Editor’s note: This is the second in a five-part WorldNetDaily
series running all this week on those third-party presidential
candidates that will appear on most states’ ballots Nov. 7. They are:
Harry Browne, Patrick Buchanan, John Hagelin, Ralph Nader and Howard
Phillips. Today’s report profiles Constitution Party presidential
candidate Howard Phillips.
By Julie Foster
© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.
In California, it’s known as the American Independent Party. In
Missouri, it’s the U.S. Taxpayers Party, and in Arkansas, the
Conservative Party. But by whatever name, supporters of Howard Phillips
for president believe they are the party of America’s founding fathers.
Constitution Party founder and presidential candidate Howard
Officially recognized as the
Constitution Party’s presidential nominee, Phillips will appear on ballots in 42 states this November. He was first nominated in 1992 as the U.S. Taxpayer Party’s presidential candidate in the party’s inaugural convention and again in 1996. Then at the 1999 Labor Day weekend convention, delegates re-identified themselves as the “Constitution Party” and again nominated their founder. Now in his third presidential candidacy, Phillips explained his party’s philosophy.
“We have to have a vision of victory,” he said. “We have to have a plan of winning. Ours is very simple: It is to reduce the federal government to the powers delegated to it by the states and enumerated in the complete text of the Constitution.”
Asked to explain the differences between Constitutionalists and other political parties, the candidate said the differences can be boiled down to each party’s “source of authority.”
“Law is always the will of the sovereign, and there are only three choices as to wherein poses sovereignty. Either God is sovereign — that’s what the framers said; we were endowed by our ‘creator’ with certain inalienable rights — or the state is sovereign — that’s what Republicans and Democrats believe. It’s also what monarchists and fascists and socialists and Nazis and communists believe. With respect to Libertarians,” he continued, “they believe that man can do what’s right in his own eyes, and man is the highest authority — there is no higher power. And that leads us to different conclusions on issues. … On Buchanan, we have a key disagreement as well, and that is the liberty of conscience issue. Pat has succumbed to the temptation of taking welfare from politicians.”
Pat Buchanan, the Reform Party presidential nominee, qualified for and accepted $12.6 million in federal campaign matching funds for the 2000 presidential race. Phillips said he applauds Libertarian Harry Brown for not accepting federal money he qualified for in this election cycle.
“We have profound disagreements with all of the other parties, but we are wedded to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, and we believe that their plain text still governs,” he said.
Married with six children ranging in age from 13 to 34, Phillips left the GOP in 1974.
The Harvard graduate said he resigned as director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity under President Richard Nixon because the Republican chief executive did not veto funding for “great society” programs.
“I was in the belly of the beast. I know first-hand how government funds have been used [for] undermining Western civilization by dividing us according to class, race, gender, sexual orientation and those things. … I know how the system works. I’m the only person who ever tried to close down the agency which he headed. I presided over millions of dollars of expenditures — most of which was unconstitutional — which I tried to prevent from going forward,” said Phillips. “I think I’m the only person in there who has had a real plan for putting the country back on the constitutional track and knows how to do it,” he added.
Using abortion as an example, Phillips argued that the Republican Party does not fulfill its promises.
“The Republican Party, all the way back in 1980, promised to name pro-life judges, yet Ronald Reagan’s first Supreme Court nominee was Sandra Day O’Connor, who had been a leader of Planned Parenthood and had a consistent pro-abortion voting record when she was a member of the Arizona state Senate,” he noted. “So if you strip away the rhetoric, the Republican Party has no claim, in terms of positions pursued by its leadership, to be any different than the Democrats when it comes to fundamental principles.”
Gun control is another contentious issue for Phillips, who pointed to Republican support of the Brady Bill — passed in 1993 to impose waiting periods on the purchase of firearms.
“Up and down the line, Republicans are flying a false flag,” he continued. “They have forfeited any claim on conservative support — at least support from conservatives who read the score card and see how they vote. The main difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats would take us over the cliff at 80 miles an hour; the Republicans would stay within the speed limit — but we’re still heading over the cliff.”
Acknowledging that a third-party candidate will not be elected to the presidency this year, Phillips believes Americans should vote their consciences, and that by doing so, they will be choosing more than a president in November.
“I don’t consider myself a spoiler. What I tell people is that if you don’t vote for what you believe, you’ll never get what you want. I’m trying to win the election for your one vote and for the one vote everyone else can cast. Every vote that I get is a victory, and the more votes the party receives, the greater the opportunity we have to have an impact in the future. The real issue this year is not whether to support Gore or Bush, as opposed to any of the non-establishment candidates, because one of those two is going to win. The issue is which party, which force, will speak for conservatives, for Christians, for constitutionalists after the election. This is really a question about the future. It’s whether the Reform Party or the Constitution Party will have a claim on those who leave the GOP after this year.”
Chairman of the Conservative Caucus since 1974 — a non-partisan, grass-roots public policy advocacy group — Phillips predicted conservatives who remain in the Republican Party will be disappointed with Bush as president.
“Our party exists because it bears the standard of America’s founders,” he remarked. “And I think that in a couple of years, if Bush wins — and I do think it’s likely that he will — conservatives are going to discover they’ve had Clinton’s policies without Clinton. The only difference being that Bush has a trigger lock on his zipper, and Clinton never did.”
With that discontent will come a fast surge in the Constitution Party’s membership, Phillips explained, saying he sees “more and more people who are fed up with Republicans” as he travels around the country.
“I think it’s going to happen very suddenly, and I think it’s going to be during this decade that we’re to see the Republican Party replaced. And one of the reasons I’m working very hard, even as I’m aware that my ability to get votes this time is hampered by absence of media recognition, absence of money, presence of Buchanan, dislike of Clinton, etc., despite all those facts, every day, every week, I’m seeing the Constitution Party get stronger.”
In contrast to the Reform Party — which Phillips believes will fade away if Buchanan does meet the five percent vote threshold for federal money in the 2004 election — the Constitution Party “will continue to grow, because it’s more important than Howard Phillips — it’s more important than any particular election,” Phillips said. “These people (members of the Constitution Party) are not in this so they can be named ambassador to France or get political credit. … They’re just trying to protect their educational freedom. They’re Second Amendment people, they’re pro-lifers, they’re active Christians, people who are fed up with the IRS. They’re in this for a cause, and they’re going to be here when this is over.”
While the Constitution Party may be gaining momentum, a major obstacle to faster growth is ballot access — a common complaint among third-party candidates in general. Each of the 50 states has its own ballot access requirements, even for federal elections, making the process of qualifying for national elections extremely convoluted. Phillips will not be included on ballots in the District of Columbia, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.
Additionally, third-party candidates must compete for media attention. Mainstream media outlets are notorious for overlooking third parties.
“It’s worse this year than last year,” noted Phillips. The Virginia native said he is grateful for Internet media such as WorldNetDaily and other outlets, “which are fair.” Though the Constitution Party candidate participated in well-publicized debates in 1996, such as one hosted by Larry King on his CNN show, Phillips said he has been shut out this year.
At least one factor working in Phillips favor, however, is the Internet. Indeed, all the third-party candidates have extensive campaign websites in operation that outline their policy positions and proposals.
“A great many people have come to us through our
website,” Phillips remarked. “It’s very helpful. It’s making a big difference.”
Phillips plans to spend the remaining weeks leading up to Nov. 7, campaigning around the country. He expects to visit Tennessee, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Colorado before the end of October.
Read Part 1,
Meet Libertarian candidate Harry Browne.