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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it has been observed. And many
would agree. But what about integrity? Or principle? Aren’t those
qualities that are supposed to transcend the subjective? Aren’t they
supposed to be about truth — not about taste?

Well, folks, the world of politics turns it all upside down. Beauty
is in the hands of the TV makeup artist. And principles? They’re in the
eye of the guy or gal whose job it is to tell you how to behold
something. The media. When they decide something has integrity, they
paint a glorious and worthy picture. When they want you to think
something is cheap or self-serving, they give you that spin.

Here’s an example: In November, Reform Party presidential candidate
Pat Buchanan and I held a press conference where I endorsed his
campaign. Our message was straightforward and simple. We are at opposite
ends of the ideological spectrum. We agree on almost no social issues
and we acknowledge that neither of us would abandon our commitments on
these issues. But we share two important things in common. First, a
belief that the two party system is corrupt — controlled and perverted
by special interests and the drive toward unbridled globalization.
Second, that sweeping reform of the political process is the remedy and
that we would devote our joint energies to that common agenda.

Here are some of the descriptions of our alliance offered by the
media. “Strange bedfellows.” “Opportunistic.” “Weird.” “A Deal with the
Devil.” “Dangerous.” “Marriage of Convenience.” “Doing it for the
Money.” “Like the Hitler-Stalin Pact.” “Like Jack Kevorkian and Mother
Teresa.” And those are the ones they would print!

You might think from this aggressive and unflattering tirade that
cross-ideological partnerships for political reform were the absolute
“no-no” of Campaign 2000. But if you did, you’d be wrong.

While Pat Buchanan and I were busy assembling the elements of our
independent left/right pro-reform coalition — taking lots of hits from
the press and getting lots of encouragement from the public (including
many readers of WorldNetDaily), another cross-ideological coalition for
political reform was in the works. This one starred Republican John
McCain and Democrat Bill Bradley — who joined forces for a day to call
for an end to “soft money.”

In contrast to the bashing that Pat and I endured, this coupling was
greeted with the media equivalent of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from
Handel’s Messiah. The New York Times editorial writers, who called our
pro-reform partnership “nuts,” soberly praised McCain and Bradley. “This
marked the first time that two serious contenders from opposing parties
have come together to challenge the Washington establishment on so
fundamental a problem as the two parties’ joint dependence on special
interest money.” And further, “… their meeting has the potential of
expanding the base of voters who understand the corrupting influence of
special-interest money.”

Of course, the journalistic fine print notes that Bradley and McCain
were competing “for the independents and crossover voters that both of
them need in New Hampshire’s open primary.” But does that make them
“opportunistic”? No! It’s just dealing with the “hard political terms.”
Is it a “strange” or “weird” “marriage of convenience”? Not at all! It’s
Bradley and McCain joining forces “across a partisan and ideological
divide.”

All of this two-faced commentary just goes to show you. If you’re on
the two-party bandwagon, your criticism of the Washington establishment
is safe, because your principles only go so far. But if you’re an
independent and you cross the “ideological divide” to take on the
establishment, well,
that’s just plain “dangerous.”

After all, all McCain said he’d do is have the national Republican
Party refrain from spending “soft” money on his campaign, if he became
the nominee. State parties could (and would) continue to do so. All
Bradley said was if the Republican nominee did what McCain pledged, he
would do it, too. Al Gore chimed in that he’d also squash “soft”
spending if the GOP complied. George Bush, meanwhile, refused to take
the pledge. He’s worried about hurting the Republican Party. What
compassion!

Before we call in a team of granite carvers to get these four giants
of political principle emblazoned on a reform Mt. Rushmore, we should
remember that the inviolable principle that guides the Republican and
Democratic candidates is preserving the Republican and Democratic
parties. That’s a central reason that Bradley and McCain decided not to
run as independents, though both owe their popularity to presenting
themselves as “outsider” critics of the bipartisan establishment.

The Bradley/McCain sideshow will likely go the way of the Bill
Clinton/Newt Gingrich handshake, the bipartisan pledge to enact campaign
finance reform four years ago that went nowhere. But the
“Buchanan/Fulani” coalition is politically independent and is based on
the premise that you must be independent to have a real shot at reform.
This coalition, one of the new right/left populist coalitions breaking
through the deadly polarization of U.S. politics, allows the American
people to come together in our combined interests across ideological
lines. That’s the real beauty of independence.

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