Buchanan and the American Reformation
"The fatal flaw in the globalist vision is that it is utopian. It envisions a world that has never existed and can never exist, because it is contrary to fallen human nature. History has shown again and again that men do not give loyalty, love, and allegiance to entities greater than the nation. No 'world community' can ever replace the patria. Ultimately, men fight and die for the 'ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods,' not for some New World Order."
~ Patrick J. Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles."
~ George Orwell, 1984
Reportedly, when Benjamin Franklin was exiting the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman asked him: "Well doctor, what have you given us?" His now-famous reply, "a republic, if you can keep it," seems to echo in the slightly pessimistic expression on his face in the portrait on the one hundred dollar bill. It's as if he's saying: "If what you're holding in your hand is all we're about, then no, you can't keep the Republic."
Franklin was speaking to a member of the nascent American elite when he said this. The campaign for the presidency under way in the United States should, theoretically, be making the same point to ordinary Americans who will go to the polls in November. Unfortunately, the big favorites to win from the two major parties never mention the subject in their endless debates and campaign speeches, and Americans are forced to listen to the usual vague and blurry "Newspeak" that has become the norm in American national politics. Evidently, the only candidate who is attempting to answer Benjamin Franklin's call of over two centuries ago is Patrick Buchanan.
BUCHANAN AND SOVEREIGNTY
When Buchanan bolted from the Republican Party in August 1999 to announce his bid for the nomination of the embryonic Reform Party, he declared that his campaign would be "about sovereignty," and was later briefly shown speaking before a crowd of supporters, referring to his campaign as a "peasant army." The mainstream media immediately started accusing Buchanan of simply feeding his political ego by opting to become the leading candidate of a new party, but even now they have yet to address the seriousness of Buchanan's ideological theme. Although the occasional article or TV news segment may feature some aspect of globalization, such as the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, the European Union (EU) or NATO, there is little discussion about whether the process is positive or not. Apparently, commentators of left and right alike treat globalization, presaged by a multiplicity of supranational entities, with a shrug of the shoulders. "It is unstoppable and therefore cannot be a bad thing," the thinking goes. Yet since it is at least remotely conceivable that the logical conclusion to such a development (i.e., world government) could result in something short of Utopia, and that it could in fact bring about such unpleasantries as war and instability, it should at least strike the reasonable observer as rather eerie that such a development is discussed in the media at best with complacency, and at worst not at all.
SOVEREIGNTY, NATIONALISM, AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Most of the people I encounter in my generation (which I shall label, for want of a better term, "Gen X") don't think about the notion of sovereignty. When it does enter their heads it is as some quaint notion they can't properly define and don't see a need to. More than a few of my Gen-X peers have expressed the sentiment that the people of the world are basically "all the same," and so talking about national identity is for people of a bygone era. It's all "world beat" music and "We Are the World," and if you express any disagreement you're like, "totally uncool, dude." The problem is, while ordinary people throughout the world are the same in some ways in that we all want certain basic things enough to eat, a roof over our heads, the ability to be with our loved ones and raise our families in peace it is quite another matter to smugly claim that such similarity extends to nations. Most of the Gen-Xers who don't agree wouldn't know from experience, because they never bother to go anywhere.
A nation which has formed its society within the borders of a nation-state is characterized by several key features which rightly make it different, such as common language, religion, culture, customs, and, most importantly, laws. The laws of the United States define us as a nation because they are different from the laws of other nations, and are rooted in our collective morality and history, as they should be. How many Americans know, for example, that the legal penalty of loss of life or liberty for murder has its roots in the Judeo-Christian tenets of the Ten Commandments? And how many Americans know that under most schools of Islamic law, the penalty for murder is not death or imprisonment, but merely payment of restitution by the culprit to the relatives of the deceased? The passage quoted above from Buchanan's book appeals to a sense of nation from the perspective that Americans are different from the other nations of the world, and he is more right than most people apparently wish to realize. Buchanan's statement also reveals an understanding of something fundamental not only about the United States, but about all countries: that other nations do not see us the same way we see ourselves.
