Jo Mannies On Politics: Barnhart makes a bittersweet switch to Green from Reform
By Jo Mannies
Until recently, Tim Barnhart of St. Louis thought he'd found a stable political home.
A retired lawyer, he's moderate on social issues - he supports abortion rights - but he's disturbed by the North American Free Trade Agreement and some other international trade deals that the United States has struck.
With that philosophical profile, Barnhart fit right in with most activists in the Reform Party, which grew out of Texas billionaire Ross Perot's presidential bids in 1992 and 1996.
Former wrestler Jesse Ventura's successful Reform Party bid in 1998 to become Minnesota's governor sealed the deal for Barnhart. Last year, Barnhart was an enthusiastic delegate to the Reform Party's national convention.
At home, Barnhart became the Reform Party's state treasurer and joined others in attempting to rekindle public interest, especially in the St. Louis area.
But then former St. Louisan Pat Buchanan came along, announcing that he was leaving the Republican Party and seeking the Reform Party's nomination for president.
With the Missouri Reform Party in a rebuilding mode, "it didn't take much for the Buchanan influx to outnumber the old by about 10 to 1," Barnhart said. "For one thing, the people that Buchanan brought to the Reform Party were more conservative than he was."
At the state Reform Party's convention in April, Barnhart announced he was stepping down as state treasurer. He stayed in the job until a few weeks ago so he could help train his successor. He won't attend the Reform Party's national convention next month in California.
The old talk - that the Reform Party was too much like the Libertarian Party - has given way to the latest characterizations that the Reform Party is becoming a clone of the Constitution Party. The latter group, formerly known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, is made up largely of religious conservatives.
Barnhart is among those who suspect that Buchanan might have joined the Constitution Party, which had eagerly wooed him, if it wasn't for one thing: the $12.5 million in federal funds that the Reform Party's presidential candidate is allowed this year, based on Perot's 1996 performance at the polls.
Buchanan has said the money is a key attraction, along with the Reform Party's open-tent philosophical platform.
But Barnhart says the Reform Party's tolerance for a variety of political views has led to its takeover by many people espousing intolerance. Some are members of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a Bridgeton-based group opposed to immigration by non-Europeans and which likens affirmative action to "racial quotas" that hurt whites.
Leader Gordon Baum says the group isn't endorsing any candidate, but he says that an informal poll found that about 55 percent of his members backed Buchanan.
"Our members are ideologues, so obviously they're going to be politically active," he said.
Disgruntled Reform Party members such as Barnhart "are upset because the Buchanan people have come in and taken over their playpen," Baum said.
Not all Reform Party veterans are unhappy over Buchanan's rise to power. Anthony Windisch of Oakville is thrilled. Windisch, 74, is the Reform Party's candidate for Congress in the 3rd District. He'll compete this fall against candidates from three other parties - including the powerful incumbent, Democrat Richard Gephardt.
A retired federal employee, Windisch specialized in computers. His key campaign issue is his assertion that the federal government's computer systems are too messed up and open to hackers and terrorist attacks.
He sees Buchanan's candidacy as a way for all Reform Party candidates to attract needed public attention. "Things are shaking out pretty good," Windisch said.
Barnhart disagrees, saying the Reform Party's new crop of Missouri candidates includes too many extremists. He cites former Libertarian Martin Lindstedt of Granby, Mo., who has advocated the violent overthrow of government and a separate country for black Muslims. Lindstedt is among three seeking the Reform Party nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Barnhart now has joined the Missouri Green Party. He helped collect the signatures that activists hope will put presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the Missouri ballot. Nader, with moderate social views and strong anti-NAFTA stands, comes closest to the old Reform Party stands, Barnhart said.
"I'm happy to be with the Greens," Barnhart said. "They may be a little left of me on some issues, but the Reform Party has gone farther to my right."
Still, he does lament what might have been: "I think the Reform Party had the potential to provide a good moderate, independent choice."
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A Letter to the Editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch
I read "Barnhart makes a bittersweet switch to Green from Reform" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of July 30th. Attorney Barnhart whines, "the Reform Party's new crop of Missouri candidates includes too many extremists. . . former Libertarian Martin Lindstedt of Granby, Mo., who has advocated the violent overthrow of government and a separate country for black Muslims."
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. . . ."This natural Right to Revolution was the birth certificate for a White Supremacist Republic -- a Declaration of Independence -- set up allowing self-government only to White men. These very same words shall be the death warrant for a multi-racial diverse Evil Empire in which White People are slaves. Biological weaponry and suicide bombers guarantee it.
As a Resistance politician, I support the peaceful negotiated dissolution of this Evil Empire so that all races, religions, and classes can set up their own form of government best suited to their needs. As a Resistance warlord, I support any means necessary for my race, religion, and class of People to survive and prevail.
Missouri Reform Party Candidate for U.S. Senator
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