Veterans Party of America
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|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
Currently, the Veterans Party of America (formed in 2013) is a US minor party which in its platform proclaims itself as "a centrist party". One does not have to be a veteran to be a member or candidate running for the party, but judging by the name, knowing how to use apostrophes might be a bar to entry. The Veterans Party of America (VPA) started in 2003 was a US minor party with a generally conservative and pro-military platform.
Their elected representatives include Michael Hart, Mayor of Commerce, Oklahoma; Commerce is a former mining town with a population of 2,473, best known for Bonnie and Clyde's visit in 1934 when they killed a peace officer and kidnapped the police chief, to whom they gave a clean shirt.
Chris Keniston, a former US Air Force maintenance supervisor, was their candidate for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. He believes in the "necessity and sanctity of both religion and government", job creation, border security, increased defence spending, cyber-security, space exploration, non-interference in global affairs, bans on corporate and union election spending, and the abolition of income tax, but is unconvinced that global warming is real.
How centrist is the VPA exactly?
Despite its self-designation as a centrist political party, the VPA platform includes a host of the usual US conservative talking points with an admixture of "Trumpish" economic nationalism.
Immigration, voter ID and language
Among the most detailed planks in the VPA's platform is its section VI on immigration with the details all concerning the ways illegal immigrants should be registered and all the instances in which they should face "immediate and permanent deportation." This is supplemented by the platform's section IV on border security; however, with the twist that only the public sector should be responsible for the task (i.e., no privatization).
The VPA also seems quite fond of voter ID laws (section XIV: "Electoral Reform") based on the usual vague claims about voter fraud, but supplemented with a populist spin on the worry about the influence of money on politics (a concern that is present in all shades of the political spectrum).
And yes, in section XIX ("Official Language") of the party platform, the VPA also supports the English-only movement:
The Veterans Party of America believes the United States should have English as an Official Language. A proposal would be set before the People in order to vote and voice their opinion on this. States and Territories have the right, on the State and Territorial level only, to enact a secondary language that is rich in their culture and history. Said right for a secondary language would not be in any effect at the federal level, with English as the Primary and Sole Official National Language.
A balanced budget and tax policy
The spending by government at all levels is out of control. The Veterans Party of America believes it is in the best interest of our Nation to reduce the national debt by reducing the size of government through major spending cuts that will automatically eliminate unconstitutional departments. This will require a Constitutional Amendment to ensure America will remain on a balanced budget.
Except for their idea of making non-restaurant food exempt, the VPA's tax proposal (section XII: "Tax Reform") is also classic right-wing policy through its focus on abolishing the income tax in favor of a consumption tax:
A national consumption (sales) tax will make it fair based on the spending of people versus their income. Essential life items, such as foods purchased from a store, or any other location that is not a food serving industry (i.e. restaurants), should be exempt. Abolishing income tax will require a Constitutional Amendment prior to initiating a national consumption tax.
Environmental policy "Resource sustainability" policy
The headline of the VPA platform's section XVII on this topic really says it all. While it contains some nice-sounding phrases, the headline is very appropriate as it is clearly based on global warming denialism:
The Veterans Party of America believes reducing our carbon footprint is a noble effort. It is a fact that global temperatures have risen over the last century with the last ten to fifteen years remaining level, and as such, we will not buckle to reactionary legislation introduced by those supporting the alarmist view of, “Global Warming and Climate Change,” nor will we passively sit on the sideline as resources are consumed and damaged with reckless abandon by aggressive industries seeking profits. It is also a fact that mankind has survived two previous eras with much higher temperatures.
So what about that centrism?
In sum: While the VPA describes itself as centrist, its platform has several of the hallmarks of the kind of right-wing populism that Trump appealed to during his 2016 presidential campaign, including such topics as economic nationalism, investment in various infrastructure projects, as well as a curiously selective view of particular types of benefits as "earned" (no surprise that these includes de facto universal healthcare for veterans, but not for US citizens in general), and thus verging on the sacred, whereas access to other benefits should apparently be strictly limited. While obviously nowhere nearly as wingnutty as the extreme right-wing Trump supporters of the Unite the Right variety, the VPA platform has far more conservative than liberal planks.