The group is now led by a coterie of prominent white nationalists, including corporate lawyer William D. Johnson, virulent anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald and white nationalist radio host James Edwards. David Duke’s former right-hand man, Jamie Kelso, helps with organizing. The party has big plans to run candidates nationwide.
In Their Own Words
“The American Third Position exists to represent the political interests of White Americans.”
- American Third Position website
“We want an America that is recognizable to us, one that we can feel comfortable in.”
- American Third Position website
“The initial basis of our own upstart organization is the racial nationalist movement. It has been in disarray for the last 20 years so there's not as large a base for us to draw on.”
- American Third Position Chairman William Johnson, Feb. 20, 2010, interview on James Edwards’ “The Political Cesspool”
The American Freedom Party (formerly American Third Position, A3P) was officially formed in October 2009, but its foundations were laid five months earlier. In May 2009, a racist skinhead group named Freedom 14 created the Golden State Party (GSP) in order to establish what was meant to be a respectable white nationalist political party. Members of Freedom 14, which organized via the hate Web forum Stormfront, were known for handing out anti-immigration fliers with white supremacist themes in Orange County, Calif.
The Golden State Party’s mission statement began, “The Golden State Party exists to advance the political interests of European-Americans, to save from destruction our unique culture, to safeguard our identity,” and its policy statements carried strong white nationalist themes. Freedom 14 members handed out fliers promoting the GSP over the summer of 2009. But that effort fell apart in September of that year, when it was revealed that Tyler Cole, the chairman of the GSP, had previously been convicted of two felonies and had been using pseudonyms like “Eugene Cameron” and “Tim Robbins” to hide his criminal past.
Embarrassed by the incident, Freedom 14 members decided to try for a fresh start. On Oct. 15, 2009, they held a meeting to form a party with a new name and new leadership. They elected racist corporate lawyer William Daniel Johnson as chairman of the newly renamed political party, American Third Position. Johnson had been advocating for the deportation of all non-white immigrants and U.S. citizens, including anyone with any “ascertainable trace of Negro blood,” since 1985, when he wrote a book arguing for a constitutional amendment to do just that. Johnson promoted his book far and wide, including at the 1986 Aryan Nations World Congress.
The A3P holds all the same positions that the GSS did. Some paragraphs of the A3P policy statements are precisely the same as those on the old GSP website. The A3P wants all immigration to cease immediately and for all undocumented immigrants to be deported as soon as possible. Its members believe that whites deserve a nation of their own and that non-whites endanger white culture and society. To mitigate this threat, the party wants to offer financial incentives for recent immigrants to return to the countries where they came from.
One of the group’s policy statements injects a touch of neo-segregationist language into an already racist platform. It describes government policies that aim to encourage integration in schools and diversity in workplaces as “tyrannical and racist.” To counter this, the party declares, “Parents have a right to choose where and with whom their children are schooled,” a line of reasoning also adopted by segregationists during the civil rights movement.
Unlike most racist organizations, the A3P has a relatively capable cast of established white nationalists running the show. In early January 2010, it was revealed that Kevin MacDonald had become a director of the A3P. MacDonald is a notoriously anti-Semitic professor at California State University, Long Beach, who theorizes that Jews are genetically programmed to weaken the societies that they live in. In his 2004 book Understanding Jewish Influence: A Study in Ethnic Activism, MacDonald described Jews as “hostile toward American Christian culture” and claimed that they work aggressively to attack and subvert that culture. White supremacists regularly cite his works to provide “evidence” for their anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
In mid-January 2010, A3P members in California began their first publicity campaign. They canvassed door-to-door in a Southern California neighborhood and passed out fliers detailing the positions of the party. Meanwhile, Johnson was thinking big: In a video post that same month for the party’s supporters, he asked for assistance in getting the party on the ballot in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi and Vermont.
On Jan. 21, 2010, the A3P’s website announced that James Edwards had become a director. Edwards is a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist group that decries race mixing and has described black people as “a retrograde species of humanity.” Edwards runs a radio show called “The Political Cesspool” that has interviewed a “Who’s Who” of the white nationalist movement as well as extremists of other stripes. Edwards has personally accused Jews of using pornography as a “subversive tool” against white people and is regarded as a young and promising leader among white nationalists.
