For many, being “conservative” isn’t enough. No, people on the political right tend to subdivide into smaller groupings: neoconservative, fiscal conservative, social conservative, crunchy conservative (one who enjoys eating granola at lunch).
Sometimes conservatives focus on individual issues and miss the big picture.
Luckily, an intellectual leader showed us how to avoid that.
“It was [William F.] Buckley’s special genius as a fusionist that he was able to keep these philosophically dissimilar and personally disputatious writers on the same masthead for years to come,” writes Lee Edwards, explaining the birth of National Review magazine. “Why were there so few defectors? Because of Buckley’s extraordinary skill at honoring and integrating the conflicting voices of the conservative choir and because one and all realized eventually that they were part of something historic and urgently needed—what Buckley would call ‘our movement.’”
Edwards notes that Buckley, who died five years ago today, wrote that National Review “stands athwart history, yelling stop.” That was an admirable goal in the 1950s, when many of the ideas in the political firmament were holdovers from the New Deal, as Buckley explained in a speech at The Heritage Foundation in 1999.
Today, as Charles Kesler writes, liberalism is running out of gas. Conservatives, meanwhile, seem to have all the ideas. We’re yelling go. Go establish charter schools. Go reform health care. Go fix entitlement programs. We are fortunate to have Buckley’s example to help keep us together as we press for wide-ranging reforms.