A better question might be: Why in the hell would anybody be supporting a LaRouche candidacy? The guy has run for president eight times, with one of those runs hampered by the fact that LaRouche was confined to a federal prison cell, where he was serving time for tax evasion, mail fraud and conspiracy. Over the years, LaRouche’s politics have careened from the far left to the other end of the political spectrum, with critics at one time or another pegging him as everything from a Marxist to a Mussolini-style fascist.
In 1989, in an exposé produced for the nonprofit group Political Research Associates, writers Chip Berlet and Joel Bellman described LaRouche as the “Elmer Gantry of American politics, mixing equal parts of cynical con and fanatic fervor.” They added: “LaRouche’s political ideology is authoritarian. His view of history is paranoid. His economic theories are similar to Italian Fascism. His conspiratorial views are laced with racial and cultural bigotry and a large dose of anti-Jewish hysteria.”
Others have simply described LaRouche as a “brilliant nutcase.”
So why is LaMar Lemmons, an African-American former state legislator from Detroit, urging state Democratic leaders to put LaRouche on the ballot for the upcoming caucus?
“I have been following Mr. Larouche’s publications for about two or three years,” says Lemmons, who sees the candidate as an FDR-style New Deal Democrat. Lemmons first learned about LaRouche from Ed Vaughn, another former state legislator from Detroit who is also urging his party to include the candidate on the ballot. Lemmons says he did his own research into LaRouche’s past and that “I could not find anything of real substance showing that he is anti-black or anti-Semitic.”
The state Democratic Party, following the lead of national party chairman Terry McAuliffe, is refusing to put him on the ballot for a variety of reasons. For one thing, as an ex-felon, LaRouche is unable to register to vote in his home state of Virginia. So, technically speaking, he’s not a registered Dem. Also, his past positions are simply too extreme. According to Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, the party is under no obligation to accept someone as a candidate just because they choose to call themselves a Dem. “We have the right to determine who’s on the ballot.”
Someone might find it ironic that, according to the most recent information posted on the Center for Responsive Politics Web site, LaRouche has raised more money than Wesley Clark, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Mosely Braun or Al Sharpton. Brewer calls that fact irrelevant.
Lemmons is calling the Michigan Dems, well, undemocratic.
“I think it is dangerous to suppress ideas … to exclude someone from the process is un-American,” says Lemmons.
Maybe LaRouche can follow the lead of Ross Perot and start his own party. We’re not sure what it should be called, but we have the perfect mascot in mind: a chameleon. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.