Well, the Iowa caucus is history, and our old friend Pat Buchanan did
not fare too well. The question is: Where will he go from here?
Pat’s relatively poor showing is attributable either to the fact that
he was enormously outspent or that parts of his message didn’t resonate
with enough caucus participants — or perhaps a little of both. Recently
Pat appears to have been flirting with a third party bid, most likely
the Reform Party. His comments on the Sunday morning shows hardly clear
up the ambiguity that surrounds the question.
Some Republicans espouse the position that unless its nominee
possesses ideological purity the Republican Party is no longer worthy of
They claim to be constitutionalists, referring to their strict
adherence to principles contained in this nation’s brilliant founding
I too consider myself a constitutionalist in that sense, but believe
that uncompromising purity can sometimes subvert the principles it
purports to champion. And for the record, I’m not referring here to the
right to life.
Indeed, the Constitution itself was a product of intensive
compromise. It didn’t just descend on the Philadelphia delegates as some
divine epiphany. Though I believe the Creator superintended this
nation’s inauguration, the process was rife with toil, sweat and arduous
compromise. In fact, the document almost did not come to fruition.
The constitutional convention debates were so riddled with acrimony
that at one point, it seemed highly unlikely that the delegates could
ever agree upon a final document. As historian Page Smith noted: “It was
one thing to declare a nation; it was something vastly more complex to
So bogged down in dispute were the delegates that the oldest among
them, Ben Franklin, not a particularly religious man, appealed to his
fellow members to give the matter over to God.
“How has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of
humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?
In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of
danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our
prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us
who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances
of a superintending Providence in our favor. … And have we now
forgotten this powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His
Of course, the convention proceeded, and eventually a compromise
document was settled upon, signed and presented for ratification.
The ratification process was every bit as fraught with difficulty,
however, as the convention. The lines were quickly drawn between the
Federalists, who favored ratification and the anti-federalists, who
opposed it. The country was far less united over the merits of the
Constitution than were the delegates who adopted it. Only if at least
nine of the 13 states ratified the Constitution would it become
One absolutely pivotal state was Virginia. Serious heavyweights were
on each side of the debate. Among the Federalists were Washington (who
was not present), James Madison, and John Marshall. Patrick Henry,
George Mason and Richard Henry Lee led the Anti-Federalists.
Patrick Henry, perhaps the greatest orator in American history, spoke
passionately against ratification, fearing that it would steal away the
liberty that had been purchased with the blood of the revolution.
Despite the compelling arguments of Henry and his colleagues, the
Federalists prevailed by a vote of 89 to 79.
Henry’s reaction to this defeat is monumentally instructive for us
today. The night of the defeat a band of enraged Anti-federalists met in
Richmond to consider courses of action to resist the new government.
But what about super-patriot Patrick Henry? He strongly rebuked the
rebels, telling them the question was settled. “As true and faithful
republicans, you had all better go home.”
Now what about super-patriot Patrick Buchanan? My fervent hope is
that he not succumb to the pressure of some of his followers to bolt and
that he remain in the GOP to work for its ultimate nominee — not for
the sake of the party, but of the nation. The Reform Party, by whom Pat
has been strongly courted, is not his rightful home.
Pat, like Gary Bauer, will hopefully continue fighting for
conservatism within the party. I am not suggesting that Pat and others
compromise their principles, merely that if necessary, they compromise.
But one thing is beyond compromise: This country can ill-afford four
more years, let alone eight, of Clinton/Gore.
Stay Pat, stay.