This interview with John Kenyon of the Institute of Global Church Studies, first appeared on Facebook, Dec. 18, 2019.
IGCS: It is a pleasure to have you with the IGCS today, Brian Carroll.
BC: Thank you, John. I’ve been looking forward to this.
IGCS: Our members, I am sure, want to learn about your campaign for US President, but first it is important to emphasize that the American Solidarity Party (ASP) is the only party in America that self-identifies as a Christian democratic party. Why is that?
BC: This certainly isn’t the first time that Christians have brought their Christian identity to democracy. William Wilberforce defeating the Atlantic slave trade would be an obvious example. In the American Revolution, church membership was the number one predictor of whether a person was a Patriot or a Loyalist. Before the Civil War, Christianity divided over slavery ten or twenty years before the nation did. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s was driven by the Black Church and its white allies. I don’t know why the United States didn’t have a specifically Christian Democratic Party until now, but maybe it was because Christians—of whatever denomination—could find a comfortable home in one major party or the other. After 1980, the Moral Majority publicly attached itself to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party publicly became more suspicious of Christianity. After a couple of decades of that, many Christians—faithful Republicans—were starting to feel a disconnect from the Republicans, and many faithful Democrats—heavily Catholic—felt that the Democratic Party was drifting dangerously away from a Pro-Life ethic.
IGCS: What makes it a “Christian” party?
BC: Identifiable ‘Christian Democracy’ begins with Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch Reformed Prime Minister of the Netherlands in the years before World War I. It adds some philosophic and economic ideas from G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and then from the writings of several 19th and 20th Century Popes. Before we had a League of Nations or a United Nations, the Popes were the closest thing we had to an international referee. They weren’t tied to the interests of any one nation, and they served a constituency that included all social classes and both colonies and colonialists. As industrialization spread they could watch the economic and spiritual challenges, the breakdown of the family, and the bigger picture that no individual national government could see. And they could consider it all in light of the Bible.
IGCS: I am familiar with Rerum Novarum. When did it form? And where?
BC: I’m still reading some of the original writings, trying to catch up. I just retired in June. Our party organized in 2011, and ran its first candidate in 2012. I wasn’t part of it until late in 2016, but even then, the discussions were mostly located on Facebook. It is actually incorporated in Pennsylvania. We began with the name ‘Christian Democratic Party of America,’ but half the population was put off by the word ‘Christian’ and the other half was put off by ‘Democratic,’ so we renamed it the American Solidarity Party. There are people who don’t understand the word ’Solidarity,’ but we just have to move on.
IGCS: How many states have chapters? How many with enough registered voters to get on state ballots?
BC: We’re in a growth period right now, with several states organizing new chapters. I’m not sure of the legal status of all of them, but Ohio stands out as a very active chapter, with a possible congressional candidate for next year. In California, our candidate for governor got over 4,000 votes last year, and I got about 1,600 running in the primary against Congressman Devin Nunes. Every state has its own rules for getting on the ballot, but we think it’s realistic to be on the ballot in ten or twelve states, and then to be recognized as official write-in candidates in 25 or 30 more.
IGCS: How many ASP candidates now hold offices? How many are running for offices?
BC: Chuck Adams is the City Attorney in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, but he was already in that position before he joined us. As we grow, I think that will likely be the case until we become more established. Existing office holders will switch and join us.
IGCS: I see your party received votes for President in 2016. That is impressive for a new political party. Was the ASP listed on the federal ballot?
BC: Mike Maturen was our nominee. We were on the ballot in Colorado, and just missed it by a couple of glitches in Louisiana and Florida. There is a learning curve. In California, we got 1,500 votes with a last-minute write-in campaign. It was all word of mouth. We spent no money, and our candidate never visited. We printed no literature. Nationally, we know of between six and seven thousand votes, and we believe we got at least that many or more in states that don’t count or report write-in votes.
IGCS: I am not clear on your status as Presidential nominee. Has the ASP already nominated you to run?
BC: Yes, I was nominated over two other candidates during an on-line convention in September. I chose Amar Patel, of Chicago, as my running mate. As it turns out, we are both school teachers, married to school teachers, although we didn’t set out to do it that way, and my wife and I are both retired.
IGCS: I was telling a friend about you and the American Solidarity Party. He said ‘solidarity’ sounded leftist/Marxist. Is this correct? Or the problem you mentioned above with the name?
