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A Word From the Third Party
by Isabel Lyman
20 August 2000

Isabel Lyman LONG BEACH, Calif. - Stricken with Saturday night fever, a ready-to-boogie crowd packed an auditorium in southern California. A Rage Against the Machine concert? Nah. Rather, a throng of convention-goers awaited the arrival of Patrick J. Buchanan, nominee of the Reform Party for the office of president of the United States. A guy who really knows how to rage against the political machine.

For the delegates who had labored to get Buchanan on the ballot in their states, and traveled many miles to convene in the oceanfront city of Long Beach, it was the moment to celebrate.

At this “by the people” convention, there were no invitations extended to Playboy mansion fund-raisers or shallow politicians promising to “leave no child behind.“

The near-celebrities consisted of Illinois delegate John Schlafly (Phyllis' son) and Virginia delegate Brian Buchanan (Pat's brother). Comic relief came from a Jesse Ventura look-alike and a splinter Reform Party convention occurring nearby. That gathering featured a presidential candidate named John Hagelin who practiced transcendental meditation and, ahem, thinks he can fly.

The Sooner State delegation included a Hispanic physician (Viva Buchanan?), two military veterans, a college student and a Catholic home schooling father. All pledged to Pat Buchanan.

Earlier, the Oklahomans had unanimously voted for the lively black woman that Buchanan had selected as his running mate - former Los Angeles public school teacher Ezola Foster.

One Edmond resident, elected as an alternate delegate to the Reform Party convention, was delighted with the history-making choice.

“I heard Ezola speak on education in Oklahoma City two years ago. She is good on conservative issues all the way down the line. If the people get a chance to hear all of the candidates, the Buchanan/Foster Reform Party ticket should do well,” noted Ron McWhirter

McWhirter was referring to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which had denied Buchanan (and Ralph Nader) a presence in the televised debates scheduled for October.

Rancher George W. Bush and Farmer Albert Gore Jr. should quake in their alpha-male boots if this most articulate of commentators wins the lawsuit he has filed against the commission.

Meanwhile, some political observers believe Buchanan will succeed in a Survivor-like contest - whose outcome is determined by the Federal Election Commission - that will decide whether he or the Maharishi Hagelin will receive the $12.5 million federal election funds that accompany the nomination.

Back at the convention hall, bagpipes preceded candidate Buchanan's arrival, while paparazzi trailed him. Earl Shaffer, a delegate from Oklahoma City, grinned and filmed as “Go Pat Go” passed by him. Upon mounting the podium, Buchanan accepted the nomination and cheers erupted.

Buchanan's fiery, funny and forthright acceptance speech was delivered in a no-pander zone.

The plight of citizens who live on the Texas-Mexico border, jobless steel workers in West Virginia and the right-to-life of unborn babies were remembered. Granted these “little guys” don't possess the cachet of rain forest activists or corporate donors, but that's precisely the point of a Buchanan candidacy. He is the one candidate who understands that the patriots of old shed blood fighting for the American cause, not for a globalist, New World Order.

Buchanan on military intervention: “Why did we bomb this little country (Serbia) for 78 days when it never threatened or attacked the United States? ... Serbia is smashed. Kosovo is destroyed. Russia has been driven into the arms of China; and American troops are tied down in a Balkan peninsula that has nothing to do with the vital interests of the United States.”

Buchanan on fair trade: “As for Communist China, we will no longer accept one-sided trade deals, where we buy 40 percent of their exports and they buy 1 percent of ours ... Either you stop this persecution of Christians, and these threats to our friends in Taiwan, and ratting missiles at the United States, or you fellows have sold your last pair of chopsticks in any mall in the United States of America.”

Buchanan on civil rights: “And when we get to the White House, all discrimination ends. No more racial profiling and no more racial preferences. Men and women will be advanced by the standards we use to choose our American Olympic team: merit, character, ability, and excellence alone.”

The Buchanan Brigades amassed in Long Beach loved the straight talk. Time will tell if the third party with the catchy slogan (“If you want reform, vote Reform”) is a sleeper.


This column was first published by the Edmond Sun on August 20, 2000.

Isabel Lyman holds a doctoral degree in Social Science and is author of the Cato Policy Analysis, “Homeschooling: Back to the Future?” A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She is currently completing a book, “The Homeschooling Revolution.” Ms. Lyman may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
Click here for an index of other Isabel Lyman columns.
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