What Rand Paul and Sharron Angle Have in Common: A Far-Right "Biblical Law" Political Party
It could be the most important political party you've barely heard of -- the Constitution Party, a far-right party that combines the sort of quasi-libertarian ideology spouted by Ron Paul with a Christian Reconstructionist bent for the biblical law of the Book of Leviticus (you know, the law that mandates death by stoning for practitioners of gay sex and adultery). But when it comes to Constitution Party street cred, Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Nevada's U.S. Senate seat, seems to have Paul, and his son, Rand (the GOP's nominee for Kentucky's Senate seat) beat. Angle, reports TPM's Justin Elliott, spent six years as a member of Nevada's Independent American Party, the state's Constitution Party affiliate. When Tea Party favorite Rand Paul defeated the establishment Republican candidate to win the nomination for the Kentucky Senate seat being vacated by Jim Bunning, AlterNet reported the Paul family's ties to the Constitution Party, whose founder, Howard Phillips, keynoted the elder Paul's 2008 Minneapolis rally celebrating his quixotic presidential bid. Then Bruce Wilson revealed that Paul the younger keynoted a convention of the Minnesota state chapter of the Constitution Party. Now along comes Angle, who, from 1992 - 1998, according to IAP members, belonged to their party until her decision to run for political office made it more expedient to become a Republican. If the name of the Constitution Party sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps you recall the dust kicked up when, during the presidential campaign Todd Palin was revealed to have belonged, for seven years, to the Alaska Independence Party, that state's Constitution Party affiliate. If the Tea Party could be said to have a founding father, I'd name him as Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips. Deeply influenced by the Christian Reconstructionist theology of Rousas John Rushdoony, Phillips not only helped found the religious right, but created a political party that has served as a haven for such figures as Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and neo-militia leader Matthew Trewhella. (Founded in 1992 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, the organization adopted the name "Constitution Party" in 1999.) Phillips also chairs the Conservative Caucus, a political organization that served, during the presidential campaign, as a virtual clearinghouse for anti-Obama messaging -- the very messaging that would find itself amplified by the Tea Party movement. It was from Phillips' shop that I first heard the trope about Barack Obama's birth certificate, and heard tales of the future president's socialist past. The Caucus works closely with the John Birch Society, and has featured Ron Paul as a speaker at several of its events. It is a tireless crusader against something called the North American Union, which it claims nefarious forces are trying to create after the model of the European Union. With the nominations of Angle and Paul to GOP tickets, Phillips -- a former Republican who worked in the Nixon White House -- is closer than ever to seeing his ideology injected into one of the nation's two major parties. For a taste of that ideology, here's a snippet of the preamble to the Constitution Party's platform:
The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. [...] The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.For more on Sharron Angle and the Constitution Party, check out Julie Ingersoll's post at Religion Dispatches.