William F. Buckley Jr. had a special ability to bring people together. The movement he founded was rich and diverse, representing a wide spectrum of those on the Right, from traditionalists to free-market libertarians. Over the years, National Review has represented and promoted — both in theory and practice — fusionism; the bringing together of those who have much more in common than they do not, to defend and advance shared principles necessary for a free and prosperous society. This is a vital component of the NR mission — one that is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We know that our movement is stronger, and our ideas win, when we stand together, rather than apart and siloed.
National Review Institute — the non-profit 501(c)(3) journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission — preserves this critical part of Bill Buckley’s legacy. Through our wide range of educational and outreach programs, the Institute works to strengthen our movement and bring together the broadest cohort of conservatives possible. We firmly believe that we can accomplish more when we work together. The Left certainly knows this; they celebrate when we attack and weaken each other, and they fear us when we are united in purpose and to a common cause.
By supporting NRI, you help strengthen our movement and advance our cause. NRI’s 2019 End-of-Year Fund Appeal is currently underway, a campaign that I hope you will generously support with a tax-deductible donation.
Perhaps there is no better example of this than NRI’s biennial Ideas Summit held in Washington, D.C., a two-day conference which brings together dozens of right-of-center leaders — Administration officials, academics, public intellectuals, journalists, and philanthropists — and nearly 500 conservatives and libertarians from all over the country. The Summit carries on the Institute’s tradition of convening consequential leaders to discuss timely and important topics. While the Ideas Summit has garnered increased attention in press, including regular coverage by C-Span and other news outlets, what readers of National Review may not know is that the idea of such a gathering actually originated in the early 1990s.
In the years following her tenure as Prime Minister, Bill Buckley invited Margaret Thatcher to chair an annual conference, alternating between America and Europe, at which distinguished public figures, intellectuals, and younger conservatives (with the occasional formidable liberal to add spice to the argument) would hold critical debates on fundamental topics such as nations and nationalism, virtue in politics, welfare state versus welfare society, and so on. It was a little like an international version of Firing Line. Mrs. (later Baroness) Thatcher accepted this invitation, and NRI hosted these conferences for six years. One participant described these weekends as “like being in a George Bernard Shaw play about a riotously intellectual country house weekend.” Many of the papers that came out of this conference were subsequently published in National Review and elsewhere. Margaret Thatcher came back fighting and re-established herself as Britain’s dominant public figure in or out of office.
The most recent Summit held in March 2019 was no different in terms of caliber and content than those during the Institute’s early years. This year’s Summit included Congressman Dan Crenshaw, Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, David Keating, Leonard Leo, John Yoo, Tucker Carlson, Brooke Rollins, Kevin Hassett, Robert Bryce, Mike Sommers, Reihan Salam, Tammy Bruce, and Harmeet Dhillon, as well as Rich Lowry and Charles C. W. Cooke of National Review and NRI fellows such as Kevin D. Williamson, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Jay Nordlinger, among others.
Where else can you find in one place such an impressive and diverse list of leading thinkers and doers in our movement actively engaging important ideas with clear thinking, passion, wit, and civility? I submit to you: Not many.
Recent Summits have included themes such as “Working on a Path Towards Conservatism” and “The Case for the American Experiment.” Topics have ranged from the philosophical defense of American Conservatism and constitutional order to the pragmatic policy solutions that will ensure our freedoms and way of life. This important biennial event demonstrates the Institute’s commitment to rich intellectual engagement and the important role that it plays in carrying on William F. Buckley Jr.’s legacy, specifically the ability to gather and guide the movement and bring together diverse viewpoints. One attendee from the last Summit concluded: “If someone wants to absorb as much information as possible on politics, policy, ideas, etc. in a 36-hour period, the Ideas Summit is the best use of their time I could think of.”
In his opening remarks during the 2017 Summit, NR editor in chief Rich Lowry noted that the conference is “devoted to the proposition that we can disagree, perhaps sharply, but do it civilly, and do it in a spirit of mutual commitment to advancing the American Project.” This, in so many ways, sums up the work of National Review Institute.
I hope that you believe this a worthwhile endeavor. If so, please consider supporting End-of-Year Fund Appeal. NRI can only do the important work that it does thanks to our generous supporters and the broader NR Nation. A tax-deductible gift today by you will help us carry on Buckley’s legacy, support NR’s best talent, and, importantly, bring conservatives together.