Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Know Your Third Parties: Part 3 - The Constitution Party

This post was supposed to appear yesterday, but unfortunately we experienced an internet outage. We apologize for posting this story late. As promised, here is the overview of the Constitution Party.

Originally founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party in 1992, the Constitution Party takes very conservative views on both fiscal and social policy - although their stances on trade is nationalist and their stance on foreign policy is - more or less - that there shouldn't be any.

They are part of the "Big Three" third parties, along with the Green and Libertarian Parties.

They claim to be Constitutional Originalists (believe that the views of the Founding Fathers should prevail in law and policy today), but they are, for all intensive purposes, the splinter party for Nationalist, Right-Wing America.

Membership: 366,937 registered (as of 2006)

Members Holding Office: 12 to 15

The list is not available online - or tallied at all - but according to Gary from the National Office in Lancaster, PA, there are about 12 to 15 members in various offices, including 3 partisan offices throughout the country.


A coalition of small state parties formed the U.S. Taxpayers' Party in 1992. That same year, Howard Phillips ran for President as the party's nominee, appearing on the ballot in 21 states. By 1995, the FEC formally recognized it as a national political party.

In 1996, Pat Buchanon threatened to run under the U.S. Taxpayers' Party banner if presumptive Republican nominee, Bob Dole, selected a pro-choice running mate. Instead, Dole chose the pro-life Jack Kemp and the U.S. Taxpayers' Party nominated Phillips again, appearing on the ballot in 39 states.

In 1999, delegates to the national convention changed the party name to the Constitution Party in order to better describe their ideals. Because of ballot access laws in different states, four state affiliates retained other party names (the American Independent Party in California, Concerned Citizens Party in Connecticut, the Independent American Party in Nevada, and the U.S. Taxpayers' Party in Michigan).

Phillips ran again under the newly named Constitution Party in 2000. Michael Peroutka was the nominee in 2004. In 2006, the party almost had their first State Legislative victory with Rick Jore of Montana (he won, but the Montana affiliate party broke with the national party shortly before the election). Since then they have elected other State Legislators.

This year, Chuck Baldwin was the Constitution Party nominee, appearing on 37 state ballots. He earned the endorsement of Republican Congressman Ron Paul - the staunch Libertarian - over Bob Barr. In the end he earned over 180,000 votes - or .15% - finishing ahead of Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party.

On the Issues:

The Constitution Party is very conservative fiscally and socially. They are, however, a little more interesting on issues of national sovereignty.

Fiscally: Under their platform, the role of government is to promote life, liberty, and property (Note: not the Pursuit of Happiness, as Jefferson called for, but Property, like John Locke wrote about). Other than that, the federal government has no role. The hotline for the party is (not a joke) 1-800-2-VETO-IRS. They believe that government should take no role in health care or environmental issues (in part because global warming is not man-made, but an act of God), and advocate abolishing the 16th Amendment (which allows for a Federal Income Tax).

Socially: The Constitution Party is "100% Pro-Life" without exceptions for rape, incest, or threatening the mother's life. They are opposed to changing the Constitution to define marriage, but believe "no government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted" and are opposed to gay rights in general. They also want to ban pornography and use the federal government to restrict gambling.

Trade and Immigration: The views the Constitution Party hold on these issues can only be described as nationalist. They claim to be the only party that is "anti-globalist, anti-free trade, anti-deindustrialization, and anti-unchecked immigration".

Foreign Policy: They oppose the war in Iraq because it was not a war declared by Congress, and are generally opposed to military intervention. They are also opposed to signing treaties - as it gives up U.S. sovereignty - and all foreign aid. Chuck Baldwin even described the United Nations as "a sinister organization run by Marxists, socialists, and communists" in a stump speech in August.

Other: The Constitution Party is also opposed to granting representation for the District of Columbia, and the 17th Amendment (which makes U.S. Senators elected by the people, rather than State Legislatures, as the Founders intended).

Read the full platform here.

Final Thoughts:

The Constitution Party is - in many ways - to the GOP what the Green Party is to the Democrats - a splinter party of populists that feels the major party on their side of the spectrum is too supportive of special interests and too centrist. However, their views on foreign policy and trade make them unlikely to draw enough support from a conservative base to scare the Republicans.

Nonetheless, the Constitution Party does provide a platform that Nationalists and right-wing Evangelicals can support when they are disillusioned by supposed liberalism within the GOP. Despite our many differences with them (and their views couldn't be more different from our own) we do feel that such a party can be good for the democratic participation of such individuals.

Coming Monday - the Socialists.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Axelrod Makes the Rounds This Morning

Chief strategist to Barack Obama and incoming Senior Advisor David Axelrod visited three Sunday Morning talk shows today to comment on the new administration.

On ABC's "This Week" Axelrod told host George Stephanopoulos that the new Cabinet will not be "potted plants", emphasizing that prospective Cabinet members – including Sen. Hillary Clinton – will make strong partners in governance as evident by their capacity to form their own opinions.

Then on Fox News Sunday, Axelrod said that he will not emulate the former presidential Senior Advisor Karl Rove. "My role with Barack Obama for the last six years has been to help the communications operation impart his message… I'm not trying to rebuild the Democratic Party" – a stark contrast from the focus Rove put on strengthening conservative Republican success across the country, and at every level of government.

The Change We Sought

Although it has been less than a month since the Election, the Obama Team does seem committed to the very same message they put forth throughout the campaign.

Not only have they made an effort to nominate thoughtful and opinioned people to the Cabinet, but Obama will likely nominate Hillary Clinton (a former rival especially on foreign affairs), and keep Robert Gates (a Republican Secretary of Defense). The only cabinet member Bush differed with was Colin Powell, who was pressured out of the administration (to "spend more time with his family").

And if Axelrod is telling the truth, there will be a dramatic change in what the Senior Advisor job entails. Obama originally said he would eliminate the Rove position from the White House – and for all practical purposes, it is exactly what he is doing.