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Jack Fowler

Over the following days, you will hear from colleagues (more editorially glorious and esteemed than I) about how truly important National Review is in real political terms — everything being political nowadays.

I speak, and they will speak, of the Nebraska Senate primary last week, where Ben Sasse bested a field of once-tough opponents.

Something happened a few months back to change the dynamics of the crowded Cornhusker race. That something was . . . National Review, which dubbed Sasse a “Rising Conservative Star” in John J. Miller’s cover story, “Obamacare’s Nebraska Nemesis.”

It was a great article. One of many, of thousands, of terrific articles — editorials, “The Week” paragraphs, columns, Corner posts, Campaign Spot and Bench Memos and Agenda items — that we published, in the magazine and on this great website, in just one year. 

All, here on NRO, for free.

Hundreds? Thousands? Just how much have you read and enjoyed and commented on and e-mailed and liked and tweeted? Surely, a heck of a lot. Surely too: NRO, with all of its seemingly endless free content, has become an important part of your day, has helped you form and sharpen your beliefs, has provided you with facts and arguments that you have used in all sorts of situations, from sharing with your child who needs help with a current-events report to shutting the yap of an obnoxious liberal cousin who was making some profoundly buffoonish claim.

That felt good, no?!

By the way, earlier, did I mention “for free?” I see that I did.

Ah well, “free” — that is a matter of perspective. Sure, NRO content is free to you. But that’s it. From the suits’ perspective, NRO is anything but free. Our incredibly wise but poorly paid writers and editors do actually get paid. Our server provider takes only cash — the bribe of NR mugs was laughed at. As were our attempts to get free software, computers, and all the rest of the gizmos and gadgets and binary things one needs to run a 24/7/365 website.

This “business” of opinion journalism, of wise and stylish and deeply thought and soundly argued commentary, is usually the . . . toy, if you will, of billionaires who want influence and who don’t mind losing a few million annually on a product that generates little revenue. 

NR has no billionaire owner or, for that matter, any sugar daddies. But we do have lots of people who are generous in their way — many of them with the widow’s mite — who realize these fundamentals: (1) that NR is, as a business, a money-losing entity; (2) that, regardless of its ability to turn a profit (or, for 58 years, not turn one), National Review’s existence is imperative; (3) that the world would indeed be a worse place minus NR; and (4) that they have a duty to see to it that NR survives. And thrives. And (5) that the only way this can happen is by making a donation. 

Which can be done here.

Do you “live” on NRO? You know what I mean — spend many an hour here over the course of a week, or even a day. Maybe you don’t live here, but you sure as heck frequent and haunt the environs, right? Whatever you do, you know that NRO greatly enriches your life. You know that NRO is vital, to yourself and to this country. You accept that NRO’s continued existence and growth is dependent on the generosity of friends, readers, users, followers.

You also know you should do the honorable thing and make a donation.

So there, I have made my pitch, a windy explanation of the old tale, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. So that must mean this plea is heading into the homestretch.

It is, but before it ends, allow me to raise two things. The first is a reiteration: No one here gets rich. Frayed khakis from Sears, hole-adorned socks from K-Mart, a small cape with a leaky roof located two hours from the office, a ’95 Ford Taurus wagon as a sports car, six days a week in the office: This is the life I have chosen, and my colleagues can tell similar stories. We will sleep when we die, and we will enjoy riches if our Powerball numbers are drawn. All this told so you can know that when We Suits spend money, we know we are spending the money of good people who donated it selflessly and who expect that it will be spent wisely, and directly for the causes we mutually embrace.

The second: This week we had a visitor, Ryan, and his lovely friend, Ella. As often happens, they were “in town: and wanted to drop by to visit NR’s HQ. “Of course,” we said, as we always say, and they come. Like Rich Lowry, Ryan has been reading NR from his early teens, and at some point in his twenties embarked on a project to read all issues of NR EVER PUBLISHED. To the library with its aging bound volumes he went, and went, and went. He has read every issue since 1955 and talked with great affection of this place, this magazine, the website, our writers old, our writers new — Kevin D. Williamson (he made sure to use the “D”), Michael Knox Beran, Jonah, and Jay being among his very favorites. KDW was in and, as usual, was happy to meet and talk with the couple.

What’s this story about? Yes, it’s another anecdotal nice NR experience. But the story is really about how NR makes a difference. In the life of our country. In the world’s fate this past half century. And, profoundly, in the actual lives of actual people. Like Ryan. Like you. To a great degree here, to a lesser degree there, but still, a difference is made.

I am confident NR has made a difference in your life. Help us to continue to do that, for yourself, or for others. For the Ryans.

For the Ben Sasses.

Donate here.

And watch our groovy “donate” video here:

— Jack Fowler is National Review’s publisher.



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