A funeral service has been scheduled Monday for Howard Phillips, 72, who played a key role in the rise of conservative influence in the U.S. with his work to create the U.S. Constitution Party, later renamed The Constitution Party, and his role as its candidate for president in three elections.
“A warrior has fallen,” wrote Wallace Henley. “No, more than that – a prophet.”
Phillips died Saturday and visitation is scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna, Va., with the service at The Smith Center of McLean Bible Church the next day.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to make a donation to the Howard Phillips Scholarship Fund at Liberty University.
At the American Spectator, Aaron Goldstein reported Phillips “surprisingly” sought the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1978, finishing behind Paul Tsongas.
But that probably was the only time he stepped onto the left side of the field.
He was born in Boston, becoming involved quickly with the GOP, and became chairman of the Boston Republicans. He made a leap to the federal level in 1973, when President Richard Nixon appointed him to head the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.
There, however, came the first conflict with the establishment.
He resigned just months later because Nixon would not slash the programs of LBJ’s Great Society.
Phillips is known for his work to establish the Moral Majority that played a role in Ronald Reagan’s ascent to the Oval Office, and he later dedicated his time to the Constitution Party, for which he served as presidential candidate in 1992, 1996 and 2000.
Henley, a former White House aide, now is senior associate pastor at Houston’s 64,000-member Second Baptist Church and teaches worldview studies at Belhaven University.
He noted “Howie” … “Knew the Constitution is not a document enshrining dreamy platitudes and elastic clichés, but commitment to universal principles arising from Judeo-Christian values.”
“Howard Phillips knew well the dangers of Rightist extremes. Howie loathed racism and discrimination, and all the other cancers that frothed in bloodstreams ranging from Hitler to the Klan. As a Jew, he would have been hated by the soldiers of the rightist heresies,” Henley wrote.
“But Howie knew the secret current establishments work hard to keep hidden. Right-wing extremists are the ‘usual suspects,’ but the Left hides in the shadows, preaching ‘liberation’ and all the other savory promises to an increasingly gullible, unthinking public.”
He continued, “Howie was among the ‘usual suspects’ behind Hillary Clinton’s ‘vast right-wing conspiracy.’ But when did she last warn against a ‘vast conspiracy’ from the Left? The left-wing, for example, labors to keep the [abortion murder defendant Kermit] Gosnell horrors in the murky shadows, but forms a posse of celebrities and socialist academics to ferret out the right-wing extremists they are certain brought death in the heart of Boston.”
He continued, “I lived and worked in Nuremberg just 20 years after World War II, and traveled extensively in the old Soviet Bloc not long after the collapse of communism. I have seen outcomes of the pretensions of the extreme Left and the presumptions of the far Right. Maybe those of us who quest for a ‘better way’ chase the wind, but I don’t think so.”
John F. McManus at The New American recalled how Phillips and others, including McManus, worked against the North American Union.
“One of Howard’s most successful campaigns emerged from a luncheon meeting with this writer. When plans to merge Canada, the United States, and Mexico became known, he and I decided to form the Coalition To Block the North American Union. In a matter of days, three others joined with us to form the five-person leadership group: Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, [WND senior writer and] author Jerome Corsi, and American Policy Committee Leader Tom DeWeese. Phillips then gathered endorsements for this effort from scores of other conservatives. The partisans working for the merger have still not succeeded in forming their North American Union.”
Corsi said, “Howard Phillips was a true mentor to me in the conservative movement.”
He continued, “Our many conversations gave me an appreciation for Howard’s profound love of this country. With his ever gentle instruction, I came to a greater understanding of the principles of limited government and constitutional liberties that guided our Founding Fathers to create the American republic we are working so hard today to preserve. ”
Corsi said, “Howard’s conservatism stemmed from a profound religious conviction that a constitutional republic such as ours can only endure as long as the citizenry retains a belief in God. … I thank God that I was lucky enough not only to have met Howard, but that I was fortunate enough to be counted among those with whom he so generously shared his immense knowledge and wisdom.”
Phillips, who with his wife Peggy raised six children, also worked on the formation of the American Life League and was a founder of the Council for National Policy, an alternative to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Among the many awards with which he was honored was the Alumnus of Year by Young Americans for Freedom, which he helped found in 1960.
He suffered from Alzheimer’s in the last year or so.
Julie Ingersoll wrote in Religion Dispatches that, “It’s hard to overstate Phillips’ influence in the transformation of the more secular mid-century conservatism of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley into today’s religiously inflected conservatism.”
“Texas Representative Steve Stockman, R-Texas., recently known for his recent campaign bumper sticker ‘if babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted,’ tweeted Friday asking for prayers for Phillips and his family,” she wrote.
It also was reported Phillips clashed with Reagan over the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He explained that many don’t believe the positions of a Supreme Court nominee can be forecast.
“I respectfully disagree,” he said at the time. “In most cases, it’s very clear. I opposed the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor because it was very clear that she had a pro-abortion record in the Arizona State Senate and as a judge in Arizona. She was also allied with Planned Parenthood.”