STORY CITY, Iowa - Patrick Buchanan was the winner in the February 12 Republican party presidential caucuses in this state. The ultrarightist politician came in second in the race with 23 percent of the vote, just three points behind Sen. Bob Dole, whose campaign has stagnated. Lamar Alexander came in third, and Steve Forbes, the wealthy magazine owner who had gotten a flurry of attention with a reactionary flat- tax scheme, ran a distant fourth.
Leading up to the caucuses, which elect delegates to Republican county conventions and carry out a straw poll for the presidential nominee, Buchanan campaigned across Iowa, appealing especially to workers and farmers with his radical, right-wing demagogy. In a typical appearance, a cheering audience of more than 250 packed the American Legion hall here in Story City February 10 to hear him.
The majority of the crowd, which spanned several generations, were farmers and their families. In addition to wearing Buchanan campaign emblems reading "Go Pat Go," many also wore stickers popular at recent farm protest meetings that say, "Family farms yes, corporate pork no." The couple of Blacks in the otherwise all-white crowd were part of the national media crews that flocked to Iowa to cover the campaigning.
Buchanan is advancing a fascist program during his campaign that has gained increased attention and legitimacy in bourgeois politics following his victories in an Alaska Republican poll and the Louisiana caucuses. In Louisiana he was backed by David Duke, for many years a notorious Ku Klux Klan leader who now espouses his racist views as a Republican party politician. "Buchanan doesn't share my racial viewpoint," Duke said recently, "but on most other issues he's very close to me. Of course my people are helping him. He's not too pleased about it," Duke added, "but the white folks in Louisiana who have voted for me are going to help Buchanan bushwhack [Republican presidential candidate Phil] Gramm." Buchanan's goal is to use his presidential bid to build a movement committed to his ultrarightist program. He outlined his goals for waging a "cultural war," in his address to the 1992 Republican Party convention. In summing up the Louisiana caucus victory Buchanan opined, "This isn't a victory for the man, it's a victory for the cause. We can win this battle for the soul of the country. We can take back our country."
"I've been right to life my whole life," stated Buchanan in opening his remarks here. "When I become president I will appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn that abomination called Roe V. Wade."
Referring to the cultural war he later said, "The first battle line is our public schools. God, and the Bible, and the Ten Commandments have been driven out of the public schools. In California, they don't celebrate Christmas or Easter, but they celebrate UN Day and Earth Day. They even celebrate something called national coming out day, and I'm not talking about a debutante ball."
Buchanan has tried to tap into the growing resentment many across the country feel over sinking real wages, mounting farm debt, and increased economic instability. It is common for Buchanan to refer to the "working class." His socialist- sounding rhetoric is wrapped in the banner of American nationalism. In one recent speech he said, "When [U.S. trade representative] Mickey Kantor goes to Geneva to negotiate a trade deal, sitting at his elbow is not some working-class guy who says my job's on the line, it's the CEO or lobbyist from some Fortune 500 company who says put this in here so we can export our factory to Indonesia."
His demagoguery has targeted immigrants working in meat- packing plants here as the scapegoats responsible for low pay in that industry and for driving down "the real wages of the real Iowans."
The ultrarightist is the candidate with the most momentum at this point. Following Buchanan's strong showing in Iowa, Dole began to shift his rhetoric. Campaigning in New Hampshire February 13, the Senate majority leader said, "Corporate profits are setting records and so are corporate layoffs," purporting to show some concern for workers.
Buchanan's criticism of the owners of large-scale factory hog farms that are spreading in this state is popular with many farmers. There are 45,000 fewer farms in Iowa now than there were in 1970. In the past five years some 500 large- scale hog raising facilities have gone on line in the state. These facilities pose further economic ruin for many farmers as they try to compete with the spread of large-scale hog confinement operations capable of sending tens of thousands of hogs to market each year. In addition, small farmers are receiving little benefit from increased international sales of agricultural products.
The large-scale factory-type production of pigs "is a major threat to the existence of the Iowa family farm," Buchanan told the crowd. "I know the Republicans in the state legislature here don't agree with me on this but you people at the local level have the right to use your own zoning laws to deal with a threat to your way of life," Buchanan stated.
Buchanan has put up billboards in many cities that focus on the fact that factories have relocated from Iowa to other countries. With the candidate standing next to a bearded worker, they read, "Buchanan, He'll bring the jobs home."
He blames the bipartisan passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) as responsible for the job loss and the woes afflicting farmers. "I oppose every single paragraph of these agreements that sell out American workers and American sovereignty," Buchanan told the crowd.
"We are asking our people to compete with people who make a buck-fifty an hour. At the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, workers were paid $30 an hour in wages and benefits. At the Ford plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, it's a couple of bucks an hour that's being paid."
He claims that only four people on the national scene "opposed GATT and NAFTA - Ross Perot, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and me, Pat Buchanan. The Wall Street Journal called us the Halloween coalition," he said.
During the campaign, Buchanan plant-gate teams have leafleted factories here. Workers exiting the Fawn Engineering plant one January afternoon received a leaflet signed by Buchanan backer Brian Gavin. "I am a `working-class' American who has worked long, hard, dirty hours to support myself and my family," stated Gavin in the text. "I know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck, and go out on strike (as a UFCW member). I have worked as a grocery-store clerk 'throwing' freight, and cleaned bathrooms as a janitor. I have worked seven days a week, week after week, at modest wages and grateful to be employed rather than be unemployed."
"Pat Buchanan values and respects hard working men and women like you and me," Gavin continues. "Pat Buchanan celebrates the traditional values, fundamental beliefs and solid virtues that made America Great. Pat Buchanan wants to save and strengthen what is best in America."
A particular target is Washington's 1995 bailout of the Mexican government. "The American people on the hook now for $50 billion dollars for a bailout" that benefited "Chase Manhattan, Citibank, and Goldman-Sach's," emphasized Buch anan. "Illegal immigration is soaring. We've got to start looking out for our own country and our own people first."
Buchanan stated that the government in Washington today is "surrendering our sovereignty to an embryonic world government that liberals call the `new world order....' A global government is developing slowly and perceptively. We can't surrender our sovereignty to it." Buchanan cited the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Court as proof of the growing world government. To a big applause, he stated, "When I take oath that new world order is going to come crumbling down."
He criticized the recent court marital of U.S. Army soldier Michael New for refusing an order to serve in a United Nations "peace-keeping" operation in Macedonia. "Michael New," the candidate stated, "is a home schooler, a Christian who volunteered to serve his country. He said he wasn't going to fight for the U.N. Michael told them he had taken an oath to the U.S. Constitution. It's Bill Clinton who should be discharged from the service of his country," Buchanan said to a loud roar.
Buchanan has taken a stand against the U.S. military build- up in Bosnia today, saying "Atrocities have been committed on all sides and America has no business being there." During his presidential bid four years ago, his line was, "I don't understand a foreign policy which sends half a million troops around the world to liberate Kuwait and then sits idle while Croatia, a Christian, Catholic country, is being raped and brutalized by a Stalinist regime in Belgrade."
Outside the Story City meeting a group of half a dozen students from Iowa State University handed out leaflets defending free trade and opposing Buchanan's protectionist policies.
That same evening Buchanan joined several other Republican candidates at a rally in a Des Moines church to "defend marriage." This anti-gay event was sponsored by The Report, a right-wing organization that targets gays for scapegoating. Some 200 defenders of gay rights held a counterdemonstration outside the church where the Republican candidates spoke.
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