(Editor’s note: The following is the last of a three-part series featuring the insights of Patrick J. Buchanan. The first two parts focused on media reaction to President Trump “draining the swamp,” Trump’s unique position as an outsider, and what changes he would make if he was named Trump’s Chief of Staff.)
It was 25 years ago when Pat Buchanan stood at the podium at the Republican National Convention and declared that there was a “cultural war going on for the soul of America.” That fiery address to a convention filled with standard issue Republicans preparing to nominate George H.W. Bush to a second term as President was the dénouement of a candidacy which came up short that year, but stoked a populist movement that may have ultimately led to the election of Donald Trump.
We spoke with Mr. Buchanan on Liberty Nation Radio about Trump, and whether he is the rightful heir to the movement Buchanan began. You will find his agenda of 1992 remarkably similar to that of Trump in 2016.
LN: Let’s talk populism for a moment. You challenged President Bush 41 and gave a speech at the convention declaring that there was a cultural war going on for the soul of America. That represented a populist uprising that was later picked up by Ross Perot, then by the Tea Party. To what extent is Donald Trump the fulfillment of the populist aspirations you presented so powerfully in 1992?
Mr. Buchanan: Well, in 1992, I ran on fundamentally challenging the president of the United States. I went into the primaries in New Hampshire only 10 weeks before the primary was held. And we had a tremendous showing, we started off at about 15 or 16 percent and were 50 points down, and we ended up within 15 points of Bush in 10 weeks.
And the issues that I ran on, all the way through the California primary, we got three million votes in the Republican primaries, were basically on securing the borders. Stop these trade deals that have been de-industrializing the country and sending our manufacturing jobs and our manufacturing businesses abroad. And stay out of these endless wars where the vital interests of the United States are not engaged. Get control of the border and build a fence along the border. They were coming in willy-nilly across the San Diego corridor there, back in 1992.
Those issues gave us tremendous propulsion in 1992 and 1996, when we won the New Hampshire primary against Senator Dole. But since then, the issues fell somewhat into eclipse, because of the good economy under Clinton. So, we tried the Reform Party and failed.
What Trump did was revive and resurrect these issues: border security, restricted immigration, staying out of these foolish foreign wars, trying to get along with Russia, trade deals. New trade deals where we get rid of these huge trade deficits.
And what he had going for him was the proof of what we had predicted. I mean, you’ve lost in the first 10 years of the 20th century, six million manufacturing jobs and 55,000 factories. So now the whole country knew the disaster that had been brought about and we had predicted. And Trump could run successfully on that, by saying “This is what’s happened because of these policies.”
So, Trump did extremely well, and of course he had other advantages. He had a tremendous amount of money. He didn’t need to go out and raise nickel and dimes at a time. He had a persona, he had the plane and all the rest of it, who Donald Trump is and the TV show. So, he did a tremendous achievement, and I was delighted to see it because of the success of the issues.
Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump. Bookends of a populist movement that took 25 years to put a true believer in the White House. Hammering on the same issues over a quarter of a century – enhanced border security, better trade deals, a revival of our manufacturing industry and a divorce from endless foreign entanglements.
And beyond all else, America First.