At the Populist Party’s national convention in Allentown, Pennsylvania, last September, Kirk Lyons gave a long, boring presentation to 150 of the faithful on Janet Reno’s Waco “holocaust,” complete with pointer and diagrams projected on the wall. The North Carolina attorney and Aryan Nations parade marshal was hoping to generate support for his lawsuits against the Feds. Michigan militiameister Mark Koernke’s speech was even more of a sleeper, with a predictable set of slogans about the United Nations and the New World Order.
Not to be confused with the party of William Jennings Bryan, the contemporary Populist Party started in 1984 as an aggregation of “white citizen” types, Christian patriots and lapsed Klansmen. Its best known presidential candidate was David Duke in 1988, shortly before he became a Republican. In 1992 the party sponsored Bo Gritz’ Rambo-style campaign for President, but managed to get ballot status in only eighteen states. At last September’s convention, completely out of gas, it endorsed Buchanan and then disbanded.
American Renaissancer Taylor did his stump speech about black people and crime, focusing everybody’s anxiety on the threat from one step below them on the social ladder. Sam Francis, on the other hand, turned everybody’s attention to the danger a step or two up. Political, economic and cultural elites were “actively anti-American,” he said. Corporate CEOs were driving wages down to the level of Third World countries and “doing everything they can to actually abolish the culture and civilization and the very population that created the nation and civilization” through increased non-white immigration.
Taylor and Francis had their fingers on the hot button for Buchanan’s 1992 and 1996 primary bids. His core constituency feels sandwiched between economic and political elites on one side and poor blacks, Latinos and Asians on the other. Fear of this Scylla and Charybdis is a defining feature of Middle American Radicals, or MARs.
MARs were discovered by Michigan sociologist Donald Warren in his 1976 study of Gov. George Wallace’s presidential campaigns, The Radical Center. Warren identified them as middle class political radicals who believe that “the rich give in to the demands of the poor, and the middle income people have to pay the bill.” In 1968 and 1972 MARsians supported George Wallace, in the eighties they were Reagan Democrats and in the nineties they voted for Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan.
Although Warren counted them most heavily concentrated in the South, Middle American Radicals are found everywhere. They can be spotted at guns shows and militia meets, at Tenth Amendment rallies and flying the Confederate battle flag. MARsians carried Proposition 187 across the finish line in California. Even “the religious right is itself a Middle American movement,” if you believe Sam Francis.
Francis is the philosopher-general of Middle American Radicalism. A sharp-witted history PhD. from the University of North Carolina, he was recruited to be Senator John East’s legislative assistant in the eighties. Francis then spent nine years as an editorial writer at The Washington Times. There he struck up his friendship with fellow columnist Pat Buchanan. When Buchanan surrendered his column to run for president in 1991, Francis took it over. Last year, after his remarks at the 1994 Atlanta meeting were criticized by Dinesh D’Souza, the Times demoted Francis. Later, when he ridiculed Southern Baptists for deciding that American slavery was a sin, Francis was forced to resign. He kept his syndicated column, however, as well as a monthly soapbox at Chronicles, the paleoconservative magazine of choice.
“What has happened in the Buchanan revolution,” Francis wrote back in 1992, “is the emergence of a new political identity…of a particular cultural and political force— Middle America—the as the defining core.”
Francis hopes that the Middle American Radicals will oppose what he argues is a deracinated new managerial class that has seized the federal government’s reins and abandoned Anglo-Saxonism for an antinationalist New World Order. As he writes in his 1993 book, Beautiful Losers, changes in the economy had marginalized the old industrial barons and their allies on Main Street who protected the Old Republic before World War II. Francis believes that Middle Americanism is the only line of defense against the elites’ surrender of national sovereignty to the multicultural invasion.
Francis’ analysis of U.S. racial nationalism replaces Marx’ internationalist proletariat with a nationalist white middle class as the agency of change. His friend Pat Buchanan would lead a revolutionary transitional government. An unknown Lenin is presumably still waiting in the wings.
“The reason Buchanan has not been submerged is that the torch he carries illuminates new social forces,” Francis boasted in the March issue of Chronicles. “The Buchanan campaign for the first time in recent history offers them an organized mode of expression that will allow them to develop and mature their consciousness and power.”
Is Francis right? Does Buchanan’s campaign represent a singular, but still inchoate, Middle Americanism? For Buchanan, foreign trade and immigration, like abortion and even jobs, are battlegrounds in one single cultural war fought by Middle American Radicals. He knows that “the great disputed province of American politics is this angry alienated middle class.” And he realizes that what appears to be an economic issue to elites is at heart a cultural-national issue to the MARs. That is why his response to economic distress is not jobs creation or raising wages or promoting unions but xenophobia.
“Today, illegal immigration is helping fuel the cultural breakdown of our nation,” Buchanan wrote in October 1994. “That cultural breakdown, which you and I have recognized and sworn to fight, is the single most important factor which has impelled me to run for President.” Sam Francis understands his old friend. “For Buchanan…the nation is fundamentally a social and cultural unit, not the creation of the state and its policies.”
But for Francis, as we have already seen, race should be added to the list of ingredients for a nation. He hasn’t yet succeeded in pushing Pat over that line. That’s what the next four years will be about for Buchananites: whether the new white nationalists can win terrain currently held by cultural conservatives. Much will depend on the political maturity of white supremacist cadres who have become Buchananites and joined the Republican Party like latter-day Trotskyites practicing a new form of entryism.