BC: It was Lech Walesa’s Polish Solidarity Party that brought down Communism in Poland, and began the domino effect that brought down the whole Soviet system. Solidarity was a favorite word within the U.S. union movement, and is used often by Catholic theologians.
IGCS: What are your top domestic policies?
BC: When I speak about creating a culture of life, I mean much more than just outlawing abortion, although I would be even more Pro-Life than the current Administration. I would have nominated Amy Coney Barrett over Bret Kavanagh. But it’s more than just passing laws about abortion or assisted suicide. We have to say life is important at every stage. We have a government that brags about how well Wall Street is doing, but tries to ignore a horrible and growing gap between the rich and the poor. We separate families at the border and then admit that we have no capability of keeping track of those kids and reuniting them eventually with their parents. The Salinas, California, schools just reported that 40% of their student population is homeless. Our for-profit medical insurance companies are offering to pay $1.50 for a suicide pill, but unwilling to pay for lifesaving procedures. We tell an expectant mother that we want her to deliver her baby, but she won’t have much help from society raising that child, and her child may very well end up in the school-to-prison pipeline, where his or her incarceration will pad earnings for a private prison company. We want to brag about our low unemployment rates, but we ignore how many working-age people are behind bars, or on the street and too discouraged to even look for work. These are not easy problems, and we won’t solve them overnight. But we will never address them if we keep telling ourselves how good things are.
IGCS: What are your foreign policy priorities?
BC: We are at a triage point with climate dysfunction. There may not be much we can do with a problem like North Korea, but most of the world’s hot spots are aggravated by climate change. Your readership on this page pays attention to world missions, and I think most of those readers could come up with their own examples of how the first people hurt by climate disruptions are the people who are already marginalized and struggling. Syria is made worse because of extended drought. In the African Sahel, we have bloodshed between Muslim herdsmen and Christian farmers made much worse because of draught. In Central America, we have rising sea levels destroying the mangrove trees that have traditionally provided a livelihood for thousands of people. As a result, we have migrations of climate refugees that spark violence elsewhere. Rising sea-levels will create new migrations. Our military has been warning us about this for decades, but the politicians at the top can’t find the political will to take the necessary steps to intercede. The most important step we can take to promote world peace is to help people stay where they are.
IGCS: Why are you personally running for President?
BC: I made a conscious decision when I was younger not to pursue a career in politics, because I didn’t believe that would lend itself to my own parenting success. My family is raised now. Along the way, God gave me some incredible opportunities to see some of the world. I lived nine years in Colombia, South America, and taught English one summer in China. I’ve been to over 20 countries, and when I travel, I don’t do the touristy thing, I get to know people. I’ve spent a long career, teaching teenagers about history and the workings of our democracy. I also benefitted from some leadership experiences, one in opposition to abortion and another in helping to initiate a public bus system. I was all set to ride quietly into retirement, until 2016. I looked at our choices and concluded that no good thing could come out of that election. It was time to write it off as a loss and start looking forward to the next one. Within a few weeks, I discovered the American Solidarity Party. I thought I would be helping to elect somebody else, so I have been surprised to find myself the candidate. I am excited about what God may have in store for us in the coming year.
IGCS: The IGCS in an information forum on how the Church is responding to 15 major global issues, so the work of the ASP lands foursquare within our protocols. Thanks for this opportunity to learn something about it. Please come back. And keep us posted along the way of your 2020 campaign for US President. And oh! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
BC: Where can I (and others) find a list of those 15 major global issues?
IGCS: They are pinned to the top of each group in Announcements. (*See below.)
BC: Very good. On the Web, our campaign is at www.briancarroll.life, and on Facebook, we are at https://www.facebook.com/BrianCarroll.ASP4President2020/?ref=profile_intro_card I hope that you, your family, and all of your followers have a blessed Christmas season, and a Happy New Year.
(*The 15 IGCS global issues are:
1. The Church facing war and peace
2. The Church facing transnationalism
3. The Church facing religious freedom
4. The Church facing the determination of political and economic systems
5. The Church facing poverty and hunger
6. The Church facing population/immigration/migration/refugees
7. The Church facing other religions
8. The Church facing medical/health issues
9. The Church facing human sexuality
10. The Church facing human rights
11. The Church facing global technology
12. The Church facing the environment
13. The Church facing energy resources and their allocation
14. The Church facing economic development
15. The church facing global theology)