13 July 2008

The Presidential Candidates: Chuck Baldwin

Some readers will give up on Baldwin as soon as I write that he is a Baptist pastor and radio talk-show host. If that doesn't do it, how about the fact that he was once chairman of the Florida branch of the Moral Majority? He was the vice-presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in 2004, and has moved up to the top spot this year, defeating the more famous Alan Keyes at the party's convention last April.

Baldwin is affiliated with a group called the "Black Regiment." They're named after patriotic clergymen during the American Revolution who "courageously preached the Biblical principles of liberty and independence." The ideal Black Regiment member is "a courageous pastor who knows what is going on and is not afraid to preach truth to power. Men who are not enamored with political correctness or political parties. Men who love America's Christian history and heritage. Men who support and defend the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Men who preach the Bible and are not owned by committees. Men who do not grovel before the wealthy and affluent. "

Like many hard-core conservatives, Baldwin is not a Bushie, and he abhors the neocons. In a recent column about Scott McClellan's book, he wrote: "The propensity of rulers to engage in war for personal, transient, or even adolescent purposes is exactly why America's Founding Fathers created a constitutional republic in this country. In America, the Constitution--not the President, Congress, or even the Supreme Court--is the Supreme Law of the land. Each branch of government is to remain separate from the other, and no branch is supposed to be able to run roughshod over the other. It is fidelity to constitutional government that forms the vanguard of our liberty, not to mention our safety. This is why our President and members of Congress take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. They are not sworn to uphold the will of party bosses or special interest groups, or even the whim of the people. They are required to uphold the Constitution.Sadly, America's civil magistrates (especially at the federal level) have been ignoring the Constitution for much of the 20th Century, and--for the most part--still ignore the Constitution today. And it has not mattered to a tinker's dam which party has been in power. Both major parties are equal opportunity violators of the Constitution."

It may even be unfair to call Baldwin a conservative. He wrote: "All this talk of "conservatism" or "liberalism" is--for the most part--nothing more than campaign rhetoric. It means absolutely nothing. No matter which party wins, the federal government continues to get bigger and more intrusive. American manufacturing jobs and industries continue to be outsourced overseas. Our military personnel continue to be used as the personal militia for the United Nations. Our borders remain open to illegal immigration. The creation of a North American Union marches forward. Construction for the NAFTA superhighway continues unabated. The tactics of the IRS get more and more egregious. Americans continue to work harder and longer for less return, while politicians and CEOs of multinational corporations get richer and more powerful.It just does not matter one whit which major party "wins." The American people, freedom, limited government, and the U.S. Constitution lose! "

Some of Baldwin's underlying concerns emerge here. Like many independents, he dreads the rise of a "New World Order" or "One World Order." He may strike some readers as the typical political paranoid, but the more I read the writings of people like Baldwin or Donald K. Allen, the more I think their real problem isn't so much a misperception of reality as a misattribution of blame. These people tend to see some malign intelligence behind everything acting self-interestedly. More likely something like the "iron law of oligarchy" is at work through which the increasingly complex interconnection of society appears increasingly to constrain both individuals' freedom of action and institutions' autonomy or sovereignty. To put it differently, these people haven't figured out the motive but they've definitely accumulated a lot of alarming evidence.

Baldwin himself wants to end the Iraq war quickly and revise our strategy for the War on Terror along lines suggested by Ron Paul. He wants to pull out of most of our foreign entanglements and close the borders. He also wants to drill the daylights out of any likely oil site while doing away with as many taxes as possible. Unlike other independents we've encountered so far, he doesn't even want to set up a sales tax. How we'll pay for national needs he doesn't say, but I bet he thinks there aren't as many needs as we think. For brevity's sake, I refer you to the nearest thing he has to a platform, this column.

As I wrote at the start, Baldwin's dogma is probably a deal-breaker for many readers if his taxophobia isn't. But he represents further evidence of Christian estrangement from the Republican party and the fanatic patriotism that Baldwin rightly equates with idolatry. If he and his party can remember that Jesus's kingdom is not of this world, and that Moses's laws need not rule us, they might have something to contribute to the larger debate down the line. For now, here's the link to Baldwin's site, which itself links to numerous speeches and video sermons, and a link to the Constitution Party website.

Addendum:YouTube has excerpts from Baldwin's acceptance speech at the Constitution convention. I picked this one to emphasize his worries about the "New World Order"

I understand why he feels that Washington is a greater threat than Baghdad or Tehran, but I'd be more impressed if he'd acknowledge that Wall Street is a comparable threat. That might take him out of his comfort zone, however.

No comments: