican Party and is even less
willing to cover a rival conservative party than the liberal media. Rush
Limbaugh thinks of those who lean to third parties as nothing more than
renegade Republicans, spitefully willing to help elect Al Gore if they
dont get everything they want.
Rush has it all wrong. The St. Louis
delegates werent in any sense Republicans. All they wanted was
the very thing our rulers take an oath to give us: constitutional
government. That should be a minimum for every party, not a partisan
matter. At the moment it isnt even a partisan issue, since neither
of the Big Two will even advocate it.
It speaks volumes about the condition of
this country that a demand for constitutional government should seem
radical, even utopian. Yet most Americans have forgotten what the
Constitution means. They dont realize that Bill Clinton isnt
the only perjurer in Washington: nearly every elected representative, on
being sworn in, takes an oath he probably has no serious intention of
government sounds vague, I was led to grasp it by something very
specific: Roe v. Wade. The shock of that unspeakably perverse and
tyrannical ruling drove me to study constitutional history, from the
ratification debates to the Civil War, from the New Deal to the present. I
concluded that the Civil War had destroyed the vital balance between the
states and the federal government, and that the New Deal had destroyed
residual restraints on federal power, leaving the states helpless to defend
themselves against the bloody usurpation of Roe. This is a view
Howard shares. He also favors the abolition of the personal income tax and
the Internal Revenue Service, which enable the federal government to
control every American citizen and to continue its self-
Even the term federal
government has become a misnomer. The proof is that ordinary
Americans now think federal is a synonym for
centralized, if not omnipotent. The concept
of a federation of states, associated only by the delegation of a few
specific powers to a general government, has been lost,
thanks to the politicians, the media, and state-subsidized education. We
suffer from a sort of national amnesia.
So a large part of the mission of the
Constitution Party is simply to remind our fellow Americans of what their
ancestors stood for. Most of them would be elated to
learn that the Constitution is on their side.
Its not whatever the U.S. Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties
Union, and the liberal law schools say
it is. The liberals living and evolving
Constitution has cost us tens of millions of lives, as well as trillions of
And the true Constitution will never be
restored by equivocating Republicans like George W. Bush. If the GOP has
done nothing to reverse Roe since 1973, after four Republican
presidents and with both Houses of Congress under Republican control, it
never will. I wonder what it would take to make Limbaugh admit that the
Republicans are never going to achieve or even aspire to
what conservatives really want. Its not just that the Republicans
dont honor their promises; its that they make the wrong
promises in the first place.
As Howard likes to say, Before
you seek victory, you must define it. The Constitution Party
defines victory as a return to constitutional government, which means
nothing more than lawful government, in which legislation is limited to
the powers specifically authorized to Congress by the Constitution, and no
other powers whatsoever, because whatever isnt authorized is
Is even this minimal principle too much
to ask? If so, the American experiment in limited government is a failure,
doomed by human greed and power-lust to devolve into a system of what
Frédéric Bastiat called organized plunder,
which can be administered equally well by Democrats and Republicans.
But some of us refuse to give up on
either the Constitution or the American people. We have a more important
goal than defeating Al Gore. Namely, recovering our God-given
During the campaign my syndicate will
suspend publication of my newspaper columns for the duration, but theyll
still appear in
The Wanderer, on
my website, and of course in SOBRANS, my monthly newsletter.
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