At its national convention Saturday April 26 (2008) in Kansas City, the Constitution Party avoided permanent disaster by declining to nominate Alan Keyes for its Presidential candidate.
Losing this was a serious blow to Keyes, who left the Republican Party a couple weeks earlier, evidently with an eye on just this prize. His bitter colloquy to supporters after the vote was taken strongly suggests his exit will be as precipitate as his entrance. Grand opening; grand closing. Now the question is whether he will keep his hint of leaving politics for good, or, like a bent nickel, will he come back into circulation again, perhaps when one is least expecting it?
Keyes has been trying to get something going for 20 years now. His most recent embarrassment was “moving” to Illinois in 2004 to be the Republican opponent of a new Democrat Senatorial candidate named Barack Obama. Mostly though he has served as right-wing comic relief every few years, what with his fierce bug-eyed visage and withering philippics. Keyes’ biggest problem politically is, not his ideas, but his projection of irascible haughtiness. And this is more than just a false impression. Keyes makes no bones about his messianic view of his own role. In his loser’s speech, he likens the Constitution Party’s choice of someone other than himself as tantamount to rejecting God and embracing dictatorship and materialism. And using a borderline obscene analogy, he says he was, after joyful expectation, aborted at the last minute. You can listen to it here; it must be heard to be believed.
But it is not his arrogance that is worth taking the time to dissect. Pompous politicians are a dime a dozen on both the right and left. No, though he is down, Keyes’ viewpoint is shared by enough of the right wing — indeed, perhaps a majority in our day — that it may be worth taking the opportunity to make a few remarks about it.
Keyes has stated his professed foundational principle so often and so clearly that it cannot be missed. That principle is the clause “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. For Keyes, that phrase is normative and should define the foundational law of the US.
On this basis, Keyes praises Lincoln. Unbelievably, he approves of the bloodbath of the Civil War as an instrument that brought the foundational principle back into prominence (see minutes 41-47 in the Lofton interview linked to below).
Now, if the phrase “all men are created equal” were intended to mean what Keyes thinks it means, then it is clearly false. Clearly, all men are not born into an equal station in life, nor do demagogues have the right to go around killing people to rectify that imbalance. Eph 6:5, Prov 19:10.
But that is not what the Founders intended by the phrase anyhow. This should be obvious in view of the widespread slaveholding of many of the Founders. What the phrase actually means was explained by Dabney well over a century ago:
If by these celebrated propositions it was meant that there ever was, or could be, a government where all men enjoyed the same measure of privilege, then it is false. If it was meant that there ever was, or could be, a state of society in which all men could indulge their volitions to the same extent, and that, in every case, [to] the full extent, it is false; for natural and unavoidable differences of persons must ever prevent this. If it were meant that all men are naturally equal, then it would be false; for men are born with different bodily and mental powers, different moral qualities, and different inheritances of rights. If it was meant that every person enters life free from just control, it is false; for we all begin our existence rightfully subject, irrespective of our consent, to authority in family and State. Neither God nor nature makes it optional with us whether we will be subject to government. But if it be meant that all men are created equal in this sense, that all are children of a common heavenly Father, all common subjects of the law of equity expressed in the “Golden Rule,” each one as truly entitled to possess the set of rights justly appropriate to him, (and by the same reason,) as any other is entitled to his set of rights; this is true, and a glorious truth. This is man’s moral equality. It means that, under God, the servant is as much entitled to the rights and privileges of a justly-treated servant, as the master is to the rights of a master; that the commoner is as much entitled to the just privileges of a commoner, as a peer to those of a peer. (R. L. Dabney, Defense of Virginia, pp. 266f.)
Moreover, Keyes’ veneration of Lincoln is historically absurd. Lincoln’s illegal abolition of slavery was pure opportunism. Keyes’ citation of the Second Inaugural to prove Lincoln’s “good” intention is as anachronistic as Liar Lincoln’s own use of it: a self-justifying backward injection of a thesis that is contradicted by Lincoln’s own words when he started the war.
Southern slavery was a gentle amelioration of the slavery which in Africa was ubiquitous and coupled with cannibalism; and the sudden emancipation, far from being to Lincoln’s credit, only set loose a savage people on the settled folk that continues to be a plague on our land to this day.
Most ludicrous of all in view of Keyes’ claims, is to realize that if Lincoln had had his way, Keyes’ ancestors would have been shipped back to Africa (T. J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln pp. 16-20), where at least one undoubtedly would have been killed in inter-tribal warfare. No Keyes in 2008, if Lincoln had had his way; no Keyes at all. Just some Keyes Soup during a banquet some century and a half ago.
But the real problem with Keyes’ view is not his erroneous exegesis of the words, nor his faulty historiography. It is, rather, the very notion of a propositional nation.
For Keyes, America is not a tribe consisting of the Founders’ descendants and those that have been grafted in to that tribe. It is not about concrete persons. No, for him America is the abstract principle “all men are created equal,” along with borders within which a government is installed which can exercise power to enforce the abstraction, regardless of what individual persons reside within those borders.
