In 1985 Babbie and I were vacationing in Hawaii with our three boys. We’d been going over every year since 1976. She was complaining about not having enough to spend on something, and asked me, “If you’re so damn smart, how come we don’t have any money?”
I was making about $46,000 in legislative salary, but my law practice income was down to about $25,000. I wasn’t interested in practicing law. I liked politics.
So I told her I could write a book, and make money as an author of fiction. Once I told her that, I had to go through with it and write the book. It was a Cold War thriller, with the hero a part Native Republican U. S. Senator named Herman Merculieff, from Kodiak. I called it “Brinkman” and sent it around to some literary agents in New York. One of them wrote back, and we got on the phone.
His name was Jay Garon, and he said he really liked the book, and thought he could sell it to a publisher. He said I reminded him of another former state legislator he was working with named John Grisham, from Mississippi. Jay assigned an editor to help me polish it up, and it looked like I was going to get published.
Then the Berlin Wall came down, and the plot of Brinkman was totally obsolete. The Lord did not intend for me to be a scribbler.
Nonetheless, since Easter Sunday this blog has become a book in progress. My literary agent, Jay Garon, has been gone a long time, but there’s an agency in New York that bears his name, and is his successor. So I’ve sent an email describing what I’ve been writing about, and hope to get them interested.
I’d like the book, “Support This Constitution”, to be out before the end of the year. That way it will be available to the legislators of the 50 states as they begin their 2019 sessions.
I thought of starting with this post, and continuing as follows:
When I decided I wanted to fight communism, I knew I would need to get involved in politics. My first chance was the Presidential election of 1960. I understood very little at this age, but I knew Nixon had based his career on anti-communism. I knew about his kitchen debate with Kruschev in Moscow in 1959, so I was a Nixon man.
In the fall of 1960 I was a junior at St. Mary’s High School on Berkeley, and I had a regular column in the student newspaper. I wrote a piece in support of Nixon, and challenged anyone to a debate. This was a Christian Brothers school, with most of the students the descendants of Irish, Italian or other Catholic immigrants. Everybody was excited about the first Roman Catholic President. But no one came forward to debate me.
Then in late September I read that Kennedy was making a whistle stop campaign tour of northern California, with a stop in Pittsburgh, only ten miles from my house. I hitchhiked over to the train station, and as his train pulled in I ran out on the tracks behind it, and when it stopped I was in the front row of the crowd waiting for Kennedy to speak.
When he came out on the little platform, he leaned down and shook hands with those of us in the front row. I didn’t support Kennedy, and I’m sure I had a skeptical look on my face. He did a little double take when he looked at me. Then he gave me a big smile, and right then I thought he was the most handsome, and nicest, man I’d ever seen.
When I graduated from high school in 1962 I was offered a scholarship at St. Mary’s College, but wanted to go to Cal instead. That was where all the liberals were, and I intended to major in Political Science, and debate them.
I was the first graduate of St. Mary’s High to be accepted in Cal’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. I would take the Marine option in my junior year, and upon graduation go to Officer’s Candidate School and earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. If there was to be a fight against communism, I wanted in on it. My Uncle Fritz had fought the Nazis, and I’d fight the Commies.
The classes at Cal were a big disappointment, and I never got to debate anybody. So I ordered a Goldwater sweatshirt and wore it to class, hoping to provoke someone.
One of my classes was Speech, which I mistakenly thought meant political speech, There were only about 35 students, so we had a chance to interact with the instructor. He was a little weasel of a guy, a lawyer who thought he was cool because he represented pornographers. He was full of himself, and was obviously trying to impress one of the students, a real knock out of a girl.
My Goldwater sweatshirt clearly annoyed him, and one day he started class by asking “What do we really know about politicians? What do we know for sure? For instance, what do we know for certain about Barry Goldwater? Well, we do know that he’s the senior Senator from Arizona . . . ” At that point I interrupted him, saying, “No, he’s actually the junior Senator.” I wound up getting a D in that class, but it was worth it.
Two years later, in 1964, I was all in on Barry Goldwater. I read his Conscience of a Conservative, and I agreed with all of it. I knocked on doors, passing out literature, and when he beat Rockefeller in the California primary, and sealed the nomination, I was elated. One of my fondest memories is watching Walter Cronkite report the election results as they came in. He was in shock. He couldn’t believe it.
By 1964 I was also involved with the Cal Young Republican club, which was part of the Free Speech Movement. Political speech was restricted on campus, and the small minority of conservatives joined the anti-war left in protest. I met people like Jerry Rubin and Mario Savio, and found common cause with them.
We won our protest, and in the fall of 1965, when I was Chair of the Cal YR’s, we were allowed to set up recruitment tables in Sproul Plaza. I had a card table between the ones for the Spartacist League and the Students for a Democratic Society.
This was where most students entered campus, and I put a big sign in front of my table, which read “Make love and war. FUCK COMMUNISM.” I didn’t get anyone to sign up, and no one ever said a word to me about my sign. But I’d made my point. Free speech, baby.
After college and six months of bumming around Europe I went to Alaska to meet my legendary Uncle Fritz. I decided to forget California and become an Alaskan. But there were no law schools in Alaska, so I returned to California, met and married my wife of 47 years, and spent three years at UCLA Law School.
When my wife and I returned to Alaska in 1974 I did so with the intention of running for the United States Senate. Alaska had a small population, was thin on political talent, and it had two Senate seats. My initial target was Democrat Mike Gravel, but I wasn’t ready to run in 1980, so I worked on the campaign of the Republican, Frank Murkowski. When Frank won we now had two Republicans in the Senate, so my path was blocked unless one of them was somehow removed.
I was elected to the State Senate in 1982, and found out about Article V during my first session in 1983. This was the way for me to have an open seat to run for: use Article V to adopt term limits, forcing my enemy and rival, Ted Stevens from office. And so began my 35 years in the Article V movement.
I no longer have any personal political ambitions. But I’ve become convinced that the use, by the states, of Article V is the only way the people of this country can reign in a corrupt and bankrupt institution — the United States Congress. We all despise it, and we all want to do something about it. With an amended, and revived, Article V, we still have time.
Article VI requires that all state legislators “. . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution.” And that’s exactly what they are being called upon to do.