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Pat Buchanan Saw Trump Coming

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Pat Buchanan Saw Trump Coming

Pat Buchanan

During the 1992 Republican National Convention, conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan created a firestorm. In what would later come to be known as his “culture war” speech, Buchanan excoriated the country’s supposed moral decline, calling for an evangelical victory in the “religious war going on … for the soul of America.”

Buchanan—perhaps more than anyone else—should have known that the ascendance of someone like Donald to the nomination would only be a matter of time. The inflammatory, nationalist rhetoric Trump spewed during the Republican primaries can be traced back to Buchanan’s 1992 challenge against George H.W. Bush.

On the campaign trail, Buchanan linked the Los Angeles riots to immigration problems and suggested that Zulu immigrants would create more problems than British ones. At his convention speech, he railed against “environmental extremists who put insects, rats and birds ahead of families, workers and jobs.” Buchanan proposed building “structures” along the U.S.-Mexico border while Trump was still building skyscrapers in Manhattan.

This time, though, these ideas are actually working: While Buchanan’s diatribes against free trade and immigration only saw the former Nixon speechwriter pushed to the fringes by the Republican establishment, they have now allowed Trump to hijack the GOP.

“The people who like the Donald remember America as it was and don’t really like what it’s become,” he told The Daily Beast in June. “If you think America was a good country you grew up in and you prefer it to now, a lot of people think you’re racist, homophobic, and bigoted. By now we’ve been called lots of names. These are the cuss words of a dying establishment.”

Trump’s success capitalized on the fears of the white-working class, who resent the country’s growing multiculturalism and stagnating industry. While Buchanan focused on abortion and gay rights—two issues on which Trump is arguably less of a demagogue—the central tenets of his political views have always been anti-trade and anti-immigration.

In an opinion column last December, Buchanan wrote “Trump’s success tells us that the American people really do not celebrate ‘globalization.’ […] They want people here illegally to be sent back, the borders secured and a moratorium imposed on Muslim immigration until we fix the broken system.”

Interestingly enough, though, Buchanan’s recent political history also shows that Trump wasn’t the most likely candidate to take over his throne of white nationalism.

After coming in a distant second to Bush in ’92 and then Bob Dole in ’96, Buchanan also competed with none other than Donald Trump for the Reform Party nomination in 2000. But true to his reputation for shifting political identities over the years, The Donald was not quite on board with Buchanan’s nativist orthodoxies back then.

Trump spoke about the virtues of “appreciating different cultures” and went after Buchanan for his hateful remarks against nearly every marginalized group in the country. At the time, he even compared Buchanan to “Attila the Hun” and called him a “neo-Nazi.” (Buchanan’s platform then is nearly identical to Trump’s platform now, BuzzFeed has reported.)

As a result, “I was relatively astonished when he came out against trade and immigration—and to Make America First—that’s on my hats,” Buchanan said, according to The Daily Beast. 

Despite his astonishment, Buchanan probably couldn’t be happier: Whereas his 1992 speech was a conciliatory gesture for a primary loser, a racist will finally close out a Republican convention—only a quarter-century later.

Who cares if Donald plagiarized his style?


Photo: Pat Buchanan via Wikimedia Commons



  1. Oddworld July 21, 2016

    Which ever way the elections turn out I think Pat Buchanan is going to be disappointed. Pat’s culture war is no closer to being won than it was in 1992. The U.S. is probably more divided ideologically like branches on a tree than ever before. The 2 party system may be more polarized now as are certain pockets of the country but most people are starting to accept ideas that they previously rejected. It won’t stop the hardcore hardliners
    from espousing their usual rhetoric and hanging onto outdated myths but they’re entitled to their fantasies. As for Trump, he just follows where the wind takes him, he knows what his audience wants to hear. I just don’t believe
    trump is the man his supporters think he is and ole Pat
    is also buying into it hook line and sinker.

    1. Scooter Livingston July 22, 2016

      Melania Trump plagiarized Michelle Obama…

      Donald Trump plagiarized Pat Buchanan…

      1. Oddworld July 22, 2016

        Indeed, however there are much more important issues
        that require our attention.

      2. Tom Smith July 23, 2016

        I don’t think there’s much of an anti-Plagiarist vote out there.

  2. yabbed July 22, 2016

    Trump represents the most reprehensible, weak, and bigoted among us and that is not a good thing. The picture of Trump’s America is of a land of fearful, racist, misogynist, religiously warped people. It is embarrassing our great nation to have this false framing of America and our people.

  3. BNH July 22, 2016

    Pat Buchanan is a national treasure. If the country had elected him back in the 90s, it would be well on the road to greatness, not destruction as it is today. What a mess the establishment made of it. Trump may not possess Pat’s poetry or knowledge, but not many do, and he’s been beating the elites and the establishment, and I trust that he will be “our voice” and will set out to do what he says he will do and will make us proud to be Americans again. God help us if the witch wins in November.

    1. johninPCFL July 22, 2016

      “Pat Buchanan is a national treasure.” Yes – he deserves to be inside a tiny room, under armed guard, and never allowed out in public.

      1. BNH July 22, 2016

        I think you’re confusing him with Hillary; she’s the one who’s the criminal who deserves to be locked up.

        1. johninPCFL July 22, 2016

          Comey says otherwise.

        2. iamproteus July 23, 2016

          So, BNH, you advocate replacing the protections enshrined in the Constitution with unproven accusations and hateful innuendo as a basis for locking someone up? How very patriotic of you! So much for “due process” in the world of so-called conservatism.

  4. Tom Smith July 23, 2016

    “Buchanan’s diatribes against free trade and immigration
    only saw the former Nixon speechwriter pushed to the fringes by the
    Republican establishment, they have now allowed Trump to hijack the GOP.”

    I guess the writer of this column doesn’t get it.
    Trump put forward policies that
    most of the other 16 GOP candidates wouldn’t even bring up.
    These were hotbed issues which GOP voters wanted addressed.
    I’d say it was the Globalist Washington Republican Establishment
    who hijacked the GOP.
    The hostage is now being rescued.

  5. Tom Smith July 23, 2016

    I don’t think Trump and Buchanan match up on cultural issues.
    Trump is moderate to liberal on many of them.
    They do match up on Nationalist and Bread and Butter issues.


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