Monday, July 20, 2020

Cunning Shits Seeking Power: US Politics

Cunning Shits Seeking Power: US Politics
Peter Schultz

            Pat Buchanan’s account of the presidential campaigns of 1972 illustrates that a good description of our politicians and their advisers is cunning shits seeking power.

            In response to the charge that a passage in his memo to the president entitled “Dividing the Democrats” was “the quintessence of Nixonian cynicism and a morality,” Buchanan wrote:

“In 1971 and 1972, we drove wedges through the ideological, cultural-moral, economic, and sectional fissures of America’s majority party. And . . . we shattered the Roosevelt Coalition and created a New Majority that would give the Republican Party forty-state victories in four of the five subsequent presidential elections, two of them forty-nine-state victories.” [260]

            So, Buchanan’s response to the charge that his was a politics of cynicism and amorality was “It worked! Cynicism and amorality work!” And to think that Buchanan sees himself and the Republican Party as the sources of a “moral mission in the world,” the representatives of “a moral people [who] believed we were ‘on God’s side.’” If confirmation were needed for the fact that Buchanan’s principles, his appeal for a moral politics were merely covers to disguise what was nothing more than a conspiratorial politics that seeks power, his own words provide such confirmation.

            More importantly, Buchanan never raises the question: How did his cynical and amoral electoral activities affect the “New Majority” he helped to create? He seemed to think that engaging in cynical and amoral political activity would not affect the character of that “New Majority.” For Buchanan, the means employed would not affect the ends achieved. Cynical and amoral electoral activities did not render Nixon’s New Majority cynical and amoral.

            Clearly, however, Buchanan was wrong. Part of his strategy of driving “wedges” into the “fissures” of the Democratic Party required that he do all he could do to fortify George Wallace’s power and popularity. In fact, supporting Wallace while dissing Muskie became a key link in Buchanan’s wedge strategy in order to have Wallace defeat Muskie in the Florida primary. Wallace’s victory in Florida left Muskie “bleeding badly,” but it also fortified the hateful politics that Wallace represented. Buchanan and Nixon were rooting for the racist Wallace to win in Florida, apparently unconcerned how such a victory affected the nation’s commitment to racial justice. Shattering “the Roosevelt Coalition,” as Buchanan claimed he had done, carries with it implications for the kind of politics the nation would embrace. The means employed affect the ends that appear, and cynical and amoral means guarantee cynical and amoral ends, as reflected by the fact that soon after the Florida primary “the President asked Congress to enact a ‘moratorium’ on court-ordered busing of school children.” [265]

            Buchanan is cunning and proud of that fact, celebrating dirty tricks and appeals to racist forces to help Nixon win the presidency. He is oblivious to the impact that his cynicism and amorality have on the nation’s politics. He even seems untroubled by Hunter Thompson’s repudiation of Muskie in the following words: “Sending Muskie against Nixon . . . was stone madness from the start [because it was] exposing Muskie to the kind of bloodthirsty thugs that Nixon and John Mitchell would sic on him.” [266] Apparently, Buchanan had no objection to being called a “bloodthirsty thug.” At least he registered none

            No wonder that the title of Buchanan’s chapter on these events is “Turn the Dogs Loose.” But sadly for Richard Nixon, those “dogs” eventually undermined his presidency when he was forced to resign the presidency disgraced.

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