November 1999 The Reform Party's overriding zeal to get someone... anyone, elected to public office has made them, ironically, even less discriminate than either the Democrats or the G.O.P. Consequently, the Party has afforded ideologues, demagogues, bored rich actors, bored rich businessmen, jealous journalists and others gobs of publicity without the nagging inconvenience of having to acknowledge, affirm, pursue, or uphold any of the Party's platform planks (a.k.a. economic, moral, and political values).
A brief rundown of some of the agendas of Reform Party candidates gives a closer look. Donald J. "The Donald" Trump always likes to be first, so let's begin with Patrick J. "Go Pat Go" Buchanan. The Pitchfork Prince reminds me of this kid I used to play ball with in grammar school. Whenever he wasn't allowed to arrange the teams just so, he'd take his ball and storm off the playground. And so it has come to pass for this life-long Nixon and Reagan Republican. All but assured that his party would ignore him for the third consecutive time, Buchanan jumped ship, bringing his brand of conservative populism to the Reform Party.
In all fairness, Buchanan's philosophy of "fair, not free" trade, and isolationist foreign policies, have more in common with Reform Party doctrine than with today's Republican Party. There are, however, nagging social inconsistencies that need to be addressed. Abortion, for example Buchanan, a Roman Catholic, is vehemently opposed. The Reform Party, which leans Libertarian (hands off) on social issues, is not. What's the big deal? Buchanan made the abortion question a central issue in each of his previous campaigns. In fact, take a visit to Buchanan's official campaign website and you'll learn that he plans to "stop the slaughter of American children" and educate the American public as to the "scientific fact that life begins at conception." The Reform Party shares Buchanan's passion on this issue to the tune of making no mention of it whatsoever.
Conversely, this non-position ought to suit Trump just fine... especially considering the rate at which he collects supermodel girlfriends. "My supermodel. Where is my supermodel?" he said as he introduced his latest trophy, Malania Genell, during his appearance November 18th, on CNBC and MSNBC's "Hardball," with Chris Mathews. Genell, by the way, said she'd be "honored" to be First Lady (no word, as yet, on any potential wedding plans). His social life aside, Trump may be the heir apparent to Perot: a successful, wealthy businessman looking for new heights from which to have his ego perched. Instead of contributing to this exercise by discussing his ridiculous tax plan, or his belief that Germany is once again out to conquer the world (though he concedes, economically), let's discuss the Reform Party's motivation behind their courting of Trump in the first place.
Where is my supermodel?|
In the little-read fine print of Reform Party candidate nomination law is a rule that permits anyone (in other words, anyone) in the United States that requests a ballot by phone or Internet to vote for the party's nominee. This neat little law, combined with Trump's mailing-list-in-waiting of 6.5 million hotel and casino customers, provides for pretty decent election machinery.
With his willingness to spend 100-million dollars of his own cash in the upcoming race, Trump has the potential to seriously improve (far more so than, say, Buchanan) the Party's 1996 showing of 8 percent of the vote, thereby increasing the Reform Party's share of federal matching funds.
This is significant because the battle for the nomination is not simply about who gets control over the 12-million dollars in federal matching election funds for the 2000 campaign, but about increasing the funds for the 2004 campaign. And party stalwarts, such as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, are already looking ahead to 2004. In fact, 2004 happens to be the presidential race of choice for Governor Ventura, the Party's highest-ranking elected official.
What part does Oprah Winfrey play in this farce? None, as far as anyone can tell. Except for the fact that The Donald has appointed her as his first choice for vice-presidential running mate, and that Reform Party members in Minnesota have started a "Draft Oprah Winfrey for President" campaign; Winfrey's name had yet to be mentioned in a political discussion this century. Politics1.com, a website that provides political coverage and website links, acknowledges that its only reason for listing Winfrey in the list of Reform Party candidates is that "people are still boosting her candidacy" despite her repeated statements reiterating her
desire to stay clear of politics. Nevertheless, check out the "Draft Oprah" website and you'll learn that Reform Party members are extremely excited about the TV talk show host because they believe (and I quote), "...she can WIN!" They don't highlight her proposed domestic agenda, nor do they feature her opinions on foreign policy. I suspect that, like other ordinary citizens NOT interested in seeking public office, she hasn't formulated them. Regardless, the site prominently (and proudly) features an October 11th ABC "Nightline" poll showing Winfrey with 18% voter support among current Reform Party candidates. I suppose the party faithful are hoping Winfrey can do for their obscure existence what she's done for unknown books via her "Book of the Month" club.
Our steel-hearted leader|| |
Such is the continuing saga of Reform Party politics. Unfortunate, considering the principals upon which the movement was founded. More unfortunate, considering this wacky political organization operates under the guise of political reformation. Let's be frank: a political party is supposed to encompass a focused philosophy of ideas. While the Democratic and Republican parties have increasingly converged philosophically, you can still depend on them to work towards somewhat divergent legislation. The Democrats, for example, still try to confiscate the fruits of your
success via taxes. The Republicans, on the other hand, still do their best to tarnish the image of President Clinton. Contrary to their own propaganda, the Reform Party members appear to have coalesced for no other reason than that of getting elected. Ironic, considering their distaste for such politics was a major impetus for their founding in the first place. Party officials can argue this point till, as Perot might say, the cows come home. But, until the party drafts a slate of candidates who differ on how to accomplish a common set of goals, rather than differing on the goals themselves, they'll be nothing more than the political version of "The Jerry Springer Show": a reason for losers and idiots to get TV air time.
Related article - Presidential Denial: Examination of the hot celebrity trend of not running for president (Warren Beatty, Donald Trump) and speculation on possible upcoming announcements of others not running for president. (Feb. 2000)
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