How Pat Buchanan Rediscovered American Nationalism
William McKinley: the last great American nationalist president. In 1896, William McKinley won the American presidency through a nationalist agenda. His support for limited immigration and a Protectionist trade and economic policies (including tariffs) protected American industry and the wages of native American workers. McKinley’s nationalist policies proved to be effective and popular–leading to an easy re-election victory in 1900.
Then, the unthinkable happened. An unemployed anarchist shot and killed the great President McKinley. Following the death of President McKinley, American nationalism and Protectionist economics laid dormant for nearly a century. Championed by Alexander Hamilton and other Founding Fathers in the early years of the American Republic, protectionist economics played a pivotal role from the time of our nation’s founding until the death of President McKinley. In the ensuing decades after McKinley’s death, the US political Establishment completely abandoned America’s tradition of protectionist trade/economic policies for a new globalist dogma called “Free Trade”.
Nearly a century after McKinley’s death, one man rediscovered America’s nationalist heritage: Patrick J. Buchanan.
In the 1990s, Republican Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan rediscovered and championed American nationalist ideas/Protectionist trade policies in his multiple bids for the presidency in 1992 and 1996. Buchanan’s presidential campaigns and subsequent political writings brought the timeless American ideal of economic/trade protectionism back into the forefront of American political discourse.
In his book The Great Betrayal (1998), Buchanan discussed his personal conversion towards protectionist economics. In fact, Buchanan was a free-trader until he left the Reagan White House in the late 1980s (Buchanan, pp. 17).
In the first chapter of the book, Buchanan described one of the key moments that converted Buchanan into a true American nationalist. During a campaign stop in 1991, Buchanan visited workers at a paper mill in New Hampshire. Layoffs were on the horizon for these paper mill workers, so one of the workers asked Buchanan to “Save our jobs!” (pp.19). After this encounter, Buchanan discovered that the US Export-Import Bank was financing the construction of a new paper mill in Mexico–despite the fact that the struggles of the US economy in the early 1990s! Talk about an “America-Last” economic and trade policy.
Following his 1991 visit to New Hampshire, this passage summarizes Buchanan’s full-on conversion to protectionist economics:
“Ever since, I have become convinced that America’s elite is oblivious to what is happening to our country, as an older, better America–where we were a community, a nation, a people–slowly dies.” (Buchanan, pp. 19).
In the rest of The Great Betrayal, Buchanan lays out the economic and historical arguments as to how Protectionism–coined as “the American system” by the 19th century American statesman Henry Clay–built America’s manufacturing base and provided economic prosperity for American workers. So, I would highly recommend reading this book to better understand Buchanan’s support for “America First” (i.e. Protectionist) trade policies. Reading Pat Buchanan’s positive take on American protectionism is a welcome change to the globalist, America-Last trade policies of 20 year reign of the Clintons and the Bush political dynasties.
Despite Buchanan’s inability to become President during the 1990s and 2000s, his efforts still made a tangible impact on the nation. In essence, Buchanan laid the ground-work for President Trump’s 2016 presidential run through Buchanan’s rediscovery and re-popularization of American protectionism. If you compare President Trump’s 2016 campaign to Buchanan’s 1992/1996 campaigns, then you would notice the striking similarities in both men’s central campaign message–an America First/protectionist trade policy. In both of their campaigns, Buchanan and Trump both echoed similar sentiment about restoring America’s manufacturing, bringing back American jobs from overseas, and fixing America’s imbalanced trade deals with foreign countries.
As America First patriots, we should all thank Pat Buchanan for laying the foundation in the reemergence of an “America First”-driven trade and economic policy during the Trump administration.
From Alexander Hamilton to Henry Clay and William McKinley to Pat Buchanan/President Trump, the American system of nationalist economics and protectionist trade policies spans the entirety of America’s rich history. So, let’s make sure to keep supporting America First patriots like Pat Buchanan, President Trump, and others who are going to put the American people first!
Before you go, definitely check out the last minute of Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign announcement and compare it to excerpt President Trump’s 2016 RNC Speech. You’ll find a lot of commonality between the two speeches!