When I first encountered National Review, in a school library as a teenager, there was a great deal in the magazine that I did not understand. There were disputes over the measurement of economic indicators that were entirely mysterious to me, speculation about the future of countries whose location in the world might have been generally familiar to me but no more, very finely reasoned discussions about moral problems to which I had never given a moment’s thought. Twenty-five years later, the experience of reading National Review is not entirely dissimilar. The breadth and depth of knowledge communicated through the magazine and the website is staggering to an extent that you might not appreciate unless you really tried to keep up with it all for a couple of weeks. We publish more words on the web every day — far more — than we do in a fortnight in print.
One of the great charms of the magazine for me as a young reader was that it was very enjoyable to read even if you did not quite understand everything in it. There was Bill Buckley’s charming correspondence in “Notes and Asides,” Digby Anderson on Spanish breakfasts, and all those wonderful words. I think that practically every conservative writer of my generation spent at least a semester in college trying to write like Bill before concluding that even Bill didn’t try to write like Bill: He just sort of showed up in the world that way, ex nihilo.
We have been known to buy a tuna-salad sandwich for a visiting senator, but Jack Fowler runs a remarkably tight ship. I’ve worked for big, publicly traded companies and tiny little startups, and I cannot think of any organization as conscientious about a dollar as is National Review. The reason for that is of course because we do not have very many of them. Flip through the magazine sometime or look at the website. Those corporate special interests whose alleged bankrolling of the conservative movement we’re always hearing so much liberal handwringing about are not in much evidence. And that’s how it’s probably always going to be: We are in the business of reminding people of eternal if often unpleasant truths. The liberals have their schemes for saving the salamanders or reorganizing the family or redistributing the wealth, and we are standing athwart. We are not peddling rainbows.
So, we sell subscriptions, sell advertising, organize cruises and other fundraising events, and we come to you directly to ask for your help. The plain fact is that if you want Eliana exposing IRS misdeeds or Andy keeping tabs on the many-tentacled Muslim Brotherhood or Ramesh continuing to irk me with his wrongheaded child-tax-credit campaign, we have to keep the printer paid and the servers running, which as a former newspaper editor I can tell you is just shockingly expensive. But I can also tell you that Rich Lowry flies coach.
It is a tremendous privilege to be associated with National Review, for which I am deeply grateful to our friends — including you, for whatever you’re able to give.
— Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review and author of the newly published The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.