I used to think that Pat Buchanan was from the paleo-conservative quadrant of the righty universe . Now I’m not so sure. Buchanan might be a charter member of the “Archeo-conservative” school of thought, where his ideological forebearers pre-date western civilization and his ideas reflect the thinking of intellectual giants like Uther Pendragon and Vortigen – two barbarian Celts who knew what to do with uninvited “foreigners” like Saxons and Picts.
Where paleos are simply bizarre throwbacks to the Robert Taft era of conservatism – isolationist, distrustful of foreigners, big government, and the Democratic party, archeo-conservatives take a right turn at the 1950’s and head straight on back to the 4th century where cities used to build sturdy walls to keep out invaders and the homogeneous nature of society was maintained by simply killing anyone who looked a little different than you or your neighbor.
Of course, Buchanan doesn’t want to kill anyone – I think. But listening to him at times you wonder if in some of his darkest fantasies, he sees himself sort of as a “Shield of God” – Pope Leo holding back Attila the Hun and his barbarian hordes at the Gates of Rome with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.
He is certainly an extremist. And now we can add “old woman” to his resume thanks to his new book, Day of Reckoning, where he wails that “all is lost” and America is finished:
â€¢ Pax Americana, the era of U.S. global dominance, is over. A struggle for global hegemony has begun among the United States, China, a resurgent Russia and radical Islam
â€¢ Bushâ€™s invasion of Iraq was a product of hubris and of ideology, a secular religion of â€œdemocratism,â€ to which Bush was converted in the days following 9/11
â€¢ Torn asunder by a culture war, America has now begun to break down along class, ethnic and racial lines.
â€¢ The greatest threat to U.S. sovereignty and independence is the scheme of a global elite to erase Americaâ€™s borders and merge the USA, Mexico and Canada into a North American Union.
(This is a small sample of Buchanan’s hysterics. Read the blurb at Amazon for a full frontal assault on common sense.)
Every few years, some fruit and nutcase comes forward and boldly proclaims the end of America as we know it and that it’s time to build the bomb shelter or, more prosaically, brush up on your survivalist skills, all the better to ride out the coming race war. Or maybe he thinks liberals are going to collectively grow a pair and drown the rest of us in porn, atheism, and gay rights parades.
Pax Americana” finished? Our era of global dominance over? That might be news to the mullahs in Iran and a few other leaders who don’t lose any sleep over what Russia or China might do to them if they transgress against the world order but lay awake nights wondering if a pack of F-117’s may be on their way to pay them a little visit. The military councils in these countries do not see America as “finished” or “weak” I can guarantee you. They can bluster all they want but their cold hard calculations of power recognize the fact that even with our hands tied in Iraq, we can bring a shattering force to bear against any nation on earth – without using our still superior nuclear arsenal.
Also, we might want to consider the fact that our $13 trillion economy is still 3 times bigger than our closest rival Japan and larger than the next 4 economies combined. We are the 800 pound economic gorilla in the room whose productivity is the envy of the industrialized world.
How this translates into America becoming a third world nation anytime soon simply boggles my mind. You have to deliberately ignore the facts to reach any conclusion other than America maintains a huge advantage economically and militarily over any other nation on earth.
And the idea that America is being torn apart by a “culture war” is ludicrous. There are the forces of secularization and modernization tussling with the forces of traditionalism and religious fundamentalism. There is nothing new in this battle. Substitute “pornography and secular humanism” for “demon rum and race mixing” and you have a snapshot of America a hundred years ago.
In many ways, I sympathize with the right in this struggle in that the denigration of western values and traditions by the forces of secularism and post-modernism have too much influence in our schools and in the culture. But Buchanan, who was one of the coiners of the term “culture war,” (he certainly popularized it), goes too far in portraying these philistines as evil rather than simply wrong. The former Nixon aide is an expert at demonizing his opponents by ascribing sinister motives to their machinations rather than simple wrongheadedness and stupidity – which is bad enough but hardly a reason to start moaning about the end of everything.
And Bush’s push for “democratism” is nothing new in American history. Indeed, the Wilsonian concept of bringing democracy to the heathen has been the one of the major thrusts of American foreign policy for nearly 100 years. And Iraq isn’t the first place the idea has gotten us into trouble. We’ve survived bigger mistakes and come back stronger than ever.
I will not dignify the conspiracy theory about a “North American Union” on this site. The less said about that kind of paranoid delusion, the better.
But Buchanan’s main thrust of his book is apparently that America is finished:
“America is coming apart, decomposing, and…the likelihood of her survival as one nation…is improbable—and impossible if America continues on her current course,” declares Pat Buchanan. “For we are on a path to national suicide.”
It could very well be that the nation state as a political entity is on its way out. Such predictions have been made since I was in books. But what Buchanan and those like him who only see what divides us totally miss are the powerful forces at work in America that keep us united.
Buchanan is rightly worried about the “invasion” of third worlders (mostly Spanish speaking illegals from Mexico and Central America) who are pouring across a border our government refuses to acknowledge much less defend. And there are some worrying signs that many of these illegals are immune to the siren song of the American dream, that they are perfectly content to remain in their “sanctuaries” and maintain a troubling separateness from the rest of America.
But Buchananites always neglect to note that many millions of legal immigrants become enamored with America and the opportunities she offers new arrivals. Those who bother to go through the painstaking effort to come here legally become citizens at just about the same rate as any other immigrant group in American history. They adopt American customs, mixing them as all immigrants in the past have done, with their own. They embrace the American way of life as enthusiastically as any other ethnic group. They work hard, pay taxes, learn English, start businesses, create wealth, and are a great big plus to our society.
Buchanan wants to stop all immigration – legal and illegal – while erecting a Medieval wall to keep out the riff raff.
Buchanan’s loss of faith in America to assimilate newcomers is not justified by history or the facts. There are many steps the government can take to slow the arrival of illegals and force the ones here already to leave voluntarily. But cutting off legal immigration would be a monumental mistake. It would cutting off our nose to spite our face.
The magic of America has always been its ability to absorb newcomers and immerse them into the American compact; work hard, play by the rules, and chances are you too can enjoy the fruits of what this bountiful society has to offer. Put simply, Buchanan doesn’t trust his own country. And I wish to God he would take his loss of faith and not try to foist his Medieval ideas of “homogeneity” on the rest of us in the process of trying to save us.
Yes we have enormous problems – political, economic, cultural. But to get up on a soapbox and announce that the end is nigh is simple hysteria-mongering. It may sell books to his faithful followers and a few curiosity seekers. But is is hardly a basis for political action by either party. Every one of Buchanan’s concerns can and probably will be dealt with eventually. In the meantime, we muddle along, doing our best, trusting that the future will be better than the present as previous generations of Americans did. The fact that they have always been proved right should count for something.
The United States has survived civil war, several horrible depressions, an invasion, two world wars, 120 million immigrants, not to mention various philanderers, crooks, nincompoops, political hacks, and incompetents who served as president. And now we’re supposed to pay any heed to Pat Buchanan’s warnings of imminent destruction just because he thinks the “culture” is being destroyed along with our “homogeneity?”
Get a grip, Pat.