former US ambassador to the UN Social and Economic Council,
Secretary of State for International Organizations, the
charismatic Keyes is a spellbinding speaker whose ability
to ratchet up the emotional and intellectual level of Republican
rally-goers is legendary. Besides running for President in
1996, Keyes ran twice for the US Senate from his home state
of Maryland, and was a featured speaker at the 1992 Republican
National Convention. Newspaper reporters don’t know what to
make of him, and so they have been pretty much ignoring him
– up until now. After years of barnstorming the country, delivering
good old fashioned stem-winders that have even his critics
up and applauding – and being politely but firmly ignored
by the Republican Establishment and the mass media
Keyes may be on the verge of a major breakthrough. The vacuum
left by Buchanan’s departure from the GOP was soon filled
by Keyes. Hard-right conservatives who count themselves as
GOP loyalists and like charisma in a candidate found themselves
in the Keyes camp, and this is beginning to show up in the
polls: Keyes is now ten percent and climbing in Iowa. This
is up from second to last a few weeks ago, just above Orrin
Hatch, at two or three percent.
of this is due to Keyes’ stellar performance in the Republican
debates, in which polls reveal he managed to impress the majority
of the TV audience as the "most knowledgeable." Keyes would
stand out in any company: Compared to the dull disquisitions
of the dweebish Forbes and Gary Bauer’s priggish proclamations,
however, Keyes’ eloquent oratory has made him the focus of
conservative protest, the voice of rightwing dissent in the
GOP. Keyes, who wrote his Harvard Ph.D. thesis on Alexander
Hamilton and speaks six languages, underscored the Smirk’s
ignorance with his dazzling language and mastery of the issues.
Keyes Moment is upon us – but how long will it last? The
answer may surprise us all.
rise of a black conservative leader in the GOP is not something
that anyone expected not the national media and especially
not the GOP Establishment that has spent so much time convincing
itself it really does believe in "diversity." With
the Democrats launching a campaign designed to paint the party
of Abe Lincoln as the party of George
Lincoln Rockwell, one would think that the GOP establishment
would have been quick to glom on to Keyes, or a least engage
him in some way. Instead, they have virtually ignored him,
concentrating all their fire and attention on the threat from
their left in the media-driven McCain insurgency. They do
so at their peril. . . .
large crowds in Iowa, generating more excitement than
all of the other candidates put together, and igniting the
enthusiasm of grassroots conservatives. While his signature
issue is abortion, Keyes is far from being a single-issue
candidate. The abolition of the income tax, which he likens
to slavery, gets just as much if not more attention. An avid
critic of globalism, he disdains the UN, and insists on the
absolute primacy of American sovereignty, and goes even further:
recently observed that the bombing strategy against Yugoslavia
was designed to create a NATO protectorate in the Balkans,
and the Kosovo war was "a war to establish a not-yet-existent
global government" using "a strategy that is morally evil."
As the Kosovo war was dragging to its unseemly end, Keyes
declared in an unforgettable
piece for WorldNetDaily that:
kind of "victory" Bill Clinton claims, I think that the rest
of us ought to hang our heads in shame. The NATO campaign
has followed a strategy that we know to be wrong and deeply
immoral. The moral norms that as a decent and civilized people
we have worked to establish condemn a strategy that aims to
break and destroy the civilian people of a country in order
to achieve political objectives. The classic definition of
terrorism is the use of force against civilians in order to
get them to do your bidding as a result of the terror induced
in their hearts. And we have been practicing a strategy based
on just such a use of force."
– A LIBERTARIAN?
has been characterized by the national media as a social conservative:
they cannot see past the references to God, and the revivalist
tenor of his rhetoric, to realize that the guy is a libertarian
through and through. Of course, the only people who get called
"libertarian" these days are left-libertarian flakes like
Ventura, former Governor
William Weld, and Bill
Maher. But Keyes is far more libertarian than any of these
in the sense that he loves liberty, and not licentiousness.
His absolutist stance on abortion is perfectly
compatible with libertarian principles, granted the premise
of the anti-abortion movement that the fetus is the equivalent
of a living being.
ON BUCHANAN: A LIBERTARIAN CRITIQUE
the 1996 campaign, faced with the difficult task of following
Buchanan in a candidates’ forum in New Hampshire, Keyes
boldly challenged the audience and Buchanan by making
an argument that seems to me unanswerable. Pat has just given
one of his rip-roaring
"culture war" speeches, and the audience was really riled
up against the secular elites. It would have been hard for
anyone to top that, but Keyes waded fearlessly into the fray:
"Brace yourselves," he said, as soon as he got up on the stage,
"because this is the part some of you won’t want to hear."
