“Building walls isn’t the solution,” says former Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Inspired by Saturday’s address by Pope Francis at the third World Meeting of Popular Movements — a meeting hosted by the Vatican that brought together delegates representing the poor, unemployed and others struggling at the margins of society — longtime antiwar activist and former gubernatorial candidate Brian P. Moore of Florida yesterday endorsed Rocky De La Fuente’s longshot bid for the presidency.
In announcing his support for the low-key San Diego businessman, the 73-year-old Spring Hill activist said that De La Fuente’s little-noticed candidacy “more closely embodies the spirit and substance of the pope’s message than either of the major-party candidates seeking the presidency.”
During his address on Saturday, Pope Francis spoke out strongly against the use of “fear” in politics while urging world leaders to do more for the world’s troubling refugee crisis. He also condemned the use of walls to keep refugees out.
While urging the defeat of “false prophets who exploit fear and desperation, who sell magic formulas of hatred and cruelty or selfish well-being and illusory security,” the pope told Saturday’s gathering that tyranny can only thrive by exploiting fear. “Citizens are walled-up, terrified, on one side; on the other side, even more terrified, are the excluded and banished,” he said.
The pope’s speech was viewed by many as a not-so-subtle attack on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose controversial proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico has been one of the most contentious issues of the current presidential campaign.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis weighed in on Trump’s proposal without identifying the GOP candidate by name. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” he said during a visit to Mexico in February.
Moore, who garnered more than 201,000 votes in an unsuccessful bid for governor of Florida in the state’s 2010 Democratic primary, said that De La Fuente’s candidacy was “a breath of fresh air” in what he described as “the worst presidential campaign” of his lifetime.
“Rocky is exactly the kind of person we need in the White House,” said Moore. “He has dignity, compassion and, more importantly, integrity — qualities glaringly lacking in our other choices for the presidency this year.”
The longtime antiwar activist and political adventurer effusively praised De La Fuente’s philanthropic and humanitarian activities.
Moore said he believed the third-party candidate was far more likely to keep the United States out of unnecessary foreign conflicts and would be more compassionate than either Clinton or Trump when addressing the world’s growing refugee crisis. According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 65 million globally displaced people around the world — the largest number in recorded history. Incredibly, nearly 100,000 of them are children from war-torn countries who have attempted the journey on their own.
As one of the founders of the Nature Coast Coalition for Peace and Justice, an antiwar group with members in Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties, Moore has long encouraged the United States to be more accepting of Syrian refugees while advocating a more diplomatically strategic approach to countering the growing threat of terrorism.
“As Pope Francis eloquently stated on Saturday, the answer to the Syrian refugee problem isn’t to build more walls and fences, as we’re currently seeing in Europe, nor is it to ban Muslims and refugees here in the United States,” declared Moore, who can frequently be seen carrying “Refugees Matter” signs at local protests and demonstrations in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area.
Moore, who predicted more than 3 ½ years ago that the then-recently elected Pope Francis would “send a lightning bolt of hope and revolution” to the poor and suffering across the globe and thus far hasn’t been disappointed, once studied in a Franciscan seminary and maintained a lifelong friendship with his late spiritual mentor, John Vaughn, the longtime minister general for the Franciscan order, the worldwide leader of those who adhere to the religious teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. A native of Santa Ana, California, who taught extensively in California and Mexico, Vaughn served in that capacity from 1979 to 1991. Vaughn, who died last month, was only the second American in history to hold that position.
Vaughn’s deep sense of humility and his lifelong vow of poverty left an everlasting impression on Moore, who eventually left the seminary and later joined the Peace Corps where he worked for three years as a volunteer among the indigent inhabitants of Latin America helping to develop infrastructure projects that provided housing, water, electricity and sewage treatment for some of the poorest communities in Ecuador, Panama and Peru.
No stranger to presidential campaigns himself — he was the Socialist Party’s candidate for President in 2008 — Moore said that he was impressed by De La Fuente’s livestream responses during the final nationally televised debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on October 19th. He said that he was particularly struck by De La Fuente’s answer to a question about Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone in Syria and the concerns expressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that such a policy could lead to war with Syria and Russia.
“There is nothing wrong when you are playing chess, to have a stalemate,” De La Fuente had calmly stated during that debate. “It is not about Russia or Syria winning. We need to be able to try to prevent more human loss, more human misery.
“I am Catholic, I am Roman Catholic, my kids are Roman Catholic,” the third-party candidate continued. “I married a Persian woman from Iran. She is Muslim. I understand how Muslims think, I understand how Catholics think….I understand how Jewish people think. Also, I know about the Baha’i religion. You need to have a general understanding of the world to be able to make decisions,” he said, adding that those currently directing U.S. foreign policy have “no idea what happens in South America, they have no idea what happened in the Middle East, they have no idea what happens in China.”
“Rocky had the most thoughtful response,” said Moore. “I knew then that I had to take a serious look at his candidacy and I haven’t been disappointed.”
De La Fuente, a first-generation Mexican American, and his vice-presidential running mate Michael A. Steinberg — a Tampa attorney — will be on the ballot in twenty states tomorrow, including Florida, where they will appear as the nominees of Ross Perot’s resurgent Reform Party. They’re also waging write-in campaigns in approximately fifteen other states.