Buchanan and the Christian Coalition

ROSSERJB at jmu.edu ROSSERJB at jmu.edu
Mon Feb 12 11:20:16 MST 1996

     Scott Marshall is probably correct regarding
what may have triggered the BBC story.  However I sense
from Chris's question and my knowledge of conditions
in other countries, that many on this list not from the US
may not realize how powerful the Christian Coalition and its
relatives has become.  In the Iowa caucus occurring this
evening, approximately 40% of the voters are estimated to
be sympathetic to its ranks and goals.  Steve Forbes may
well have fatally wounded his drive for the Republican
nomination by criticizing the CC over the weekend in Iowa.
     The class aspect of all this is very complicated.
Traditionally supporters of fundamentalist Protestantism
have tended to be poorer and either working class or lower
middle class.  Buchanan's supporters in his victory in
Louisiana, where he had the strong support of the David Duke
crowd, were definitely lower income than those of Phil Gramm.
However the Christian Coalition has definitely taken on a
laissez faire hard right stance on economic issues.  Although
they still do not have the support of the "country club"
Republican establishment, increasingly there are some very
well off supporters and backers of the CC.
     There is a split among these groups and it runs deep.
The populist William Jennings Bryan was a fundamentalist,
indeed the guest prosecutor at the Scopes "monkey trial" in
Tennessee in 1925.  The anti-Semitic undertones of his famous
"Cross of Gold" speech are not hard to detect.  But there is
no question that this populist vein in US fundamentalism runs
very deep and some commentators have noted that it still persists
despite the takeover of the Big Money crowd (the founder of the
Christian Coalition was Pat Robertson, filthy rich son of a US
senator and former presidential candidate, owner of a media empire
and author of the paranoid _The Secret Kingdom_).
     Another aspect of this is that a high proportion of African
Americans are fundamentalist Protestants.  Needless to say this
group does not generally support the laissez faire stance of the
CC.  Indeed, it is significant that Pat Buchanan does not, as his
anti-NAFTA and anti-GATT stances show.  His appeal to the working
class, combined with his extreme Christian Coalition social
conservatism is part of what makes his candidacy something to watch
closely, although he does not make much of an appeal to African Americans.
Allegedly he was embarrassed by the open support of the Dukeites in
Louisiana, but he has not hesitated to play hard anti-affirmative
action and anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner cards.
Barkley Rosser

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