By Patrick J. Buchanan
1999: Announcement Speech – Falls Church, Virginia
Good morning. Today, I am ending my lifelong membership in the Republican Party, and my campaign for its nomination; and I am declaring my intention to seek the nomination of the Reform Party for the presidency of the United States.
This decision was not made without anguish and regret. I will forever cherish the memory of having been perhaps the only Goldwaterite in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1961. Nor will I ever regret my nine years of service to Richard Nixon, from his comeback campaigns of 1966 and ’68, to our 49-state triumph of ’72, through the final days of Watergate. I was with Nixon in China. And I also had the high honor of being Ronald Reagan’s second in the Panama Canal debates, and at his side when that great president refused to give up missile defense and walked out of the summit at Reykjavik in Ronald Reagan’s finest hour of the Cold War.
From the thunderous reception we got at Houston in 1992, when I told the Buchanan Brigades we had to come home and stand beside George Bush, to the ovations at Ames, Iowa, last summer, when I faced off with his son, the Governor, the Republican party has been good to me. And I have tried to be loyal to it. But, as John F. Kennedy said, Sometimes party loyalty asks too much. And today it asks too much of us.
Today, candor compels us to admit that our vaunted two-party system is a snare and a delusion, a fraud upon the nation. Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey. On foreign and trade policy, open borders and centralized power, our Beltway parties have become identical twins. Both supported NAFTA and GATT and the surrender of our national sovereignty to the WTO. Both supported the extension of nuclear war guarantees to the borders of Russia. Both supported the illegal war on Serbia. Both support IMF bailouts of corrupt regimes. Both vote for MFN trade privileges for a Communist Chinese regime that today targets missiles on American cities. The appeasement of Beijing is a bipartisan disgrace, and we will not be a part of it.
Neither party speaks for the forgotten Americans whose jobs were sent overseas to finance the boom market of the 1990s that the rest of us enjoy. Both parties are addicted to soft money. Both write laws with lobbyists looking over their shoulders. Both embrace the unprincipled politics of triangulation.
And neither fights today with conviction and courage to rescue God’s country from the cultural and moral pit into which she has fallen. The day of the outsider is over in the Beltway parties; the money men have seen to that. Never again will our political establishment permit a dissident to come as close to capturing a nomination as we did in 1996. They have rearranged the primary schedule and rigged the game to protect the party favorites.
Candidates of ideas need not apply, as both parties seek out the hollow men, the malleable men, willing to read from teleprompters speeches scripted by consultants and pollsters for whom the latest print-out from the Focus Group is sacred text.
We choose not to play our assigned role in their sham election. My friends, this year is our last chance to save our republic, before she disappears into the godless New World Order that our elites are constructing in a betrayal of everything for which our Founding Fathers lived, fought, and died.
Only the Reform Party offers the hope of a real debate and a true choice of destinies for our country.
“If we don’t go now, Pat,” I have been told by loyalists all across America, “every cause for which we fought for seven years will die.” Well, we can’t let those causes die, because they are America’s cause. So let me say to the money boys and the Beltway elites who think that, at long last, they have pulled up their drawbridge and locked us out forever: You don’t know this peasant army. We have not yet begun to fight.
So, let me lay out our Patriots’ Road for America. With the Cold War over, we shall craft a foreign policy for a new century rooted in the great tradition of Washington, Jefferson and John Quincy Adams who wrote:
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence…shall be unfurled, there will America’s heart, her benedictions and her prayers be… But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
I pledge to you: I will never send an American army to fight in a foreign war, unless our country is attacked or our vital interests are imperiled. They call us “isolationists.” Well, if they mean I intend to isolate America from the bloody territorial and ethnic wars of the new century, I plead guilty. It is the first duty of a statesman: to keep his country out of wars that are not his country’s quarrel. And the junk yards of history are strewn with the wreckage of republics and empires that failed to learn that lesson.
We intend to dust off an ancient document and restore it to its rightful place as the altar piece of American government. You may have heard of it. It’s called the Constitution of the United States. Under the Constitution, before America goes to war, the Congress must declare war. By my reading of the Constitution, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who take an oath of loyalty to the United States, are never to be used as the imperial troops of anybody’s New World Order. We will bring our soldiers home where they belong; and rebuild our military might and morale so no nation will dare attack us.
And the first step to restore that morale is to evict from the Bully Pulpit of the Oval Office, our own Elmer Gantry, Mr. Clinton, whose desecration of that temple of our civilization, and squalid behavior, render him unfit to serve as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.
We Americans are a good and generous people. Our tradition of being first at the scene of natural disasters, providing food and shelter for the victims, is rooted in deep our hearts. That tradition we shall maintain. But IMF bailouts of deadbeat dictators must end; and we must phase out foreign aid and start looking out for the forgotten Americans right here in the U.S.A.
It is time for a New Patriotism, where America’s sovereignty is wholly and fully restored. And if, as Secretary General Kofi Annan has threatened, we will lose our vote in the United Nations, if we don’t give him the billion dollars he says we owe him, I would give Mr. Kofi this word of advice: Sir, don’t go there. Because if our vote in the UN is in jeopardy, your lease on Turtle Bay is in jeopardy.
