Principalities & Powersrnby Samuel FrancisrnThe New Shape ofrnAmerican Politicsrn(The following remarks were delivered in arnpanel discussion, “The New Shape ofrnPolitics,” at the International ConservativernCongress in Washington, D.C., onrnSeptember 27, 1997)rnFirst of all, I want to thank John O’Sullivanrnfor asking me to take part in this panel,rnand secondly I want to issue a fairrnwarning to my colleagues on the panel asrnwell as to many in the audience. Manyrnof you—perhaps most of you —will notrnagree with what I have to tell you aboutrnthe new shape of American politics,rnand some of you may actually find it repellent.rnFor some years I have beenrnknown, for lack of a better term, as arn”Buchananite” conservative (at leastrnthat is one of the less objectionablernthings I have been called), and it is a fairrndescription. But my allegiance torn”Buchananism” goes beyond support forrnthe Buchanan presidential candidacy inrnthe last two elections. In my newspaperrncolumn as well as in my monthlyrncolumns in Chronicles (many of whichrnare now collected in a new book calledrnRevolution From the Middle, which hasrnbeen sedulously ignored by the conservativernpress), I have argued that thernBuchanan candidacy is but the formalrnpolitical expression of a deep social andrncultural transformation I have called thern”Middle American Revolution,” The essentialrnconcept and, to some extent, thernterm are derived from the studies of thernlate Donald Warren, a sociologist, whosern1976 book. The Radical Center, analyzedrnthe underlying social and political forcesrnthat make up the Middle AmericanrnRevolution.rnProfessor Warren identified a distinctiverngroup in American society that herncalled “Middle American Radicals,” orrnMARs, who are essentially middle-income,rnwhite, often ethnic voters who seernthemselves as an exploited and dispossessedrngroup, excluded from meaningfulrnpolitical participation; threatened by therntax and trade policies of the government;rnvictimized by its tolerance of crime, immigration,rnand social deviance; and ignored,rnridiculed, or demonized by thernmajor cultural institutions of the mediarnand education. MARs possess objectivernstatistical characteristics, but these arernnot their defining features. Warren identifiedrnas their defining feature an attitudinalrncharacteristic: they view themselvesrnas sandwiched between — and victimizedrnby—an elite (in government andrnpolitics, the economy, and the dominantrnculture) that is either indifferent to themrnor hostile to them, and an underclassrnwith which the elites are in alliance andrnwhose interests and values the elites supportrnat the expense of the interests andrnvalues of Middle Americans.rnIn Professor Warren’s original analysis,rnMARs were the backbone of GeorgernWallace’s national political following,rnbut in later years the categories of “ReaganrnDemocrats,” “Perot voters,” and —rnmore recently—”Buchanan supporters”rnare largely identical to them. In my ownrndevelopment of Warren’s work. MiddlernAmerican Radicals represent both therncentral political base of the Americanrnright, from at least the time of GeorgernWallace and probably going back to JoernMcCarthy, and the core or nucleus ofrnAmerican cultiire and the American nation.rnAny movement of the right thatrnwishes to succeed in national politiesrnmust mobilize Middle American forces,rnas both Nixon and Reagan did and asrnGeorge Bush, Bob Dole, and Jack Kemprnfailed to do.rnA convenient statistical definition ofrnMiddle Americans is that they are thernmiddle-income categories, making betweenrn$15,000 and $50,000 a year, arngroup that comprises about 50 percent ofrnthe voting electorate. Exit polls showrnthat Reagan won an average of 57 percentrnof this category in 1980 and l984,rnwhile in 1992 and 1996 Bush and Dolernwon only an average of 37 percent—arnprecipitous decline of 20 percentagernpoints. If the Republican Party continuesrnto ignore MARs, it will find itself reducedrnto minority status and may evenrneventually cease to exist as a major party;rnand if the conservative movement continuesrnto ignore them, it too will dwindlernin cultural and political significance.rnThe “crisis of conservatism,” the “conservativerncrack-up,” that Beltway and Manhattanrnconservatives today fret about isrndue precisely to the alienation of MiddlernAmerican Radicals from the mainstreamrnand neoconservative right. If however,rnthe American right seriously wishes torngovern, it will have to base its ideas andrnpolicies on Middle American Radicalismrnor Middle American Populism andrnincorporate the interests and values ofrnMARs into its own political agenda.rnMy time is brief, so I will merely listrnsome of the main issues that currentlyrnand in the foreseeable fiiture are importantrnissues for Middle Americans, illustraternwhy they are important, and howrnconservatives and Republicans havernmanaged to blow them. The first andrnperhaps the most important issue thatrnconservatives and Republicans havernfailed to address is immigration, both illegalrnand legal. There has been a fairlyrnconsistent trend in national opinionrnpolls showing that large percentages ofrnAmericans of all ethnic and class backgroundsrngenerally oppose immigrationrnand want it reduced or stopped. Lastrnyear a Roper poll showed that some 83rnpercent of the public favors reducing orrnhalting immigration. I think this pollrnspeaks for itself; you cannot get publicrnresponses on most polls better than 83rnpercent. During the Persian Gulf War,rnwhen President Bush’s popularity ratingrnwas about 90 percent. Bob Dole jokedrnthat the remaining 10 percent probablyrndidn’t know who the President was.rnBased on the Roper poll on immigration,rnit is probably fair to say that Americansrnwho don’t oppose immigration probablyrndon’t know that immigration is a problemrnor an issue.rnYet the Republicans have consistentlyrnfailed to take up immigration reform.rnVirtually the first thing Bob Dole did lastrnyear after securing the party nominationrnwas to repudiate the GOP platformrnplank on immigration, and Jack Kemprnhas long been notorious among immigrationrnrestrictionists for his unqualifiedrnsupport for immigration. Prior to his attemptrnwith Bill Bennett in 1994 to sabotagernCalifornia’s Proposition 187, Kemprnwas actually in favor of both illegal andrnlegal immigration, and as HUDrnSecretary he refused to allow the Immigrationrnand Naturalization Service to enforcernfederal laws against illegal immigrantsrnin federal housing projects.rnThis year the chairman of the Senatern30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn