National Chairman Sets Record Straight on Third-Party Discussions
Boulder, CO - Thursday, August 26, 2004
America First Party Chairman
Greetings Fellow Patriots,
At the very end of this e-mail you will find a press release issued by John Francis on behalf of the Clarion Call for Convergence Committee (CCCC) on Saturday, August 21. This message is a response to that press release. As part of this response, I have chosen to release the prepared statement from me to the CCCC, that they were kind enough to allow to be read at the August 14 meeting of the CCCC. The entire text of that statement appears in between this message and the CCCC press release referenced above.
First, let me say that I was and still am an advocate for America First Party participation at the meeting the CCCC was kind enough to host. I believe there is genuine value in like-minded individuals and organizations working together to advance common goals. I believe one way to advance that is for such groups and individuals to meet and converse.
It is for that reason that I appointed not one but two representatives to attend the meeting when it became apparent that I would be unable to attend the event myself. It is why I have had contact with my counterparts in other parties and groups long prior to the existence of the CCCC and will continue to in the future. I was encouraged by the reports I got back, both from my representatives and from my counterparts who participated--that real progress was made on the issue of working together.
However, on reading the CCCC press release, I am disappointed, and feel the need to take issue with several points that it makes. I am deeply saddened because the release seems to misrepresent the position of the America First Party, its representatives present, and the stated positions of representatives of other parties present.
I would also point out that while representatives from the other parties were contacted regarding the content of the press release prior to its release, nobody from the America First Party was so contacted, and the first we learned of the potential November 6 meeting mentioned in the press release was when we read the press release. Had we been shown the same courtesy shown the other attendees, I would hopefully not be writing this message. Had the meeting been reported honestly, there would be no need for this message.
Now, on to my comments regarding the CCCC press release.
First, it should be pointed out that the only people at the meeting who spoke favorably about merger during the meeting were the members of the CCCC. In my conversations with my counterparts since the meeting, none have spoken favorably about merger, although we have continued to discuss ways we can work together. More importantly, in my continued discussions with those who attended the meeting, nobody who actually represented a party at that meeting holds the view that the November 6 meeting will result in merger.
Second, contrary to the CCCC statement, my prepared statement makes no mention of the AFP resolution regarding relations with other parties and organizations. The resolution was discussed during the meeting, but it was not part of my statement to the CCCC. However, in an e-mail exchange with the CCCC in mid-June (2 months before the meeting in question) I did mention the existence of the resolution and provided them with a copy of it. It was in that e-mail I pointed out to the members of the CCCC that a resolution had been adopted unanimously by the America First National Committee on November 19, 2002, and that its text had been publicly available since then on our website. I also pointed out that Mr. Francis had not only voted for the resolution but had argued in favor of it during the debate. It was in these e-mail exchanges that I reported that no member of the National Committee had ever suggested that the resolution be rescinded--including Mr. Francis when he was chairman of the party.
While the statement does not mention the America First Party resolution (opposing merger but supporting cooperation with other parties on issues and candidates of common concern), it does encourage a free, open, and honest discussion of the issue of merger and the problems faced by third parties. It also makes concrete proposals for ways the parties can work together.
It has been reported to me by both the America First Party representatives to the meeting and by the representatives from other parties, that following the reading of this statement, there was spontaneous applause and the statement was well received by the other political parties present.
The entire statement is included below. While it is rather long, I urge you to read it. Doing so will give you a more accurate understanding of the position of the America First Party at this meeting.
Third, while Mr. Francis claims that he "literally sacrificed his position as America First Party National Chairman to become instrumental in the CCCC," this announcement comes as news to myself and the leadership of the America First Party. Mr. Francis's resignation letter made NO mention of the CCCC or the need for merger among the like-minded third parties. Instead, his letter referenced a 32-foot motor-home collecting dust in his driveway, seven elderly sisters he had not seen in over a year (6 of whom live within an hour's drive of his home), and a desire to spend more time publishing a Catholic oriented newsletter. Sadly for his now embraced cause, if he had truly wanted to push this issue, standing on the bully pulpit of the chairmanship of the America First Party would have afforded him a better platform--but he never mentioned it nor did he ever attempt to rescind the Party's resolution opposing merger.
