If in due course Donald J. Trump ends up saving (only in the temporal sense) what remains of the historic American nation from the devil named Hillary Rodham Clinton, with all her works and all her pomp, the chroniclers will record that his John the Baptist was Patrick J. Buchanan, who on the critical issues of immigration, trade, and war was Trump before there was Trumpism.
In turn, the role of Prophet Elijah would justly belong to the late, lamented Samuel T. Francis. Sam’s was a voice crying in the wilderness, prophesying what then seemed the improbable, if not impossible, revolt of the “Middle American Radicals”—an event that, lo, in the fullness of years may now be upon us, smiting the Republican and Democratic establishments hip and thigh and putting them to ignominious flight.
Among Sam’s lesser though still noteworthy achievements was his popularization of the characterizations of the Republicans as the “Stupid Party” and the Democrats as the “Evil Party”:
“IN AMERICA, WE have a two-party system,” a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.For the record, I am the staffer to whom Sam referred, having been for many years a foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which group of Russians I was talking with at the time, but it was during the chaotic Yeltsin years. I may have also said something to the effect (as quoted) of being “proud to be a member of the stupid party,” but I am not sure—it was a while back.
“There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party.”
He added: “Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called—“bipartisanship.”[ Immigration policy stupid, evil and hurting Americans By Peter Brimelow, Contra Costa Times, December 4, 1999]
As I also recollect, I gave the Russians (and afterward related to Sam) this explanation of the labels:
“The evil party wants to bankrupt the country and destroy its morals. The stupid party is, in principle, opposed to those things but doesn’t have a clue what to do about it. And when something is really evil and stupid, we call that ‘bipartisan.’”I must admit that at the time (early 1990s) I underestimated the potential of either party all by itself to be evil and stupid simultaneously, without the participation of its nominal rival. Live and learn, I guess. In many subsequent conversations with foreigners confused about our weird party system, I have found that this explanation clarifies things for them and often elicits a gleam of sad recognition: “Ah, yes. Unfortunately, we have something similar . . .”
Jim Jatras [email him] is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. He comments on financial and foreign policy topics and on U.S. politics in his publication TheJIM!gram. Tweet him at @JimJatras.