September 18, 2000


Against almost incredible odds, fighting a gaggle of parasitic factionalists, the media, a band of "yogic flyers" and Ross Perot's billions, Pat Buchanan has pulled off an amazing triumph with his usual spirit and panache.. He not only wrested the Reform Party from the iron grip of Perot and his Perotistas, but he flushed out the wackos and assorted dingbats who had managed to attach themselves to it, including John Hagelin, the "Harvard-educated physicist" who bounces up and down on his haunches in the belief that he can fly, the would-be party boss Russell Verney, the fanatical Johnny-one-note gay activist Jim Mangia – whose 15 minutes of fame is definitely over – and his erstwhile ally, the WorldNetDaily columnist and Commie cult leader Lenora Fulani. It was a Heraculean effort, the modern-day equivalent of cleaning out the Augean Stables, and he did it with good humor, persistence, and an amazing unflappability that nearly always enables him to stay on course and on message. Recovering from an illness – he had three gall bladder operations in recent weeks, not two as generally reported – and facing seemingly eternal legal harassment from the Perot-financed Hagelinistas, his campaign delivered the knockout punch to these devils in human form with a stunning court decision that instructed Hagelin and his wacky Natural Law Party to knock off claiming to be the "real" Reform Party. Not only that, but they have to hand over the official Reform Party website to Jerry Moan and the duly elected party officials, and so check it out, folks – when you go to the official Reform Party web address, which had been commandeered by the Wrecking Crew, you get an error message: THIS PAGE TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE. The truth is, Verney, Mangia, Fulani and the Wrecking Crew are going to be permanently unavailable – the Wrecking Crew has foundered on the rocks of reality, and been permanently disabused of its delusions (and those of the media, which, to its eternal discredit, insisted on treating Hagelin as if he were a serious human being).


Now Buchanan can begin the work – the real work – he set out to do in the first place. For the struggle to win recognition as the new leader of the Reform Party, although necessary, was only a temporary distraction from a vitally important task. I'll let Pat describe it in his own words. In an appearance on the Lehrer News Hour, interviewed by Gwen Ifill, he was asked "What does the Reform Party stand for?" His answer spoke volumes about the kind of campaign we can expect:

"We stand for a foreign policy that brings American troops home from foreign wars that are none of our business; that opposes wars like Kosovo, where America destroys countries that did not attack us. We believe in protecting and defending America's borders, if it means putting troops on our borders. We believe in cutting back immigration along the lines of the Barbara Jordan Commission to about 300,000 folks, rather than a million a year so we can all come together. We believe in shutting down some departments in Washington, DC, just as we sent welfare to the states."


Foreign policy is clearly an issue that lies at the center of the new movement he is building, an essential component of the coalition that his campaign is galvanizing. Based on the precepts of the Founders who abhorred "entangling alliances" and sought to stay out of foreign wars, small government conservatism, and a refusal to sanction the wholesale capitulation to political correctness displayed with such brazenness by the Republicans in Philadelphia, Buchanan's revived Reform Party is shaping up as a long-term threat to the GOP on a national scale. Here, at last, is a permanent home for "movement" conservatives. Unlike the party of George Wallace, which faded away after Wallace dropped out of the national spotlight – and which, in spite of its populist fighting spirit and instinctive anti-elitism, had some serious ideological shortcomings – the party of Pat Buchanan is here to stay. As Pat put it:

"If we do well and if we have a good campaign, I'm going to give the rest of my life to build this party. And let me say this, Gwen: I know we're at 1% or whatever. There is a vacuum in American politics. No party today stands for an "America First" foreign policy. No party says, "leave Microsoft alone; that's an American asset." If you want to smash a cartel, criminal cartel, break up OPEC. They're gouging American consumers. They're bringing Europe to its knees! That is a criminal conspiracy, a price-fixing conspiracy, which if it met in America, we would arrest the whole lot of them. Why isn't Clinton fighting against the OPEC cartel instead of Bill Gates? What has Gates done to me? He tried to sneak me a free browser; that's the only thing he's done."


Instead of working to smash the OPEC cartel, Clinton, Gore, and their Republican clone are all pledged to preserve and protect the OPEC, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, not only from the depredations of Saddam Hussein but also from the wrath of their own subjects. What else are American troops doing stationed out there in the middle of the Arabian desert? It's a national disgrace, as the price of oil climbs to a ten-year, that America's two major parties are both errand boys for these oil sheiks, who have no more gratitude or loyalty to their American gendarmes than they would to an army of mercenaries. As the price of oil skyrockets, and American and European consumers rebel against the blackmailers of the House of Saud and the Emir of Kuwait, tensions are breaking out between Iraq and its neighbors over Iraq's disputed border with the Saudis and Kuwait. . . .


The prospect of renewed warfare in the Persian Gulf has passed from being solely the concern of this column and others who write for and burst into the general consciousness, with daily news reports of rising tensions, overflights, and preliminary skirmishing. We stand on the brink of yet another war for oil – and only one candidate for President has the guts to stand up to the War Party and say: "We must we put a single American at risk for the sale of these royal ingrates! Why must Americans die for the Emir of Kuwait of the Saudi king – so he can turn around and rip us off at the gas pump? This isn't our fight."