On March 6, 2010, Johnson and MacDonald attended a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust-denial group that publishes an anti-Semitic journal. Tomislav Sunić, a former Croatian diplomat and professor, gave a speech at the meeting. Two weeks later, Sunić became the third director of the American Third Position. Sunić has spoken at several events put on by hate groups, including a leadership meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens in 2008. He has been interviewed for former Klan leader David Duke’s Internet radio show and has written several books, one of which talks about how Jewish influence has shaped the U.S. and supposedly threatens its European heritage. Anti-diversity themes resound throughout his works.
Don Wassall became a director on May 4, 2010. Wassall was once the leader of Council of Conservative Citizens chapters in Nevada and Pennsylvania. He has been active in the white supremacist movement for decades, running the American Nationalist Union and its newspaper The Nationalist Times since 1985. A subscription to the magazine is now included in the A3P membership package. Wassall was prominent in the Populist Party during its brief existence: during that time, he worked on both David Duke’s 1988 and Bo Gritz’s 1992 presidential campaigns.
Rounding out the A3P’s white nationalist team is Jamie Kelso, who has in the past worked for David Duke and served as a moderator for Stormfont, the first major hate site on the Web. The A3P website does not mention Kelso’s official position, but he has described himself as the “executive assistant” to William Johnson. Kelso is a behind-the-scenes player at the A3P, but an influential one — he is responsible for bringing in Wassall as a director.
With this group of white nationalist leaders assembled, the party is now seeking active dues-paying members and recruiting voters to register as members of the party for the 2010 California elections. Johnson plans to target a number of different groups in order to assemble the party’s base. He developed contacts with Republicans and libertarians who supported Ron Paul during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, holding a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser for Paul’s campaign in September 2007. In a July 1, 2010, Internet radio broadcast, Kelso said: “There’s a great overlap in Patriot activities and Patriot causes, and we have, we will have a big effect on this much larger movement, the Ron Paul Revolution, that has millions of people engaged … we’ll be pulling them from the right.” The A3P also has shown up at Tea Party rallies to try to fulfill this goal.
To appeal to extremists without upsetting less radical supporters, Johnson has used coded language to indicate his ties to the white supremacist movement. Compare Johnson’s statement from a video address, “We … embrace principles that will secure the existence of our people and a future for our children” with the late white supremacist terrorist David Lane’s “14 Words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The “14 Words” are derived from a passage in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and are a rallying cry for neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the United States. By speaking in codes while trying to mainstream his party, Johnson is attempting to make his party radical enough for neo-Nazis and moderate enough for mainstream voters.
In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center in January 2010, Johnson said that he intended to qualify “high-level people,” meaning prominent white nationalists, for campaigns on the A3P ticket in a large number of states. He did not elaborate on what states or offices, or precisely when, but said that they would be decided in coming months.
On June 27, 2010, the group absorbed the League of American Patriots, a New Jersey-based group. The league is best known for passing out racist fliers and requiring its members to be heterosexuals of “complete European Christian ancestry.” The merging of the two groups advanced the A3P’s goal of developing active chapters throughout the United States.
Early in 2013, A3P decided to change its name to American Freedom Party (AFP), following what the website claimed was a “surprisingly strong finish” in the 2012 presidential elections. AFP ran candidate Merlin Miller, an independent filmmaker and military veteran who has expressed dislike for interracial marriage and claimed that Hollywood is under “Jewish-Zionist control.” He has written for the Holocaust-denying Barnes Review and the white nationalist Occidental Observer. In September 2012, on a trip to the Middle East, he managed a brief meeting with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of the topics of discussion was the “Zionist-controlled media” in the West. Miller garnered about 2700 votes nationwide in the election.
The AFP attempts to appeal to a perhaps more independent or Libertarian demographic, in addition to white nationalists. Its mission statement and “Issues” section on the website express concern over crime, the economy, drone attacks and government surveillance as well as a financial mismanagement and a “gutted industrial base” and “crumbling infrastructure.” Its mission statement is where a mention of the AFP’s true leanings occurs. Toward the bottom, after it takes issue with both Democrats and Republicans, it states that it is a party “that represents the interests of White Americans and all Americans who support our interests.”