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 Godís 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 Hansenís
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 1960ís, 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 1700ís 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 Nationalís authority in the Partyís 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.
Nationalís 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 Partyís 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 Partyís 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 didnít 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-abortionĒ 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. Howardís
patriotism has truly been a labor of love, and to see people
turn on him so quickly is appalling. I shouldnít 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
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.