Magazine | March 19, 2018, Issue

Letters

Rejecting Despair
While admitting that William F. Buckley Jr. himself would probably have a more optimistic take, Richard Brookhiser writes: “The conservative movement is no more. Its destroyers are Donald Trump and his admirers” (“WFB Today,” March 5). This reminds me of a line from Lawrence of Arabia: “Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it.” If the ideals of the conservative movement are sound, then there is no reason why they cannot one day rise to prominence again in American politics. The challenges faced by WFB dwarf those we confront in the early 21st century.

Buckley and his allies confronted not only a statist post–WWII political consensus in both major American political parties, but also a Marxist ideology with intellectual defenders around the world and a serious propaganda operation bankrolled by a major nuclear-armed nation-state. Furthermore, the costs associated with publishing even a humble magazine of political commentary were high, and the risks much greater, in a world dominated by the Big Three broadcasters and a few big-city newspapers. Rockefeller Republicanism, a strain of tax-and-spend big-government paternalism, was a major force in American politics, and libertarian economists such as Hayek were still viewed as fringe radicals or out-of-date throwbacks. And yet: National Review endures, the Soviet Union is no more, and, outside of a few sociology departments, Marxism truly is in the ash heap of history. Against this, sycophants defending a man who could not secure a majority of Republican-party-primary votes seem small.

How do we move forward now? In short, look to the states for creative conservative reforms, hold fast to first principles, and show a large amount of grace toward like-minded thinkers and political actors who have disappointed over the past few years. I do not know whether it is an unforgivable sin, but I know that the country and the cause of limited government and free markets cannot afford to see the conservative movement embrace despair.

Michael A. Wood
Dallas, Texas

Correction
“The Resegregation Myth” (March 5) requires two corrections. Board of Education v. Dowell concerned a school district in Oklahoma, not Kentucky, and the economist Raj Chetty now works at Stanford, not Harvard.

The Editors — The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue

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Letters

Rejecting Despair While admitting that William F. Buckley Jr. himself would probably have a more optimistic take, Richard Brookhiser writes: “The conservative movement is no more. Its destroyers are Donald Trump ...
The Week

The Week

• We don’t even want public-school teachers teaching our kids. • Historically, the National Rifle Association has derived its political power from two sources. The first is the broad popularity of ...
Poetry

Poetry

Sometimes the frost comes early when it might have held its crystallizing of the leaves.
Happy Warrior

Brushing Alone

Your views on Delta Airlines and Hertz rental cars now correspond to how compelling you found the cable-news appearances of a survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

Most Popular

Elections

Weirdo O’Rourke

Friends of the young Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spoke of the special glow of promise they had about them, even back in their early twenties. Angels sat on their shoulders. History gave them a wink and said, “Hey, good lookin’, I’ll be back to pick you up later.” Robert O’Rourke? Not so much. He ... Read More
Education

Our Bankrupt Elite

Every element of the college admissions scandal, a.k.a “Operation Varsity Blues,” is fascinating. There are the players: the Yale dad who, implicated in a securities-fraud case, tipped the feds off to the caper; a shady high-school counselor turned admissions consultant; the 36-year-old Harvard grad who ... Read More
U.S.

McCain at Annapolis

President Trump has been doing a lot of tweeting today -- against TV programs, companies, and other things that have incurred his displeasure. These tweets make for interesting reading. One of them is this: So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent ... Read More