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Pat Buchanan and George Will have a lot in common, but they’re very different, too. They’re both conservative writers and journalists. But Buchanan’s an activist while Will is a passivist. (New word?) Let me explain.
When I was a freshman in college, a professor told me he saw George Will speak. He found Will’s conservatism “intellectual and reasonable,” unlike Ronald Regan’s “extremism.” It was a shot at my Reaganism. I knew it.
That was in 1983, and the US economy was in the tank. High unemployment. Sky-high interest rates. And inflation was still painful to millions. The professor heard George Will busily distance himself from Reagan.
By 1984, though, it was morning in America again. And George Will was all in with Reagan.
George Will runs away from conservatives who annoy the academic elite. In 1979, Will worried about Reagan’s positions being outside the “mainstream” of American voters. He endorsed Howard Baker for president, then George H. W. Bush. Will described Bush as someone so perfect that, as a kid, you’d have wanted to punch him for being the kid your mom constantly badgered you to be like. (That was before Bush raised taxes and puked on the Japenese Prime Minister’s lap.)
Now, George F. Will is so distraught over Trump’s rudeness and plain talk that he has left the Republican party. Will now identifies as “unaffiliated,” allowing him to use whichever bathroom has the shortest line. How convenient.
I’m sure that in Will’s mind this constitutes action. He thinks he’s taking a stand. He believes he’s acting all principled and shit. And he probably thinks he’s no different than Pat Buchanan.
But there is a difference.
Pat Buchanan left the GOP in 2000, unhappy with the party’s nominee and choices. But that’s where the similarities end, because Buchanan took positive action toward a defined end goal while George Will’s disaffiliation is nothing but slacktivism.
Buchanan quit the Republican Party and joined the Reform Party. He became the Reform Party’s nominee for president. He campaigned hard and got some votes. Conservapedia credits Buchanan with George W. Bush’s win in Florida.
In short, Buchanan took action and made a personal sacrifice to represent people who felt unrepresented by the GOP and the DNC. Buchanan acted for others, while Will retreated for his own personal comfort. Will’s highly touted exit from the GOP is passive and empty, like a plastic grocery bag blowing in the wind.
People might nod at George Will’s intellectual gravitas, but people marched behind Pat Buchanan’s action.
America doesn’t have time for slacktivism.
But America has plenty of time to read my new book before the conventions.