There is a tendency among the social elite of America, whether political or economic, to brand nationalists (those who delineate their countries from others according to the characteristics cited above) as not "enlightened." But there are different forms of nationalism. The "enlightened" pundits accuse Buchanan of advocating a malevolent form of nationalism known as fascism. These pundits and those who accept their word are not enlightened enough to know that fascism is a form of imperialism, and that the two most famous fascists of this century, Hitler and Mussolini, were first and foremost imperialists. Whatever Buchanan may be labeled, even his most vitriolic detractors could surely never accuse him of being an imperialist. Fascism is nationalism combined with chauvinism, and propounded in the form of: "Accept the superiority of my nation and submit to me or I will invade and destroy you." Buchanan's nationalism is of the benign sort, and holds: "I am proud of my nation. Don't tread on me." Far from being extreme or irresponsible, this foreign policy stance is actually a recipe for peace that should be taken seriously.
A REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE
The pundits have pilloried Buchanan as a fanatic, extremist and fascist, ostensibly on the basis of a book he wrote called A Republic, Not an Empire. It is difficult to see how anyone who had carefully read this work could honestly make such accusations. The book is essentially a very mild and sensible prescription for American foreign policy which asserts that the United States has always enjoyed greater peace and tranquility when it has maintained a course of non-intervention in the affairs of foreign states. Not a particularly earthshattering thesis, and certainly benign. A Republic, Not an Empire is actually an "antiwar" book. Charges that Buchanan is an anti-Semite, at least based on his book, are unfounded. If asserting that Israel since its inception has received American financial and political support far in excess of its strategic value to the United States makes one an anti-Semite, then there are surely more than a few anti-Semites among the foreign policy wonks of America. If claiming that Hitler's primary ambitions lay in conquering territories to the east of Germany rather than France, Britain and other Western states makes one a "Jew-hater," then there must be several Jew-hating historians walking the corridors of academia.
The truth about Buchanan's book is probably irrelevant as far as American public opinion goes, because the mainstream media have already branded the book as a modern-day Mein Kampf, knowing that most Americans will never read it and will simply accept the talking heads' charges as gospel. Furthermore, the pundits and commentators have brandished the term "isolationist" in reference to Buchanan in such a pejorative context that many Americans probably assume that being anything but a super-internationalist interventionist, or even imperialist, must be the worst thing in the world.
The central implication of A Republic, Not an Empire is that American nationalism needs a shot in the arm if the Republic is to survive. Although Buchanan never makes the point, it is true that America from its inception was cursed with one weakness: an unclear, if not weak, national identity. It is easy enough to conjure images for Germans, Russians, Italians, or Chinese which are representative of a national character, even if only in some stereotypical way. But none of the images which might spring to mind as representing Americans cowboys, puritan pilgrims in tall black hats, whigs in wigs stick very deeply in the American historical consciousness or psyche. We are left with political-ideological characteristics, such as separation of powers doctrine, enlightenment individualism, and federal republicanism, none of which can easily be used to unite a people. A Republic, Not an Empire highlights another such historical national characteristic, which is more relevant to America's place among the other nation-states of the world: non-interventionism. Buchanan's vision of America is as the antithesis of the imperial state, and the theme which runs through the book concludes that the gradual abandonment of this anti-imperialist principle has occurred concurrently with the weakening of America's national identity.
A Republic, Not an Empire should be viewed as the final element in the Buchananite construction of American nationalism. Prior to the release of this book, he had already built a reputation as standing for other aspects of American national identity which bolster the idea of an American nationalism. For example, his previous book, The Great Betrayal, stresses the idea of protectionism not in negative terms but as an a tradition of American economic policy which looks out for American enterprises and industries first. Buchanan has never made any secret of his Christianity, religion being another important aspect of national identity, and certainly some minimum level of common morality is essential to the cohesiveness of a nation. He has argued against uncontrolled immigration fairly consistently, and has pointed to the dangers of allowing immigrants to claim American citizenship while displaying primary loyalty to their country of origin.
"The greatest threat today to the survival of the Republic may well lie in the loss of our American identity as one nation, and one people, if we become what Theodore Roosevelt called 'a polyglot boarding-house' for the world. America can absorb individuals who come here to become Americans; we cannot import the diasporas of foreign nations that are determined to remain citizens-in-exile of foreign lands."
~ Patrick J. Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire
One can easily envision cosmopolitan, urban elites seething at such
talk, but it isn't chauvinistic to put stringent demands of loyalty
on those seeking citizenship. It is common sense from a national security
perspective. In summary, Buchanan has done an admirable job at the difficult
task of identifying a basis for American nationalism in an era when
internationalism and a blurring of national identity seem all the vogue
among political elites across the world.