As for America’s immense trade deficits, even Mr. Greenspan is now alarmed, as they approach four percent of our entire economy. Because of NAFTA and GATT, America’s industrial base has been hollowed out, our manufacturing workers, who support families on a single wage, have been forced to compete with sweatshop labor abroad; and our country has been left dependent on imports for the vital necessities of national life.
We must cut out these cancerous trade deficits and make America a self-reliant nation again. And to those who prattle on about out duties to the Global Economy, let me say it again: I’m not running for president of the world; I’m running for President of the United States.
But of all the needs of this nation, none is greater for our peace and happiness than racial reconciliation. The backsliding toward hyphenated-Americanism must end. Let us abolish quotas and set-asides, these un-American devices that reward individuals based on what color they are, or what continent their kinfolk came from. Let us abandon a sterile and futile politics of victims-and-villains, and rediscover what brings us all together as one nation and one people.
All of us must learn our English language. All of us must come to know our common history, heritage, and American heroes, so we can get our great Melting Pot working its magic again. Any man or woman from any continent or any country can be a good American. We know that. But it takes time to assimilate the thirty million who have come in the last thirty years. And we need time. Indeed, we need a time-out on legal immigration, to ease the downward pressure on workers’ wages and to defeat the forces of separatism that threaten us and nations all over the world.
This land is our land; it belongs to all of us, immigrant and native-born alike; and it would be unpardonable ingratitude if we, the children of pioneers and patriots of every color, continent, and creed, lost this last best hope of earth, because we could not learn to live with one another, and could not learn to love one another.
If America stands for anything in this world, it is freedom. Yet today America is among the most over-taxed, over-regulated, and over-governed societies in history. Our Federal Government collects a fifth of all the wealth we produce and controls perhaps half of it. Can anyone name a single regulation that has been repealed in ten years, or a single agency that has been abolished? Even the National Endowment for the Arts soldiers defiantly on.
We need to restore the old constitutional division of labor in government. Defense and foreign policy are the province of the federal government, but welfare and education are the business of state and local governments. And in children’s education, parents come first, teachers second, and federal judges not at all.
Mr. Bush says his Department of Education will write tests for fourth grade children in Idaho. But if I am elected president, the bureaucrats at the Department of Education are not going to be testing kids; they’re going to be testing the magic of the market place. And all federal money for the school children of America will be sent back to the school districts of America, where accountability begins and authority belongs.
We need a new Supreme Court where only constitutionalists need apply, a court that will respect both states rights and human rights, that will begin to undo the damage done this nation by judicial aggressions, beginning with that abomination they call Roe v. Wade.
We need a President and a Congress that will pick up the whip the Founding Fathers left in Article III of the Constitution-to herd the justices back into the narrow stalls to which they were first consigned by Hamilton and Madison.
What is a self-governing people doing, waiting meekly each week for nine jurists to tell us how we may govern ourselves? As our fathers threw off a tyranny of kings, let us throw off this tyranny of judges-and let America be America again!
As for our IRS tax code, it is an insult to a free people, the product of an endless series of corrupt bargains between lobbyists and legislators. Let us rip this weed out by its roots, cut taxes to the lowest level in modern history, eliminate taxes on savers and small business, and shift the burden where it belongs, on a transnational elite that has no loyalty to any country.
For every tax on manufactured goods that are made in the U.S.A, let us put an equal tax on foreign goods dumped in the U.S.A. For every tariff China puts on us, let us put an equal tariff on them. That way, Mr. Clinton’s campaign contributors down at the Chinese embassy can start contributing to the upkeep of the Seventh Fleet.
Friends, ours is truly the best of times and the worst of times. With our miraculous advances in medicine, science, and technology, none of us would want to go back to yesterday. But something good has been lost from those years as well: The old patriotism, a popular culture that undergirded the values of faith, family, and country, the idea that we Americans are a people who sacrifice and suffer together, and go forward together, the mutual respect, the sense of limits, the good manners; all are gone. My life has been spent in the great and good vocations of politics, journalism, and government. None commands the respect it once did; all today are in disrepute.
I cannot think of a time since Watergate, so poisoned with rancor and hostility, and I don’t know if any president can change that, the way Ronald Reagan infused his time with his spirit and unabashed love of country. But I do know this: I will try.
America needs a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation that draws from the best of all parties, and I promise you: I will create that kind of government. And if we build it, they will come.
My friends, all the great empires of Europe that began our century so full of swagger and bombast came crashing down to ruin. All are now surrendering their identities and their independence to a super state that pays homage to the god of Mammon. America alone still endures, independent and free. The great questions before us are these: Shall we, too, yield to their temptation, follow their path, and suffer their fate? Is the call to empire irresistible? Is a world government inevitable? Or can America remain forever a light unto the nations, an example to mankind of how a free people should govern themselves, a republic above whose sovereignty stands the sovereignty of God alone.
That is our cause. And so it is that in the name of the Founding Fathers, we go forth to rescue America, and we will not quit this fight as long as there is breath within us.
God save the Republic, and God bless America.