Posted by: exiwp | August 11, 2000

Speech to the Reform Party National Convention (2000)

By Dr. Lenora Fulani, August 11, 2000

It’s great to be here. Thank you all for that beautiful welcome last night. It’s great to have a credential you can count on. As you know, I’ve been a political independent for a long time. I first ran for office as an independent almost 20 years ago, in the days when, if you told people you were an independent, they looked at you as if you had just come from Mars.

Today, the American independent is the new force in national politics. We’re the wild card. And it certainly has been wild. And it looks like that’s going to continue. I like that feature of our movement.

Since the very start I’ve been something of a controversial figure myself. Some people have objected to me on the grounds that I am too radical that I am a left winger, a progressive, a revolutionary and that a storm of controversy follows my every move. I want to address that reputation today. I want to address it because I believe it is at the very heart of the issues and the choices that face us, the Reform Party and the entire independent movement.

Let me get right to the point. The issue that we face is whether or not we are a revolutionary movement. What does that mean? What does it mean to be a revolutionary movement in the year 2000? Here’s what it means to me. It means being a movement dedicated to completing the first American Revolution by challenging the basic formula that is contemporary America a formula in which corporate interests rule and democracy takes a back seat. I believe we are a revolutionary movement. I believe we must be. American politics is too corrupt for us to be anything but. And let me tell you something more. If our Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and Tom Paine, and if you’ll grant me historical license, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were in this room with us today, they’d be standing up here with me. They’d be saying to all of you Fellow Citizens, aren’t you ready to stand up to tyranny? Don’t you love freedom and liberty sufficiently to challenge the old order? Do you not understand that to be a patriot is to be a revolutionary?

Fellow Reformers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would not be on the side of the nay sayers who counsel us to avoid controversy, to appear moderate and to walk the straight and narrow. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be on my side because I am like them. I am cut from the same cloth.

Some people like to call me names and believe me, I’ve been called plenty. There’s nothing I haven’t been called: Left wing, Right wing, Nigger, Jew lover, Jew hater, Pervert, Provocateur, Opportunist. I’ve heard it all. And then some. But General Washington and Mr. Jefferson slave owners though they might have been were also revolutionaries. And I am certain, if they could rise from the dead this morning, they’d join me at this podium and say, Lenora Fulani? We know her. She’s with us. She’s an American Revolutionary. Aren’t you?

But what does it really mean to be a revolutionary in this new and high tech and frightening millennium? It means continuing the revolutionary process not violently but powerfully such that we can engage the fundamental contradiction of the American experience. What is that contradiction? It’s that while we believe with all our heart in democracy, we have been willing to compromise it for the good of the economy.

The deepest conflict among the Founding Fathers let us not forget was the issue of slavery. While virtually everyone knew it to be morally wrong, the institution was allowed to exist because it made the economy thrive. And so the democratic rights of a whole race of people were abrogated because slavery enriched the U.S. economy.

It is not altogether different from the circumstances we face today. The globalists argue that NAFTA, the WTO and a general trade policy that unleashes multi-national corporations around the globe are good for the economy. The negative impact on Americans workers, on the environment and on long term economic development is supposed to be considered negligible. We don’t believe it is negligible. But there is a far more profound problem at hand. For the globalist special interests have stolen our government so that they can prioritize their economic interests over all else. Some argue that the problem with the two parties is that they are captive to the special interests. I disagree. They are not captive to the special interests. They are the special interests. And they rule unequivocally on behalf of the globalists.

That’s why Ross Perot told the American people, when he first ran for President, that we had to take our government back. That we, the people, had to set the terms on which business does business. We’re not anti business. We’re pro democracy and we believe this is our country and we have the right to run it.

Sometimes people will say to us, “Oh, that political reform stuff very interesting. But what do you stand for?” Here’s our answer: We stand for the democratic right of the people of this country all the people of this country to collectively and democratically determine our economic, social, cultural, and policy priorities. The two parties have usurped that right. And we must re assert it.

The Reform Party has been through tremendous turmoil in the last year. I don’t have to recapitulate it for all of you, because you lived it we lived it, together. Some people have said to me that they have been beaten down by it. They feel demoralized, angered, and despairing. I can understand those feelings. I have felt them myself. I was, after all, a supporter of Pat Buchanan, before he betrayed his commitment to build this party on a pro democracy, left/center/right foundation. But, I want to thank Pat Buchanan. Yes, I want to thank him. Here’s why. I think Pat, by his presence and his neo reactionary takeover attempt of our party, has taught us a very important lesson. A lesson we needed to learn. He taught us that we you and I and millions of liberty loving Americans across the country, built something of extraordinary value, something he wanted so badly that he was willing to commit fraud to try to get.

