Although Pat Buchanan’s presidential bid has essentially failed, he isn’t pulling out of the race just yet, and some of his die-hard supporters are still hopeful that he’ll be able to have a serious impact on the 1996 election, at least on the GOP platform. With his “America first” and anti-federal government rhetoric, few are surprised to hear that Buchanan has received support from Second Amendment fundamentalists, including members of militias. Pacifica reporter Phillip Babich recently spoke with citizens who back Buchanan at a whistlestop in Pinole, California. James Ridgeway and Tod Ensign put the Oklahoma bombing in the context of election year politics.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman in Washington, with Juan González in New York.
Although Pat Buchanan’s presidential bid has essentially failed, he isn’t pulling out of the race just yet, and some of his die-hard supporters are still hopeful that he’ll be able to have a serious impact on the 1996 election, at least on the GOP platform. With his “America first” and anti-federal government rhetoric, few are surprised to hear that Buchanan has received support from Second Amendment fundamentalists, including members of militias.
Pacifica reporter Phillip Babich recently spoke with Buchanan supporters at a campaign whistle stop in Pinole, California. We’re going to hear what they have to say and then get reaction from our guests, Jim Ridgeway and Tod Ensign.
BUCHANAN JINGLE: Go, Pat, go! Go, Pat, go! Go, Pat, go! Pat Buchanan for president.
PAT BUCHANAN: Let me tell you what this campaign is all about and why we’re going to go — when you say, “Go, Pat, go,” I’ll tell you, I take your message. That means we ought to go all the way to San Diego. Isn’t that right?
PAT BUCHANAN: We’re not stopping, we’re not slowing down, because we’ve got a cause, friends. It’s all about a lot more than a single man. It is a cause of putting our own country first for a change. And we’ve got to take back our party first. And then we take back our country.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: I support Pat Buchanan because he’s against GATT and NAFTA. And he’s fiery. He’s not a wimp like all the others. And I’m 100% behind him on everything that he says. I’m 100% behind him.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 2: I’m just here to support the political process. I mean, I’m not old enough to vote. I won’t be able to vote for the president. But I’m just here to be a part of the political process, you know, to show that youth, you know, we have a voice, too, and just to be heard. And it’s just a rare opportunity for us in Pinole to get a chance to see someone as important as Mr. Buchanan. I mean, this is a working-class town, and we support them here. So, keep the jobs in America. Us first.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 3: He’s a very strong man that has a very great future ahead of him. And if anybody can turn this rotten country that we have now around, it’s him.
PAT BUCHANAN: You know, what are they doing back in Washington? Selling out the sovereignty for which the Founding Fathers fought and died. I mean, what are they doing cutting trade deals that surrender our authority over our foreign trade to some ridiculous World Trade Organization in Geneva, where we get one vote out of 120? What are they doing? I mean, subordinating our interests to those of the United Nations again and again and again.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: If we get out of the U.N., that’s all we need. The rest will be OK. We’ve got to get out of the United Nations. And all the other talk doesn’t mean much, because they’re beating around the bush. You’ve got to get to the point.
PHILLIP BABICH: So, you’re concerned then that if the United States continues its involvement with the United Nations, the United Nations will turn into the one-world government?
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: One-world government. We’ll all be under their rule. They’ll have their own money. We won’t have money anymore. They’ll take everything. I mean, they’ll be the boss. They’ll run our country the way they want to run it. We have to do what they say. And I’m against that. Absolutely. And they’re not telling the public about the U.N. Pat’s the only one. He’s got the guts to tell the public about it.
PHILLIP BABICH: What is it about the U.N. that’s to fear?
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: The U.N. is a one-world government, under one rule.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 3: Rockefeller.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: And all the big ones are going to be running it.
PHILLIP BABICH: Who would you consider the big ones? The bigger countries?
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: No, the ones that are high up, even Dole and a lot of the establishment. That’s —
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 3: Most.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 1: Yeah, and Gingrich is in on it, from what I understand. And there’s some that are even higher up. I’ve ordered a book which will give me the name of the 10 top people that are going to control it.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 3: … deceive the people any longer. There will be such a revolution, one world will never take over. Never. People are too alert now. They’re not as stupid as they used to be.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 4: I basically like his tax positions, you know, his positions on gun control. All we need is more bloody gun control. I mean, California has had worst — more stringent gun laws for years. And what is there? No crime here?
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 5: He still is the one promoting family values and also against abortion. That’s the main thing.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 6: If the pro-life plank doesn’t survive through the convention, the Republican Party will be so split that it will never survive.
PAT BUCHANAN: And we’re going to make sure the wafflers don’t get their way, because I’m going into that hall, and I’m going to stand up bravely and boldly for the right to life. And we’re going to keep Ronald Reagans right-to-life plank in that Republican platform.
