Every baseball team has its utility players. For every Tinker, Evers, and Chance, turning double plays in the infield, there’s a Heinie Zimmerman coming off the bench to pinch-hit. For every Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, and Manny Machado, powering their team to an AL East championship, there’s a Ryan Flaherty filling in at second base on off nights. And for every Reihan Salam, David French, and Richard Brookhiser, promoting their debate-shifting books, speaking wisdom to the ears of college students, and lending erudition to a magazine that was founded on it, there’s a, well, me.
I’ve been a National Review Institute William F. Buckley Jr. fellow in political journalism since August 2017, two months after I graduated from college. (I was a summer intern at National Review in 2016.) In that time I’ve had the privilege to report and opine on a number — and it’s a big number — of topics for National Review and NationalReview.com, to appear on our podcasts, and to participate in several NRI events. I’ve written about David Lynch’s Americana, the new trends in economic policy, and changes in our cultural tide. I’ve covered elections from the Montana Senate contest to House races in western Pennsylvania. The fellowship has allowed me to write, read, and think for a living. And it’s allowed me to turn that writing, reading, and thinking into coverage, thanks to the generosity of our supporters — of which, as part of NRI’s 2018 fund appeal, I am humbly asking for more.
Like you, I try to soak in the great work of our major stars. I’ve been a beneficiary of NRI’s work in more ways than one. When Reihan gave extended remarks on Melting Pot or Civil War?, John O’Sullivan and Daniel McCarthy discussed the life and ideas of Russell Kirk, and NR aficionados gathered to honor the tenth anniversary of William F. Buckley Jr.’s death, I was there, watching from the stands. But, like any utility player, I’m ready on a moment’s notice to fill a gap in our coverage or look into a niche issue for our benefit — and the benefit of our audience. While NRI stalwarts tour the country, connect with supporters, and engage in the era’s most pressing debates, I’m working behind the scenes with our editorial board, writing book reviews, and learning from the best this business has to offer. Last week, with the Oosterdam at sea, I penned Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt. It’s all given me a new appreciation for the positionless infielder who does whatever the manager needs him to do.
Of course, the goal isn’t to remain a utility player forever. It’s to swing for the fences. That’s what the Buckley Fellowship is for: training young conservative writers and increasing the number of consequential writers in America’s public forums. That cause was very important to Bill Buckley, as it is to many conservatives who refuse to accept a media industry that often doesn’t know the first thing about the Right. In the world of political journalism, NRI’s Buckley Fellowship is the best of the best, and support for NRI is support for this effort — support for me, for my fellow Buckley Fellow Madeleine Kearns, and for the Buckley Fellows–to–be in the coming years.
On that note, I don’t think I need to remind you how important NR and NRI are to the public interest. These are strange times, when people are castigated by headhunters if they say, or appear to believe, the wrong thing; mainstream institutions in journalism, business, and the culture industry are being pushed to toe a party line; and the intellectual and personal virtues that this magazine’s founder embodied are on the way out. Something worse threatens to supplant them. But NRI exists to find and support people committed to conserving them. It is the steward of National Review, but it’s also the steward of the core principles that the magazine was founded to defend. To continue our important journalistic work, and to further our animating cause, we count on you. So please, if possible, contribute today.
The Buckley Journalism Program has accomplished plenty for me — as well as for many others who have benefited from the unique opportunity that it provides to become a better writer by working with National Review‘s editors, and to better articulate conservative positions as they apply to the world.