Posted on June 2, 2016

Pat Buchanan: Donald Trump Stole My Playbook

Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast, June 1, 2016


Buchanan was talking about the evils of immigration long before Donald Trump rode the issue to the Republican nomination.

In 1992 and 1996, the former Nixon speechwriter and conservative firebrand ran for president as a Republican, his signature anti-trade and immigration diatribes inflaming party divisions and contributing to the GOP’s loss of the White House.

Unlike Trump, Buchanan was cast out of the party and treated as a fringe candidate with ideas unfit for polite company.

“I was relatively astonished when he came out against trade and immigration–and to Make America First–that’s on my (campaign) hats!” Buchanan exclaimed in an interview with The Daily Beast.


“It’s not like he said Pat’s campaign worked, let’s do it–it’s the evidence of the eyes, and the response of workers,” Buchanan says. He credits Trump with coming to the same understanding he did to abandon the free trade, pro-immigration policies of the party elites. “All you have to do is come to Ohio and say I think NAFTA is a lousy deal and everybody cheers.”


In Buchanan’s 2001 book, Death of the West, he had a chapter title, “White Party.”

“It shocked the living hell out of people, now everybody’s writing about it,” he says. “The Republican Party is in danger of demographic suicide” if it doesn’t get more African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. White Americans were over 90 percent of the electorate under Reagan. “Put together two thirds of 90 percent and that’s how you win 49 states,” he says, which was Reagan’s ’84 landslide. Now the white population is 73 percent of the electorate and falling to 70 percent. White Americans are 63 percent of the country and will be a minority by 2041 or 2042, he says.

“If you think America was a good country you grew up in and you prefer it to now, a lot of people think you’re racist, homophobic, and bigoted. By now we’ve been called lots of names. These are the cuss words of a dying establishment,” he says, a statement of defiance made possible by Trump celebrating the politically incorrect policies and positions that party elites can no longer ignore or contain.
“The people who like the Donald remember America as it was and don’t really like what it’s become,” he says.

White supremacist groups that backed Buchanan when he was a fringe or third-party candidate now have a major party nominee they can openly back. Buchanan calls them “white separatists who prefer to live with their own,” a human impulse that he believes policies, however well meaning, cannot override. Europe’s struggles to cope with an influx of refugees are part of the ethno-nationalism that he says is fueling Trump and Trump-like figures around the world. “People want to be with their own and want to be separated from others,” he says.

It’s not only the numbers, he says, recalling with a chuckle what a crowd pleaser it was when he said in his ’92 campaign that if he had to assimilate immigrants that were British and Zulus, the British would be assimilated more quickly. Nothing personal, he said. “(Zulu) Chief Buthelezi is a friend of mine, but (to succeed) you bring in people who share your culture and faith and ethnic background.”


Trump’s emphasis on how China is ripping off America is straight from Buchanan’s playbook, and his books, The Great Betrayal and Death of the West. He doesn’t claim Trump has followed his lead or read his books, only that “he’s seen the damage,” and it’s hard to miss: 55,000 jobs lost in the first 10 years of this century; one in three jobs, and the bill has come due for the elites.


The undercurrent of racist appeals that Buchanan attributes to “ethno-nationalism” is out in the open with Trump, who flaunts his disdain for political correctness as a pillar of his campaign. The demographic change that Buchanan warned about has come to fruition in the age of Obama, adding urgency to Trump’s appeal to working class white America.