Along Serbia's border with Kosovo, too, war clouds loom, as the run-up to the September 24 elections brings the prospect of renewed trouble in the Balkans much closer. Here, too, Buchanan has been vocal about his absolute opposition to US intervention. The difference now is that he's got over $12 million to publicize his position – and that has got to put a big crimp in the plans of the War Party. For here is a man devoted in principle to the idea that we ought to start minding our own business, and that the main problem is not in Baghdad, nor is it in Belgrade, but rather the source of the threat is right here at home – in our very own Washington D.C. Buchanan is a man of principle who now has the means to express and act on those principles. Before Buchanan took his present course, as a commentator on Crossfire and a newspaper columnist, his was a powerful voice raised against the insanity of our globalist foreign policy. However widely known and articulate he was, however, his was a lone voice: now he stands at the head of an organized movement, one that is growing in numbers, and visibility, energized by the kind of enthusiasm the RNC can only wish for in its grassroots activists. Buchanan is no longer alone. He has a movement behind him, a rising Reform Party that will remain a national presence long after November.


Today, as a candidate, Buchanan is more formidable than ever: more articulate, more self-assured, more ready to rumble: and, what's more, the political atmosphere is heating up, as the world crisis looms larger and more ominous than ever. With war in the cards, and the "don't worry, be happy" economy showing increasing signs of imploding, the prospects for Buchananism are much brighter than Pat's many critics – on the Right as well as the Left – are willing to admit. But when it comes to Patrick J. Buchanan, neutrality is practically impossible: you're either for him, or against him. He's that kind of public figure, which our professional "centrists" of both parties call "polarizing" and which the rest of us call refreshingly honest, especially in the midst of this deadly dull campaign of mushy platitudes and laughable trivia. Well then, it's high time that lines were drawn and sides chosen up, as American approaches a crossroads: let the polarizing begin. . . .


The Buchanan campaign is planning a media blitz, plenty of radio ads and local television, and we are in for a rare treat: for the first time since the Vietnam war, foreign policy is going to become a major campaign issue. That alone will shift the focus of public attention on Buchanan by dint of its sheer uniqueness. The old shibboleth that voters don't care about foreign policy unless the body bags are coming home is about to be disproved With Republicans in the House calling for putting a deadline on the withdrawal of our troops from Kosovo by April – a measure supported by House Majority Leader Dick Armey – and with Bush calling for the Republicans to cool it and get with the Clintonian program of jumping into the Balkan quagmire head first, the foreign policy question is going to be the defining issue of the Buchanan campaign – and the presidential election.


Most Republican members of Congress want the US out of Kosovo, and the proportion of "isolationists" is even higher among the GOP rank-and-file: yet Dubya scolds the House GOP caucus for even raising the issue, declaring that foreign policy must be a "presidential prerogative." Oh yeah – since when? Since when has the Constitution been revoked, or amended to cede Congress's power to make war to the executive branch? Buchanan opposed the Kosovo war as unconstitutional as well as immoral and disadvantageous to the national interests of the United States: it had never been approved by Congress, and he alone among the major candidates has said so. If Pat makes Kosovo the subject of a radio spot, or a television ad, suggesting that we ought to bring our troops home – and, perhaps, put them on the Rio Grande, to stop the real invasion of our country by an army of illegal immigrants – it would cause a sensation. Such a move would bring out – in droves – the independents, who are looking for a maverick and would be willing to overlook the smears and the pundit-approved ready-made labels by voting for Reform precisely because it is controversial, different, and refreshingly blunt.


I have my differences with Buchanan: on trade, on some social issues, but these are overwhelmed by centrality of his commitment to a noninterventionist foreign policy. On domestic matters, the President of the United States is relatively powerless: he can take the legislative initiative, but without the consent of Congress and at least the passive cooperation of the Fourth Estate (the media) he's not likely to get very far. In the foreign policy realm, however, our chief executive who is also our Commander-in-chief has virtually unlimited power to move American troops around the globe like pawns on a chessboard. He can launch a thousand missiles at a moment's notice, and plunge the world into a conflagration of global horror on a the strength of a whim. In this aspect of the Presidency, as military chieftain and world leader, the power of the White House is virtually godlike. That is why the election of either George W. Bush or Al Gore would be disastrous for the future of America – and the world. It is also why the Buchanan campaign is the only alternative to World War III. By getting the 5% necessary to ensure federal funding for the Reform Party, Buchanan will have put in place a permanent lobby against intervention and war – a powerful counterweight to the bipartisan hegemony of the War Party, and a stumbling block on the road to empire. Far from being a wasted vote, a vote for Buchanan will make the War Party think twice before they launch the next "humanitarian" intervention, the next glorious crusade to ensure the profits of Big Oil and the Arab sheiks. In this context, any other vote is not only wasted – it is practically a criminal act, and certainly a morally indefensible one. As I said in my speech to the Reform Party national convention in Long Beach: it is Buchananism or barbarism. The choice is yours to make.

Text-only printable version of this article

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Hear Justin Raimondo's Reform Party Speech

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cargagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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