Part 5. Maybe 6.

Skipping ahead because I can’t quite wrap my mind around the occurences between roughly 1980 and 1986.  I’ll go back and fill in those dates.  Besides which, I have arrived at a point where I am not serving as a redundancy to anything you can find at wikipedia. For in looking at the question “How does one explain the 1986 victories of Larouchites in the Democratic primary to Illinois State Treasury and Lieutenant Governor?”, one can find some interesting contours in American politics. Frankly, if a book on this election were to be written, and one never will be, I would want to read it. It was a moment in which what was supposed to happen did not happen, and anytime that happens it’s worth looking into to see where the powers that be went haywire.

There had been precursors. 15 percent in a New York mayorial election. 27 percent in a Seattle election. Meanwhile, a number of municipalities were alert to LaRouchites running for school board positions.  Today, the post-script is found in the back of Larouche’s pamphlets — the “Democratic Leaders” who support Larouche — ie: the elected Larouchites — Larouchites to varying degrees, I suppose, as when I’ve seen some been grilled on the subject they’ve ranged from hemming and hawing on the matter, making some distance in the process, to treating Larouche as a typical politician who they admire.

The quick scan on the 1986 elections had a lethargic party with the institutional party assuming their candidates would win as a matter of course, the classic name rule of politics — the Anglo Saxon names of the Larouchites rolling off the tongue better than the ethnic names of the standard Democrats, amplified by the Chicago versus everyone else nature of Illinois politics where the names were easily associated with the corrupt big city Daley machinations of Chicago, and the lower voter turn-out which magnified the by-definition dedicated Larouche workers over the by nature apathetic voting populace.  All of which was probably true enough.   But that in itself is not quite enough to get the Larouchites to win — only create the anomoly of that 27 percent Seattle election.  Here’s how the Larouchites described their victory. “We were successful because we addressed the issues in an economic depression and attacked the myth of the so-called economic recovery.  Many people were sick and tired of corrupt Democratic party politics.  They campaigned on no issues.  We won by hard work.  We traveled the state, visited many farms, wrote about it in our newspapers while the rest of the media ignored us.”  That was Sheila Jones, Illinois Larouche campaign organizer in 1986.

A writer from The Nation, that venerable magaz9ine of the Left, wrote an article entitled “The Democrats Had it Coming”.  In it, he stated that he did indeed vote for the Larouchites, sans any knowledge of what they were about, because (drum roll please) he was sick and tired of corrupt Illinois Democratic party politics who campaigned on no issues — who had no interest in anything other than furthering their political fortunes.  Closer inspection focused on rural resentments.  In rural Illinois, which remains deeply troubled economically, Larouche followers emphasized what they called the villany of banks and the need to protect financially the endangered family farms.  In larger towns, and cities, speakers would demand tougher treatement of drug traffickers and isolation of AIDs victims.

Layer these onto the mere resentment of politically coasting and unresponsive politicians.  If I were to ask who said, “The economic recovery is a fiction to [most/many] [voters/Americans]”, who would pop into your head.  Any number of politicians at any number of points in American history with any amount of truth on their side.  The answer is John Edwards circa 2006, right?  Yes, and also Lyndon Larouche circa 1986.

Never mind what is being referred to with “the banks”.  The nature of the Global Economy that is leaving people dispossed will vary.  Never mind that the drug traffickers include the Queen of England — a politician will get far advocating Law and Order and hence the War on Drugs continues unabetted.  The isolation of AIDs patients — understand AIDs was a new situation and “Drastic Problems call for Drastic Measures” is operable — besides which, it’s a gay disease, right?  (That was a cause celebre for Larouche at this point in his career — and he had it on the California ballot in 1986 and 1988).

In 1976, Larouche figures the voters who would bring him into power were “urban collar union members, blacks from organized labor rather than the ghetto, angry “counter-culture” supporters of George Wallace, and rank and file union members who ‘hate Carter’.”  Mind you, the Union focus came because Larouche was obstensibly connected with the “Labor Committees”, and was also just in the process of shedding his Marxist persona.  Otherwise, the voter you have is a collection of back-lashers — focused onto “George Wallace”.  Indeed, Larouche in 1986 evoked Wallace by name in saying how his people were shaking up Washington.  (In the next breath he would comment on the Anti-Defamation League — understandably a Larouche critic — and say they were working on behalf of the Drug Lobby which was connected to Playbor — but not every statement you can make can be pertinent, I suppose.)

