America First Party Purges
By Stephen Dewey
July 28, 2003
WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The America First Party
(AFP) announced last week the postponement of its national
convention to the fall, as the Party underwent significant
internal disputes between conflicting factions.
The convention was scheduled for this past weekend, July
24-26, in Nashville, Tennessee, but failed to materialize
after a portion of the convention's planning committee invited
a speaker "who was not acceptable to the majority of the party
That speaker was Colonel Bo Gritz, who reportedly grabbed a
controlling stake in the AFP's leadership in the months prior
to the conference change, leading to the resignation of the
AFP's national chair, vice chair and treasurer.
Gritz is a former Green Beret and was decorated 62 times
for his combat service in Vietnam, which he claims is a
record. Gritz was also a neutral negotiator at Ruby Ridge
between the FBI and Randy Weaver.
Other aspects of Gritz likely gave the AFP reason for
concern, and could have led to his dismissal as a speaker.
Gritz has close ties to militant anti-government and white
supremacist groups, and led several commando-style attacks on
Vietnam in the 1980s in search of alleged POWs trapped inside
Gritz also maintains a Center for Action with a national
newsletter that teaches advanced combat techniques he learned
as a Green Beret.
"The America First Party takes seriously its commitment to
the Constitution and the Judeo-Christian moral and ethical
standards upon which our Nation was founded," the AFP release
announcing the conference change reads. "All United States
citizens who embrace that Constitution and adopt traditional
American values are welcome with open arms into the
"The choice of an individual who supports extreme
intolerance was not considered representative of our growing
party whose goal is the preservation of the Constitutional
Republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers," the release
continues. "Anyone who supports theories that we hoped had
died with Adolph Hitler is not welcome in the America First
Party -- and certainly such persons should not -- and will not
-- be invited to speak at our convention."
Control of the AFP appears to have switched back and forth
as the different factions contested the decision. The AFP sent
out a news release in early July confirming that Gritz would
be the speaker and that he was "an approved speaker by the
The same press release can be found on Gritz's own site,
indicating that he or one of his affiliates composed it. The
release was not in the traditional AFP format, which could
indicate that control of the party's national infrastructure
changed hands briefly.
Less than two weeks later, a second press release was sent
out indicating that the convention had been rescheduled for a
to-be-determined date in the fall and that the dispute was
related to the speaking lineup for the convention. This
release was in the traditional AFP format, and announced the
resignation of a few insurgent members possibly connected to
One day prior to the second release, the AFP sent out an
unrelated release regarding defense contracts, indicating the
leadership's attempt to put the Party back on course.
The AFP sees itself as the most viable conservative
alternative to the Republican Party, and traces its roots to
the Buchanan Brigade.
The Brigade supported Buchanan in his efforts to secure the
GOP nomination in 1992 and 1996, both of which were
unsuccessful. Buchanan ran on the Reform Party ticket in 2000,
but only received 0.4% of the vote, and told the media that
his foray into third party politics may have been a
Buchanan remains active in politics, however, and the AFP
parallels his activism in the political realm. Buchanan's core
followers defected from the Reform Party in 2002 to form the
AFP, and remain essentially at the helm of the Party.
The AFP is uncompromisingly conservative on every issue,
and decries the GOP's newfound neoconservative tendencies. The
AFP opposed the Iraq war, but vigorously supported American
troops. The AFP's platform is conservative on every issue, and
tends toward the isolationist.
Copyright © 2003 Talon News -- All rights reserved.
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