In Memory of Howard Phillips, founder of the Constitution Party

by James N. Clymer, Three-term Constitution Party national chairman, and PA Lieutenant Governor candidate

Howard Phillips was an extraordinary man. Not only did he possess an intellect that for many of us was in the stratosphere, but he was erudite in a broad range of topics.

His grasp of all things political was unparalleled. He had an amazing grasp of history and fought tirelessly to keep the US from repeating the mistakes of the past. He had an uncanny sense of ways to make a point, to seize the political moment.

Howard had incredible recall of people, places and events, and there was many a night when I and a handful of others ignored the clock, relishing in his stories. He had a most astonishing array of experiences in the political world. In fact, it seemed there was almost no one of renown that he hadn’t rubbed elbows with at some point in his life, whether it was the Boston Latin School, Harvard University, his tenure at OEO [the US Office of Economic Opportunity, Editor] or his involvement in the myriad of liberty minded organizations in which he played an integral role in developing. In telling of his experiences he would often reveal his sense of humor, like the time he told of a dinner with former Vice President Dick Cheney. As he recounted it, he told the vice president that he was his second most favorite vice president and that he lost out to Aaron Burr because Burr was a better shot!

Howard was the most principled man I ever met. If something was right, it didn’t matter who was opposed to it.

But while one quickly learned of his vast knowledge in the political world, you didn’t have to be around him long to learn he could expound on a wide range of issues from baseball to movies, from dance to theology and from theater to grammar. He could expound on almost any sport, but especially baseball. One of the few things that Howard and I ever disagreed on was for which team to cheer. His beloved Braves and my Phillies are in the same division, hence constant rivals, and he never missed an opportunity to either congratulate me on how well the Phillies were doing or gloat over how badly the Braves were beating them.

Howard taught us many things. Those of us that have been around him for many years have picked up a lot of “Howisms”!

“To achieve victory, first you must seek it.”

“The two major parties are trains headed for a cliff; although one may be going 90 mph and the other only 60 mph, they are headed the same direction and we need to do more than change engineers.”

During Constitution Party National Committee meetings: “Point of personal privilege,” whenever he wanted to inject something that otherwise would have been out of order.

I have a great debt of gratitude to Howard. He took me from being a hayseed plowboy and introduced me to people and organizations I could hardly have imagined rubbing elbows with. It was with his encouragement that I sought and was elected to three terms as national chairman of the political party he organized.

Howard was the most principled man I ever met. If something was right, it didn’t matter who was opposed to it. He was not intimidated by power, prestige or position. He was always the stalwart for adhering to principle. He was the conscience of conservatives.

On the day that Howard Phillips died:

—The national average IQ went down a few points;
—Liberty lost a champion;
—Our country lost a bulwark in its defense against a government marching madly toward socialism and tyranny;
—Many thousands lost a mentor, a political polestar;
—His children and grandchildren lost a father and grandfather who loved them immensely and was extremely proud of their many accomplishments;
—Peggy lost a soul mate;
—We all lost one who encouraged us, inspired us, mentored us and motivated us.

Yet because of the legacy he left us, we are not bereft. He has left his mark on our country and I venture to say on everyone here. He will live on in his children and grandchildren and on the many thousands of lives he has helped to mold.

At the Battle of Bull Run, General Bernard Bee encouraged his men, who were retreating, to return and fight, saying, “Look, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” Howard admired the tenacity, the determination, the character, the military skills and Christian faith of Stonewall Jackson. Howard became Jackson’s modern day replica as he stood like a “stonewall” against all odds, in the face of terrible onslaughts, in the battle of ideas, the battle for liberty.

May his memory be eternal.

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