What could Socialist Bernie Sanders and conservative Pat Buchanan possibly have in common? They are politically poles apart with vastly different followers. In appearance and background, they are also distinct. One could not be mistaken for the other. But on one life or death issue – namely, war or rather the dubious wars the U.S. has fought since 9/11 – they are in solid agreement: stop them! A humanitarian concern overcomes politics and ideology.
Both have been politically ambitious. Buchanan served in top posts in the Nixon and Reagan administrations and finding Vice President George H.W. Bush not to be conservative enough, ran unsuccessfully against him in the 1992 Republican Presidential primary. Two further tries for the Presidency also didn’t work – not enough conservative voters to bring it off. After that he expressed his views in books and columns that are often eloquent and always controversial.
As a self-confessed socialist, Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn but decided to settle in free thinking Vermont where he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1991 and a few years later to the Senate. In office he targeted the enormous income inequality in America and threw his support to all-embracing social programs like universal health care. He ran Hillary Clinton a surprisingly close race for the Democratic nomination in 2016 with supporters contending that party elders – but Bernie was 75! – contrived to keep him off the ticket.
He faces similar opposition in this election. Alarmed party leaders are once again making a last minute effort to cut him out of a wide field of contenders. His views on war and the world are anathema to them. But not to former opponent Buchanan and perhaps many others who are tired of the bloodshed. The unwinnable, ill conceived post-9/11 wars have taken close to a million lives at a cost to the U.S. of $6.4 trillion. Imagine if just a fraction of that had been spent on the Mexican border, providing help and asylum to those fleeing the hideous violence and U.S troops to suppress the drug cartels causing it.
On Bernie’s behalf Buchanan invokes a battle cry cry of a dimly remembered Democratic Presidential candidate of the Vietnam era, George McGovern: “Come home, America.” McGovern lost badly, but his words have resonance today, writes Buchanan, when Trump’s latest actions in the Middle East have made war a major issue and energized the Democrats’ anti-war majority. Bernie’s credentials in that regard are as “solid and long standing as his fidelity to socialism.” He could occupy the anti-war space now vacated by an unreliable Trump and possibly “change the face and future of American politics.”