Tactically, it helps to appear as normal people sometimes.  The insanity can get true-believers, but:

The larouche followers’ style was more subdued in rural areas than in airport concourses.  “They just showed up in a sirty pickup truck,” said one radio station manager, “They spoke about the rural crisis.  And then they drove away.”

The election caused a panic in the Democratic Party.  Adlai Stevenson III (and there is no clearer sign of the political inbreeding that Larouche capitalized on than that the governor nominee’s name denoted two prominent figures ahead of him), severed the Democrat off his name and ran as a third party candidate to avoid the Larouchites, whom he labelled “neo-nazis”.  LaRouche denounced Stevenson, and said that “his great-grandfather attacked Abe Lincoln in terms that are not too dissimilar.  If Abe Lincoln were alive, he’d probably be standing up here with me today.”

Stevenson ended up losing by a wide margin to the Republican candidate.

The National Democratic Party instructed state parties to watch the Democratic candidates closely — lest they end up with a Larouchite winning the nomination.  State parties also started to write into their charters a rule stating, vaguely enough but assuredly addressed at LaRouche, barring as delegates any member of “an organization opposed to the philosophy of the Democratic Party”.  These rules would ensure that even if Larouche were to win a handful of delegates here and there in the party primaries, Democrats would keep them out of the convention.  Larouche challenged these rules, and the court system validated them.  Then again, a rule against felons winning anything would end up sufficing, as the law came in at Larouche and landed him in a prison cell with Jim Bakker — basically for bilking the elderly out of their life savings.

Any schadenfreude experienced by the Republicans would evaporate when, a few years later, David Duke was elected to the Louisiana state House, and then won the Republican primary for US Senate and Governor.  Indeed, a review of the book on Larouche New American Fascism asked the question: “Imagine if Louis Farrahkhan or David Duke got as far as Larouche did in 1986.”  David Duke got a lot closer to state-wide elected office than Larouche’s followers ever have.

Strangely enough, the man who may have picked up something in watching the Illinois election may have been Jesse Jackson.  In 1986 he was working to expand his 1984 presidential constituency for 1988 in his “Rainbow Coalition” — moving beyond his black constituency to other economically dispossed in the nation.  To quote Merle Hansen, president of the North American Farm Alliance and resident of Nebraska in 1986, who threw his support behind Jackson, “Farmers are going somewhere.  It’s just a matter of where.  For a lot of them, if Jesse Jackson wasn’t around the alternative will be LaRouche or right wing organizations.”

It’s hard to know what to make of that quote.  LaRouche himself didn’t get far electorally — his followers did… and his followers weren’t exactly created equally, one of the candidates comes out relatively sane and sensible (just thinks a few of LaRouche’s ideas were sensible), while the other was over every edge.  A poll was conducted in 1986 which showed Larouche with a staggering favorability rating of 1 percent.  His unfavorability rating came in at 20 percent.  The other 79 percent had to fall into the two camps of no strong opinion on such a stupid matter and never heard of him.

Political alliances are shifting creatures, and vacuums existed aplenty within the Democratic Party where a Larouchite could rear its ugly head.  The South had long since had a Democratic political cultural split between “National” Democrats and Dixiecrats, and the urban – rural divide in the party had existed pretty much forever.  In 1986, there were plenty of Democrats by habit who were wanting to vote for something other than the standard Democrat.

The more fringier members of the political spectrum will deride Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, Pat Buchanan, and various politicial figures affiliated with the Christian Coalition and organizations of the type as “Gate-keepers”.  To the left and right they man the gates and address various grievances the politican figures of any real power will ignore, and then shove those supporters right back to the power structure.  Larouche can no longer fit this purity spectrum, or maybe he never could: he practically endorsed Ford in 1976, and he backed Kerry in 2004… but that last one may just be a sign of his shifting focus.

Texas Democrats voted themselves a LaRouchite for head of the state Democratic Party.  The party immediately stripped the seat of its power… combined with Moynihan’s reaction to the Illinois debacle, which was to deride the Primary system, and the subsequent stripping of any LaRouchite as delegate to the national convention by rule, it allowed the LaRouchites to declare the Democratic Party “undemocratic”.

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