Writing off political rivals
with a couple negative
words and a sack full of out-of-conext quotes
is not only the easy route to take, it's the result of decades of media brainwashing
. Popular thinking is that once you fit someone with a label, be it "bigot
", that their words and ideas dwindle into insignificance
, and the individual becomes nothing more than a target for hate
. Not only does such labeling oversimplify
a three-dimensional (and often colorful) individual
, it smacks of closed-mindedness
and simultaneous hate and fear of those whom you disagree
So-called "extremists" in every discipline (including politics) are saddled with this burden and labeled "stupid" and "dangerous" because of unpopular viewpoints. When I look at folks like Pat Buchannan, Ralph Nader, Louis Farrakhan, Rage Against The Machine, David Duke, Pat Robertson -- all people the media will identify as having some "extreme" opinions -- I see a group of people with conviction. I disagree with them all on numerous issues, and I find some of their words ignorant and offensive, but is this a reason to hate or fear them? I probably disagree with you about something too; it doesn't mean you're my sworn enemy. There is a certain honor in expressing beliefs which you know will turn you into a pariah. Often, I feel the true danger in politics comes from the center, where polls and lies are often placed above true beliefs. Despite my disagreements, I have infinitely more respect for Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader than I have for people like Al Gore, for whom the politics of meandering doublespeak, image rebranding, and personal attacks is an ideology unto itself. Bill Bradley's loss in this election's primaries exemplifies to me why Bill Clinton has done more harm to the Democratic Party than anyone else in recent history. But that's beside the point. One can have conviction in centrist beliefs, and many do, but those who seek agenda-less power for power's sake will always spring from the middle.
I see Patrick J. Buchanan as Jesuitism personified (and that's the first definition, Webster fans). His almost boyish patriotism and simple views of right and wrong belie his intelligence and knowledge of the issues he speaks about. He's no dummy; he posesses a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, has been a senior advisor to three presidents, and was for a time the youngest major newspaper editorial writer in the USA. His numerous views are nothing if not cohesive.
Nor is he a hateful man. Buchanan will attack venemously that which he considers to be sin, but he will never speak ill of the sinner. He will debate liberals (true idealistic liberals, not Clintonites) to death, but he's the kind of guy who takes his opponent to lunch afterwards and shares a few laughs. Crossfire is the perfect climate for Buchanan; it's always a fierce debate, but for such a program to work, there has to be mutual respect flowing between the participants.
So here is a man who undoubtably cares deeply about America and its citizens, but finds it difficult to see things the way others do. You get the feeling he'd be a great man if he could spend a few days in someone else's shoes. Yet for all his lack of compassion, he has an innate desire to be America's protector -- to "save" it from outside influence and lifestyle. His isolationist views mean relatively little in our shrinking modern world, but his thinking is closer to anti-globalization and pro-union leftism than either party would like to admit.
Buchanan's ideas flow from his interpretations of history and the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Regardless of how accurate his interpretations are, he believes that his ideas will elevate every American. Buchanan's ideal America is the America of indivuduals and individual opportunity, free of the corruptive influence of foreign or internal collusion. Almost admirable, but paranoid. He's recruited Ezola Foster as his running mate, and I'm hard-pressed to think of a more perfect choice for him. Make no mistake, Buchanan has no chance to win this election, and will never succeed in any election (second place in Alaska would be a good goal for him).
But, in his own mind, Buchanan will always be America's Jesuit freedom fighter, standing up for an America that doesn't exist and never has. Sometimes Buchanan is so wrong, but I can't fault the man for doing what he truly feels is best for all of us. He's not evil; the stars and stripes just mean something entirely different to him, something very personal.