BUCHANAN AND ME
For years I counted myself among the rabble of self-styled political analysts and commentators who took part in disparaging Patrick Buchanan, and used to criticize him on the basis of my misguided understanding of what he was about. My political consciousness first began to develop during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. I turned sixteen the day after Reagan took office, and for the next eight years was entertained by the seeming ease and grace with which Reagan led the country at home and abroad. My political ideology began to form in an era when America was led by a simple, honest man who appeared to believe wholeheartedly in what he professed, and the country was as united in spirit as it had ever been in peacetime. In the elections of 1984, at the age of nineteen, in the face of ridicule from my trendy and "enlightened" college peers, I cast my vote proudly for a president who in a single term had revived the nation's common mood to a point where it seemed impossible it could ever sink back to the malaise of the late seventies.
Among the public partisans of Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan was one of the more visible and outspoken, and as White House Communications Director achieved real prominence and visibility during a period when my interest in politics was rapidly rising. I remember Buchanan's appearances on television talk shows such as The McLaughlin Group and CNN's Crossfire, and how I used to wait for him to speak because he could calmly and instantly provoke pusillanimous left-wing pundits into a rage and make the whole affair so much more entertaining than it might otherwise have been. Buchanan spoke with such self-assurance that there always seemed a profoundness and finality to his speech, as if his was the last word, right or wrong.
It was not until after the break-up of the Soviet Union into separately recognized countries and the demise of the Warsaw Pact that I parted political company with Pat Buchanan. Swept away by the collective Western triumphalism over the political transformation of the Eurasian land mass, I jumped on the bandwagon of "neo-conservatives" anxious to launch a democratic crusade in the ex-USSR. I dreamed of bringing civil society and the rule of law to the new nation-states of the East by "force-feeding" them democracy. Buchanan was throughout this period preaching caution and adherence to the principles of George Washington, warning against entanglement in foreign alliances and so forth. To hell with that, I thought. Now is the time to act boldly and transform other countries "from above." How wrong I was.
In two lengthy letters to the editor of the Washington Times, I attacked Buchanan for his foreign policy views. In the first, I took him to task for his opposition to including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary in NATO, and accused him of being a "quivering-lipped appeaser" for warning against, among other things, offending Russia's "great power" sensibilities. I have since become concerned about the consequences of extending security guarantees to former members of the Soviet bloc. Poland is evidently a woefully corrupt and miserable place ruled by ex-communist informers and Warsaw Pact military officers. The Czech Republic is not only sliding back into economic depression, but it is very questionable that most Czechs support NATO membership. Hungary recently announced that it could not afford to pay for the massive overhaul and upgrade of its military required for full integration into NATO. In light of all this, is it really conceivable that we could send young American men to fight and die to defend these states against a resurgent East? In fact, is there any justification for continuing to keep American troops in Europe at all? Doing so only encourages the countries of that continent to be complacent about defending themselves, as any country laying claim to sovereign statehood is supposed to be able to do. Now that the United States has extended security guarantees to these states, the only way out of the potential nightmare scenario of "attack or lose face" is to scale back America's NATO guarantees to other members. The only presidential candidate who has even hinted at this sensible policy is Buchanan.
My second letter attacked Buchanan for what I perceived as his callous indifference to the plight of the Kosovar Albanians at the hands of the Serbs before the NATO war. Buchanan stressed the senselessness of taking sides against Serbia, saying the United States had no vital national interest in the region and should not become bogged down in the Balkans. Like Buchanan, I never favored NATO's bombing campaign, but I accused him of "accepting Belgrade's right to repress Kosovo, a separate nation, with impunity," and argued that the United States should enthusiastically back the Albanian population, politically and morally, against Serbia. Carried away by the media depiction of Kosovo as the next Bosnia, I even suggested that the United States should open a Kosovar diplomatic legation in Washington similar to the ones we had for the Baltic states from World War II onwards, as a symbolic gesture of solidarity. Yet ensuing events proved that the Albanian nation was no more deserving of American support than the Serbs. Albanians are now engaged in vicious persecution of ordinary, innocent Serbs on a daily basis. American soldiers are patrolling in a region where drugs and arms smugglers of the guerrilla-terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) carry on their illicit trade all around them. Most shameful of all, the search for the alleged "mass graves" littering the Kosovo countryside has only uncovered about 200 bodies in the entire region, and no one has yet accounted for the roughly 10,000 Kosovar Albanians which NATO spokesmen claimed were massacred.
