Constitution Party VP Jim Clymer Makes His Case at Ron Paul Fest

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: August 25, 2012 9:30 AM
Jim Clymer and Eric Giunta

Eric Giunta, right, interviews Jim Clymer at Paul Fest on Aug. 24, 2012 | Photo: Jaime Roocke-Sherman - roocke.com

"The Constitution does not need to be scrapped; it needs to be abided by," thundered Jim Clymer, Constitution Party vice presidential candidate and former party chairman, to a smattering of an audience at the 2012 Ron Paul Festival, as hundreds more people frequented the vendors in the neighboring Expo Hall.

Clymer, an attorney from Pennsylvania, appeared at the Florida State Fairgrounds on behalf of running mate Virgil Goode, former U.S. congressman and Virginia senator and Constitution Party presidential nominee, who was unable to attend Paul Fest due to prior commitments.

Goode and Clymer are running on a hybrid platform between traditionalist conservatism and libertarianism. His speech, a summary of his party's political platform, drew mixed reaction from the 
Virgil Goode

Virgil Goode

crowd of Paul supporters.

Sunshine State News caught up to Clymer shortly after he delivered his remarks.

Asked why he and Goode were campaigning against the nation’s major center-right political coalition, the Republican Party, Clymer makes some unconventional observations.

“If you look at history, unfortunately, I think the Republicans have done more to erode our liberty than the Democrats,” he says, though he is quick to qualify his remarks. “Let me clarify that: not intentionally. I think the Democrats are more perverse in their intentions than the Republicans, but what happens – and we saw this during the Bush years, both Bushes – whenever there is a Republican in the White House, the Republicans in Congress all of sudden become jellyfish, losing their backbones. Whereas when a Democrat does the same thing a Republican might otherwise do, [congressional Republicans] rise up, they holler, they scream, they oppose that; but that’s not what they do when there’s a Republican in the White House.”

By way of example, Clymer names the Patriot Act, TARP, and other government bailouts of private industries. “When Obama’s doing it, it’s terrible; but when Bush does it, they’re muted,”

Of course, he does acknowledge political exceptions to this trend, and one in particular: Texas Republican congressman and primary presidential candidate Ron Paul. “But look at these exceptions, they’re excoriated by Republican leadership,” he insists. “I don’t think there’d be much difference in terms of fundamental policy between an Obama and a Romney administration.”

America’s third-parties are something of a mystery to most voters, and some might be forgiven for wondering what substantive differences, if any, exist between two of the more well-known: the Constiutionalists and the Libertarians.

Both call for a massive scaling back of the powers of the federal government to those of a handful of powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. They both propose abolition of the IRS and the income tax, along with most executive departments short of those pertaining to the military. They’re both staunchly civil libertarian, demanding repeal of the Patriot Act and the latest incarnation of the National Defense Authorization Act; they both want to end foreign aid and military nation-building, recalling all troops from armed conflicts and foreign occupations that are not defensive and not authorized by Congress. Both parties also want most controversial “social” and religious questions handled by state and local governments.

But for Clymer, the most fundamental differences between the two parties are not so much in their concrete policy proposals (though there are significant differences even there) as in their philosophical premises.

“A fundamental difference between us and the Libertarian Party is that the Constitution Party believes that the foundation of our law, our jurisprudence, and our legal system is rooted in the Judeo-Christian Bible. That’s a foundation that supersedes everything else,” says Clymer, himself a former Libertarian party member and political candidate for state office. “The Libertarian Party on the other hand, has a more secular viewpoint. I don’t want to put words in their mouth, but I think it’s fair to say they believe it’s whatever the mind of man can create that is his pole star. But that can shift. We [Constitutionalists] believe that there are eternal principles. “

Asked why he and his party will not join forces with presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his Libertarians, Clymer insists Constitutionalists “cannot accept [Johnson’s] support of homosexual marriage or his pro-abortion position. We believe all human life is precious and that the first duty of law is to protect all innocent human life, include the unborn. They are persons who deserve the protections the Constitution is designed to give.”

Clymer says he and his fellow party members support Paul’s position that abortion is a matter that, under the present constitutional and statutory provisions, should be left to the states. “But I would go further,” he says. Clymer believes the federal government has a role in outlawing abortion but “not without a constitutional amendment, or at least not without a declaration of [fetal] personhood on the part of Congress.”

Clymer is a little ambiguous about whether the unborn really are “persons” according to the original public meaning of Fifth and 14th Amendments, but he agrees that “the best way to resolve this issue is constitutionally. But until we get there, I’d be thrilled with Dr. Paul’s proposal: keep the federal government out of it and let it go to the states. That’s clearly a step in the right direction, and frankly that’s [a course] the framers [of the Constitution] would have anticipated and intended.”

His approach to same-sex marriage is similar. His presidential running mate, Virgil Goode, supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, “so we don’t have some states forcing same-sex marriage on others” through the Constitution’s “full faith and credit clause," a highly contested provision of U.S. law that requires each state to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state."

“Virgil Goode’s position is that without a constitutional amendment, we’re going to continue to run into problems, with homosexual marriages recognized in one state, but opposed in another,” Clymer explains. “We’re already seeing this in custody disputes.”

Clymer himself prefers Paul’s position: keeping the government completely out of defining, penalizing, or otherwise subsidizing marriages, leaving individuals to define marriage however they please, with the state limiting itself to settling contractual disputes that might arise.

“I think that if the federal government just follows the Constitution, the rest of our traditional cultural values will fall into place by themselves,” he says. “But right now you’ve got the federal government promoting policies that are contrary to our culture, the heritage that we’ve known in this country.”

