Discontent is the parent of all radicalism, and in these happy days, Pat Buchanan’s third and ever more radical challenge to the globalist ruling class may not attract the political following it deserves. The national happiness that smothers healthy political disgruntlement is due to the success, by conventional standards, of the Clinton presidency. There is no protracted foreign (or even a domestic) war, and violent crime, unemployment, and welfare are all down. The cities and campuses are not aflame, and even if half the Cabinet as well as the President and his wife belong in jail, virtually no one seems to care. Of course, uncontrolled immigration is well on its way to wiping Western civilization off the map of the United States in much the same way you wipe dead insects off your windshield, and the evaporation of national sovereignty and the economic, social, and political independence of American citizens proceeds apace, encouraged by both Democrats and Republicans and unchallenged by anyone other than Mr. Buchanan.

As welcome as Mr. Buchanan’s move to the Reform Party was last fall, only a few weeks later, he proceeded to confuse many supporters by elevating within his campaign black leftist Lenora Fulani. Miss Fulani promptly vowed that “we’re going to integrate that peasant army of his. We’re going to bring black folks and Latino folks and gay folks and liberal folks into that army” and announced that she and Buchanan would soon be meeting with the Rev. Al Sharpton, perhaps the most loathsome anti-white rabble-rouser in the country.

The rationale for the Fulani entente was that, as a power broker within the Reform Party, she would be able to help Buchanan win its presidential nomination against rival factions that are less than enthusiastic about him and his agenda. That may be a sound reason—time will tell whether she really will or can help Buchanan—and it may justify welcoming her into the campaign. But it does not seem to justify promoting her to the position of co-chairman, along with Bay Buchanan and Pat Choate, Ross Perot’s vice presidential candidate in 1996, who is said to have been the architect of the Fulani tactic. If it is only a tactic, aimed at securing the nomination—and especially if it’s a tactic that actually works—then it is justifiable. But if it’s the opening shot of a major strategic move, which is how both Fulani and Choate tried to bill it, really aimed at constructing what Choate called a “left-right-center coalition” and what Fulani described as an effort “to bring black and white America together,” then it may pose more of a problem.

One major value of the Buchanan campaign, especially since his move to the Reform Party, is not so much that it might win the presidency this year as that it offers a very real opportunity to build a serious, mass-based political party able to compete for—and eventually to win—power on a national scale by mobilizing a Middle American coalition. As I wrote in an article here last month, what Buchanan must offer is not “conservatism” as it is either currently or historically defined by the “conservative movement,” but a vision, drawn from 19th-century traditionalist and counterrevolutionary conservatism, that affirms and defends such social particularisms—tribalisms, if you will—as class, cult, kinship, community, race, ethnicity, and nationality, each of which are legitimate and important parts of the politico-cultural complex. His break with the Republicans last fall offered an historic opportunity for him to begin articulating this affirmation far more clearly than his earlier Republican candidacies allowed, because it disengaged him from the confines of the classical liberal-libertarian universalist ideology that Republicans continue to mouth, an ideology that only alienates and frightens the Middle Americans on whom Buchanan’s campaign must be built. But the Fulani alliance may well prove to alienate and frighten his Middle American base even more.

In the course of the demonization campaign against Buchanan conducted by the neoconservatives and their allies on the left last year, Weekly Standard senior editor David Brooks wrote an attack on Buchanan in the Los Angeles Times that was concerned to prove, once again, that Buchanan really was not a Republican. (Since the column appeared five days after Buchanan’s move to the Reform Party, his point is conceded.) “Buchanan crowds don’t look like Republican crowds,” Brooks sneered:

There are none of those Chamber of Commerce officers in golf shirts and tasseled loafers. Instead, Buchanan draws the beefy, 300-pound guys with tattoos up their arms and sleeveless T-shirts. He draws the guys with shaggy biker beards and the Teamsters who park their rigs in the lot and get hoarse shouting, “Go, Pat, go!” It may be hard to classify exactly which political category these people belong to, but they are certainly not Republicans.

Actually, it’s not so hard to classify which political category such people belong to. They’re called “Democrats,” and the contempt for them that our Mr. Brooks exudes helps explain why they never show up in the crowds around other Republican candidates. Buchanan’s appeal to them is exactly the same as that of George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, and their attraction to these candidates explains why the first won more popular support than any other third-party leader since Theodore Roosevelt and why the latter two actually won the presidency twice.

A further reason Buchanan is no true Republican, according to Mr. Brooks, is that, while Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 GOP convention in Houston declared “a culture war, which the GOP faithful were happy to enlist in,” today “Buchanan has stopped talking about culture and started talking about class war, which the GOP faithful do not want any part of.”

What Mr. Brooks and his fellow neocons cannot seem to grasp is that the “culture war” is a “class war” —and that they are on the wrong side of it. There has been a class revolution—a replacement of one ruling class by another, the only kind of real resolution there is—in the United States. The new ruling class seeks the destruction of the cultural and moral codes and institutions of the old ruling class and its order because those codes and institutions are obstacles to its own power and interests and tend to exclude and restrict the new elite. Hence, what is produced by Hollywood, the universities, the publishers, the newspapers, the electronic media—the cultural apparatus of the new ruling class—is the new “culture” against which Buchanan “declared” war. The new culture would not exist in die absence of the new class that produces it and uses it to subvert the old ruling class and to build rationalizations for its own power and preeminence. The war against the new culture cannot be won unless the new class that peddles it is dislodged from power-by yet another revolution, or, if you insist on the term, counterrevolution.

