No Respect? No Problem
Gatewood Galbraith runs for Congress, defies establishment
By Alex De Grand
Laughter – the kind that doesn’t sound like they’re laughing with you – punctuated parts of Gatewood Galbraith’s remarks to the Lexington Forum during its August 3 breakfast with the Sixth Congressional District candidates.
Galbraith’s warnings against a new type of “fascism” drew guffaws from a corner of the conference room perched among the highest floors of the downtown Bank One building.
Others among the assembled business and civic leaders looked puzzled or just indifferent as Galbraith decried an impending “New World Order” of corporate influence undermining constitutional government.
Several said they liked Galbraith personally, but their votes wouldn’t be going to him this fall.
Meeting the next day for an interview in his downtown law office that doubles as a campaign headquarters, Galbraith was at ease when asked about the reception.
“They are the New World Order,” Galbraith laughed. “I love to go into the belly of the beast; go into the lion’s den and give them hell. It doesn’t matter who the audience is.”
Galbraith said after years of promoting his unique brand of politics that emphasizes maximum personal freedom and minimum government, he is used to the establishment’s collective blow off.
“I understand my name is not even used in a couple of the polls,” Galbraith said. “One friend asked a pollster, ‘What about Gatewood?’ and they said, ‘He’s not a credible candidate.’”
But Galbraith explained he isn’t concerned what pollsters think. After all, he notes, his 1999 gubernatorial candidacy dismissed by many ended up with approximately 15 percent of the vote statewide – among the best showings of an independent candidate in the state’s history.
That strong finish helped make Galbraith the Reform Party’s choice for a prime time speaker – around 8 p.m. August 10 – during its national convention televised on C-Span from Long Beach, California. The convention is expected to draw up to 5,000 people on each of its four days.
“[Galbraith] has been a high profile candidate and he’s got a good chance to win,” said Judy Duffy, the vice chairwoman of the Reform Party’s convention committee.
He has run for office repeatedly and has yet to win, but Galbraith is a personality that doesn’t fade away. In fact, Galbraith has made more of an impression than quite a few of those who do win elections.
Galbraith explained his campaigns energize people who feel left out of politics.
“My campaign has been to shake hands,” Galbraith said of his current bid for Congress. “When I walk up to people, I normally say, ‘How do you do? I’m Gatewood Galbraith. I’m a candidate for the Sixth Congressional District on the Reform Party ticket..”
Galbraith said he proceeds to explain some of the key themes of the Reform Party including an “America First” pledge to prioritize domestic problems like affordable health care over problems in faraway nations.
Whereas the two major parties are scurrying to raise more and more election funds, Galbraith said he is making poverty a virtue by running a very low-budget campaign.
“We need to make the big obscene amounts of money a liability rather than an asset,” Galbraith said.
Galbraith denounces the Democrats – his former party – for “abandoning the farmers, the unions and the miners.” He accused the Democrats of joining Republicans in opening the nation up to a flood of cheap imports, driving American jobs overseas.
“These people have been dispossessed of their parties and they know it,” Galbraith said. “When I’m talking to them, light bulbs go off in their heads. They see a real alternative.”
Others complain all they see is a political sideshow hung up on fringe issues.
For example, Galbraith’s signature issue has been the promotion of hemp and many remember him as “the pot smoking lawyer.”
In this campaign, Galbraith has been just as vigorously supporting gun rights – a position confusing some who figure a pro-hemp stand would confine Galbraith to a left-wing ghetto diametrically opposed to the National Rifle Association.
But hemp, marijuana, and guns coexist amicably in Galbraith’s quasi-libertarian political ideology.
The government needs to stay out of people’s private lives as much as possible, according to Galbraith. That means people should be able to exercise their right to keep and bear arms just as they should be able to grow a marijuana plant for their own personal use.
Galbraith said he believes in the necessity of some government “safety net” programs like Social Security and the government’s role in consumer protection, but otherwise he is wary of government.
“I’m endowed by my creator with certain inalienable rights-not by my government,” said Galbraith whose web page proclaims himself to be “the last free man in America.”
The web page collects some of Galbraith’s quotes from past campaigns including one about drug testing: “Did my father’s generation hit the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima so their children would have to pee in a cup to hold a job in America?”
Galbraith readily acknowledges not everyone understands the structure of his political beliefs. He agreed some are confused because they try to identify his stands according to “Democrat” and “Republican.”
But people are increasingly tired of the two major parties and the times have finally caught up with him, Galbraith said.
“There is a confluence of timing, issues, characters and desire for reform that makes this race the one I’ve been in training for all these years,” Galbraith said.