Citing the history of America as the bastion of religious
tolerance, a refuge from Europe’s sectarian purges and persecution,
he lit into Buchanan:
if you understand that, then you understand something else.
I follow to this podium a man I greatly respect and admire.
But also a man who I believe is in the midst of committing
what could be a fatal mistake for the moral conservative
cause. . . . We cannot stand before the American people,
as I'm afraid Pat Buchanan just did, and tell them that the
great foundations of American life are the Bible and the
Constitution. He leaves something out. He leaves out that
great document which is the bridge between the Bible and the
Constitution. . . . That document is the Declaration
of Independence. The document that states the fundamental
premises of this nation's life, and which puts at the
heart of our national identity not the existence of rights,
but the existence of God. And which puts it
there, not as a matter of Christian faith, not as a matter
of Jewish faith, not as a matter of personal faith, but as
a matter of American faith: an American creed, an American
belief, that which unites us one and all on the common ground
of principle that makes us one nation, under God.
if we present our moral case leaving out that essential bridge,
we will not win, we will be defeated. We will not serve
the cause of right, but we could very well at this critical
moment lead it to a defeat that will mean, quite frankly,
the end of our Republic. That is that is how profound
this moment is, how deep and serious is the moment you and
I are facing."
was beating a bit of a straw horse here, as I am sure that
Buchanan would disagree with none of this; nevertheless, Keyes
made an important tactical point perhaps overlooked by Buchanan
at the time. In his critique of the dangers of appearing to
call for state intervention to impose morality and religion
on the pagan masses, Keyes was perhaps presaging Buchanan’s
later turn toward the more libertarian-oriented Reformers.
Which raises an intriguing point – will Keyes follow Buchanan
into the Reform Party?
WAY FOR KEYES?
rumors rife that the Smirk is about to anoint Elizabeth Dole
Todd Whitman to the Veep slot, the pro-life forces are
getting ready for a major assault on the party’s Eastern
Establishment – and Alan Keyes could be leading the charge.
Coming out of Iowa with a strong showing, and with a new visibility
in the media, Keyes may become the locus of rightwing dissent
in the GOP, such as it is. The question is: will he show up
at the Smirk’s coronation, and bend his knee to the hereditary
heir – or will he issue his own declaration of independence,
the announcement of his break with the GOP?
Keyes and Buchanan are so similar as to be virtually indistinguishable
on every issue, from Kosovo to gun control, from tax policy
to foreign policy and on down the line. They belong in the
same party because they are part of the same movement – the
movement to restore our old Republic and break the chains
of the Welfare-Warfare State. They would make a truly dynamic
duo, a dream ticket for noninterventionist conservatives and
other critics of Clinton’s criminal assault on Yugoslavia.
After the Bush people humiliate the Keyes activists by shutting
Keyes entirely out of any role at the Republican convention,
and as conservative
shills for Bush like Tucker Carlson sneer that "he’d make
such a terrific civics lecturer," Keyes and his grassroots
supporters will feel increasingly alienated from the GOP.
Will they stay and fight for the soul of the party, or join
Buchanan and his brigades and find a new home in the house
that Ross built?
Buchanan-Keyes ticket: now that is the biggest nightmare
of the Republican Establishment – and the Democrats wouldn’t
be too happy about it either. For both would eat into constituencies
previously monopolized by the "majors": blacks, union members,
the growing antiwar movement, as well as movement conservatives
previously wedded to the GOP. As the battle to be included
in the debates takes front and center, Keyes – who has
plenty of experience in dealing with debate organizers who
exclude non-"mainstream" candidates – will be a powerful
voice raised against this undemocratic attempt to control
the process. This will give the
Buchanan theme of malevolent elites more resonance and
bite: together Pat and Keyes would strike terror in the hearts
of the Establishment: both the left and the "respectable"
right would tremble at any prospect that these two could possibly
be included in the debates.
motivation in bolting the GOP and launching a third-party
bid for the White House is attacked
by the Republicans and their journalistic apologists as
a case of sour grapes, of personal vanity, of hubris. But
the fact is that Buchanan was motivated simply by the conviction
that no real difference remained between the two major parties,
and by the knowledge that he could keep his campaign going
and make sure that conservatives would have some voice in
the general election. The Keyes crusade is similarly motivated
to continue: Keyes has been campaigning, on and off, since
he first ran for Senate years ago, and is unlikely to stop
now. He has built up a personal following as well as a growing
national audience, and after the GOP convention they are going
to want to know what road to take. As to whether Keyes will
have the courage to take that final step and break with the
liberal Republican Establishment once and for all is an open
question – and an interesting one to contemplate.