Patrick Buchanan: U.S. is not so indivisible
Patrick Buchanan speaks, during the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, First Amendment Event, at the Capital Center for The Arts, on Thursday in Concord. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER - Two decades ago, after conservative commentator, columnist and author Pat Buchanan won nearly 40 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, he exulted that his "Buchanan brigades met King George's army all along the Nashua Manchester Concord line and they are retreating back into Massachusetts."
The reference was to then-sitting President George H.W. Bush and the GOP establishment.
In 1996, again with the strong editorial backing of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Buchanan defeated the Republicans' "next-in-line" establishment candidate, Bob Dole, in the first-in-the-nation contest, leading his "peasants with pitchforks" on a journey he hoped would transform the Republican Party and the country.
It didn't work out that way, but Buchanan left a mark that in many ways re-emerged when the Tea Party reached a high-water mark in 2010.
Today, Buchanan believes the Nov. 6 election told a different story about where America is headed. And in his customarily blunt opinion, it's not to a good place.
Buchanan, now 74, still fights the populist-conservative fight in books and columns and television appearances.
His contention that the America he knew as a young man - a united country rooted in the Christian values and culture on which it was founded - is vanishing, has opened him to fresh charges of racism and anti-Semitism.
His most recently published book contained controversial passages about the fate of "Christian America," which cost him his 10-year role as a rare conservative voice on the left-leaning MSNBC cable network.
Buchanan, former adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, returned to New Hampshire last week to keynote the 10th Annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Awards ceremony in Concord.
In an interview before his appearance, he summed up his view of the nation's future:
"A guy whose last four books were 'State of Emergency,' 'Day of Reckoning,' 'Suicide of a Superpower' and 'Death of the West' is not going to be a roaring optimist," he said.
In "Suicide," Buchanan pens a chapter titled "The End of White America," in which he maintains that as a result of a steady influx of both illegal and legal immigrants, the United States is "Balkanizing" along religious, racial, ethnic, cultural and ideological lines.
"And," he explained in a column written just after his termination last February by MSNBC, "Western peoples are facing demographic death by century's end."
In today's America, Buchanan told the New Hampshire Sunday News, "People don't like each other and want to move away from each other," as evidenced by the secession movement in Texas.
Americans of different ethnic backgrounds clashed during the early 20th century, he noted.
"But because of what we went through - the Depression, World War II - public schools, which were deeply patriotic and forced kids to learn English and study English literature, all these things created a new America," Buchanan said.
"By 1960, everybody was assimilated, 97 percent spoke English, we were one nation," he maintained.
Today, he said, "people are coming from different civilizations, different cultures, and the melting pot is not working. It has been rejected by the elites who say that more and more diversity is better.
"We used to say, 'One nation, under God, indivisible.' Now we say diversity is our strength.
"We're risking the dissolution of the country," said Buchanan. "People more and more want to be with their own kind, and the American idea of bringing them all together and creating a new people isn't happening."
This divide is exacerbated by a media that he said is decreasingly objective.
With the new dominance of the Internet, especially Facebook, Twitter and the like, "Now we are at war all day long every day," said Buchanan. "It never stops - every day, every hour, every minute.
"Look at MSNBC and Fox," he said. "They go at each others' throats daily.
"And the use of the term 'racist,' that was used on people like Bull Connor (the pro-segregation safety commissioner of Birmingham, Ala., in the 1960s), but now it's used commonly."
Buchanan said the election of Barack Obama in 2008 spoke well for the country, culturally, if not, in his opinion, politically.
"I was on the (Washington) mall when he was inaugurated, and it was a wonderful event," he said. "Everybody was up.
"Everyone was saying, 'This is good. Look at the statement it says to the world.' I thought it was terrific."
But, said Buchanan, "he hasn't been able to unite the country and neither did (George W.) Bush.
"The question is: Is it their fault or is it really getting to the point where the country cannot be united under one individual?" Buchanan asked.
The controversy surrounding the Obama administration's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi is a current example of how deep divisions are manifested in Washington, Buchanan said.
If Obama nominates United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as Secretary of State, he said, "he's asking for a fight, and he should think long and hard whether he wants to nominate someone for that position who is a divisive figure in her own country."
But Buchanan laughs at the notion, held by some conservatives, that Obama should be impeached because he and his administration gave wrong information about the nature of the attack.
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"I went through Iran-contra and Watergate, the two biggest train wrecks in American history," he said. "I don't think this is one of those."
But, he said, a close examination of what he called a "cover-up" to protect Obama prior to the election "could expose incompetence, and I think you're going to expose mendacity."
So, we asked Buchanan, what will become of the America in the 21st Century?
"I'm a believer that you can't go home again," he said. "People tell me, 'You're nostalgic for the 1950s and such.'
"But I don't see how you pull it together again to become one country, one nation, one people the way we were because the disagreements are so fundamental and so profound and so deep and so irreconcilable that they're going to manifest themselves in constant conflict in society and in politics."
Buchanan recalls "the way we pulled together" after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik "to put a man on the moon," and "even the way we pulled together for a couple of months after 9/11.
"And we pull together during things like Hurricane Sandy, but it's fewer and fewer and shorter-lived."
In the end, he said, "We know what's going to happen. When America looks like California demographically, it will look like California politically.
"When I grew up, California was a place everybody went to," he said. "Now middle-class folks, white and black, they're leaving."
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