I believe it was Charles de Gaulle who once said: "Nations do not have friends, only interests." This was wise counsel in the spirit of George Washington, which Buchanan understood better at the time than I did. The United States does not make the world a better, happier or more stable place by launching attacks on foreign countries that lend themselves easily to a media depiction as barbarous or monstrous. At all cost, we should stay out of foreign wars unless we are mortally threatened. Buchanan is unwavering about this and nothing he has ever said gives cause to doubt his sincerity. Far from representing "Nazism" or "isolationism" (two charges which are entirely inconsistent, but which have been leveled at Buchanan regularly by most of his critics), Buchanan's ideas for America's role actually reflect a desire for world peace. That may seem incredible in the wake of the outlandish accusations against Buchanan from both the left and right, but no one who carefully reads A Republic, Not an Empire could honestly question it.
WESTERN GOVERNMENTS AND THE FOURTH ESTATE
"Network news shows, and the proliferation of round-the-clock cable channels such as CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News, with instant access to every home, have given a few TV producers the power to alter public opinion, almost instantly, and propel presidents to action. This power to inflame underscores the need for presidential patience and courage to resist the media-induced clamors for 'Action This Day!'"
~ Patrick J. Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire.
"The next moment a hideous, grinding screech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started. . . As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed onto the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. . . "
~ George Orwell, 1984
Modern media appear so formidable in their ability to direct the public mood that it is sometimes difficult to keep in mind that press and television reports are actually only interpretations of reality, not reality itself. Left unchecked to determine the relative importance of this or that issue in the minds of ordinary people, the media can blot out practically whatever they like and substitute their preferred images of the world. Consequently, slow and insidious developments on the world stage, however ominous or sweeping, can and usually do take a back seat to sensation, as reporters in the guise of experts go in search of newer and cheaper thrills to sell for public consumption.
Crucial to media power is the extent to which the public's memory, or the lack thereof, can be manipulated. How many Americans remembered that a mere four years before the start of NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic had been hailed as a peacemaker at the Dayton Accords by both Western governments and media? All of a sudden he was Hitler reincarnate, but the media were very quiet about their shameless flip-flop. And what about the genocide in Kosovo? Where were the media stories about the disgraceful revelation that the NATO war machine destroyed countless homes and slaughtered hundreds of people, including civilians, in the interests of stopping a holocaust which was never happening? Who cared? NATO had gone a step further in establishing its uninterrupted beachhead between Italy and Greece, so it was on to the next big news item and to hell with the truth!
What is most frightening about all this is the increasing convergence between what Western governments want the public to perceive, and what the media are offering up. Western media used to be regularly critical of what governments were doing overseas, particularly when such actions involved military intervention or outright war. Now Western governments and media seem to speak with one voice on world affairs. Former high-profile peaceniks in Western governments banged their fists loudest of all about bringing peace through bombs, and their sanctimonious media accomplices gave them free rein to further the hypocrisy. But to grasp the full implications of the media-government complicity, one has to look not only at what media and governments are saying, but at what they are not saying as well.
Media coverage of the presidential campaign is a case in point. George W. Bush's campaign appearances are exercises in canned speeches read from tele-prompters without a trace of subtlety. The Republican debates are stilted and dull affairs, with questions and answers planned and agreed to in advance, and innocuous "feel-good" language which says nothing and offends nobody. The Democratic debates are so droning and monotonous they're hardly worth commenting on except to say that anyone who believes Al Gore is sincere about anything but his wretched ego is horribly deluded. The big parties have served up a dish to put the voters to sleep and usher in more of the same stagnant rubbish we've had to endure for the last twelve years.
