by James N. Clymer
Constitution Party National Chairman
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT AND HEALING THE RIFT
The Constitution Party continues its unwavering stand on the life issue. The Constitution Party platform has not changed and reads in part "We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all unborn human beings, without exception. As to matters of rape and incest, it is unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father" and "The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God’s image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born."
On April 21, 2006, at a meeting of the Constitution Party National Committee (CPNC) in Tampa, Florida, a resolution was presented to revoke the status of the Nevada Independent American Party (IAP.) as an affiliate of the Constitution Party National Committee, The issue being voted on was whether the personal opinions of the duly elected state chairman of the IAP, Chris Hansen, opinions which allow for some extremely rare exceptions to the pro-life position, were grounds to disaffiliate the whole Nevada party.
The platform of the Independent American Party continues to be in full agreement with the platform of the National Party on the life issue. It stands clearly opposed to abortion and provides for no exceptions; in addition the IAP has adopted and approved the National Platform in its entirety. Chris Hansen’s exceptions position on the life issue is his personal view and not the official position of the party in Nevada.
The IAP, since its formation in the 1960’s, has been and remains a pro-life party. Many IAP leaders have long histories of work on the pro-life issue. On the state level they are the party that has been out in front fighting on the life issue. If South Dakota type legislation, which outlaws virtually all medical and surgical abortions in the state, is put on the table in Nevada, it will be Janine Hansen, long - time IAP leader and activist that I call to lead the charge to get it passed.
The Nevada IAP was one of the handful of independent state parties that originally banded together to form the national party for the purpose of advancing our platform and principles nationally and supporting a presidential candidate. Just as independent, sovereign states in the 1700’s came together to form the United States government with limited authority, the CP was formed by the state parties who limited the authority of the national organization. The relationship between the national party and its state affiliates is such that, no matter how much it might want to, the national party cannot dictate who the state chairman is or which candidates they put up for public office. The State Party organizations placed stringent limitations on National’s authority in the Party’s Constitution and Bylaws wherein it clearly states that the National Committee has no jurisdiction over the internal affairs of the state party organizations, which certainly includes the officers they elect to represent them.
National’s only recourse is the drastic step of disaffiliation, and those National Committee members who were present in Tampa made the difficult decision that the Nevada party has not violated its terms of affiliation. They did so because they realize it is not the Nevada Party’s policy to espouse an exceptions position on the life issue. That does not mean that those present voted to endorse the fact that the Nevada party continues to support Chris Hansen as chairman. Chris Hansen is running for Governor this year, and, needless to say, the Constitution Party National Committee will not be supporting him in any way.
On both sides of this issue are Godly people of conviction and principle. No one in Tampa voted in any way to weaken the Constitution Party’s pro-life stand, or in any way to support a compromise on the life issue. No one on either side is in favor of a "big tent" approach to party growth at the expense of principle. I know of no one who believes that the opinions of Chris Hansen are representative of the Constitution Party on the life issue, and I am dismayed that he has taken the bait in engaging in the tit-for-tat of religious insult.
There can be no denying that this issue is also horribly complicated by the fact that some of the most outspoken on the pro-disaffiliation side are in favor of a religious test, do not believe that Mormons have any place in the Constitution Party, and are using this as a vehicle to get rid of a state party that is largely Mormon. This is not something that is merely alleged; it is fully documented.
Religious tests have come up before. For example, several years ago a majority of the leadership of the CP in Illinois (the predecessor to the currently affiliated CP of Illinois) supported the exclusion of Catholics from leadership positions in the party or from membership positions altogether. At the 2004 National Convention of the Constitution Party in Valley Forge, there were platform amendment proposals submitted proposing a religious test for party membership. In both of these instances the CP rejected efforts to exclude certain religions from participating in the party.
The Constitution Party was founded as an organization for American patriots to join together to save our country. It was always understood that our membership would include people of disparate faiths. We welcome people to become members, to apply to their state parties to run as candidates, and to run for positions of party leadership because they support our platform and will work to "limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations".
One can debate the issue of whether a political party should have an exclusively Christian membership and what form of Christian would be allowed until the cows come home, but the fact remains that it is not part of the mission of the Constitution Party. References to the CP platform as a "covenant" in the purely religious sense, to not being able to be in "fellowship" with people of other faiths, and expressions of discontent at being "unequally yoked" have no place in this party and nothing in our founding or official pronouncements can be taken to indicate otherwise.
Anyone who feels they must be in religious "fellowship" with someone to work with them to achieve common political goals and to save our country should start another party made up of only his particular type of Christian. With such an attitude, Madison could never have worked with Franklin or Witherspoon with Jefferson. I am glad they were able to put aside differences of theology to give us the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Too many on the pro-disaffiliation side of this dispute were clearly not out to heal a rift, but to get rid of the Nevada party at all costs. Even before the meeting they were saying that if they didn’t get their way in Tampa, they would work to destroy the Constitution Party and encourage as many state party organizations as possible to leave. E-mails that were being sent all over the place were ill-considered, full of misinformation, and seemingly designed to stir up discord. Articles published since the meeting have been of that same ilk, and publishing the names of those who voted not to disaffiliate Nevada as being "pro-abortion” is shameful and disingenuous.
However, others on the pro-disaffiliation side had no knowledge of the other implications tied to the vote in Tampa. They had no desire to hurt the Constitution Party, and theirs was a vote solely of conscience and solely based on the life issue. Many of them will continue to work through the Constitution Party, and, while I wish it were not the case, some will choose to leave, but, I pray, continue to work alongside us. I also pray that as they see that the CPNC has not wavered and continues to stand by its pro-life principles, they will rejoin our efforts.
I am particularly saddened to now see Howard Phillips being pilloried. Howard was the founder of the Constitution Party and has made huge sacrifices to build the party, including when he ran three times as our presidential candidate. I have worked with Howard for many years, he has had a huge influence on me, and I have a very high regard for him. Howard’s patriotism has truly been a labor of love, and to see people turn on him so quickly is appalling. I shouldn’t need to say that he is not a man of compromise, and certainly not a man to compromise on the life issue. His record speaks for itself.
The Constitution Party National Committee has not changed its position on the life issue, and it has not abandoned its mission or its principles. I, for one, will continue to work alongside the many people on both sides of this issue who have paid the price in time, work, and money to save our country to the huge detriment of their material circumstances. These are people who have affected me and changed my thinking in profound ways and I know I walk the high-road because I serve alongside them.
I appeal to all of you to desist from recrimination, bind up our wounds, and continue together in the fight to save our country. The freedoms of future generations may very well hang in the balance.