“Where is LaRouche? Where is LaRouche? ” a group of audience members began to chant in the middle of Joe Lieberman’s speech. Lieberman froze. “I suspect he’s in jail” Dean quipped. Al Sharpton appealed to the audience asking them to respect candidates’ right to speak and was rewarded with a resounding round of applause. At that time I did not pay much attention to this incident. I assumed that a couple of hardcore Republicans decided to disrupt the debate and that LaRouche was some sort of a cartoon character that I was not aware of because of my Disney-deprived childhood. It turns out that LaRouche is real enough.

As Jeff Pearlman writing for Newsday put it Lyndon LaRouche is to presidential elections “what fungus is to the damp side of a rock.” LaRouche ran in every single presidential election since 1976. He even ran from jail in 1992 where he was held on fraud charges. Those charges were, incidentally, the reason for Dean’s comment during the Black Caucus Debate. After initially running as a third party candidate he became a Democrat and contested Democratic primaries since 1980. Although always unsuccessful, LaRouche was never entirely irrelevant and maintained his pockets of support. In 2000 for example he garnered 22 percent in the Democratic primary in Arkansas. Still, despite this sizable support, the Democratic Party and the establishment in general treats his candidacy as that of a ghost. He is never invited to debates, the media generally ignores him, the polling agencies refuse to include his name, and the Democratic Party fights to the tooth to keep him off the ballot.

Once you learn about LaRouche’s views it becomes obvious why the Democratic Party has isolated LaRouche. Political Research Associates compiled a collection of LaRouche’s past quotes and here is the picture that emerges: According to this self-described leading economist of the twentieth century, British monarchy secretly runs the world. Even the Nazi Germany was designed and shaped from London. London not only runs drug cartels but also imposes various methods of psychological control like Jazz and the Beatles. It also successfully uses such agents as Jews and the Episcopal Church to run its operations. Once he comes to power LaRouche promises to eliminate the principal London’s agency in the United States: “the Nazi Jewish lobby.” Jews in general and Zionism in particular have a special place in LaRouche’s ideology. He refers to the latter as “the state of collective psychosis.”

Perhaps my judgment is impaired by the fact that I am Jewish, Zionist, and generally sympathetic to Great Britain, but to me it is clear that the guy is a nut. Most people within the current establishment seem to think so as well and dismiss him as a quirky and entertaining oddity.

The reality is unfortunately much more sinister. According to the Center for Responsible Politics in his current bid for the White House alone LaRouche raised over $5.5 million in small donations. According to the Federal Election Commission as late as last April his fundraising figures surpassed those of Lieberman, Dean and Graham. According to the last report from three months ago he still has more money than Kucinich, Mosley-Braun and Sharpton combined, all three of them politicians with nationwide standing.

The implications of his fundraising success are astounding. He is ignored by the media, locked out of debates, and has as much chance of winning as a proverbial snowball in hell and yet he raised this truly massive amount of campaign cash. The only possible explanation is that he has a powerful grassroots organization. Just think about it: there is an ultraradical organization out there but the only reason we ever hear about it is because its leader compulsively runs for president and because a member at some point probably shoved a flier in your hand. The LaRouche experience shows how a radical organization can use the electoral system to fund its activities and spread its message.

Boris Volodarsky is a junior in Trumbull College.