What remains of the old culture survives—marginally—in the “beefy, 300-pound guys with tattoos up their arms and sleeveless T-shirts” who form the crowds around Pat Buchanan’s tent, and it is these gentlemen and they alone—not “those Chamber of Commerce officers in golf shirts and tasseled loafers” who probably read the Weekly Standard every week and find it interesting, nor the “black folks and Latino folks and gay folks and liberal folks” so beloved of Comrade Fulani—who are at least willing to fight the culture war. There may not be enough of them to win it; they may not have much of a clue as to how to fight it effectively; and they may very well lose it. But at least, unlike the suave and debonair Mr. Brooks and his neocon friends, they do fight, and unlike Fulani and her allies, they’re on the right side.

The idea that the political conflict in the United States is largely a class conflict is a concept that neoconservatives find most offensive and disconcerting. In 1996, when Buchanan first used the image of “peasants and pitchforks” after his victory in the New Hampshire primary to describe his own following in the politico-cultural conflict. Bill Kristol himself rejected the image. “Someone needs to stand up and defend the Establishment,” the Washington Post quoted Kristol as telling its reporter:

In the last couple of weeks, there’s been too much pseudo-populism, almost too much concern and attention for, quote, the people—that is, the people’s will, their prejudices and their foolish opinions. And in a certain sense, we’re all paying the price for that now. . . . After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons.

For once, Mr. Kristol was entirely right. “We conservatives”—i.e., those conservatives for whom he speaks and whose mind he helps form—are in fact the “lords and barons” of the new riding class, or if not exactly the lords and barons, then at least the high priests and court buffoons of those who are. The whole political function of neoconservatism is to provide a moderate rationalization for the new regime of the new riding class, and in fact it docs provide a far more sensible and credible ideological formula than Marxism, multiculturalism, or the other stale and unbelievable isms that the left offers. Over the last few years, both Mr. Kristol and his faithful Indian companion, Mr. Brooks, have come up with a couple of different, rather less-than-catchy slogans that try to encapsulate the magic and romance, if you will, of the New World Order: “National Greatness Conservatism” and, more recently, Mr. Brooks’ “One Nation Conservatism,” which upholds the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush and John McCain’s “New Patriotic Challenge,” both of which vow to help construct a “burbling civic life” for the nation, although every burble seems to be funded by the federal leviathan.

The reason the beefy guys with tattoos approve of Buchanan is that, unlike many denizens of the Beltway, they continue to identify themselves in terms of tribal particularities and not in terms of ideological abstractions, and they recognize in Buchanan the only major political figure who defends their tribal identities and also is willing, in contrast to the apostles of economic liberty in the GOP, to offer material security for them and their families and communities. Some at least grasp that if issues of material security are not of much political concern this year, they will be sooner or later. One of Pat Buchanan’s political problems in these happy days is to communicate to the rest of them that the happiness will not last, that the transnational economic and political system the ruling class is constructing is designed without any place for them, and that the champions of the new order (like Mr. Brooks and Mr. Kristol) in fact despise them, fear them, and want them rendered impotent, if not altogether extinct.

But another of Buchanan’s problems this year may be to make sure that the alliance with Miss Fulani and the importation into the Buchanan campaign of rhetoric and ideology that directly contradict the invocation of particularism do not subvert his social and political base in Middle America altogether. That is what is wrong with the “left-right-center coalition” that Pat Choate describes and with the effort “to bring black and white America together” in a common political movement. The elements of such coalitions cannot subsist together because they are both ideologically and socially incompatible. They are ideologically incompatible because the “right” to which Buchanan has alway’s successfully appealed is a particularistic identity, while the “left” whose banner Miss Fulani waves is a universalist one. They are socially incompatible because the social forces to which they try to appeal are different social groups with different and usually contradictory interests. If the Fulani alliance really is supposed to be a strategy and not merely a tactic, those contradictions will become increasingly apparent in the course of the campaign, as issues like affirmative action, immigration, civil rights, abortion, and homosexuality arise. The bloodiest and most bitter battles of the “culture war” may be fought inside the Buchanan campaign itself.

But no man in the United States has fought that war more intensely, more courageously, and more effectively and articulately than Pat Buchanan, and one major reason he has been able to fight it as well and as long as he has is because the guys in the crowd who have supported him knew what he was fighting for and whom he was fighting against. The potential flaw of his alliance with Lenora Fulani and her elevation within the Buchanan camp may be to confuse those very guys, the Buchanan base, and to scud out a muddled signal that communicates, at best, nothing beyond the exigencies of campaign tactics, and at worst, the wrong message that alienates and demoralizes his own supporters and winds up defining no political coalition able either to win or to endure beyond the current election.