A Very Good Investment
Thoughts on a magazine


I always say the same thing in these fund appeals, but at least I can’t be accused of inconsistency. Here goes: I don’t ask anyone to donate to something I don’t donate to. I am a donor to National Review (in addition to being an NR writer and editor). I think it’s worthwhile. It brightens my life. And I know the magazine needs money.

A few months ago, I was given a questionnaire, for a particular project. There was a series of questions about NR. I answered them, briefly. Let me reproduce a chunk of that Q&A:

Q. What does National Review mean to you?

A. Something interesting to read, provocative to read, funny to read, comforting to read — sometimes important to read. It represents an engagement with the world: its political and cultural affairs. Also, it provides an alternative to what today we call “liberalism” or “progressivism.” An alternative to the Left.

Q. What is NR’s importance to the conservative movement?

A. NR explains conservative positions to people who aren’t conservative. And it reminds conservatives what those positions are. One of the things NR does is preach to the choir — and that can be very important, contrary to what is said. The choir sometimes needs preaching to, and comfort, and bolstering.

Q. What sets National Review apart from other publications? What do you enjoy most about the magazine?

A. What sets NR apart from other publications, I should leave to others to say. What do I enjoy most about the mag? Maybe the variety — the variety of writers and writing. We have almost everything under the right-of-center sun. Rick Brookhiser on the coming of fall. Rob Long with his parodies — his tweets from the North Korean dictator. The magazine is stuffed with great material.

Q. What is William F. Buckley Jr.’s legacy?

A. His legacy is National Review and his books and his television show, preserved on video. Also the memories of those of us who love him.

Q. Why should people read NR?

A. Well, I repeat myself: You’ll find good writing, good thinking, and a wonderful variety of those things. Liberals should have a conservative magazine in their diet. It’s like eating your vegetables. Conservatives may find NR a hot-fudge sundae. Liberals may learn to think that way too.

Q. Why should people support National Review?

A. It’s an excellent conservative platform, deserving of perpetuation. Liberalism has plenty of platforms — the schools, for instance. Television. The movies. Everything. Conservatism needs its platforms, too. Furthermore, a lot of people — a lot of us — think of NR as a friend. A friend and companion, year in, year out.

Q. What is NR to young people? 

A. Young people are making up their minds about what they think. And NR puts something on the menu. It asks, “What do you think of this? How about that?” NR made sense to me. It comported with what I sensed was true about the world. I found it thrilling to read — very unlike what I was hearing in school.

Q. Where do you see National Review headed in the future? And what will its impact be?

A. To borrow an old line, NR should adapt to changing times with unchanging principles. NR will feed ideas to decision-makers and everyone else. Voters are, in a sense, decision-makers.

Okay, enough Q&A-ing — on to thanking. I’d like to thank everyone who supports the magazine. I think that, in donating, we are not only benefiting ourselves, but the country at large. National Review is nourishment for minds — a very good investment.


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