BUCHANAN SUPPORTER 6: Evidently, what media is saying about him, calling him a extremist and things like that, it doesn’t work, because what the people take that as is they’re calling them that. And they aren’t. They’re just — they love the freedom, and they love their country.
PAT BUCHANAN: My goal, if everybody asks — they say, “What do you want to do, Pat?” I say, “I’d like to be able to help hand down to the next generation of Americans a country that was as great and good as the one my parents gave to me.” Thank you all very much, and God bless you.
BUCHANAN JINGLE: Pat Buchanan for president. Pat Buchanan for president. And if you want to find out where the money went,, vote Pat Buchanan for president. Go, Pat, go!
AMY GOODMAN: And thank you for that piece, Phillip Babich. Jim Ridgeway, your reaction to some of the themes that clearly people around the country are picking up on of Pat Buchanan’s?
JAMES RIDGEWAY: Well, I’ve spent some time recently in Oklahoma, and I can just tell you that the Klan guys there carry — have, you know, Buchanan bumper stickers. And James Nichols, Terry’s brother, he has Pat Buchanan’s standards in his house.
AMY GOODMAN: Has Pat Buchanan’s what?
JAMES RIDGEWAY: You know, standards, you know, signs, that he puts out on the roadside. He supports Pat Buchanan. And so, what you have is, I think, all across, like, the far right, a kind of gathering towards Buchanan, a fond feeling for him in many different respects. That’s not to say that all the people that support Buchanan are racists or something, but there certainly are a considerable number of them.
AMY GOODMAN: And how does Pat Buchanan use this? I mean, do you think he’s aware of it?
JAMES RIDGEWAY: He plays to the nativist movement. He’s a nativist candidate. I mean, this whole far-right movement is a nativist American movement. It’s been around here for ages and ages, and nobody pays any attention to it, but Pat Buchanan plays to it. And he draws, you know, in some of those states — Michigan, Wisconsin and so forth — 30%. That’s where it’s at. That’s what it’s about. That’s the kind of numbers you’re looking at when you talk about — if you’re going to look at nativism as a political movement, like people look at populism or progressivism and so forth — if you’re going to look at the nativist movement, that’s what it amounts to.
AMY GOODMAN: How is the militia movement going to figure into the election year?
JAMES RIDGEWAY: Well, the FBI has been attempting to sit down with the militia guys and talk them out of bombing places and shooting people, and encouraging them, I gather, to go into politics — at least in Michigan, that’s the case, where they all have lunch every week.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tod Ensign —
JAMES RIDGEWAY: So, I don’t know —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to ask Tod Ensign: In terms of the relationship between the extremists in the military and the broader right-wing political movement, what’s your gauge on some of the stuff that Jim was saying in relationship to the military?
TOD ENSIGN: Well, one thing is pretty clear with our current president: He has a completely hands-off policy towards the military. Anything the military says, anything it wants to do is fine with him. And that’s probably because of his fear he has of being seen as a — painted once again as a draft dodger. So, they haven’t done a thing about the eroding equal opportunity environment within the military, which the Dellums committee had reported a year earlier, before the murders. That hasn’t been a concern. You’ve got these gung-ho, elitist, hell-for-leather-type Special Forces units. They breed a mentality which leads to this kind of stuff. And I think the — as I said earlier, the National Alliance and other groups realize that guys like McVeigh, guys like Burmeister are real cannon fodder for them. They’re just naturally going to appeal to them because they have that simplistic, right, black-and-white mentality about every issue in the world.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But how would that spill over into, let’s say, the presidential race and presidential politics?
TOD ENSIGN: Well, I don’t think, as far as the two main candidates, it really will, because Dole clearly is willing to give the military anything they ask for, anything they want. You know, with all these cuts, the military budget is growing. And the Republicans want to give them even more. So, I don’t think it will really enter in there. But what will happen is, if we have more of this kind of thing — these killings, this racial extremist acting out — then you will see Clinton maybe forced to actually do something about this and tell his commanders they’ve got to put a stop to this kind of extremism in the ranks.
AMY GOODMAN: Jim Ridgeway and Tod Ensign, we want to thank you very much for joining us. Again, Jim Ridgeway, a writer for The Village Voice, has also written the book Blood in the Face and has done films on the right wing in this country and the militia movement. Tod Ensign is with Citizen Soldier, a GI veterans’ rights advocacy organization. And he has a piece in the forthcoming CovertAction Quarterly. And if you’d like to get a copy of the CovertAction Quarterly, you can call 202-331-9763. That’s 202-331-9763. Thank you, Jim and Tod, for joining us.