Culture

Help Conserve America’s Greatest Conservative Institution

I’ve felt a bit better about the country lately. I wouldn’t have bet on that.

After all, I’ve been warning that once you’ve told a lawless president that you won’t impeach him, won’t use the power of the purse against him, and won’t even block his nominees (including, for attorney general, a chief law-enforcement officer who vows to support him in not enforcing the laws), the only limit on the damage he can do is his political incentive to behave himself. In President Obama’s case, there’s not much incentive: He’s only got about 20 months to go, no elections to fret over, and a desire to transform the United States.

But there’s that phrase: “He’s only got 20 months to go.” I know that 20 months sounds like a long time, but it will go by in a flash . . . though hopefully not a bang. We are already — and finally — at the point of contemplating post-Obama America.

Nowhere is that contemplating done more thoughtfully and more effectively than at National Review.

Let’s face it, there is no shortage of strife within the American conservative movement today. Obama’s imperious governance and aggressive divisiveness have stressed his opposition, exploiting old but dormant rifts, creating new ones. There are serious disagreements among conservatives, and among Republicans who need a strong conservative base, regarding the size and scope of government, America’s role in the world, the right balance between liberty and security, defense spending, the peril posed by increasing debt and entitlement spending, the correct response to illegal immigration, the accommodation of same-sex marriage, the threats to religious liberty and free expression, and — across the board — the best tactics for combating Obama and the progressive advance.

It was precisely to navigate through such turbulence that William F. Buckley Jr. created National Review.

It is at National Review where you find the nation’s top conservative thinkers and doers — political scientists, theorists, and hard-nosed practitioners; great writers, experienced journalists, and energetic young reporters; historians, economists, scientists, artists, poets, and even the occasional cranky lawyer. You won’t agree with everything they say — hell, they don’t agree with a lot of what they say. But you will find our best minds applying themselves to the crises and complexities that engulf us. You will find them challenging each other, with civility but with passion.

The times change and National Review has changed with them. Our spruced-up website complements the familiar range of columns, essays, and editorial commentary with a Morning Jolt, up-to-the-minute news and analysis, extensive coverage of breaking legal decisions and developments at Bench Memos, and the conservative community’s ever-running conversation on the Corner. The site adds as never before to the fortnightly magazine we grew up with — the one I’ve been reading since the Carter years, the one that makes me so proud to work here.

But while times change, the mission does not. It remains the aspiration of National Review not simply to stand athwart History but to lead the conservative movement in restoring and preserving what is best in our history.

Smart conservatives have very different ideas about the interplay between principle and practical politics, about what hills are worth dying on and when prudence dictates minimizing losses.

That is not an easy task. Smart conservatives have very different ideas about the interplay between principle and practical politics, about what hills are worth dying on and when prudence dictates accepting a partial victory or minimizing losses. Consensus is elusive, and it is certain to be even more difficult to achieve as candidates in an expanding 2016 GOP field look to separate themselves from the pack.

That, however, is when we most need a beacon. The day-to-day battles in the political arena, the courtroom, and the culture ensnare us, and understandably so — there is a great deal at stake. Yet, as Obama’s Middle East policy demonstrates, without a grasp of the big picture — of what your interests are, who your allies are, and what you need to achieve — our ability to influence events evaporates and only failure is assured.

National Review remains essential to forming the big picture. I do not say that just because I am privileged to speak my mind here. Just a few weeks back, National Review Institute convened an Ideas Summit in Washington, bringing together many of the nation’s leading conservatives, including several of the 2016 hopefuls, to talk through the enormous challenges that lie before us.

In what has been a dark period, it was as uplifting a respite as I’ve had in a very long time. It is why I’ve been feeling better about things ever since. No “woe are we.” Instead, the summit was three days of insight by leaders in and out of government who have been making concrete plans about how we hit the ground running to correct the Obama years: reinvigoration of American leadership on the world stage; a hard-headed assessment of radical Islam and the threats it poses; free-market antidotes for Obamacare and the wreck that is the Obama economy; tackling entitlements; undoing the damage to free speech and religious liberty; answering Iranian, Russian, and Chinese aggression with Reaganesque resolve.

It was what we need National Review for. That is why I am contributing to NR’s fundraising drive. And it is why I am asking you to contribute, too. This is America’s greatest conservative institution, but we cannot conserve it without you.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment

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