Pat Buchanan

Candidate Buchanan: Point Man for Race Baiters

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Ph.D.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson


The announcement that perennial right wing candidate Pat Buchanan will make yet another bid for president in the 2000 election should not surprise. Buchanan must have been encouraged by the ease with which white Southern Republicans for the past year dominated Congress, the media, and public policy debates in their failed drive to dump Clinton. He probably took note that the race baiting Council of Conservative Citizens, which he and other Republicans and Democrats reportedly have close ties with, has gained much media attention and drawn almost no criticism from leading Republicans.

Buchanan will try again to dress up his campaign with populist sounding rants against welfare, Wall Street bankers, the cultural elite, and the liberal media. But his real mission is still the complete destruction of social programs and the reversal of civil rights in America. Since President Richard Nixon made him his special assistant and speech writer in 1969, he has been the far right's most effective point man on race. Memos that Buchanan wrote to Nixon and that have been made public show that he has never wavered, compromised, or conciliated in opposing civil rights. He opposed a planned visit by Nixon to Coretta Scott King in Atlanta claiming that Martin Luther King, Jr. was "a fraud" and "demagogue" and "one of the most divisive men in contemporary American history."

When Nixon nominated the segregationist judges Clement Haynesworth and Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court the howls of outrage reached fever pitch. Nixon wanted to dump the nominees. Buchanan wrote: "Either they kick their black friends in the teeth or they kick the South in the teeth." Buchanan made it clear whose teeth should get kicked in.

When Nixon proposed reforms in welfare and poverty programs. Buchanan argued that it was "good politics" to get rid of them." He wasn't satisfied with simply slashing and burning social programs. His goal as always was to stir and deepen racial divisions. He urged Nixon to take the money from blacks and Latinos and give it to "poor Jewish and Italian neighborhoods."

He wanted to go for America's racial jugular and wreak maximum damage on civil rights. He wasn't content with vanquishing the Democrats in the 1972 election. He aimed to create a permanent reservoir of hatred and distrust among whites of Democrats/blacks. He bombarded Nixon with memos advising him to harden his Southern strategy to stoke white fear and resentment of black crime and dereliction, play on the frustrations of blue collar ethnics, tar the Democrats as the party of special interests (i.e. pro-black) and collect the broken racial pieces on election day.

Buchanan also suggested that Nixon convince whites that Democratic candidate George McGovern planned to move blacks into white neighborhoods. Buchanan banked on this evoking terror images in whites of poverty stricken crime prone blacks invading their neighborhoods. Nixon would then appear as their protector who would "retain the integrity and value of ethnic neighborhoods." When President Ronald Reagan made him his communications director he had another chance to relentlessly assault civil rights. He insisted that Reagan stay the Nixon course. Reagan did. He painted the Democrats as reckless big government spendthrifts that shoved the hard earned tax dollars of income strapped, tax overburdened whites to lazy, immoral crime prone blacks and Latinos.

Reagan won big twice. The Democrats further unraveled. The assault on civil rights, civil liberties and social programs intensified. Racist violence increased. The nation lurched even harder to the right. And Buchanan's political influence soared.

Buchanan's crack training in the politics of racial division came together at the 1992 Republican convention. His top heavy loaded race and gender code worded speech drew a hard battleline between "them" and "us." While he never directly mentioned race, blacks, Latinos, women, or civil rights, the Militias, Patriots, Klan, Aryan Nation, rabid Christian fundamentalists, and millions of angry whites who bankrolled, supported and worked in his campaign understood whom he meant.

While Buchanan doesn't have a ghost of a chance of winning the Republican presidential nod in 2000 he's banking that stoking the racial fears of whites again will force the Republican presidential nominee to further assail civil rights and social programs. If that happens he will once more have fulfilled his role as top point man for race baiters.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is the author of The Crisis in Black and Black.

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