It's not that there isn't a choice out there other than the Republicans or Democrats, or that such choice doesn't have any popular support. In December, 8,000 voters cast their ballots in an on-line election sponsored by the Politics.com Election Center, with a surprising result. Although the Republican Party's Anointed One, George W. Bush, came first with 29%, the second and third choices, Democratic dark horse Bill Bradley and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, polled 21% and 17% respectively. John McCain polled 12%, while poor Al Gore garnered a measly 10%. Bush's victory was to be expected because of the record-breaking funds his campaign has raised, and while Bradley's showing undoubtedly raised the eyebrows of Gore, who has raised the second largest sum of any candidate, Bradley too has raised respectable millions to spend on packaging himself for the public. But the big surprise was Buchanan, whose campaign was recently described by one pundit in a popular magazine as "almost comically underfunded." Considering the fact that he doesn't have a party fund-raising machine to compete with the juggernauts of the Republicans and Democrats, or the massive personal funds of Steve Forbes or Donald Trump, Buchanan's performance in the computerized election acid test could only have shocked the big parties. If this early indication of grassroots support represents the "peasant army" Buchanan referred to on launching his campaign, Republicans and Democrats could be in for a bit of a punch-up.
So why hasn't there been more coverage of Buchanan on television or in the major metropolitan newspapers? It's hard to say, but indications are that the media is hoping if they ignore him he'll go away. The less coverage he gets, the thinking goes, the less his popularity will endure. He'll be marginalized, he'll fizzle out, and people will forget about him. Occasionally a printed article might appear somewhere dismissing Buchanan as an extremist, fanatic, crackpot, or the like. But as a rule, commentators will afford him as little coverage as possible. A problem for the "left" pundits is that Buchanan's candidacy appeals to the working class, and they don't want a nationalist candidate sounding off about the rights of American workers more convincingly than the Democrat candidates designated for the job. The "right" pundits fear Buchanan because he is a threat to their GOP patrons, so their tactic is to attack him with even more ferocity than the left would ever bother to. So left and right within the media have closed ranks to try to remove Buchanan from the picture. Just before the New Year, Beltway Boys Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes ("left" and "right" respectively) were summing up the political stories of 1999, and Buchanan's face was thrown up on the screen as an example of a "sad story" of the year. One couldn't help noticing how these two veteran pundits looked absurdly like bespectacled peas in a pod, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, both shaking their heads and saying tsk-tsk about their "friend" Pat Buchanan, who had "betrayed his principles" and left the GOP.
It is easier to get something in print or on a broadcast which smears a public figure as a lunatic than to publish or report a product of thoughtful analysis and reflection. But Buchanan is a convenient target for this sort of journalism for more personal reasons as well. First of all, he actually has something of his own to say, and honesty is a surefire way to attract scorn in American politics. Unlike the candidates for the major parties, Buchanan's message does not reach the public after being screened and packaged to death by highly-paid spin doctors and consultants, and made into an innocuous mass of mush that won't make anyone feel bad. Buchanan is a fairly good speaker, although the fact that he doesn't talk or write in Orwellian "Newspeak," which has become the norm for establishment politicians of left and right, makes him immediately conspicuous. No matter what anybody thinks of Pat Buchanan's personal ideology, at least it is his. He has obviously developed it carefully over the course of his life, organized it into a systematic body of thought, and set it forth clearly and directly. In short, unlike Bush or Gore, Buchanan has done his homework.
Buchanan has probably also become the target of cheap shots because he doesn't look or behave like a movie star, and doesn't have the massive financial backing of the major parties to constantly groom him for the camera either. While both George W. Bush and Al Gore enjoy the luxury of highly paid "handlers" to make them telegenic (clearly most establishment politicians have decided to endorse the candidate from their parties they feel will most easily sew up the women vote), Buchanan gives the impression he doesn't much care what he looks like. Both Bush and Gore are younger than Buchanan, both have more hair (at least in front, where it counts), and both are constantly being coached on how to deliver the vague, largely worthless drivel which pours out of their mouths on the campaign trail. Buchanan doesn't have any signature mannerisms either, such as Clinton's ponderous lower lip-biting or George W. Bush's cocky jerk of the shoulder. He has become more polished at delivering political speeches in the last few years, but his main asset is still his ideas, which, whether you agree with them or not, he conveys clearly and unambiguously.
The last, and perhaps most important major reason Buchanan is a target is he threatens the establishment. If one reads what Buchanan has written and listens closely to what he says without his message having been edited or distorted by irresponsible journalists and broadcasters, one can only conclude that he has identified a genuine commonality between the Democrats and Republicans, and has pitted himself with full force against that commonality, which he seriously believes is a threat to the future of the country. He has gained attention and support for his thinking as opposed to how he looks, speaks, or affects sincerity and not only at the grassroots level, but among certain respected academics and intellectuals as well. By attempting to smother him in vitriolic criticism, the paid pundits of the left and right are are in effect saying that they find clarity and forcefulness intolerable in a political campaign. Only blurry, woolly pseudo-ideology will do. Not a very constructive strategy for promoting the health of a system claiming to be a democracy.
