Republicans, of course. Two Words for you:
Dirty tricks have always played a role in politics, but when the New Right bloomed in the long shadow of mid-century liberalism's triumph, subterfuge
and skullduggery became a central and permanent fixture of American politics. Listing every political dirty trick perpetrated by movement
conservatives would be impossible, because most of them are still secret, but some examples are worth pointing out in the particular context of this
One of Pat Buchanan's most legendary dirty tricks was getting Nixon to scare white voters away from the Democratic party by anonymously funding the
campaigns of black and radical candidates. Part of Nixon's overall (and overtly racist) Southern Strategy, Buchanan's cynical little ploy worked
like gangbusters. Nixon won by one of the biggest landslides in history. That his victory was so short-lived is a cold and mitigating comfort.
Jump ahead to the 2000 elections, which were, without a doubt, the dirtiest, most crooked national elections since the turn of the century, although
the jury's still out on 2002. Continuing the Buchanan/Nixon ploy of playing the leftist fringes against the Democratic center, Republicans in the
southwest poured millions into the Green Party's coffers.
On the other side of the political bell curve, Buchanan showed he's still got what it takes to shake things up by taking advantage of the
newly-minted Reform party's open primary and getting himself nominated leader of the party started by Ross Perot... prompting a disgusted Perot to
swear off politics forever. Immediately upon "winning" the nomination (he stacked the convention) Pat appointed a black, female communist as a
running mate, and flew to Alaska, where he kept quiet for much of the campaign season. This knocked a party with solid double-digit support back into
the under-one-percent club, theoretically herding many fiscally-conservative/socially-liberal voters back to the GOP.
Flash forward four years. Throughout this primary season, comedians and commentators have joked that Republicans might try to cater to their racist
base by making sure black, flamboyant, baggage-encumbered Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton's presence is felt throughout the Democratic
primary process. Now, thanks to an in depth Village Voice investigation,
we know that this is, indeed, the case. Their investigation also helps explain where Sharpton gets the money to keep on keeping on, despite having yet
to garner more than a single digit in any state's percentage of delegate support.
The right-wing saboteur in this case is Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the vicious mob that shut down the
Miami-Dade County recount in 2000. The veteran GOP consultant has volunteered his services to an all-too-willing Sharpton, even helping him reach the
state matching fund minimums securing donations from friends, family, and political operatives, most of whom have long track records of supporting
causes and policies that stand in absolute opposition to Sharpton's various positions. [Especially ironic is the donation Stone secured from a couple
that performs a "nostalgic" blackface act for conservative audiences throughout Florida.) Anything to help keep the ebony scandal-magnet front and
center throughout the Democratic campaign.
The many issues surrounding the central question of race in American life are of incalculable importance to the future of the West. For a plethora of
reasons too obvious to list here, Al Sharpton is far too compromised and polarizing a figure to effectively bring these issues to the fore. Democrats
of conscience must come together and hold Sharpton accountable for the company he keeps, and the destructive rhetoric he spews without heed to the
consequences. Especially valuable would be the intervention of Michigan's John Conyers, Harold Ford of Tennessee, and Harlem representative Charles
Rangel. It's time to flush the Reverend down the crapper and into the sewers, where his Republican-funded Democrat-bashing and his increasingly
irrelevant racial demagoguery belong.