Fourth, the comments attributed to Mr. Hey have not been reported accurately. As you will notice, they are not quotes in the release, but are instead slanderous mischaracterizations of what he did say.
For example, Mr. Hey did not say, (and I am quoting the press release here) "that the public is misinformed and ignorant." What he did say was, "Those who support unity for unity's sake, who don't have an understanding of political organization, and endorse ignoring substantial differences in ideology and strategy are misinformed and ignorant." These are very different statements. The second formulation potentially insults the members of the CCCC; the first insults the American people. Mr. Hey did not insult the American people.
Also, it should be noted that the vast majority of Mr. Hey's comments were explanations of the America First Party's strategy and expansion of the concrete ideas for how we can work together that were part of my statement to the body. He did cite novel theological views held by a particularly aggressive faction of the Constitution Party as a reason why people have been leaving that party and joining ours. This, however, was not one of his main points in the meeting. Unfortunately, the CCCC press release inaccurately states what he said and places far too much emphasis on this minor side note that he made.
Finally, it was Mr. Hey who noted that without Constitution Party participation, discussions regarding merger were largely moot. It is unfortunate that Mr. Clymer was unable to attend, though frankly I am not surprised that he did not attend, nor send a state chair or national committee member from Indiana or a neighboring state as substitute representative for the Constitution Party.
Part of my lack of surprise comes from Mr. Clymer's non-attendance at the America First Party's founding convention. He had been invited (with the America First Party paying for airfare, hotel, and food) and had accepted the invitation to observe our meeting and address our National Committee. We only found out he would not be attending after he was scheduled to arrive.
On the whole, the America First Party sees the actual meeting as it occurred as a success. We met face to face with members of several parties that we have been reaching out to and working with since the party's founding. I believe relationships have been strengthened and we look forward to continuing the work we started together long before the CCCC came into existence.
For the Cause of Putting America First,
AFP National Chair
1-866-SOS-USA1, Ext 4 (toll-free)
Blaming conspiracies is a cop-out. Doing so ignores the basic fact that conspiracies are hard to maintain, and that they could not succeed if the masses didn't let them. Never suspect conspiracy if incompetence, laziness, shortsighted greed, stupidity, or a combination thereof could achieve the same result.
AFP Statement to the CCCC
Members of the Clarion Call Committee, Fellow Party Leaders, and Other Attendees of this Gathering,
I apologize to you all for my inability to attend this meeting. I have a previous engagement, which prevents my attendance, a wedding being held in rural northern Vermont. As you know by now, I have asked John Pittman Hey and Maureen McHugh to attend this meeting in my place.
I would like to thank you for your attention during the reading of this statement. My hope is that this statement will help ensure a useful and successful meeting, and will, combined with the discussions that follow, aid in building an understanding between the participants.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Clarion Call for Convergence Committee for taking the time to put together this meeting. We should seek out any opportunity we can find to meet, converse, and find concrete ways to work together for the benefit of the American people. It is my hope that this meeting will serve this purpose well.
As we all know, there are a great many of our fellow citizens who are getting fed up with the Democrat and Republican parties. There are millions in each party who are beginning to wake up to the facts we all know so well.
1. Neither Party will fight to maintain the Constitution, only to maintain power
2. Neither Party will defend the unborn or our borders, they will only defend why they cannot
3. Neither Party will protect the free exercise of religion, they will only protect their corporate donors.
4. Neither Party will embrace our sovereignty, they will only embrace Kofi Annan
Any one at this table could go on in this vein for hours, and some of us have. I'm not going to waste your time by preaching to the choir. A basic truth is that we do agree on a large number of issues. But that alone will not guarantee this meeting is a success, nor that merger is possible or even desirable. It may be both of those things, but it takes more than agreement on most issues to make it so.
