As the editor of this website, now engaged in its important Fall Webathon, I expect you might find notable, as do I, that the Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” does not continue “. . . and if you do, may you change your mind on everything.” If there has been a predominant trait among the political commentariat over the last four years, it has been malleability: “If he is for it, I am against it”; “If he is against it, I am for it”; “Everything is different now.” At times, the transformations have been breathtaking in their speed and abandon. Not content merely to jettison every principle they ever held, some have gone so far as to attack those who have stayed firm. Inconstancy, thy name is Boot.
John Adams observed that America is a nation of laws and not of men. But he might have added that, first and foremost, it is a nation of ideas. Princes will come and go. Presidents, too. But the ideals that underpinned our founding are eternal. They are not linked inextricably to one man or one woman; they should not be abandoned in a transient fit of pique; their utility is not contingent upon the moment. If National Review stands for anything, it is for those ideals. We did not concede them in the face of capital-H History. We did not forfeit them for the coming of the Age of Aquarius. We sure as heck aren’t relinquishing them now.
I am proud of the team with which I work. It is sharp, intellectually diverse, and brave to a man. We are now, as we have always been, a conservative journal of opinion. Our ideological enemies are collectivism, Jacobinism, and those who believe that it is possible to create New Soviet Man. But we have never let this common purpose prevent us from hashing out our own views, and helping to define, and to shape, conservatism itself. As those of you who read National Review frequently will have noticed, we are presently arguing vehemently about a whole of things: The nature and consequences of liberalism; the appropriate limits of executive power; the virtues, or lack thereof, of free trade; and, yes, we are debating all aspects of the Trump presidency.
I know of few publications that can simultaneously play host to a Michael Brendan Dougherty and a Kevin Williamson. I know of few publications that invite their various factions to argue passionately with one another, let alone that record those arguments and put them up on the internet for all to hear. William F. Buckley Jr. wrote that “it seems altogether possible that did National Review not exist, no one would have invented it.” He was right. It was invented only once, and it remains unique to this day.
It also remains a for-profit organization that has never made a profit. Our contributions are written in large letters on the face of American history, but they are invariably written in red ink. This year, as last year, as the years before that, we rely upon you to keep us afloat. And, as at Dunkirk, it is the flotilla of little boats that saves our day.
Your contribution to our Webathon effort — which seeks both general support and funds to underwrite the costly legal effort to defend free speech brought down upon us in Mann v. National Review — is important. That is an understatement, as is this: No matter the amount of support, large or small, anything offered is appreciated deeply. You can make your contribution here.
P.S.: Your generous contribution supports the journalism, commentary, and opinion writing published in National Review magazine and on National Review Online. If you prefer to send a check, please mail it to National Review, ATTN: Fall 2019 Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036.
Please note that contributions to National Review, Inc., while vitally important, are not tax deductible.