The Constitution Party has nominated Maryland attorney Michael Peroutka for President of the United States.
The Constitution Party stands for "a return to the roots of American government," the candidate told Chalcedon. "That means the Constitution of the United States as it is written and the Ten Commandments as the foundation of American law."
Although this will be his first run for elective office, Peroutka has experience in government: several years with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. "I resigned when I realized that none of the programs I was working on were permitted by the Constitution," he said. "Healthcare, Medicare, whatever — none of it's in Article I. You can look and look, and you can't find it there."
The Party Platform
This observation is at the heart of the Constitution Party platform. Some of the highlights of the platform include
- Abolish the Internal Revenue Service and the income tax
- Outlaw all forms of abortion
- Abolish salary and pensions for members of Congress
- Abolish the Civil Service system, the Federal Reserve, and public education, repealing all compulsory education law
- Withdraw from the United Nations and "entangling alliances" with other nations, while implementing an outer-space-based national defense ("Star Wars")
- Abolish the welfare system, replacing it with private charity
- Set a moratorium on legal immigration
(For the complete text of the platform, see the Constitution Party website, constitutionparty.com/party_platform.php.)
Is this a utopian platform?
"Certainly we're out of line with today's mainstream thinking," Peroutka said. "But that thinking is out of line with the Constitution. We Americans are way off base, way off the actual principles of the Constitution."
Who's the Real Conservative?
Any third party candidate must answer the charge that his is a quixotic effort that can only siphon off votes from a major party candidate to the benefit of that candidate's opponent. Peroutka would be expected to draw votes from President George W. Bush, helping the cause of an extreme liberal, the Democrats' John Kerry.
But according to Peroutka, the president has governed as neither a conservative nor a Christian.
"Why should conservative Christians continue to vote Republican?" he said. "We don't exert any influence on the Republican Party now. Bush's reelection won't help us.
"They demean us as a third party. Well, what we really need in America is a second party. Republicans and Democrats stand for the same things—redistribution of wealth, big government, and erosion of our country's Christian foundation."
He accused Bush of using his presidency to increase government spending, to develop a newer and bigger government involvement in education and healthcare, and to promote homosexuality. He criticized Bush for being lukewarm at best in defending marriage and the right to bear arms, and fighting against abortion.
"Mr. Bush says he's a Christian," Peroutka said. "It’s not for me to say what's in his heart, but you have to be disappointed in his application of his faith to government."
As for helping Kerry: "When a Democratic president proposes unconstitutional things, he'll be blocked in Congress. Had Al Gore been elected instead of Bush, he never could've gotten all the questionable programs passed that Bush did."
What About the War?
The Constitution gives the president most of the responsibility for conducting foreign policy. In time of war — such as now — the president is commander in chief of America's armed forces. What would Michael Peroutka do as commander in chief?
"This has drawn down more wrath on me than anything else," he said. "But I believe our war in Iraq is unconstitutional, and I would pull out the troops. They shouldn't be there; we have not declared war, so there's no constitutional warrant for them to be in Iraq."
What about September 11, 2001? Three thousand Americans died that day, victims of a surprise attack by terrorists.
"First, we must remember that 'terror' is a tactic, not an enemy," Peroutka said. "Calling it a 'War on Terror' is Orwellian language.
"We need to find the perpetrators of September 11 and punish them. We need to fix the breakdowns in intelligence and defense that allowed the terrorists to hit us in the first place.
"We need to know what's going on in the world so we can defend ourselves against it. But I am not comfortable with the idea of preemptive strikes."
Must America wait to be struck before acting against her enemies?
"I'm not saying that. I'm just saying the present approach to the war is not constitutional," Peroutka said.
During the Clinton years, the administration treated terrorism as a law enforcement problem, not a military problem. This approach was not noteworthy for its success.
"I'm not saying we ought to go back to that," Peroutka said. "But if we have to make war, we have to have a declaration first. The constitutional process must be followed."
Chances Are …
Although no third party candidate has ever been elected president, the Constitution Party expects to be on the ballot in at least 40 states, and Peroutka says he takes his candidacy "very seriously."
"I'm not just doing this to raise debating points," he said. "The American people need an alternative to the major parties.
"I realize my election is a low-probability event — but with God all things are possible. Meanwhile, I'm doing my duty by preparing to be the president. If I am elected, I expect to be ready to serve. God will decide who becomes president."
Peroutka and his wife, Diane, live in Millersville, Maryland, with their three children, Elizabeth, Timothy, and Patrick — all three of whom they have homeschooled. He has served on the Constitution Party's executive committee and as its state chairman.
Citizens should not worry, he said, about "wasting their votes" by voting for him.
"This is a matter of conscience," he said. "As a voter, you have to do the right thing. You need to plow your row. The harvest is God's."
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.