It’s Tuesday, March 5, and I just returned from the polls, where I cast my ballot for Pat Buchanan. Let’s set the record straight: I’m an independent who affiliated with the Republican party for the express purpose of voting in this GOP presidential primary. Tomorrow, it’s back to being an independent. More importantly, I feel about Pat Buchanan like I feel about, say, herpes. I have nothing to say about the man that hasn’t been said before, and with more venom.
So what, in the name of all things progressive, would possess a free-thinking type like myself to vote for a man who represents, better than anybody this side of David Duke, all things evil in the world? Do I hate Bob Dole that much?
No, not really. Dole is a politician – nothing more, nothing less. We routinely send legions of his kind to legislatures all across the country, and a certain percentage of them inevitably make it the State House, even the White House. But deep in the festering bowels of the machine, one sewer rat is pretty much like another, and at his very worst Dole represents a difference in degree, not type.
No, I voted for Buchanan for two reasons, neither of which really has much at all to do with either Bob or Pat.
The first is purely gratuitous – before I die, more than anything else in life, I want to witness an open, free-for-all, double-dealing, smoke-filled back room, knock-down, drag-out Republican convention. I want to see the winners bloodied and the losers neutered and driven naked into the streets. I want to see the Buchanan camp cry havoc and let slip the dogs of Holy War. I want to see the party’s well-heeled, monied power elite trying to quell the Rise of the Right, as it were, beating back the Bible-thumping, trailer-trash rabble from the doors to the Inner Sanctum. The Country Club Crowd has been pandering to the Religious Right for years, eliciting votes with promises of moral reforms which have never been delivered.
“I’ll be with you on your wedding night,” the Monster told Victor Frankenstein. What will the GOP mainstream do now that the covers are pulled back and they realize the intractable character of the hideous Monster with whom they now find themselves abed?
Yes, indeed – an open GOP convention would be something akin to a World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view for the politically aware. At the worst, the GOP emerges ripped and torn and Clinton wins the Ugly Dog Contest in November. I’m not Clinton’s biggest fan right now, but I’ve turned my dictionary inside-out and there simply isn’t a definition of the word “choice” which can be honestly applied to any race involving any of the Republican frontrunners.
At best, after a couple of locked-up ballots fail to produce a winner, we might see a draft-Powell movement, and while I don’t know if Colin would make a good president or not, at the very least his candidacy would make for an interesting campaign.
The second reason I voted for Pat is more substantive, and goes directly to the question of the political clout wielded by the Reactionary Right since the Ascension of St. Ronald. Begin in the late 70s and early 80s in such unlikely backwaters as Lynchburg, Virginia, home of the Thomas Road Baptist Church and an ambitious country preacher named Jerry Falwell, who went on to found the Moral Majority (two lies for the price of one, its critics suggested). Then fast forward through a morass of Swaggarts and Robertsons and Wildmons and arrive, at the last, in places like Colorado Springs, beset on all sides by organizations with names like Coloradans for Family Values and Focus on the Family.
These people wield considerable political power all out of proportion to their numbers. Nonetheless, CFV, FotF, and their ilk are masters of organization and fund-raising, and they have a keen (if twisted) sense of what the world OUGHT TO BE. And as far back as the Moral Majority, they have always intuitively understood the value of selecting names for themselves which connote mainstream, traditional American values. Never mind the fact that they long for an idyllic past that never was – what matters here is their claim, from the outset, that they represent the American majority. Their values are American values, and to them the corrupting forces in the country are comprised of a wealthy, liberal media-elite. We must, through political activism, restore to the American majority the power to determine its own moral destiny. So the argument goes.
To make matters worse, every candidate with any pretensions to large-scale power in the past decade-and-a-half has taken the bait, much like Panderella himself, Sen. Bob Dole, did in the early stages of the current campaign. In his haste to “reach out” to the Right, who have somehow cornered the market on morality, he completely forgot that ever since he was first elected to the Senate shortly after the Civil War, he has been a centrist (relatively speaking) deal maker. So seductive is the appeal of the Right that he nearly dismissed his traditional power base entirely. How ironic that he and supporters like Speaker Newt are now begging Alexander and Forbes to bow out of the race so all resources can be focused on Buchanan. Had Dole worried less about the Right and more about his own constituency to start with, it’s hard to imagine how any other moderates could still be alive.
So I voted for Buchanan. I’m sick of the pandering, sick to death of the power wielded by what I firmly believe is a small, fringe political action lobby. I want Buchanan on the ballot in November so we can settle the issue once and for all. If these folks do, as they claim, represent the beliefs of most Americans, let’s elect Pat and hand over the reins. Majority rule (Moral or otherwise) – this is ostensibly what our system of governance is all about anyway, right?
Let’s have a referendum on the agenda of the Religious Right and on their favorite son, Patrick Buchanan. And if they lose by the substantial margin I expect they will, let’s have no more of it. Let’s then get back to the business of identifying the needs and desires of the real majority of the voters, and let the preachers get back to doing what they ought to be doing in the first place: preaching.