The foolish abandonment of Pat Buchanan

By Steve Farrell
web posted July 5, 1999

Sometimes our memory plays tricks on us. Back in the 1980's, right up into the early 1990's Pat Buchanan was widely acclaimed as the toast of the Republican party.

Possessing a rare combination of hard hitting yet inspiring commentary, extraordinary debating skills yet an affable personality, a history of brawling as a youth yet heartfelt religious devotion as an adult - here was a one time Democrat turned Republican who by the time he had written "Right from the Start," had earned himself the title "the conscience of conservatism."

Even in the Presidential primaries of 1992 and 1996, it was readily admitted that it was the Buchanan campaign which shaped the debate. That's because, unlike the host of other candidates who opposed him, it was Pat Buchanan who had an in-depth stance on most every issue, one which never altered in casual or heated discussions, nor floated upon the winds of opinion poll politics.

There was no posturing, no politicking, just roll up your sleeves, straight forward, in your face, for better or worse statesmanship from Pat Buchanan, and everybody knew it.

Of course, that disturbed some people. Democrats for years had loathed him. And they had good reason, for Pat presented to the Democratic Party a nightly national embarrassment on CNN, as he outwitted and outmatched their best thinkers with common sense, get-to-the-meat of the issues insight, which left opponents gasping for a lack of emotion free sensible comebacks. What Democratic Party faithful wouldn't hate him for that?

But as a Presidential candidate, and surprisingly a serious contender, Buchanan ran head on into a new set of enemies, this time within his own ranks.

Hypocritically, it was the same party hotshots who had long dubbed him as hero who now caricatured him as villain, and who just like their Democratic Party counterparts who couldn't defeat Buchanan on principle, resorted to the mindless, bully-like, emotion filled tactic of name calling.

Overnight, Pat became a tenured fanatic, a divisive party figure, an oddity, a throwback, a racist, an isolationist, a protectionist, a narrow minded, hot headed street brawler, and occasionally in "kindness" a candidate who "we like, but who can't win."

Leading the charge was the man who had written the most flowery endorsement of all in the jacket of Buchanan's best-selling book, President George Bush, who suddenly reversed his praise into hostility calling Mr. Buchanan "a far right extremist." But the only thing extreme about Pat was that he has forever stood firm by those principles that the establishment Republican merely espouses during political campaigns.

The truth is, Pat Buchanan's beliefs are mainstream and sensible, here are a few.

* A belief that the US Constitution is the best political standard ever devised by the wisdom of men.

* A belief that the size and scope of the federal government should be limited to the few powers delineated in that document, and that the excessive burdens of taxation, regulation, and government meddling in education would correct themselves if only we would return to its superior standard.

* A belief that free trade means that our elected representatives in Congress, as specified in the Constitution, not some un-elected, superintending, international regulatory body such as NAFTA or the WTO, should decide how Americans direct their own commerce.

* A belief that refusing most favored nation (MFN) trade privileges to a country (China) which has for a long time manufactured goods by slave labor, practiced patent theft, sold drugs on our streets to our youth, stolen our most guarded nuclear secrets, threatened and invaded its neighbors, systematically killed and oppressed its own people, and who now points missiles at our shores, makes sense. To so refuse, he believes, is not a violation of free market principles, for domestic laws which forbid the sale and purchase of stolen goods, which close down Mafia run front shops, which disenfranchise the rights of convicted felons, do the same.

* A belief that protective tariffs against such a nation are constitutional, and present a peaceful option of protest short of war.

* A belief that international communism and terrorism, which still prosper everywhere, cannot be defeated by socialistically subsidizing the economies and militaries of foreign nations, nor by implementing in the name of national security, police state measures at home. But that a strong, united, independent, and prosperous United States, who refuses to aid her enemies, is the best plan to defeat them both.

* A belief that just as freemen have the power to decide who and what influences can and cannot enter into their homes, so a nation of freemen can and should collectively possess that same power in regards to immigration policy. Robbers don't have the right to come into our homes and steal our goods, so why should the Fidel Castros of the world have the right to empty their worst criminals on America's shores, and why should those who refuse to work have the right to come to America and demand welfare? American immigration policy once opened our doors only to the good, the educated, the skilled, the law abiding, and the refugee, and refused entrance to the criminal, the lazy, and the political enemy. This was just plain common sense, and its still common sense today.

* And finally, Pat Buchanan believes that the principle of representation means that our leaders only possess delegated power over our nation and no one else's. That the duty of our President and our Congress is to serve the American people. America first and America only.

And so what's wrong with that?

Frankly, nothing. These are the things most Americans believe in, and especially most Republicans. For those who take the time to read and reread what Pat Buchanan has in the past and does now teach, they will find logic, reason, and moral persuasion. They will find themselves, and then maybe they will conclude that it is not Pat Buchanan who should be abandoned, but the hypocritical leadership of the Republican Party who turned their back on their friend, their conscience, and their spokesmen.

Steve Farrell is managing editor of Right Magazine. Please email your comments to Steve at

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