Editor’s Note: The following excerpts are drawn from an essay by William F. Buckley Jr. that appeared in the March/April 2000 issue of Cigar Aficionado.
Many people are inflamed by the rampant demagoguery in the present scene. Demagoguery — demagogy — comes in two modes. Most conspicuous is that of the candidate who promises the voters what are best described as Nice Things. Why not health care for the uninsured? Or for children? Why not cheaper drugs? Free child delivery? (Free funerals?) Sharpshooters tracking down demagogy were out there waiting last summer, eyes trained, when Bill Bradley arrived in Iowa. Would he do it? Would he advocate an end to the subsidy of ethanol? Ethanol is the program, excogitated during the Carter Administration, which sought to augment the staying power of a gallon of gasoline by an infusion of ethanol. What happened is that the price of oil went down, and the potential economic value of an ethanol additive turned out to be less than the cost of producing ethanol, and that was many moons ago. . . .
So what else can Trump offer us? Well to begin with, a self-financed campaign. Does it follow that all who finance their own campaigns are narcissists? At this writing Steve Forbes has spent $63 million in pursuit of the Republican nomination. Forbes is an evangelist, not an exhibitionist. In his long and sober private career, Steve Forbes never bought a casino, and if he had done so, he would not have called it Forbes’s Funhouse. His motivations are discernibly selfless. . . .There are moments of deep gloom during the primary season. The candidates are immediately approached after a public event to be told whether what they just finished saying added or subtracted from their probable standing in the polls. And the American voter who wants to see a sign of life and of pride in the participants in our expensive and exhausting democratic obstacle course wonder, sometimes with a sense of desperation, whether what we’re seeing is new. Or, are we looking at merely this season’s reenactment of a ritual that began when Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were quarreling before their conclusive encounter at Weehawken?
— William F. Buckley Jr. was the founder and editor of National Review.