Paleoconservative Pat Buchanan Stirring Revolution Pot If Trump Loses
By now, one would think that Pat Buchanan would have long ago been relegated to the trash heap of history. Buchanan, a senior advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and who was once considered the go-to guy for paleoconservatives, seemed to have faded in importance from those heady days when he co-hosted CNN’s Crossfire, and gave the rousing and incendiary culture war speech at the 1992 Republican Party convention.
As The Australian’s Nikki Savva recently wrote, Buchanan “ran against the first George Bush for the Republican nomination, promising to build a wall or dig a giant ditch along the border between the US and Mexico. So it’s not a new idea. The same people cheering Trump now applauded Buchanan then — it’s just their numbers have grown.” Now, thanks to Donald Trump’s candidacy, and the band of white nationalists supporting him, Buchanan is in full pundefocating mode.
According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, Buchanan, the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority,” is all in with Trump’s claim that if he loses it will be because the election is rigged. And, furthermore, according to Buchanan, Trump’s loss could signal the beginning of a revolution in America.
In a WND column headlined “Yes, The System Is Rigged,” Buchanan – whose column is syndicated in a number of mainstream newspapers -- maintains that if the election “ends with a Clintonite restoration and a ratification of the same old Beltway policies, would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?”
Buchanan: “The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring? The Brits had their ‘Brexit’ and declared independence of an arrogant superstate in Brussels. How do we liberate ourselves from a Beltway superstate that is more powerful and resistant to democratic change? Our CIA, NGOs and National Endowment for Democracy all beaver away for ‘regime change’ in faraway lands whose rulers displease us. How do we effect ‘regime change’ here at home?”
He goes on to quote John F. Kennedy saying, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” and closes with a reference to Credence Clearwater, “But if Hillary Clinton takes power, and continues America on her present course, which a majority of Americans rejected in the primaries, there is going to a bad moon rising.”
In a previous column headlined “Path for Trump is still open,” Buchanan argued that the election is still winnable if Republicans band together, and he has the audacity to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advising to “Keep your eyes on the prize.”
Interestingly, in a post-GOP convention column, Slate’s Reihan Salam argued that Trump missed a golden opportunity to soften his image: “He should have taken a page from Pat Buchanan, a man who is in many ways Trump’s spiritual predecessor. Though both Buchanan and Trump have indulged in inflammatory racial rhetoric, and though both stood against the conservative mainstream to champion economic nationalism, the two men couldn’t be further apart in their intellectual sophistication and their sense of poetry. And while Buchanan came to his blend of traditionalism and nationalism honestly, one still gets the sense that Trump simply saw an opportunity to exploit the GOP’s working-class primary electorate and went for it.”
In addition to his “inflammatory racial rhetoric,” in recent years, Buchanan has not been shy in expressing his admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As Boulder Weekly’s Dave Anderson recently pointed out, in a 2013 column titled “Is Putin One of Us?” Buchanan “noted that while a ‘de-Christianized’ United States has been embracing ‘homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values,’ the Russian president has stood up for traditional values. He praised Putin’s disparaging of homosexuals, feminists and immigrants.”
“Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm,” Buchanan wrote. He also reassured readers that “Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian.”
In 2011, Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, told me that while Buchanan no longer had “the influence he did in the 1990s when he commanded a following inside the Republican Party, he remains an influential, even cutting edge figure among a significant sector of extreme paleoconservatives."
Trump’s candidacy has given Buchanan multiple opportunities to weigh in on the presidential race, and advance his paleo ideas. And with Trump tweeting, “I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can't!” GOP leaders may be yearning for those good old days of yesteryear when Buchanan’s culture war rhetoric dominated the Party’s populist/nationalist politics. After all, as Salam admiringly pointed out, while Buchanan infamously sprinkled his speeches with “inflammatory racial rhetoric,” unlike Trump, he at least had a poetic sensibility.
Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.