But it’s not just social issues that distinguish his party from Libertarians.

“We’re not free-traders like they are. We’re for fair trade,” he explains. “We freely trade with other countries, but we insist it be on a level playing field. If they’re going to be imposing restrictions on our goods going into their country, we're not going to allow two different standards.”

“We also believe that borders should be sealed, as borders are an important ingredient in the definition of a country,” he adds.

Asked if his party supports drug legalization, he insists that is a “state and local issue.” The Constitution Party “absolutely does want to end the federal ‘war on drugs.’” He does concede that “some of our members support strong anti-drug laws, but we’re fairly unified in opposing federal anti-drug laws, though we have our differences on what we’d like to see on the local level.” Clymer himself is personally “very much a libertarian on the issue.”

One of the low points of his speech, in terms of audience reception and reaction, was his promise that a Constitutionalist presidency would promote making English the official language of the United States. Clymer clarifies that he does not support federal laws which prevent states from adopting multilingualism, but if elected, Goode’s administration will do everything it can to “stop the federal government from telling states they have to print ballots and other government documents in multiple languages.”

Clymer appears visibly discomforted when asked whether Congress has any express constitutional authority to determine the country’s official language. He admits “a constitutional amendment would be the most clarifying way of doing it.”

Finally, Clymer strongly implies he would drop out of the race in the unlikely event Paul receives the Republican nomination in the coming week. “I cannot speak for Mr. Goode, but I would certainly be in favor of dropping out. “I’ve made that commitment before, that if somehow that should happen, that would be my desire. I would not want to run on a national ticket against Dr. Paul.”

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859. 

Comments (9)

Kurt Evans
11:18PM AUG 25TH 2012
Hey Eric, I was a delegate to the Constitution Party's 1996 national convention and the 2002 U.S. Senate candidate of the South Dakota Libertarian Party. This story is an absolutely superb piece of journalism. Well done.
5:25PM AUG 25TH 2012
Few in New Mexico had heard of Gary Johnson when he announced his candidacy in 1994. Two weeks after he ran his first television spots, he was the front runner. When people see him, they believe him.

From 1995 to 2003, Johnson took New Mexico from a $1 billion deficit to a $1 billion surplus, cut taxes 14 times, never raised them, balanced the budget all eight years as governor and left New Mexico in far better fiscal shape than when he first took office.

Johnson never ran for any office before he ran for governor. He is the real deal for citizen leadership, with a proven track record of success. Gary Johnson started a door-to-door handyman business to help pay his way through college. Twenty years later, he had grown the firm into one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico with over 1,000 employees. Not surprisingly, Governor Johnson brings a distinctly business-like mentality to governing, believing that decisions should be made based on cost-benefit analysis rather than strict ideology.

~Cut over 1,200 government jobs without firing anyone
~Created more than 20,000 new jobs
~Left office with New Mexico as one of the only four states in the country with a balanced budget
~Left New Mexico with a budget surplus
~Restored State General Fund reserves to more than $222 million from a low of $28.1 million
~Cut taxes 14 times while never raising them—a first for New Mexico
~Vetoed 32% of the total number of bills submitted for his signature
5:59PM AUG 25TH 2012
Yes, no states have balanced budget provisions, now do they?

Try 49 our of 50 states (except Vermont).

I guess we just need to impeach all those Republican Legislatures and Governors for violating their state's Constitution or law, now don't we?

Facts, not fiction.
7:55AM AUG 26TH 2012
Frank your adeptness at clearing out straw men qualifies you for the all internet bot team.
10:43AM AUG 26TH 2012
It's very simple - don't lie, don't misrepresent, don't ignore science and actual facts.

In other words, don't engage in politics of the "Big Lie"

If you're going to claim that a woman's biology keeps pregnancies from happening during rape, then don't expect it to pass without comment.

Glad I can be of help in making for better, more honest right-wing rhetoric.
5:17PM AUG 25TH 2012
Ah yes, the "Constitution Party", the U.S. Taxpayers Party and George Wallace's American Indpendent Party by a new name and darling of the Christian right. . . .believing in a Christian basis, including use of the Bible, for interpretating law and political policy, something that was clearly an anathema to the Founding Fathers . . . .

Wants repeal of several existing parts of the Constitution, including the current direct voting for Senators - let the political state legislatures select them, not the people.

Believes that the U.S. union is voluntary and that a state can withdraw from the United States whenever it wants. (and here I foolishly believed this was settled by the Civil War)

Opposes the federal Voting Rights Act, anti-drug laws, and welfare.

Wants a "Ten Commandments Defense Act" and astonishingly believe that the Founding Fathers held that it was well within the authority and power of the individual states to determine for themselves what kind of relationship they wanted to have with religion or religious institutions, even where that would support one religion above all others.

In other words, another fringe, anti-government, stick-it-down-your-throat, religious promoting political party, who only believes in the Constitution when it supports their religious viewpoint, but wants to totally ignore what rights it provides others who don't agree with that religious viewpoint.
7:57AM AUG 26TH 2012
Sic semper tyrannis Frank.
10:51AM AUG 26TH 2012
Yes, seems I remember such a taunt when another misguided fanatic assassinated our greatest Republican President.

Glad I can so get under your skin that you're frustrated to quoting your obvious idol, infamous killer John Wilkes Booth. What, nothing original to say?

1:27AM AUG 28TH 2012
Abe Lincoln was beat to death with a hammer for being a jerk during Hamlet.
See this documentary:

ht tp://w w w.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Uf9rsBbhc

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