Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Maybe Buchanan Wasn't So Crazy After All

In 1992, after unsuccessfully challenging George Bush for the Republican Party's Presidential nomination, Pat Buchanan delivered what has since been called the "culture war speech" at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. Buchanan took home some 3 million votes in state primary elections that year, but it was the 38 percent of the vote that he won in the New Hampshire primary that shook up the race and forced Bush to run a much more conservative campaign.

What many remember from that speech is the fierce attack he directed towards Bill Clinton's brand of liberal politics. "The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America--abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat--that's change, all right," said Buchanan. "But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God's country."

Karl Rove must have a copy of the speech taped to his office wall, because much of it has been his playbook in the last three elections. What was controversial in 1992 when Buchanan spoke about it is now what fills the dividing line that has been drawn between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican in this country for some time: abortion, gay rights, religion, the Supreme Court.

But it is what Buchanan said later in his speech that seems to be particularly prescient more than 16 years later. "My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans," said Buchanan. "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself."

This week, Buchanan is releasing his latest book, “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” In it, he writes about the causes and ramifications of illegal immigration in the United States, as well as the Islamization of Europe into "Eurabia." It is getting harder by the day to refute any claim that the biggest issues facing our country, in addition to the threat of terrorism, are the problems associated with illegal immigration/border security and the growing menace of radical Muslim religious fundamentalism.

Religion and culture. Sixteen years ago, many people, Republican, Democrat and Independent, watched Pat Buchanan's speech that night and thought that he was not only wrong but a little off the mental beaten path. Now, the question of "what kind of country do we want to be" has been replaced by "what kind of country, and more importantly, what kind of world are we becoming." It doesn't seem so crazy in the daylight of 2006 anymore, does it?

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