ST. GEORGE – Why vote for one of two evils? This was a question posed at the National Independent American Party’s summit Saturday as speakers and candidates stressed there is an alternative to the so-called two-party political system. Two featured speakers – Arizona’s former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – capped off the event, held at the Lexington Hotel & Conference Center in St. George.
“We need a second true political party,” said Gary Van Horn, the party candidate for Utah House District 58.
“The Democrats and Republicans are wings on the same buzzard,” he said.
While a call for an alternative to main stream political parties was a prominent topic at the summit, so was discussion over a need to save the Constitution from being trampled over by a seemingly corrupted federal government. Reliance on God was also a prime topic.
“Unless the Lord fight the battle, they that fight do so in vain,” IAP National Chairman Kelly Gneiting said, paraphrasing scripture. In other words, he said, if God isn’t a focus of the party, what its members hope to accomplish won’t matter much.
“American society from top to bottom was founded on religion,” said Zack Strong, IAP candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” he said.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Formed in Utah in 1998, the Independent American Party was inspired by a speech given by late U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson titled “The Proper Role of Government.” Benson is also well known to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having served as the president of the church from 1985 till his death in 1994.
“We are a nonparty party,” Gneiting said, emphasizing that no one in the party should be caught up in “the spirit of party,” which he described as being self-serving. That spirit, he said, is evident in members of congress who belong to the two major parties.
The IAP is always asking people to join the party and add their numbers to the fight to save the country and the Constitution.
“We are very, very serious about saving the Constitution,” Gneiting said. “We are a drop of water in a river of patriots. Now we need to gather that river … because it’s going to take a river of patriots.”
IAP candidates of note
While each of the candidates can be found on the Independent American Party website, Southern Utah voters will be able to vote for the following party candidates on the ballot this November.
Bill Wayne, a co-founder of the IAP, is running for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. He said his opponent, Republican Chris Stewart, has a poor voting record when it comes to favoring the Constitution. Wayne, who has run for public office before, said he will vote for the Constitution 100 percent of the time if elected.
If there was any piece of legislation he could undo, Wayne said it would be the establishment of the IRS and the 17th Amendment, which ushered in the direct election of senators to congress in 1913. Before then, senators were selected by their state legislatures.
He said he would also do away with the Federal Reserve, often referencing the book “The Creature from Jekyll Island” by G. Edward Griffin.
Nihla Judd is also running on the IAP ticket. She will be running against Republican incumbent Don Ipson and Democratic challenger Cheryl Hawker for Utah House District 75, representing the St. George area.
As a candidate, Judd said she receives many emails that, in general, ask her position on state funding of social programs. What those emails told her, she said, was that many people want her to redistribute wealth, or taxpayer money, via such programs which she described as act of “legal plunder.”
“This is one of the great issues we deal with,” she said.
Read more on Judd here: Residents meet with district, education officials over Common Core, SAGE testing
To prospective voters, Judd asks they not walk into a voting booth and vote for someone they don’t know, or simply because of the letter after the candidate’s name. Rather, actually get to know who you are sending to represent you in the legislature and congress and see if they truly do uphold the principles and values you believe in.
To this effect, the IAP is pushing an initiative called “PEOPL,” or “People Electing Only Principled Leaders.” It is a grass roots effort to find and support candidates who lack “the spirit of party” and uphold Constitutional principles.
Highlights: Mack and Bundy speak
Attendance at the summit ran between 20-40 people in the morning, though swelled to over 100 as people came to hear Sheriff Richard Mack and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy speak. Their speeches capped off the daylong gathering as both men touched on points surrounding the Bundy Ranch standoff with the Bureau of Land Management-Nevada and what they saw as examples of government overstepping its constitutionally-established limits.
Mack is the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, and a part of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. He has become a featured speaker in conservative circles after he and other sheriffs sued the Clinton Administration in the 1990s in relation to the Brady Bill.
“The states decide what is constitutional, not the federal government,” Mack said.
Mack’s speech was, in part, related to a book he just wrote titled “Are You a David? America’s Last Hope Volume II.” In the book he writes that anyone from public officials and law enforcement to the everyday citizen can be a David to the Goliath of an encroaching federal government. The last chapter details the episode at Bundy Ranch.
“We can talk about all the horrible things that happened at the Bundy Ranch for several days,” he said, “and that’s not including all the horrible things going on in our country.”
Aside from the standoff, Mack also mentioned the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the IRS and ever-increasing restrictive gun laws.It’s every American’s right to own a firearm, he said, and it is none of the government’s business to know if he owns one or not.
Read about the Bundy-BLM standoff here: Range war: BLM withdraws from Clark County, cattle released after standoff; Photo gallery
Both Bundy and Mack spoke to the importance of the county sheriff in dealing with the federal government. While Mack said sheriffs have the power to tell federal agencies “no,” Bundy expressed disappointment in Nevada’s Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie. The sheriff could have stopped the Bureau of Land Management from taking the actions it did against himself and his family, Bundy said, but the sheriff didn’t.
“He’s supposed to protect our lives, liberty, and property,” Bundy said of Gillespie and sheriffs in general.
Bundy said the conflict between himself and the BLM that led to the April 12 standoff has a physical, political, legal, and spiritual aspect to it. A person really needs to understand each facet of the issue to get the full picture of what happened. The media he said, primarily covered the physical aspect of what happened that day.
The Nevada rancher shared some spiritual aspects of the standoff and the days following, pausing on occasion to compose himself as he became somewhat emotional. Bundy also gave credit to the Almighty for things ending as peacefully as they did. He said:
If the standoff with the Bundys was wrong, would the Lord have been with us?
Bundy went on to reiterate the belief that the Constitution was also inspired by God and, if that be the case, “then isn’t it scripture?” he said. “Why don’t we live by it then? Isn’t our problem only the fact we don’t follow the Constitution?”
Ultimately, Bundy said the American people as a whole – no matter their their politics, religion or ethnicity – need to stand together to keep the federal government in check, and make something like the Bundy Ranch standoff never happens again.
Additional coverage of Bundy’s address to the IAP will be published separately.
- Cliven Bundy speaks at Independent American Party summit
- Right or wrong, controversy surrounding Cliven Bundy continues
- Bundy calls on sheriffs to disarm federal agencies; STGnews Videocast
- Range war: BLM withdraws from Clark County, cattle released after standoff; Photo gallery
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