Pat Buchanan Turns Left?

An ambitious new political magazine hit the stands late last
year with bold pronouncements against the war on Iraq, the culture
of greed in corporate boardrooms, and numerous Bush administration
policies. Its back pages included a compelling essay about the
quirky genius and strong social commitment of Neil Young. An
obituary sadly noted the passing of Jim Chapin, one of the leading
lights of Democratic Socialists of America. Casual newsstand
browsers would assume that the progressive press had gained a new
voice. And they would be wrong, at least in the way we typically
look at American politics.

This well-funded, bi-weekly journal is named The American
Conservative
, and its co-editors are Pat Buchanan, a longtime
champion of the Republican right, and Taki Thedoracopulos, a
veteran conservative journalist with a reputation for jet-set
living.

Liberals and leftists will surely find points to dispute in the
magazine?s coverage, particularly its strong views about
immigration, but the mean-spirited ?culture wars? rhetoric that
fueled Buchanan?s 1992 run at the Republican presidential
nomination is nowhere in sight. (A gay conservative, Justin
Raimondo, wrote an article in the first issue.) The appearance of
The American Conservative signals a strategic shift among
one faction of the conservative movement and hints at the
possibility of a startling political realignment. Already Arianna
Huffington, key Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, writer
Michael Lind, former Clinton basher David Brock, and prominent
British philosopher John Gray have traveled significantly leftward
along the political spectrum.

Political realignment on this scale has happened before,
significantly in the late 1970s when a number of prominent liberal
thinkers (along with many anti-abortion and blue-collar Democrats)
were swept up in the rising tide of Reaganism. Indeed, the entry of
these neoconservative intellectuals into Republican ranks helps
explain the existence of The American Conservative.
Buchanan and his colleagues represent the more traditional
paleo-conservatives, who have grown increasingly disenchanted with
neoconservative dominance of the Republican Party. And now, in one
of the odd twists that politics occasionally takes, they have
re-emerged to challenge mainstream Republicans?and are doing it in
a way that places them to the left of most Democratic politicians
on issues like free trade and foreign policy.

It?s way too early to predict the emergence of a new hybrid
left-right movement. And it?s anyone?s guess how Buchanan fits with
the crunchy conservatives described in the accompanying article.
But together these two splinter groups stand as a sign the right?s
once-formidable unity is showing cracks. Both of these groups bear
watching, not only by political observers drawn to the drama of an
ideological donnybrook, but also by folks on the other side of the
fence seeking new opportunities to broaden the appeal of
progressive politics.

The American Conservative: $29.95/yr. (12 issues) from Box
10829, Riverton, NJ 08076;
www.amconmag.com.

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