Third Party Debates: 1988 Forum

I found this after I’d written my analyses of the other third party debates even though it’s chronologically first. It’s not a debate so much as giving three third party candidates a podium for awhile to talk. I included it in this series anyway.

This has a Libertarian, Socialist and some other party I’d never heard of called the “New Alliance” Party. It seems this isn’t a debate so much as a joint speech with each candidate taking 20-odd minutes to lay out their policies, and then they take questions from the audience. Ron Paul is the Libertarian candidate here, so fans of his will want to check this out and see him in his prime.

We have Willa Kenoyer for the Socialist Party, possibly the first female nominee of a national party in the modern era. We come in abruptly on her statement. Something I’m noticing a lot with these Socialists is they always quote their predecessors, especially Debs. Nothing against Debs, he’s one of my favorite American political figures, but why not write your own words that others will quote? The way they rely so much on past, better speakers is a significant flaw in the modern Socialist movement in America in my opinion. It’s just as annoying as the Right’s obsession with name-dropping Reagan. It’s a pretty bad speech, in my opinion. Somewhat meandering, lot of awkward pauses, not a lot of charisma. I do like her going after Dukakis who was a right-wing joke, though. This speech is supposed to summarize her party’s platform and convince people to vote for her, and I don’t think it accomplishes that AT ALL. Even for me as an unapologetic leftist, I’m not excited or fired up after listening.

The Socialists are letting me down just as bad as the Democrats, honestly, but for different reasons. The Democrats continue to run centrists at best/center-right neocons at worst, who pay some token lip service to the Left and then uphold the military industrial complex, corporate oligarchy and surveillance state in office. The Socialists continue to run boring, old, slow, tired geezers who suck at engendering excitement. They’re nice people with good policy ideas, but they suck at communicating that.

Ron Paul is a breath of fresh air after Willa’s boring, deadpan delivery. He has a simple country charm about his manner of speaking, and opens up with a joke. The way he talks, it’s like he’s talking to the crowd as people, not talking to the camera to list through a bunch of bullet points. He also makes a good point about the founding fathers, especially Jefferson, being Libertarians. As I’ve said before, I think that America has slowly but surely climbed the y-axis during the course of its history, towards authoritarianism, as laws have compounded on one another and government has gotten bigger. I like what Paul says about government existing purely to protect people and their liberty too. This is the best description of Libertarian ideology I’ve yet to hear from one of their own candidates. It’s the simplest, most truthful, and most attractive to the left and right. As a left-libertarian I would agree with this definition, and specifically how he quotes the Declaration of Independence.

He also comes out against the FED and income tax, which all the other Libertarian candidates have done. I would also support this. I think the income tax and FED are unconstitutional, and the FED is also a nefarious takeover of our entire money supply by private bankers. Paul even comes out in favor of “privacy” with regard for sexual activity and drug usage—much respect. That was probably the best way he could have emphasized those left-appealing aspects of libertarianism without coming out as pro-gay/weed and shooting himself in the foot (remember, 1988 was a different time). He even comes out against the ridiculousness of a draft at 18 when you can’t even drink beer until 21.

Honestly, it’s a great great speech by Ron Paul. I can now officially say, he was the greatest candidate and spokesperson the Libertarians have ever had. In both 1988 and 2008 he was an amazingly effective speaker for the cause. Unfortunately, from the Republican debate I saw in 2012 (and it’s possible that was an outlier) he kinda sold out at the end to a lot of typical, authoritarian GOP talking points. It’s just a shame that he ran during the worst possible time here in ’88, before the internet or even 24 hour news really took off. He was doomed to obscurity in the ’80s by virtue of being in a third party, but had he been this age in the ’90s or ’00s I think he would’ve gotten the Libertarians to 5% and possibly even to 15%.

I say again, if the Right-wing and GOP in particular want to rebrand away from “the people that shit on women and minorities” then they need to embrace the Paul faction of their own party ASAP. It’s going to be rough at first. They’ll probably alienate a lot of the Trumpists and Social Conservatives. But it needs to happen. Otherwise, they’re doomed to lose long-term as gays become even more accepted, Latinos become the dominant ethnicity and the Boomers die off. Think of it as growing pains.

Anyway, for the final speaker we have Lenora Fulani, possibly the first black woman Presidential nominee in the modern era. I think she does herself a disservice to phrase her campaign as “fighting for the black agenda.” Right there you’re literally alienating 87% of the population. Don’t get me wrong, the black population, then and now, gets thrown under the bus and deserves better. But how do you expect to win over the rest of the country, since you literally cannot get elected without them? She references Jackson and frames her run as both a protest against the way he was treated by the DNC and taking on his cause if the Democrats don’t nominate him.

I like Fulani’s oration skills. She’s very passionate and forceful in this speech and even though her campaign is focused on a portion of the population which doesn’t include me, and is doomed to fail by zooming in on a minority, I’m excited just listening. I don’t blame her for wanting to defeat the Democratic Party either—if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year in my exhaustive research, it’s that after RFK died and McGovern was thrown under the bus by his own party, the Democrats haven’t been Left-wing in any meaningful sense of the word. They don’t give a damn about left-wing economics, they constantly belittle their idealistic voters and take their progressive wing for granted in their sprint to the right. Aside from McGovern and Jackson, they never gave a damn about the LGBT community until it was convenient (and I’m perpetually annoyed seeing my friends in the community act like even post-2012 token lip service was some great act of compassion and bravery from Obama and Hillary.) I love Fulani’s call to arms: “Dump the Duke.” (Seriously, it’s impossible to overstate what a bad candidate Dukakis was, both ideologically and in terms of campaign strategy.)

I’m surprised, but it turns out the weakest candidate here by far was the Socialist. Ron and Lenora absolutely blew her out of the water with their speeches. I already knew about Ron Paul obviously, but this just increased my respect for him. I’d never heard of Lenora or the New Alliance Party before, but now I will be sure to check her and the party out. As if to accentuate how irrelevant and forgettable she was, Willa doesn’t even take part in the Q&A at the end. (I wonder what the real life reason for that was.)

1 Comment

  1. Hi Cassandra I particularly enjoyed this post, because it included the only politician in my life time that I truly supported and who in my opinion was the greatest 0f the 20th century, Ron Paul. He would have made so much of a better president than any president of the others of the 20th century. I’m almost certain I wrote his name in when I voted that year. Beside him Bush and Dukakis looked like pigmies. I also liked your take on the other candidates. I enjoyed watching this debate. I agree with you that Willa, the socialist, was the weakest. Seems to me Ron Paul effectively destroyed most of her arguments it his explanation of human rights. I found it interesting that she and Ron Paul agreed that the Democrats and Republicans at that time were basically the same. I still feel that way although I know you see big differences. It seems to me that at least during most of the primary season this year the Democrats were leaning toward the same ideas Willa was championing back then, but those ideas were too different from that of the mainstream big government crony capitalism mainstream of our single Democrat Republican party. I would like to see a real choice between Ideas like Willa’s and Libertarianism. Parties to represent the people instead of just the rich and special interests. Your comments about Fulani were also valuable insights. I want to than you for discovering this debate. It was good to here the great speech by Ron Paul again. He was never a dynamic speaker but he is able to present the ideas of libertarianism very clearly. As you know from our political discussions my own personal views are just about identical with those of Ron Paul.

    Once again a good job of political analysis on your part. Thanks for all the work you have obviously done in putting these posts together. It is a pleasure to read them.

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