As I explained in an earlier post, there are basically two different models of conservatism. The Tribal view starts with the people that constitutes the nation, regardless of its accidental Constitution. The Wordist view starts with the Constitution (or here, the Declaration), and it is a matter of comparative indifference what people happen to live under it.
Lincoln was a Wordist. As he delivered his Gettysburg Address, the piles of dead kinsmen surrounding him were as nothing compared to the thought of “government of the people by the people and for the people” not “perishing from the earth.” A pure abstraction. Not this people, which may happen to have some government, but “government” abstractly conceived, which relates to x in a certain way, where x is some “people” somewhere — perforce located here, if Lincoln could have his way.
In stark contrast to Keyes’ and Lincoln’s view, the key phrase in our founding documents pertaining to this subject is the Preamble to the Constitution: “We the people of the United States, in order to … establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,… and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” (emphasis added). This establishes that the Founders’ own intent in creating the Constitution was Tribal, not Wordist.
Keyes is (of course) aware of this clause, but amazingly, he turns even this into an abstraction: since the Founders mention their posterity, they would oppose abortion, and so should we. But the Founders were clearly not including slaves and foreign visitors in the phrase “we the people.” Therefore, Keyes’ exegesis would not lead to forbidding all abortions, just some. But it is pointless to pursue this further, since that use of the Founders’ language is anachronistic and really a denial of the actual clear import of the words.
Wordism is in fact impossible for any man that has not utterly lost his humanity. Even Keyes makes reference to “his people” near the 22′ mark of this interview. (The interview, conducted by John Lofton, should be listened to if only for knee-slapping entertainment. Can anyone imagine Screeching Windbag Keyes as President, even if the elections were rigged to put him there?) But though it is impossible in consistency, men can be Wordists for a time.
Wordists play with words. Keyes chose Hazelton, Penna as the site to make his announcement of leaving the Repub Party, because of that town’s resistance to “illegal immigration.” However, it is clear from the speech that Keyes is actually in favor of immigration from all the corners of the world. After all, we are a “nation of immigrants.” (See my simple rebuttal of that cliché here.) He wants bureaucrats to stamp some papers first — that is, Keyes is mainly concerned with their “illegality,” not their very presence that threatens to dilute and replace the descendants of the founding population. But second, Keyes is obviously appealing to “the will of the people,” how it is being ignored by our politicians and so forth. So, if the “will of the people” were to open up the floodgates, presumably Keyes would support that position, provided the papers could be stamped fast enough. His stance is not principled; he is exploiting the issue opportunistically.
Indeed, there is actually very little in Keyes’ outlook that we should recognize as conservative or biblical. Keyes supports the war in Iraq no less than Lincoln’s bloodbath. (All men are created equal, I guess, except for those poor saps that can be drafted or tricked into getting themselves killed in order to further the foreign policy of Israel spread freedom throughout the world.) Keyes is indignant that people question the government story about the 9/11. He has been consistently hostile toward Ron Paul. His remarks against Pat Buchanan in 1996 were scurrilous. A pattern emerges. It turns out that his college mentor was Allan Jew Bloom. Later, William Jew Kristol managed his first Senate campaign. In other words, scratch below the surface just a little, and we see a man, a legend in his own mind for deriving his whole view by deduction from a single principle, has in reality been neo-conned. YANPOJ: Yet Another Negro Pawn Of Jews. (Moreover, someone follow the money here, it might be worth a couple footnotes in someone’s Master’s thesis: What has the Windbag Pawn been living on all these years?)
I do not say he is utterly insincere. At his level, he is sincere. But he is an overachiever. Listen to a few of his speeches, and the trick becomes clear. (1) Use a few stock phrases over and over again — “government of, by and for the people.” (2) Repeat each point three different ways: “your son, your daughter, your friend.” The mind just goes into neutral; the engine idles. And finally, (3) make a few intellectual points to wow the gaping groupies. Unfortunately, most of his intellectual points are erroneous, the etymological fallacy being particularly frequent and egregious. “Comfort means ‘with force’.” He picked up a few half-baked ideas in his college years which he repeats over and over without any sign of continued mental growth. He has a doctorate in Nebulous Studies from a mainline university. But he is a Negro, so both he and his white fans — I have never heard of any other kind in two decades of following the man — think of him as an intellectual.
So I do not propose that the jewish establishment actually said in so many words, “Alan, your job is to deflect any right-wing resistance that might spring up to our agenda by imposing yourself loudly into the debate — in exchange, you will be receiving ‘donations’ of -X- each year.” Sadly, the typical YANPOJ doesn’t even need such an explicit deal. His vanity coupled with true concern makes him easily fitted for the job with nothing but a bit of flattery to keep him going. Money is involved, a lot of it – but probably most of it comes from confused honkies.