We should also not delude ourselves into thinking that the only reason that there are several parties sitting at this table is because we want it to be this way. We should not engage in the fantasy that if only we truly want to unite, we will and we will immediately become a force to reckon with. It is a nice delusion, but it bears little relation to reality.
If this meeting and this effort are to be a success, then we must be willing to ask the hard questions. We must be willing to understand the hard to accept truths; we must be honest with each other and ourselves.
There are millions of grassroots citizens who largely agree with us who are trapped in the Republican Party who are angry with their party's leadership and establishment. They realize they are being used and played, they realize the White House, the RNC and its affiliated campaign committees, and even the Republicans they have voted for are choosing to support RINOs over principled politicians. They know that they are promoting and voting for policies that they decried just a few years ago when a Democrat was President.
There are also millions of grassroots citizens in the Democrat Party, though clearly fewer, who largely agree with us who are trapped in that party, angry with a leadership that pays lip service to issues like trade, jobs, and sovereignty, while ignoring them on the moral issue. They are disgusted by the leftist tilt of the Democrats, and the rank partisanship that has their leaders denounce policies put forward by Bush that they applauded when proposed by Gore.
There are also millions who have left both parties, and are now either independents still involved in the process or have given up entirely.
We need to reach out to all these people, if we are to be a success, we must get these people to join with us, to support our candidates, and to leave the parties or cocoon that currently trap them and join with us.
The first question we must ask is, "Why haven't large numbers of these disgusted, disaffected, patriots joined our movement? Why haven't they joined our parties?"
After all, the American Party just celebrated its 35th anniversary, the Constitution Party its 12th, as has the US-IAP. And many of the state parties that make up these parties have existed since 1968 when they were founded to support the presidential campaign of George Wallace. Surely, with a principled message and all that time, these parties should be bigger. These parties should have millions of members and hundreds of elected officials.
But they don't. Answering the question "Why not?" is of prime importance. Sadly, if the answer is not as simple as merging the parties in this room. First, there aren't millions of members in our combined parties; there aren't even hundreds of thousands, there are tens of thousands at most--and we should be honest enough with each other, if not with the general public, to admit simple and obvious truths like 95% or more of the 300,000 California AIP registered voters do not know they are members of the Constitution Party and having 30 state party affiliates doesn't mean much if most don't even have at least one member for each congressional district in that state.
That leads to the second question I hope you will discuss, "If we come together, what strategy will be best for electoral victory?"
If we fail to win elections, we cannot govern. If we do not govern, then those who do now continue to do so, and we loose our precious Constitution, or sovereignty, all that we hold dear.
The answer to this question will unlock one of the basic differences between the America First Party and other third parties. Whether you look at the George Wallace's AIP, the Libertarian Party, Reform Party, the Green Party, the US Taxpayers/Constitution Party and many other smaller parties, they all have one thing in common. They have tried to build their parties around one personality or another. They have focused on the office of president or governor, or some other high office. They have tried to use a founding (or a recruited) personality or some wealthy party member to focus party building efforts, or to seek a quick fix.
The America First Party views these efforts as a waste of resources and efforts on several levels. First, the effort tends not to draw people interested in the party, its principles or platform, but rather the candidate or personality. When the campaign fades, so does the effort to build the party. Second, unless you have a self-financing candidate with tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars and a personality to gain a following, you won't get the ballot access and FEC recognition a campaign could draw under the right circumstances--like Perot in 1992 or Wallace in 1968 were able to accomplish. Third, the effort draws resources (money, time, energy, and people) away from efforts to support candidates who do have a chance to win. Finally, to the extent an impression is left on the American people, it is an impression of a loser party that cannot even affect an election and does back-flips if a candidate gets 3 to 5 percent.
