Like Rodney Dangerfield, Lyndon LaRouche says he don't get no respect. Or delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Mr. LaRouche is running for president. Again. He says he is a Democrat, perhaps the only one who can save the nation, and maybe the world, from an economic and social implosion.
But the Democratic Party says he is a convicted felon (mail fraud involving fund-raising) with political beliefs that are "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic."
Nevertheless, Mr. LaRouche continues to campaign as a Democrat and, in states where election officials permit his name on the ballot, he draws some votes, sometimes thousands of votes. In last month's Democratic primary in Arkansas, for example, he got more than 53,000 votes, or 22 percent of the total cast. The other candidate on the ticket, Vice President Al Gore, got 194,000 votes.
So does Mr. LaRouche get to go to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles with 22 percent of Arkansas's 48 convention delegates? Or with delegates from any other state?
No way, says the Democratic National Committee. If he shows up, committee officials say, he will be barred from the convention and, they add, courts have ruled several times that such exclusion is legal.
Mr. LaRouche denies he is a racist or an anti-Semite. As for his fraud conviction, he says he went to prison and paid his debt to society. His big vote in Arkansas, he argues, proved his viability as a candidate. "In Arkansas," he says, "reality struck."