BUCHANAN, AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY, AND THE COMMON MAN
Buchanan is the only candidate who has made the issue of American sovereignty the centerpiece of his campaign from the moment he launched it. The one other candidate who ever mentions the notion of sovereignty during interviews and debates is Alan Keyes of the GOP, but this sort of talk is generally drowned out by Bush's swaggering proclamations about bringing the "incredible freedoms" of the market to places like China, or John McCain's ridiculous bluster about standing up to the Russians in Chechnya. The major parties appear to have tried to bury the issue of national sovereignty under a mountain of empty words.
The issue of national sovereignty is not only important to America's domestic well-being but to the world as a whole. America is probably the only country which could promote the cause of sovereignty worldwide by reinforcing its own sovereignty. A recent speech by Buchanan emphasized this point, stressing that America should support patriotic and national movements everywhere. This could not have gone down very well among the elites of the European Union, an anti-democratic, quasi-Nazi superstate, but it was an unquestionably courageous stand to take. The New World Order is monstrous first and foremost because of its potential to spawn a new tyranny. The system of nation-states may not be "sexy" or feel politically correct among the "enlightened" elites, but it has worked remarkably well in the relatively short time it has existed in limiting the spread of war, much better than the age of empires before it, for example. The nation-state system is a form of international "checks and balances" based on the self-interest of nations, not elites. Although there may be a time in the distant future when the human race can unite politically, such a time is so far off as to make it worthy of discussion only in the abstract. The death knell of the nation-state should not be sounded prematurely.
It should be pointed out to those who dismiss the idea that the United States could subsume its sovereignty finally and completely within a supranational state, that the Founders never prohibited this, constitutionally or otherwise. They left it up to us to preserve the Republic if we wanted to, or discard it, as we saw fit. The Constitution has been interpreted and reinterpreted to death, but Article 6, clause 2, says:
This Constitution, and the laws which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.
One doesn't have to be the most creative lawyer to figure out that this could lead to the perfectly legal and constitutional abandonment of sovereign statehood. One doesn't have to have much imagination to think of legislators voting for treaties which fray the sovereign edges of the United States because some massive financier of their campaign or employer in their constituency (a corporation, for example) wanted him or her to do so. And anyone who thinks that "Americans" would automatically be in charge of such a new superstate into which the United States had dissolved is seriously deluded or else plain ignorant. These are the same people that never bother to go to other countries, and have never been tricked or swindled by a friendly, smiling Kazakh, or an outwardly amiable Frenchman, or a charismatic Armenian. Americans are not the smartest people in the world. Our prosperity is due largely to geography, and remoteness from the former imperial powers' wars and their tendency to ruin everything.
BUCHANAN AS PRESIDENT
It is unlikely Buchanan's enemies will defeat his message simply by ignoring or defaming him. Sooner or later they will have to address his ideology properly, and that is when the campaign could become interesting. If they ever summoned the courage to do so, the major parties could probably think of some serious questions for a legitimate debate. Although he is a familiar figure in American politics, Buchanan has a mysterious aura about him. Perhaps the fairest of the unfair criticisms of Buchanan's ideology was by one young pundit of the right, who described A Republic, Not an Empire as "weird." The only way to counter this comment adequately is with a question: how did you expect an emerging patriotic movement to feel after eleven years of Clinton-Bush?
Buchanan is something of a "horseman" a sort of Julius Caesar preparing to cross the Rubicon and that sort of politician can make the game fun, but is always bound to seem a bit suspect. Although he appears as the leader of a "prole" movement, it is difficult to see him as a true "prole." He is no stranger to the corridors of power, and cut his teeth as a media professional skilled in spinning presidents for the public. He is also very sophisticated, and judging by his written work is a good deal more erudite than almost all the major candidates. In short, Buchanan knows what he is doing, and is not merely haphazardly leading a chaotic rabble of malcontents. In light of this, it might be more constructive for pundits and candidates to question the degree to which he can be trusted to represent the diverse army of supporters he has accumulated once in office, instead of simply dismissing him as a fringe candidate who doesn't deserve to be president.
