In the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, there is one candidate that has been flying under the radar of most mainstream press, although supporters of Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., who is making his fifth bid for the presidency, have made a strong presence around Portland State lately.
Supporters have been holding demonstrations almost daily around campus for the candidate, claiming that his unique political ideology will turn America around.
On the other hand, many dismiss LaRouche as nothing more than an eccentric conspiracy theororist, and some critics believe that he and his followers are in a political cult promoting fascist and anti-Semitic ideology.
With his far-reaching theories (he once claimed that the queen of England was a drug-pusher and the Beatles "were a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications") and doomsday predictions, Larouche has established himself as one of the most controversial figures in American politics.
"Larouche is the only (candidate) that is qualified to be our president right now," says Larouche supporter Peter Martinson. A former Astronomy major at the University of Washington in Seattle, 26-year-old Martinson dropped out of school to join the LaRouche movement full time.
"I'm not going to school with this educational system," said Martinson. However, he does intend to be part of LaRouche's plan to colonize mars after LaRouche comes in to power.
Martinson explained that the LaRouche doctrine, a piece of literature illustrating LaRouche's foreign policy and economic views, consists of three main objectives: first, to "get the troops out of combat in Iraq," second, to form a "new global monetary system," and lastly, to retain this doctrine's designated name.
Martinson explained that "it must be called the LaRouche doctrine or it won't work," because "if it isn't, people in Southwest Asia will not trust it."
Harley Schlanger, LaRouche's national spokesman made similar claims last Thursday at a public meeting, saying, "it is being discussed in Arab countries everywhere." Schlanger also warned of a likely economic collapse, claiming that "we are on the brink of the worst depression in world history."
LaRouche's ideology and history has provoked ample criticism over three decades. Matthew Lyons and Chip Berlet, co-authors of "Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort," have published a plethora of articles on LaRouche and his ideas.
"Since the early 1990s, the LaRouchites have promoted a kind of faked progressivism. They've opposed both Gulf Wars, attacked the death penalty, and defended social welfare programs and civil rights," Lyons said in an interview with the Vanguard. "But their underlying political philosophy is based on conspiracy theories, not a critique of systemic oppression,"
He went on to explain that "LaRouche is in a long tradition of right-wingers, such as Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society, who saw a plot by globalists, Eastern elites, and international bankers to undermine a virtuous, self-contained American republic."
LaRouche supporter Wesley Irwin says of LaRouche's critics, "the people putting out these slanders haven't done the research."
LaRouche supporters are often characterized by a fanatical loyalty to the movement. A PSU student, who wished to remain anonymous, recalled a trip with the "LaRouchies" to Seattle, Washington. "They totally worship him," he said. "They're always like, 'LaRouche says this and LaRouche says that.'"
The student recalls that the LaRouche supporters don't get their news reports from regular sources, "they get their information from other places, what they call the 'real news.'" He also recalls extremely aggressive demonstrations: "they would yell at people on the street, waving their books and pamphlets around saying, 'read this - if you don't you're a fascist.'"
"They're extremely patriarchal," said the student, "and they seriously target minorities and women."
LaRouche supporters also told our source that the world needs a new renaissance and that the earth's population will drop to 1 billion in the near future.
LaRouche was convicted of mail fraud in 1989, resulting in 15-year prison sentence of which he served 5 years. To this day, LaRouche and his followers insist that he was framed by prominent world bankers who, they claim, also attempted to murder him on Oct. 6, 1986 at his home in Leesburg, Virginia.
LaRouche says he believes that we are on the brink of a terrible financial crisis of holocaustic proportions. At Thursday's public meeting, Schlanger claimed that LaRouche told him, "my chances of winning (this election) are better than the chances of humanity surviving if I don't win."
"LaRouchite economics is based on a phony dichotomy between "productive" industrial capital and "parasitic" finance capital. This lets them sound radical but defend capitalism at the same time. In reality, bankers are no more and no less parasitic than other capitalists," said Lyons.
He believes that LaRouche's ideas are rooted in fascist ideology, "Scapegoating bankers is a classic fascist ploy and is closely linked to anti-Semitism, through the myth that Jews control the banking industry. The LaRouchites deny that they're anti-Jewish but constantly invoke coded anti-Semitic themes."
LaRouche ran for president five times between 1976 and 1992, he is currently on the Oregon Democratic Presidential ballot for the May 18 primary.
Here is a breakdown of Lyndon LaRouche's campaign financing for the 2004 presidential race, as of March 31.
Cash on hand:
Statistics courtesy of The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan, non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C.
This policy statement originally appeared in the Oregon Voter's Guide for the May 18, 2004 election. LaRouche is running for Presidential candidate of the Democratic party.
"Many voters choose their candidates the way they choose to cheer for a sports figure in the arena. Soon, that will change. We are on the edge of a collapse of present world monetary financial system, a collapse more dangerous than what President Franklin Roosevelt faced in March 1933, whether President Bush is willing to face that reality, or not. You, the voter, personally, are in the arena.
In the meantime, Senator John Kerry and I will soon be the only major Democratic candidates left standing. It is important that he and I face off in constructive debates on the policies which the next President will be facing this coming January. It will be a friendly debate, but a very serious one. The economic policy you choose will be crucial.
Although the present world economic crisis is worse than in 1933, the philosophy of President Franklin Roosevelt is a model for the only sane alternative available to the U.S. now. My policies are detailed, and on my campaign Web site: www.larouchein2004.com. You are in the arena of a world economic crisis. Don't be a sidewalk superintendent. Act in this election as if your personal future depended upon it. It does."