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Now that I’ve become a somewhat famous political person, a lot of
folks are wondering where all the sensationalistic criticisms of me are
coming from. The answer is they come straight from the left — from the
guardians of official progressivism. If you want to understand these
attacks, you need to know a little bit about what’s been going on with
the American left — particularly what could be termed the fringe left
–for the last 30 years.

One place to start is with an article which attacks me in a recent
edition of “Black World Today” by a little-known African American
academic, Ron Daniels. Daniels, a political science professor, is one of
those out-of-the-mainstream-leftists who pays lip service to the need
for an independent party — in his case a black independent party — but
who do little or nothing to create one. Here’s the background.

The independent party movement, pre-Perot, existed primarily on the
left and right fringes of electoral politics. One case in point was the
left-wing California Peace and Freedom Party, which first acquired
ballot status in 1967 at the height of the 1960s unrest. Since its
heyday, when white anti-war students and Black Panther Party activists
joined together by the tens of thousands to create an anti-establishment
left/black coalition in electoral politics (it was this coalition that
attempted to persuade Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to run for president as
an independent before he was assassinated), Peace and Freedom had fallen
on hard times. It had become a veritable swamp for fringy white
left-wing sectarians to conduct impotent yet vicious political fights
with one another. Its black constituency was long gone, having made its
peace with the Democratic Party in 1972.

In 1988, when I ran for president for the first time, I sought the
Peace and Freedom Party line in California and competed in its
preferential primary. I won, polling 36 percent of the vote in a
five-way race. My campaign focused on bringing African Americans and
Latinos into the party, in search of a revitalization of Peace and
Freedom. I was committed to building an independent political movement
where black and Latino Americans could be well represented and could
have a genuine alternative to the Democratic Party. However, the state
convention — dominated by sectarians “left over” from the 1960s and
1970s battles between communists, socialists, Trotskyists, Stalinists
and the whole hodgepodge of characters who made up the fringe left-wing
universe — voted to reject the results of the presidential primary,
which split the party, leaving it without a presidential candidate. The
leftists of Peace and Freedom preferred to be without a presidential
contender than to let the membership, numbers of whom were now black and
Hispanic due to my efforts, nominate a candidate who was not a part of
their anointed hierarchy and who was working to create a new
progressivism that could connect to the mainstream.

I still managed to get on the ballot in California, completing my
50-state ballot drive and polled almost a quarter of a million votes
nationally, three times the number of votes of all the other left
independent candidates combined.

By 1992, I was running for president for a second time. I sought the
California Peace and Freedom Party nomination again. Ross Perot was
running for president, too, and the two-party system was about to come
face to face with his formidable independent challenge. In liberal and
progressive political circles there was feverish concern about the
presidential election. Rev. Jesse Jackson had run twice — in 1984 and
in 1988 — raising and then dashing the hopes of black and progressive
Americans that our political power could be expanded through the
Democratic Party. But in 1992 Jackson did not run for a third time;
instead progressives — including African Americans — were being primed
to support Bill Clinton, who cut his teeth in national politics by
playing the race card. He seized an opportunity to publicly upbraid
Jackson to demonstrate that he wasn’t sympathetic to black and liberal
concerns. This was part of Clinton’s strategy to win Reagan Democrats
back into the fold. Black and progressive leaders, who had given the
Democratic Party a political “blank check,” had to figure out how to
make Clinton “fly” for their constituents.

Mainstream liberals figured they’d have no problem because their
constituents would still feel they had nowhere else to go. But, the left
establishment (i.e. the old left) was worried that ordinary progressives
and blacks might defect to independent politics. When I threw my hat
into the ring again in 1992, the old left needed a candidate to face me
down. What better choice than Jesse Jackson’s former deputy campaign
manager, Ron Daniels, to run as the “official progressive” presidential
candidate, but under “black cover.”

Daniels puttered around the country, getting on the ballot in only 10
states, and wheeling out every piece of trash the old left had
manufactured against me for 15 years, announcing that his goal was to
destroy me. (For an insightful background piece on some of these
attacks, see Justin Raimondo’s recent
Antiwar.com piece, “Fulani, Buchanan and the
Smear Machine.”) But nowhere was the confrontation between Daniels, the
black puppet of the white fringe left and me, the black progressive
trying to bring minority voters into the nascent independent movement,
sharper than in the 1992 California Peace and Freedom Party primary.

This contest was a three-way between Daniels, myself and a Latina
woman whom Daniels’ supporters had recruited to siphon off Hispanic and
female voters from me. In spite of his vicious cult-baiting, attempts to
hijack the party and other forms of political garbage, I won the
three-way preferential primary with 51 percent. Daniels polled 32.5
percent and the “planted” candidate 16 percent. Many of my voters came
from the black and Latino registrant base — which had continued to grow
since 1988 — and from white progressives who wanted the party to be
more relevant.

But Daniels and his ultra-left political allies weren’t done. They
once again mobilized support at the state convention to reject the
wishes of the membership and gave Daniels the Peace and Freedom line.
Once again, these left leaders preferred to disempower the rank and file
to pursue their own narrow goals. When the Perot movement hit it big,
and 20 million Americans went independent, I was able to take my
networks and followers into a new coalition with Perot voters. Peace and
Freedom, its fringy ideologues and Ron Daniels were all left behind in
the sectarian dust.

Now, Ron Daniels has set out to deride me again. This time he is
incensed at my endorsement of Pat Buchanan. His commitment to explode a
nascent partnership between minority and progressive-minded white
independents “blossomed” into a pathetic effort to destroy a new
left-center-right coalition which has the potential to bring Americans
together across ideological, racial and political lines. His ammunition,
as always, is the left’s standard pack of lies about me, though he
masquerades as a black leader raising a black critique to protect black
America from a black “charlatan” like me.

Ironically, though Daniels has no real connection to the black
community, whereas I do. I am the co-executive producer of the All Stars
Talent Show Network, a major anti-violence program that serves over
20,000 inner city youth each year. I direct the Development School for
Youth, a leadership project which prepares young people for career and
educational opportunities while involving Wall Street and other business
professionals in their training. I have consistently outpolled other
black progressives in electoral contests like the 1985 New York race for
mayor where I beat the “old left” black independent 2 to 1 citywide and
8 to 1 in Harlem. I polled 21 percent of the vote against New York’s
sitting governor Mario Cuomo in a Democratic primary in 1994. I have
marched against police brutality and defended the families of victims of
racial violence so many times that it pains me to recount them. I sat in
at public schools in the poorest neighborhoods with parents protesting
the closing of schools in their districts.

Daniels on the other hand, is merely a black hatchet man for the
left. In truth, this latest (really old) attack by Daniels has little to
do with saving African Americans from anything. His posturing as the
“true black independent” — while actually building nothing — is
inseparable from keeping black American in its current political niche.
That’s inside the Democratic Party — a political party which, together
with the Republicans, has proven it has only the multi-national
corporate special interests at heart.

It’s really too bad about the old left. They once wanted to do
something good for America. But their pettiness and sectarianism got the
better of them.

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