Mainstream Republican cheerleaders are hitting a new low in trying to
bring down the candidacy of one Patrick J. Buchanan. The latest tactic:
pointing out the irony found in a passage of Buchanan’s first political
book, published in 1975.
In the passage, Buchanan admonished Republicans back then to “avoid
the temptation” of forming a third political party, because if they did,
then surely incumbent President Gerald Ford would lose to an upstart
Georgian Democrat named Jimmy Carter.
Well, rank-and-file Republican voters didn’t bolt from the party en
masse — just as Buchanan advised — but Ford lost anyway because: 1)
like Dole in 1996, his campaign was lackluster and unfocused; and 2) he
was running in the shadow of the disgraced Richard M. Nixon. That was
And this is now. It is obvious that today’s Republican
leaders conveniently forget — when it suits them — all the times in
the past Buchanan was better able to read the political landscape than
they were. Perhaps that’s why the Republicans are going out of their
way to demonize Buchanan’s candidacy any way they can.
To believe the GOP anointed, you’d have to believe that the
Republican Party of 1975 was no different than the Republican Party of
1860 or, for that matter, the Republican Party of 1999. By this line of
“reasoning,” you’d have to believe that American politics hasn’t changed
in 20, 40, or 100 years. And you’d have to believe that American
society, ethics, beliefs, and value systems haven’t changed either.
You’d also have to be convinced that Patrick J. Buchanan — lifelong
Republican and servant of two Republican White Houses — easily
and gladly gave up his membership in a party he has always
Or is it easier to believe that indeed the times — as well as the
Republican Party — have changed, but Pat Buchanan has not
changed, the latter being the real reason why the GOP excoriates
Buchanan with nonsensical attempts to use his own words against him?
In the days when Jesus walked the earth, other men tried a similar
tactic. The power elite sent their representatives to Jesus in an
attempt to trap him with his own words after Jesus admonished all to do
what is just and righteous under God. The men asked Jesus if paying
Caesar’s census tax was legal and just. Recognizing the trap the
hypocrites laid for him, Jesus asked, “What is used to pay that tax?”
The men showed him a Roman coin. “And whose image is on that coin?”
Jesus asked. “Caesar’s,” the men replied. “Then give to Caesar what is
Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s,” Jesus said.
I wonder if the Republican elite can see the similarity? I doubt it,
but the message is “What is just and righteous is always just and
If, in 1975, Buchanan thought it “just” to remain with the Republican
Party, maybe that was because the party was still committed to its core
principles. If Buchanan asks others to abandon that same party today,
does it not make sense that he believes the party no longer abides by
its core principles? Remember, we’re talking about a 40-year
plus advocate of the Republican Party!
The correct answer is that both admonitions are just and
righteous, but only the hypocrites would try to “trap” Buchanan
and others into thinking that nothing about the GOP today has changed in
two decades. Most certainly, there are differences (the GOP no
longer vehemently supports an anti-abortion agenda, for example, and
have caved on recent “gun control” measures).
Republicans are still whining about losing the White House in
1992 and 1996 because they’d rather believe the “third party” theory
than admit that their party couldn’t pick a winner to run for the
presidency. Quite frankly, they lost the White House for eight years
because their candidates have failed to live up to conservative
expectations, have failed to excite conservative voters, and in many
cases have purposely alienated large conservative factions. In fact —
and sadly — Dubya Bush is poised to make the very same mistakes,
it seems, as did his two predecessors — one of them his father. They
also assumed they could write off standard conservative principles and
huge portions of the conservative wing of their own party and still
glide into the White House. That is not only folly; it is
provable folly. The Republicans will not have won the presidency
once in all of the 1990s.
Furthermore, what puts the lie to the Republican “third party” myth
is the mistaken belief that a form of “conservative lite” politics can
win. The resounding victories of the true conservative message that won
the GOP the House and Senate (and many gubernatorial statehouses) for
the past six years speaks volumes of truth, but nobody in the Republican
hierarchy is listening. They want who they want — and when they
lose, they want to blame everything and everybody else but themselves.
It’s pathetic — and it’s getting old.
Consider that if the GOP had never strayed from the true (and
inclusive) conservatism of the Reagan years, they’d likely still be in
the White House, still have Buchanan in their court, and still have a
majority of conservative voters solidly in their camp.
The 2000 presidential election is still over a year away, but the
“mainstream” Republican camp is already hard at work doing to Buchanan
and Co. what they did to him in 1992 and 1996. His adamant refusal to
compromise his own principles has brought him out of favor with the GOP
country club elite, but it is winning him major converts in both the
Republican and independent voting camps. Instead of learning something
— anything — useful from past mistakes, the Republican Party
seems intent on nominating another lukewarm conservative. More troubling
is that the GOP already seems poised to blame their 2000 presidential
loss on Buchanan.
That’s a shame because if the GOP was really serious about winning,
they’d be listening to him — and anyone else — who had the kind of
resonating message they are looking for.