Running to Win in Lincoln's State

Alan Keyes has been drafted to run against Barack Obama for one of Illinois’ U.S. Senate seats.

Keyes was a United Nations ambassador during the Reagan administration. He's a two-time presidential candidate with a Ph.D. in government from Harvard. He speaks five languages, he worked on the staff of the National Security Council, and he spent 11 years with the U.S. State Department.

Keyes, 54, is Catholic and bills himself as “100% pro-life.” He spoke Aug. 25 with Register correspondent Wayne Laugesen about his plan to win on a pro-life, pro-family and pro-Jesus platform.

You were drafted into this race late to run against a rising star in the Democratic Party, the man who gave the keynote speech at the Democratic convention. How is the race going?

It's going well, and I'm excited. After only three weeks, we have more than 7,000 volunteers and a fundraising base that's growing all over the country. We are putting all sorts of issues on the table that were not on the table before I entered this race, and they are issues that need to be on the table.

We know you bill yourself as 100% pro-life and that you vigorously oppose proposals that would force states to recognize homosexual “marriages.” Tell us another issue you bring to this campaign.

I support school choice, and I'm redefining a host of economic issues in this campaign in order to support and build up the traditional family. We can't have more jobs in Illinois if we elect candidates who stand for excessive taxation. I'm making an issue of tort reform, because the cost of malpractice insurance is literally driving hundreds of doctors out of Illinois and other states. I'm planning to reduce the corruption tax — the informal charges to taxpayers that result from bribery and other forms of corruption that lead to scandal and cause an onerous burden for the electorate.

Whatever happens in this Senate election, the outcome will seat only the sixth black Senator in U.S. history. Do you expect to do well among the large community of black voters in Illinois?

We've been getting a good response from the black community as people hear our message. But those who are responding and supporting us are doing so, not because they want to support a black candidate, but they're coming forward as people of faith who believe in sound moral principles.

Race has somehow become an issue this campaign, even though both candidates are black. The magazine Africana, which bills itself as “gateway to the black world,” has called your candidacy “insulting” to people of color and has accused the Illinois Republican Party of recruiting you “to turn the election into a ridiculous coon show.” Your response?

The author of that article is obviously someone who has the utmost contempt for himself, and he knows nothing about me or Obama. I loathe to dignify that article with a response.

The media have you pegged as the poster child of political under-dogs in this race, mainly because Obama gained instant national celebrity at the Democratic convention. Can you really win this?

I will win, and I will win handily. The only real advantage that Obama has is that the majority of voters don't really know him yet, other than the pabulum they heard from the podium when he gave the keynote address for the Democrats in Boston. They will get to know him as a leftist, academic Marxist with a bizarre, extremist position on abortion and a voting record in the Illinois State Senate that shows his support for letting unwanted children die after they're born alive. This is a man with an ideologically hard, hard heart.

Is that part of the reason you accepted this invitation to run?

Oh, absolutely. If Barack Obama were to get elected, we would have someone serving in the United States Senate who has a far more radical and extremist position on abortion than John Kerry, Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton.

Where do you stand on issues of social and economic justice — poverty issues the Democrats often use to appeal to the hearts of Catholic voters?

Issues of economic equity have been wrongly addressed throughout most of the past century because they've been addressed through government action. I've seen too much devastation in the black community to believe that government action is the solution to human poverty and misery. I've seen government programs, ostensibly designed to address these issues, which have led to the collapse of families and driven fathers from homes, which has led to moral disaster. We must respect the role that a healthy business community, when it's allowed to thrive, plays in keeping people from falling out of the economy.

You're in favor of capital punishment for some heinous murders. How do you reconcile this with your faith and your pro-life philosophy?

In modern society, we go about business as if death is the ultimate harm that can befall you, which it is not. The ultimate penalty is life without God. We say the punishment should fit the crime, but we have forgotten that there's a higher tribunal than ours and sometimes we are punishing acts that are so evil that we should appeal to God's tribunal. The Pope hasn't said that capital punishment is a moral evil; he has said that it isn't needed anymore. That's not a moral judgment by the Pope, but a prudential judgment, and on prudential judgments, we're free as Catholics to disagree. We must be careful to take very seriously the argument that the Pope has made, but we are free to have another opinion.

Are Catholics still a so-called voting bloc in Illinois — or anywhere else, for that matter — or do they simply vote like everyone else without regard for the moral teachings of the Church and how those pertain to contemporary political issues?

A lot of Catholic voters are motivated by the moral teachings of the Church and the fruits of their faith. We have to challenge people to be motivated by their faith and educate them to the fact that the doctrine of separation of church and state is false. It's simply a lie.

You've been criticized for some of your rhetoric. Is it true you criticized Obama of taking the “slaveholder's position”?

Obama wrote Jack Ryan (former Republican candidate who resigned from the race) and said no moral issue in this campaign could rise to the level of our history of slavery in this country, and I have said that, with his extremist position on abortion, Barack Obama is in favor of the worst form of slavery. Obama has taken the slaveholder's position.

In the 19th century, rather than accept a course that would have vitiated and destroyed the principles of our national union, Lincoln opposed Stephen Douglas in debates, in order to maintain a posture for this nation that would produce the extinction of slavery rather than the extinction of our great national creed. When Barack Obama embraces an extremist position on abortion that countenances even the murder of living young children outside the womb, he abandons the principles of our Declaration and destroys the foundations of our national union. Obama is a leftist, academic Marxist who has actually said that if a child survives an abortion and is born alive, she should be set aside and left to die.

Can you count on the Catholic vote in Illinois, and what are you doing to try to get Catholics to understand that you're in line with the moral teachings of the Church?

I'm standing for things consistent with the faith. Catholic politicians should stand with integrity and strength and address all public issues with regard to the doctrine of the Church.

How do you feel about the way U.S. bishops have handled the issue of pro-abortion politicians who receive Communion?

Out of respect for the integrity of the sacrament, we teach our children that they're acting in mortal sin if they take Communion and they're not in a state of moral integrity. If politicians are professing that they're not in a state of moral integrity, by professing support for something that's a universal evil and in complete conflict with Church teachings, then they're not only committing mortal sin, but they're giving scandal to the entire faith. And we're debating whether they should receive the Eucharist? I think the answer to this is pretty clear and concise, and it's not a matter of politics, but a simple issue of the Church policing itself.

Will Catholic politicians ever believe that they can be elected on a platform that emanates from, and adheres to, the moral teachings of the Church?

I'm going to prove to them that they can, and I'm going to do it right here in Illinois on Nov. 2. It's not only unnecessary, but it's immoral to stop talking about these issues out of concerns for being elected. I hope to inspire politicians all over the country.

My election will put to rest the lie that says one can't put moral issues, such as the holocaust of abortion and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, right up front and win. I'll prove them all to be dead wrong.