Magazine article Insight on the News

A Conservative Guardian of Working Americans

Magazine article Insight on the News

A Conservative Guardian of Working Americans

Article excerpt

Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanon's populist bid in the Republican presidential campaign seems to be finding its niche among social conservatives, Reagan Democrats and former Perot independents.

Pat Buchanan, left-wing radical? Well, conservative writer David Frum labels him "the last liberal"; a Village Voice writer calls him "capable of bringing out the old socialist firehouse dog slumbering in many of us"; and the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne praises him for being "the one and only candidate ... challenging the basic economic assumptions" of free-market capitalism.

Known for his strong opinions on social issues, Buchanan now espouses a populist vision of "economic nationalism." He wants to protect American blue-collarjobs through trade protectionism and higher tariffs on foreign goods. He vehemently opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and the General Agreement on Thriffs and Trade, or GATT, and says an untrammeled free market threatens American workers. Buchanan also has a far-reaching plan to toughen campaign-finance and lobbying rules.

Buchanan is nothing if not eloquent and his speeches -- part labor-style rabble-rousing, part graceful constraint -- are moving and passionate. Railing against overpaid corporate bosses, "globalists" and "Wall Street bankers" who put "international concerns above domestic workers' jobs" evoked repeated standing ovations from a meeting of Ross Perot's United We Stand America last August. In September, he told a cheering crowd in Florida that President Clinton "has sacrificed the economic security of American workers ... for the benefit of a corporate and financial elite that has no loyalty, except to the bottom line of a balance sheet."

Not that he's turning his back on social issues; on the contrary, he considers corporate heartlessness another sign of America's declining values. …

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