Pat Buchanan is a man under pressure. It may surprise some of you to
know that the pressure he's under is not coming from his critics or from
his political adversaries. The pressure is coming from among his
supporters -- at least the most vocal among them. The pressure is this:
to back away from or soft-pedal his connection to me, because in
accepting my endorsement (i.e. support from a black progressive) he
opened the door to a cross-cultural coalition that has offended some
hard-core social conservatives in his following.
In partnering with me and sending a signal that he wants to create a
new right/left coalition -- in accepting my invitation to come with me
to walk the streets of Harlem and speak at a meeting of Rev. Al
Sharpton's National Action Network, where he could address issues of
concern to black Americans -- he has infuriated some of his followers.
Buchanan is now being told that he must "stand pat," i.e. stay within
the traditional conservative mold. Here's where I need your help. My
experience is that there are very diverse opinions on these issues among
Buchanan supporters, but that Pat needs to hear from those of you who
support the direction of this new coalition.
Advertisement - story continues below
Far from it being the case that Pat's followers have rejected the
alliance we jointly created when I endorsed his campaign, the feedback I
have received has been extremely positive. I have received literally
hundreds of letters, phone calls and e-mails enthusiastically applauding
our partnership. A Buchanan supporter from Idaho embodied the sentiment
when he wrote: "It is high time for a Left-Right coalition on the
seminal issues of our time."
In some respects, Pat is still caught up in his old Republican Party
paradigm, where you carve out a highly defined rigid ideological stance,
organize a following based on that stance, and then leverage your
position inside the party. But in making the move to the Reform Party,
Buchanan entered a new political universe. It's a universe where
Americans of diverse ideologies come together to clean up the corruption
of two party, special interest politics around issues of political and
Building this kind of post-ideological coalition is difficult and
raises serious concerns for those who participate in it. Political
conservatives who identify with the issues that make up a conservative
agenda find it strange or disconcerting to partner with other Americans
who have been on the "opposite side of the fence." Political liberals
and progressives feel the same way. There is considerable fear that such
a partnership will lead to the sacrifice or dissolution of core beliefs.
Certainly Pat has been savaged by the conservative establishment on
these grounds: first, for leaving the Republican fold, then for his
populist and anti-war views on trade and foreign policy, and finally,
for his left/right partnership with me. Blaring headlines on the front
page of the National Review, for example, proclaimed Pat was
"conservative no more," playing to the conservative paranoia (a paranoia
intensely shared by the left) that without traditional moorings, the
moral commitments of the movement will crumble.
Advertisement - story continues below
If anything, those many Buchanan supporters who have reached out to
me do so with a very profound sense of the morality involved in casting
aside divisive labels and bringing diverse Americans together to create
an alternative to the immorality of special interest politics, globalism
and the two party racket that distorts our election process.
Building a new right/left coalition means being willing to say and do
some new things and to urge your followers to come along. You can't be
constantly concerned with who isn't going to follow. As one of Pat's
advisors, the well-known Reagan economist Jude Wanniski, recently wrote
to Pat regarding his coalition with me, "If you are going to build a
populist coalition, you have to make your core brigades understand from
the outset what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.
Nobody believes you are going to sell out in Faustian bargains."
So, I am reaching out to all of you who are Buchanan supporters to
let you know that I think Pat needs your support right now. He needs to
hear from you that you support his efforts to build new coalitions, to
take his anti-globalist, pro-reform message where it's never been
before. So call him. Write him. E-mail him. Tell him not to stand, Pat.
But to Go, Pat, Go!