We belittle ourselves if we think it’s just the $13 million. Yes, Pat wants the money. And John Hagelin will hopefully prevent him from getting his hands on it. But this party, if it remains honest and uncorrupted, and this movement this revolutionary movement are things of extraordinary value to ordinary people. But there’s another lesson to be learned here, too. It’s a harder one to learn. It’s a lesson about building building from the bottom up. A lot of people are angry at Pat Buchanan. They’re angry because he came in and tried to take over our party. But if we’re serious independents, and genuine revolutionaries, we have to ask ourselves how that happened. I think it happened because in many states, the party had simply not been built at the grassroots. When Pat Buchanan came in with 25 followers here and 70 followers.

There, he could make a power grab. How did that happen? How did a movement, which attracted 20 million Americans in 1992 and 8 1/2 million Americans in 1996, find itself with a political party in the year 2000 that was so vulnerable to being overrun by 300 Buchanan Brigadiers?

We find ourselves in this situation, fellow Reformers, because we failed to build the party from the bottom up. We remained too dependent on a top down model for party building, and that simply will not work. We were created by the 8/1/2 million votes cast for Ross Perot in 1996. We honor and respect Mr. Perot for that catalytic contribution. But we will not succeed in our historic mission if we rely on a model of party building that rests solely on big names and big money.

In New York, we have a state party that was created by a millionaire independent Tom Golisano, who spent $8 million on a run for governor in 1994 to poll 217,000 votes which won ballot status for the Independence Party. But in New York, hundreds of party activists believed that we had to take the gift we had been given and make it our own. And so we went out and built that party so that it now has 175,000 members and vibrant broad based democratic structures making it the largest and most significant state party organization in the Reform Party and an increasingly pivotal force in New York State politics.

In my view, we have paid too little attention to the New York model and too much attention to waiting for the next big name or big money to come along. That has hurt the party and hurt the movement. We have paid a price for that error. How big of a price we do not yet know.

But we must move on. And we will. And I must say that one of the things I like best about John Hagelin is that he is not a big name and he has no big money. But he’s been out there building and organizing and getting on the ballot and bringing new blood into the Reform Party and into independent politics. That’s who I think deserves the nomination of the Reform Party.

If you watched any of the Republican National Convention, as I did, you may have been astounded as I was, by the seeming transformation of that party. I was deeply touched by Colin Powell. I was thrilled to see John McCain. But if you look closely at that party, in spite of its new openness and inclusivity you can see that while Colin Powell and John McCain are permitted to speak, they will not be permitted to lead. It is not a revolutionary party. It’s a special interest party. That’s why, in my opinion, they both ultimately belong with us in the independent movement.

And we must carry on building our movement. The destructive divisions and unhealthy fractiousness in Reform did not begin on the day Pat Buchanan arrived. They will not be overcome merely by our shared opposition to his effort to transform us into a party of social conservatism. Nor will they be overcome by our trying to recreate ourselves as some bland and non controversial element hoping to survive the election and somehow, magically, get 5% of the vote.

Controversy is our business. We’re the people who want to bring down the two party system. We’re the people who want to open up the debates, close down the FEC and throw the corrupt politicians and their globalist benefactors out of office. If that ain’t controversial, I don’t know what is.

I am proud to be with all of you today. I fully expected that our New York delegation would be de credentialed by the Buchanan convention because democracy is out the window over there and so is election law and the constitution. I want to take a moment to acknowledge those delegates, our state chairman Frank MacKay, our most able delegation organizer Cathy Stewart, and our brilliant attorney Harry Kresky. They are some serious party builders and serious fighters. We’re fighting hard for the heart and

soul of our movement. And we are proud to be fighting alongside John Hagelin, soon to be our Presidential nominee. John Hagelin is a good and decent and highly intelligent and articulate spokesman for our cause. You all know that.

And you know, of course, that when we turned to him to champion the fight to preserve democracy in our party, he responded with enthusiasm and wit and grace. But let me tell you something else about John Hagelin that you may not have fully grasped. He’s got real guts. There were a lot of people out there in the media, in the two parties, on the right and on the left who couldn’t wait to attack Pat Buchanan. It was sound bite heaven for every would be, has been, wannabee political type across the spectrum, including some people who like to think of themselves as independents. But you know something? None of them, not one, was willing to come out and get into the Reform Party primary to have the fight the fight for the heart and soul of not just the Reform Party but of our revolutionary independent movement. None, except John Hagelin.

Let me leave you with this. If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Douglass were here today, do you know what they’d be doing? They’d be standing up with the American Revolutionary, John Hagelin. And do you know who else would be up here? The great Revolutionary War naval commander and hero, John Paul Jones. In a critical naval battle in 1779, under constant fire from the better armed and better equipped British Navy, Jones rallied his forces with words that inspire us today. “We have not yet begun to fight,” he cried. Several hours later, the British ship Serapis was forced to surrender to Jones and the revolutionary forces. And so, in the great tradition of our American Revolution which continues to this day I send this message to all who would try to denigrate or derail our independent populist revolution: We have not yet begun to fight!

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