Unapologetically conservative and unfailingly provocative, Pat Buchanan has been firing from the right for most of the past four decades. In his new book, State of Emergency--out this week--the politician and omnipresent pundit confronts what he calls the immigrant "invasion and conquest of America." Buchanan, 67, talked with TIME's Jeff Chu about American identity, why conservatives will lose the culture wars and the rewards of being a cat lover.
The U.S. is in a state of emergency?
If we do not get control of our borders and stop this greatest invasion in history, I see the dissolution of the U.S. and the loss of the American Southwest--culturally and linguistically, not politically--to Mexico. It could become a part of Mexico in the way that Kosovo is now a part of Albania.
You liken the immigrant wave to the Visigoths who sacked Rome. Is that fair?
I'm predicting that America will no longer be one nation but more like the Roman Empire--a conglomerate of races and cultures held together by a regime. The country I grew up in was culturally united, even if it was racially divided. We spoke the same language, had the same faith, laughed at the same comedians. We were one nationality. We're ceasing to be that when you have hundreds of thousands of people who want to retain their own culture, their own language, their own loyalty. What do we have in common that makes us fellow Americans? Is it simply citizenship? Or is it blood, soil, history and heroes?
Your '92 Republican Convention speech put another culture war on the agenda. Who's winning?
It's not a battle of right and left but right and wrong. What do we believe about abortion? What do we believe about gay rights? The left has triumphed in seizing the heights of culture--the media, Hollywood, the academic community--and it's fiercely competitive in the political realm. I don't think someone of Bill Clinton's views could have been elected in, say, 1972. And we wouldn't be debating gay marriage in the 1970s. People would have said, "Are you insane?"
Do you think legal gay marriage is inevitable?
Traditionalists still have the upper hand, but there's no doubt which way the trend is going. And it is not going the conservative way.
Can conservatives win the culture wars?
Those of us on the right have been losing ground since the 1970s and '80s. Can we ultimately win? I think you would need a reconversion of the country to a traditionalist, Christian point of view--and I don't see that coming.
You ran for President three times, most recently in 2000. Will you again?
The American people have spoken on that issue. But I loved campaigning. Everywhere you go, people are saying, "Go, Pat, go!" It's like the NFL play-offs, and you're captain of one of the teams. But as [British politician] Enoch Powell once said, "All political lives end in failure."
How would you rate President Bush?
On some things--the Supreme Court, tax cuts--I give him an A-plus. On foreign policy, I give him an incomplete. If it doesn't improve, it's going to be failure. I don't believe interventionism is the way to deal with rising Islamic revolution. We're seen in the Middle East as an imperial power propping up corrupt regimes and giving Israel the wherewithal to do what they did to Lebanon. The President is widely reviled.