Magazine | March 19, 2018, Issue


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a major force in American politics, and libertarian economists such as Hayek were still viewed as fringe radicals or out-of-date throwbacks.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

“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 comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners




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 ...


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


White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More