The America First Party takes a different approach. We are trying to build the party from the grassroots up, focusing on elections we can win or affect. We are using the national party organization to promote and support local party building efforts, to marshal national resources to support local candidates, and to sustain these efforts between elections. The results have been as we have expected. In 2002, we ran candidates at the local, state legislative, and congressional levels. More than half of our candidates at each of those levels earned between 15 and 25 percent of the vote. In 2003, despite some disruptions and growing pains, we continued to gain members and interest. In 2004, these efforts continue to pay off, and we will be able to tell the public that 2/3rds of our candidates won their elections--more importantly, we have already begun to serve in elective office and to shape government for the better.
All of this is not to say that presidential politics is beyond the scope of our movement, just that no third party is truly ready, is truly able to mount a credible or effective campaign this year, and 2008 will be a longshot. Let's face it, running today a meaningful campaign with a real shot takes a tremendous amount of money ($100,000,000 minimum, and $500,000,000 to achieve parity with the Democrats and Republicans), and tens of thousands of near full time volunteers. If a party cannot support the candidate in that regard or the candidate cannot bring it himself, then the effort will not be successful by any definition except to stroke the ego of party members and possibly the candidate.
We must be realists and be rational in our approach. Time draws short for our Republic. We cannot afford one failed attempt at unattainable office after another and then honestly tell our children and our party members that we tried our best.
It is time we all came to understand that the effort needed to take back our country is not a short-term effort. There is no quick fix, and we cannot expect to undo 150 years of damage to our great nation and its Constitution in 2 or 4 or 8 years. We will need to take over all levels of government: local, state, and federal. We will need to be patient and focus resources--because our opponents have virtually unlimited financial resources, they have the media on their side, they have the myth entrenched in the public's mind that the only parties that matter are the Democrats and Republicans, that all other parties are spoilers at best, an irresponsibly wasted vote at worst, and that there are actual differences between the Donkey and the Elephant.
Now, many of you I am sure are saying, what about this year, what about Peroutka or Templin, or any of the other choices? Frankly, it doesn't matter. None of them have the resources to be anything other than a protest vote cast by a few voters, and without support in the legislative branch, there is little sustainable that can be accomplished.
I suspect that at the end of the day, the total third party vote for president will not amount to more than 3 percent of the total cast vote--and that includes Baranack, Nader, Peroutka, and the other 100 plus candidates who appear on the ballot of at least one state or are running as write-in candidates.
That said, I have met Michael Peroutka. I like Michael Peroutka personally. I like much of what he stands for. Indeed, I will likely vote for him, and our Rules Committee has put a rule proposal before the America First National Committee to allow the party to consider a presidential endorsement. However, I have no illusion that he could win or even intentionally affect the election.
And I am convinced that unless we show people we can govern and get members of our parties elected to public office, we must resign ourselves to being nothing more than lunatics shouting at the rain to make it stop.
The third question I hope you will consider is, "What is it really that keeps us apart? Why are there so many parties sitting around this table?" I hope you will take the time to seriously consider this question, not just around this table but even after you leave.
This is a question I cannot answer broadly with a sweeping generalization in a satisfactory manner, or even specifically for each one of the parties you each represent. I suspect the answer is complex and different for each. I have, in previous communications with many of you and with the CCCC on several occasions. As I have communicated my thoughts previously and as Mr. Hey and Mrs. McHugh are fully capable in expanding on this, I will give the short summary.
The America First Party was founded by people who had experience as members of the American, Constitution, Libertarian, Populist, American Independence, and Reform parties--in addition to the Republican and Democrat parties. After much deliberation, we concluded that it was necessary to form a new party for numerous reasons but it boiled down to this:
1) While we may agree in large part with the platforms of several of these parties, there were areas of disagreement that were of significant importance.
2) The approach taken by these parties was incompatible with the approach to party building, party structure, and electoral strategy we wanted to take after careful study of what has worked and what has failed going back to the founding of the Republic.
It was, and continues to be our hope that the approach we take and the platform we promote will continue to garner success and growth. To date, we are largely on track with the plans we devised back in March and April of 2002.
