BY NAOMI CRAINE
Ultrarightist politician Patrick Buchanan scored a coup in the first vote of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Buchanan won the February 6 Louisiana caucuses, gaining 13 delegates to the Republican Party convention, compared to eight for Sen. Phil Gramm. Most other major contenders for the Republican nomination, including front- runners Bob Dole and Steve Forbes, did not take part in the contest.
Before the vote, which was taken at 42 sites across the state, Gramm had predicted an easy win, suggesting he might even get all of the Louisiana delegates.
"This wasn't a victory for a man - this was a victory for a cause," Buchanan declared when the results came in. He said the polling was a triumph of "a new conservatism that puts the values of faith, family, and country first."
Like in the 1992 campaign, Buchanan, a longtime commentator and speechwriter for the Nixon and Reagan administrations, has been putting forward a fascist program through the platform of the Republican primaries. Even more than last time around, Buchanan, a millionaire, has sought to appeal to workers, farmers, and "the little man." He speaks of "the steadily declining real wages of working men and women in this country. The ones who produce things and manufacture things and work on assembly lines and work in small plants...."
Buchanan's central theme is the chauvinist slogan "America First." In the name of "protecting American jobs" he rails against the North American Free Trade Agreement. He calls for special tariffs on Japanese and Chinese imports.
He takes a particularly vicious stance toward immigrants, calling for building a 70-mile fence and deploying troops along the Mexican border, denying citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants, making English the official language, and imposing a moratorium on most legal immigration.
Like other fascist-minded demagogues historically, Buchanan uses antigovernment and even anticapitalist rhetoric. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation at the end of January, for instance, he charged a "judicial dictatorship" with being in "active opposition to the wishes of the majority." He accused the courts of protecting "criminals, atheists, homosexuals, flag burners, illegal aliens - including terrorists - convicts, and pornographers."
Continuing his 1992 theme of waging a "cultural war," Buchanan stresses his opposition to abortion, affirmative action, and busing for school desegregation, while supporting prayer in the public schools. Answering a question on prayer in schools he said, "Look, our Founding Fathers, if you had told them that they could not pray in their schools and the order came from London, you would have heard three little words: Lock and load."
Buchanan is not primarily out to win votes, nor was he four years ago. He has set out to build a cadre of those committed to his program and willing to act in the streets to carry it out. He dubs his supporters the "Buchanan Brigades."
In his speech to the Republican Party convention in 1992, Buchanan pointed to how after anti-police rioting, National Guard units in Los Angeles had taken back the city "block by block, house by house." That's how the American people are going to win the "cultural war," he said. Other Republican politicians complained that the speech, which set the tone for the convention and ran so far over schedule that it knocked Ronald Reagan out of the prime time slot, hurt the Republican Party. Buchanan had no apologies to offer.
Commenting on the tone of a recent speech Buchanan gave to the New Hampshire legislature, Republican state representative Julie Brown, said, "It's just mean - like a little Mussolini."
While he is not about to get the Republican nomination, Buchanan is serious in his campaign. The week before his Louisiana win, he came in first in a straw poll of Alaska Republicans and placed third in polls in New Hampshire, where the first primary election will be held. He is building a base regardless of how the vote totals continue to fall. And he poses the only real alternative that can be put forward within the capitalist system to the like-sounding Clinton and Dole - a fascist alternative.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home