Pat Buchanan and Maxine Waters:
Different Sides of the Same Coin

A plague on both their houses!

Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 06:16:01 GMT
From: DeltaNet Form Processor (
Subject: Guest Book Signature

The field values for the form received were:

Name="David Bennett"
Findout="Just surfed on in!"
How is life treating you?="It would be good but for serious eye surgery for a detached retina!"
comments="Your page was encountered through a search for Isaiah Berlin who is one of my favorite thinkers[ excuse me, who was]. Why does it bother me that you pronounce yourself a "moderate Republican"?

Perhaps it is because, as a lifelong leftwing Democrat {even at the ripe age of 67}, it is very difficult for me to understand how anyone who is sane [is that too strong a term?], could possibly back Gingrich, Trent Lott, and Dick Armey. Let alone Orrin Hatch of Utah, who seems to belong on some other planet!

Maybe I'm missing something important. Perhaps you are locked into some peculiar belief, such as anti-abortion.

In any event, thank you for the Berlin info. I do appreciate it."

     Dear David,

     I am a moderate Republican who does not primarily look at politics through the lens of ideology. I will vote for anyone who speaks common sense and whom I believe will make good laws - Democrat or Republican. I dislike the extreme of the Right as much as the Left. Jesse Helms? I cannot stand to hear the man talk! Maxine Waters? I get more insightful political commentary at the corner bar than from that pugnacious politico!

     David, I get hate mail from both the far Right and Left. It seems to some I am not "Republican" enough, but to others (such as yourself) being Republican at all is to be mistaken. Look at what I received today:

Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 13:20:26 -0500 (CDT)
From: N. Wilkinson (
To: Rich Geib (
Subject: Pat Buchanan /Web Page


I got this address off the web. I had to write and say if you can't support someone who Puts America first and the rights of unborn children before his own well-being, I wish you would move to Finland. It's Utopian One-world, Free-trade "Republicans" like you and Rush Limbaugh that cause give Republicans an image of only being for the rich. In Pat's new book "The Great Betrayal," he outlines how he used to be suckered into believing like you, but he realized that the big losers in a "Free-trade" society is the Working Lower and Middle classes like me. The only hope to turn this great nation around is for American workers to wake up and support the only real American in 2000 and say: "GO PAT GO!!!"

For Christ and Constitution,

N. Wilkinson

This latter-day Know Nothing nativist Buchanan-partisan is about as antithetical and unattractive an intellect as I will likely encounter in this world. (It scares the daylights out of me when people sign their e-mail, "For Christ and Constitution..."! The populists lack only for a demagogue to this way slouch...) And then I get the "fight the power" social revolutionary hate mail from the Left which is equally as formulaic and forgettable...

     You claim that it is impossible to be a "moderate" Republican. I argue to the contrary, and have met many moderate Democrats with whom I have more in common with than I do the far Right. I would also assert that the far left-wing of the Democratic Party (Barney Frank, Teddy Kennedy, ACLU, etc.) is as full of knuckleheads and blowhards as the far Right of the Republican Party. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "...a wise man knows not only what Plato, but what Saint John can show him, can easily raise the affair he deals with to a certain majesty. Plato says, Pericles owed this elevation to the lessons of Anaxagoras. Burke descended from a higher sphere when he would influence human affairs. Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, stood on a fine humanity, before which the brawls of modern senates are but pot-house politics." On the other hand, abrasive seers of noises and hoarse disputes such as Maxine Waters or Bob Dornan are never more at home than in a bare-knuckle political brawl. A plague on both their houses!

     As they get farther from the political center, I notice the extremes begin to resemble each other more and more both in tone and in tactics. Who are virtually the only idiots who show up to a Ku Klux Klan or Neo-Nazi rally? The Jewish Defense League, radical African-American and other minority groups, the anarchist/revolutionaries as well as miscellany of other zealots and malcontents... and a phalanx of police ready for the rioting which most assuredly will break out between the two groups. That is in microcosm a dynamic akin to Weimar Germany where the bacillus of bellicose fanaticism grew virulent and widespread with large assemblies of communists and fascists rioting in the streets like so many weasels fighting in a hole. Decent people stay home and let the mindless violence burn itself out. I will say it one more time: The United States is a politically moderate country and this is one of our strengths. The day America comes to resemble Weimar Germany in its irreconcilably polarized population will be precisely the day I decide to move to Finland.

     Politics is an indispensable part of the basic machinery of civilization; and those who look upon politics as combat remind me of nothing more than that one tragic period in American history where politics completely failed: the Civil War. On the one side you had the fire-and-brimstone abolitionists like John Brown who preferred murder to slavery and whom would burn down the house to save it. On the other side, you had the once mighty Southern intellectual tradition of Madison and Jefferson where the elite at least grappled and agonized over the original sin of slavery descend to the hardened rejectionist regional tribalism of the arrogant John C. Calhoun who would quote ancient antiquity and the Bible out of context to unequivocally defend their "peculiar institution" and feudal way of life. The ensuing five years slaughter between the armies of the North and South was perhaps in retrospect the most unavoidable of wars; but we should keep that time in mind as a lesson of what happens when the center does not hold. Look at the Congress in the late 1850s when legislators savagely beat each other (re: Sen. Sumner) and routinely brought knives and pistols into chambers! It was the total breakdown in the American genius for compromise!

     Compromise? What exactly do I mean? Let me quote Jefferson:

COMPROMISE: A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion; that things even salutary should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren, especially when they may be put into a form to be willingly swallowed, and that a great deal of indulgence in necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity.

This sagacious passage, having largely been absorbed by the national psyche to its advantage, is why most Americans shun public figures like Buchanan and Waters who would shove their ideas down other's throats. Historically speaking to be seen as an "extremist" is to become anathema in American politics; I hope it remains so in the future. Long live bipartisan politics!

     David, I respect intelligent writing and common sense wherever it might originate. I am a moderate because I encounter such thinking in the center (attitude being as important as the message) much more often than I do at the unhappy extremes of the political spectrum. When such ceases to be the case, I will join Pat Buchanan on the far Right or yourself and the other "progressive" Democrats out in left field. That is, if I am not already moved to Finland...


     Richard Geib

Thomas Jefferson on Compromise and Politics:

COMPROMISE: A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion; that things even salutary should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren, especially when they may be put into a form to be willingly swallowed, and that a great deal of indulgence in necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity.

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