However, let me add this thought, as it was part of our discussions back in 2002 and continues in the forefront of my thoughts as I try to guide the AFP. If in 2014, after 12 years of pushing and fighting for this cause, the AFP does not have at least 1,000,000 registered voters, hundreds of elected officials, enough elected members of the House and Senate to deny both the Democrats and Republicans a natural majority and a similar situation in at least a dozen state houses, and have not achieved at least minor party status with the FEC by garnering 10 percent of the popular vote in the 2012 elections, then I will consider the AFP to be a colossal failure. These goals are lofty, but they are achievable and must be achieved by any party that wants to turn the country around.
This is a long-term operation; there are no quick fixes. We must act quickly, but politics is the art of the possible and we must recognize that we are fighting an entrenched system that cannot be obliterated overnight--in part because it largely exists in the psyche of the American people.
The final question I would ask you to consider is, "What can we do?"
Frankly, I am not sure of the answer to that. In all the discussions of merger, be they from the CCCC or from others at other times, nobody has yet raised the practical and legal aspects of merger.
For example, how do we legally accomplish it? In most states, it is not legal to transfer the membership of one party to another-each member must make the individual choice to quit one party and join the other. There is no mechanism for merging national party organizations under FEC regulations, federal election law, or the state level equivalent; there is no legal way to change party names and retain ballot access in most states. In short, merger as most think about it is a legal nightmare and would effectively amount to starting over again.
There is also the problem that merger is generally a very top-down operation. Even in the corporate world of publicly traded companies, there are few examples of shareholders going to management and pushing for merger from the individual level up. Most third parties are filled with individuals and as everyone at this table knows, getting them to support a single candidate, much less act together on an operation as complex as merger is akin to the problem of herding cats.
For now, I would recommend that the best we can or should hope for in the near term is to keep open real lines of communication, to find ways to work cooperatively, to build trust and inculcate in our memberships the notion that the enemy is not the other third party who agrees with us on most issues, it is the Democrats and Republicans who want to lay asunder the vision of our nation's Founding Fathers.
How do we do this? I would suggest three courses of action:
1) We should keep talking to one another.
2) We should encourage our state parties to act jointly with each other, to jointly sponsor issue and candidate forums, to work together on petition drives for ballot initiatives we jointly support as well as public events like protests, and should act in a like manner at the national level.
3) We should support and endorse each other's candidates when they are not in direct competition, and should seek to not have them compete for the same office when appropriate.
I thank you for your patience, understand, and attention. I know this was a long statement, but as I hope you understand, I have given these matters considerable thought. I hope that we can find ways to work together to put the interests of America and ALL the American people First. That is the goal of the America First Party. I know that is a goal we share as we will continue to fight for our common pro-Constitution, pro-Family, pro-Life, pro-Christian agenda, or as we put it in the America First Party...
Fighting for Faith, Family, and the Constitution to Put America First!
Sincerely and For the Cause of Putting America First,
National Chair, America First Party
CCCC Press Release
On Aug 21, 2004, at 7:48 AM, John Francis wrote:
Hear Ye! Here Ye!
This news release, we believe, will become national news. Not in the controlled media but every other way. In fact, we believe this is history in the making. I am asking you to post this to everyone on your list.
I am also asking all of you to say a prayer for the success of the Clarion Call to Converge Committee.
Subject: CCCC press release (email)
August 21, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Third Party Liaison
Clarion Call to Converge Committee
Clarion Call to Converge Committee
LIKE MINDED THIRD PARTIES DISCUSS MERGER
What could be an unprecedented meeting of it's kind, a group of citizens, who call themselves, Clarion Call to Converge Committee (CCCC), were successful at getting like-minded third party National Chairmen or designated National Committee Representatives to come to the table and discuss the feasibility of merging their parties.
