I've come to accept that most of my students have no idea of who I am talking about when I mention any political figure before the era of George W. Bush.  Robert Bork, Dan Quayle, Bob Dole– that's okay.  But what saddens me is that they have no idea who Lyndon LaRouche
is– undoubtedly one of the more entertaining (not that he tried to be) political figures of the 1980's.  Larouche has run for president every year since 1976, but at the age of 85, he's finally decided to give it up.  Larouche is a convicted felon, totally paranoid, and completely nuts.  He recently granted a phone interview to The New Republic (apparently he feels in-person interviews are too much of a security risk).  Some highlights from the article:

After running in every presidential
election since 1976–and supporting everything from colonizing Mars, to
bringing back the gold standard, to building a giant land bridge across
the Bering Strait–LaRouche has decided not to go in for a ninth bid in

His enemies list has had a large
and distinguished membership–it's probably the only one to include
Henry Kissinger, Harry Truman, Queen Elizabeth II, Jane Fonda, and most
nineteenth-century British empiricists–but lately it's focused almost
exclusively on Al Gore, whose antiglobal warming crusade he treats with
special contempt. LaRouche, his colleagues say, is unambiguously
“pro-civilization” and regards anything that hinders growth as a threat
to life as we know it…

The prospect of darker times is a subject
LaRouche brings up a lot. In the course of an hour-long conversation,
he warns that “the worst financial crisis in modern history [is] in the
process of hitting” and “the world financial monetary system” is
“disintegrating very rapidly”; that “civilization may not be here when
we come to our senses”; and, rather cryptically, that we are
approaching a “Tower of Babel.” And, just as he has done for decades,
LaRouche maintains that he is the only one with the qualifications to
save us from an unappealing fate.

I was pleased to read that Larouche, having giving up on older generations (who actually know who he is), has focused his energies on building the Worldwide Larouche Youth Movement.  Apparently, the recruit college kids to drop-out and devote their lives to a cult-like following of Larouche.  Now, maybe some of my students will actually know something about him– I can even think of a few I wouldn't mind seeing sign up :-). 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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