Ultimately, it is impossible to fully trust anyone running for President of the United States, and I have a responsibility to entertain a few lingering doubts about Buchanan myself. He almost seems to wear his religion on his sleeve sometimes, yet it would be reassuring if he at least stressed things like democracy and human rights more often. After all, his hero Ronald Reagan, that icon of American conservatism, often used such terms in his speeches and appeared to believe in them. Since the campaign started, Buchanan himself has been on the receiving end of what could conceivably be termed human rights violations, and by now he must have at least some slight idea how it must have felt to be a nationalist dissident in the USSR.
Also, it is worth noting that, while A Republic, Not an Empire is very sound and convincing in a broad, brush-stroke sense, the author does occasionally refer to the regimes of countries to which he has evidently never been. Buchanan is attempting to define the American national identity, and it is certainly part of the American national character not to visit other countries. But it might surprise Buchanan to discover that, for example, the president of Belarus, who he describes as "an admirer of Hitler," is in fact popular with the majority of his people and is not perpetrating the human rights violations he has been accused of by the West. Equally, he might be surprised to find out that the regime in Georgia is deeply hated and receiving unconditional American support, while the ousted "pro-American" ex-president of Armenia was horribly corrupt and unpopular.
But despite any doubts that one could think up about Buchanan, he is still vastly preferable to the alternatives. While it may be true that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, Buchanan still looks pretty spotless compared to the others. I don't see any evidence that he wouldn't make a good chief executive. It would be interesting to have a president who could write his own speeches for a change, and it is doubtful that any of the other candidates know the Constitution better than Buchanan does. As for the accusations that Buchanan has compromised his principles by making a tactical alliance with black nationalist politician Dr. Lenora Fulani, it can only be said that there is nothing inherently inconsistent in this strategy. Whatever Buchanan may be called, he has never been a "racist" in any meaningful sense, and Dr. Fulani is not professing primary allegiance to any African or other foreign state. There is nothing about Buchanan's nationalism which excludes black Americans.
Buchanan is perhaps the only chance we have of saving the Republic from the globalist elitists in the major parties. It is still a long shot, which could be made even longer if Donald Trump decides to dump $100 million dollars of his personal funds into buying the Reform nomination. Trump's billions threaten to add more obscenity to this presidential race, but it is strange how even with far less money, Buchanan seems a disproportionately large political figure next to Trump. Maybe there is still hope that ideas and beliefs can triumph over the power of money and a corrupt, elitist establishment. Whatever the case, the partisans of liberty have a responsibility to back Buchanan as long as he can stay in the race. As for those people who want to vote for Buchanan but are afraid it will essentially be a vote for Al Gore, the message should be clear: vote for Buchanan anyway. After four years of Gore the reaction against globalism will be all the more severe.
Imagine Americans regaining their sense of nationhood again, at peace with themselves and knowing who they are once more. Now imagine this:
I pledge allegiance to the logo of [insert transnational corporate name here], and to the corporation for which it stands, one company, under the board of directors, with profits and dividends for all.
I know, I know. It sounds like a bad science fiction novel. But twenty years ago, so did talk of the end of the Soviet Union. Call me an isolationist bigot, but I don't want to be ruled by bylaws and articles of incorporation, and governed by billionaires from corrupt, third world dumps who happen to be on the board of directors or own a controlling number of shares. Maybe I'm kidding myself that I'm not living de facto under that system already, and that there is any future in this world for people who value anything more highly than money. But in my mind's eye I can still picture a world where sovereignty is prized more highly than stock. It is a vision not unlike how I always imagined Reagan conceived of his "shining city on a hill." Maybe it is akin to Buchanan's "land of eagles." Anyway, I don't want what the world is becoming, and will go on in spite of the constant, frightening media blare, the smugly mean-spirited politicians and their spokesmen, and the showering of bombs on innocent civilians in distant lands clinging to that naive idea, Winston Smith's "something in the universe" that can stop the relentless march of Power. Maybe that something will be Pat Buchanan, wielding his "pitchfork" to jam the gears of the one-world steamroller. I don't know. But one day we may very well look back on this time and say that peace and freedom, not merely for America but the world, stood or fell with the election of 2000.
Chad Nagle is a lawyer and freelance writer living in Alexandria, Virginia.
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