The American Party, America First Party and the Independent American Party were in attendance. The Constitution Party Chairman, James Clymer, was unable to attend because of flight difficulties due to hurricane Charley.
Nevertheless, on Saturday, August 14, 2004, at the AmeriHost Hotel, in Plainfield, Indiana, near Indianapolis, the all-day Clarion Call Conference could be characterized as a step forward. According to Jeffery J. Cole, the MC of the conference, on behalf of CCCC, "We were able to share points of view that will lead to future talks toward the goal of merging."
The meeting started promptly at 9:00a.m. with an Invocation and a Pledge of Allegiance. The first half of the meeting was mainly spent with members of the CCCC identifying the four cornerstones upon which a foundation of merging could commence: Pro-Christian, Pro-Family, Pro-Life, and Pro-Constitution on which all parties present were in agreement. Cole began the meeting by laying out the premise for the "urgent" need of a merger to take place.
Quoting Henry David Thoreau, Cole asserted, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." The Clarion Call Committee has been witness to hundreds and perhaps thousands of comments from citizens who are disenchanted with the two-party system. And the more politically astute of those citizens have asserted the question: 'Why doesn't the third party movement merge together?' It is a fair question," Cole says. "Based upon this, and the sense of urgency most of us feel, the slippery slope our nation is on sliding toward totalitarianism, does it not behoove those...who hear the Godly call toward Liberty, to mobilize the sentiment in uniting our endeavors? Or, will we fall prey with those who are merely hacking at the branches of evil?" Cole declared that if the third party movement is to "strike at the root with real impact," the parties must unite if they expect to become a viable party to contend with the Democrats and the Republicans.
Once the premise had been laid down for the third party representatives to consider, John Francis, who literally sacrificed his position as America First Party National Chairman to become instrumental in the CCCC, issued the "Clarion Call" to converge. Francis told the Representatives of the Parties that "We need a strong third party. We don't want the death of your parties, but the explosion of your ranks!"
Bob Solomon, the CCCC Chairman, pointed out that the objective of the meeting was to determine if a consensus to merge could be reached by the end of the day. Solomon commented, "You can stay divided and lose all your parties to a one-world government, or join together and make us a viable force against the political system that is ignoring our Constitution and leading us into a one-world government." Solomon commented that he did not land on Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion of World War II just to see our politicians of today give our country away to a one-world government.
After the Clarion Call had been issued, the Party Representatives were invited to comment on their standing at that point, to identify common ground and work out any differences in regards to merging.
Bruce Bangerter, Chairman of the Independent American Party, commented that "we must set aside party in favor of our country". He went on to say "Of the like minded parties if one was truly viable others would merge into it. We need to become viable somewhere."
Douglas Joy with the American Party quoted past party chairman Tom Anderson of Tennessee as saying, "If we do have a true two-party system the Democrats and Republicans are certainly one of them!" He further added, "We must stop this socialist toboggan somehow. We MUST! Thank you to the Clarion Call Committee and I look forward to participating in the meeting as we consider the next step."
Robert Boyd also representing the American Party said that our nation's founding fathers were interested in the personal character of candidates and not in political parties.
Maureen McHugh National Committeewoman from Illinois and former national officer of AFP read a prepared statement from Dan Charles the National Chair of the American First Party in which he stated that the AFP has a resolution in place to not merge with any other party.
The CCCC felt that was unfortunate but resolutions can be rescinded.
John Hey of AFP mentioned that the public is misinformed and ignorant. He also discussed his four categories of impediments to converging and number one would be that particular religious biases would be preventing various factions from coming together.
Of those present, the majority was pleased with the progress made and are looking forward to another conference planned for November 6, 2004 in St Louis regarding merging into a powerful third party.
If you are a member of a third party and would like to see your party become involved please contact your party Chairman and ask him or her to call 1-877-448-6417 and ask for John Francis.
The Clarion Call Committee to Converge encourages each reader of this press release to forward to their lists. The Committee desires maximum coverage to the likeminded public and thanks you for your effort.