William F. Buckley has passed away. It was either last night or early this morning. I am completely taken by surprise by this. I knew he was sick, has been for a while, but there was no signs he was about to go. He was working on a book, his memoirs of Barry Goldwater. I was truly looking forward to reading, and he also had plans for a book about Ronald Reagan.
Although I have never met either one, Buckley and Reagan have no doubt had a profound impact and influence on my views of the political spectrum. Buckley definitely played a bigger part in forming my views though.
I have to go back to my early teens to recount my knowledge of Buckley. I was 13, 14 years old and school was never my forte. I absolutely hated school. For me school was like this prison and I felt like I was being controlled. When I feel like that, I try to escape. I revolt, and don’t want any part of it. So school was not very productive for me. I did learn some things there, but most of my learning and my desire to learn came from outside the classroom.
At that time, Desert Storm had just kicked off in Iraq, and I was already a news junkie. I was glued to the TV, reading newspapers and magazines every chance I got. I remember being at a friend’s house and seeing for the first time a copy of National Review and reading Buckley’s column. I was completely taken in by it. It was the things Buckley wrote in those columns that created my desire to learn. His elegant use of the English language was motivation for me to read, write, speak and expand my vocabulary the best I could.
Buckley is simply irreplaceable. There will never be another one like him. Even though he inspired me to learn as much as I can, it didn’t help in the classroom. I went to college at 18 and struggled for a year. I flunked out, showed up for every class and still flunked. I just couldn’t hack the classroom environment. I could read, loved to read, just not textbooks. In fact, one of my all time favorite books is Buckley’s “God and Man at Yale.” I read it when I was 16. I still love to read and can read a 200 page book in two days or less.
Anyways, I quit school. I remember telling my parents I quit school. I think it may have been the most disappointing day of their life. I am still the only one of their children without a college degree. My two brothers both have bachelor’s degrees. So far I am making it without one, but I have recently given another stab at school. So far I am doing all right.
I have learned so much from the writings of Buckley. He has helped shape my views on politics and culture. In fact my understanding of lowering taxes to generate revenue came from Buckley.
I have since become a writer myself and have been published in several newspapers, magazines and online publications. One of the lessons I have taken from Buckley is to not compromise my beliefs. Just like Buckley there are some issues I find myself at odds with conservatives.
Buckley advocated for the decriminalization of marijuana, and I agree. I think we should end the non-winnable war on drugs and spend the money on prevention. Buckley came to oppose the Iraq war. Although I don’t oppose the war itself, at times I have been highly critical about how the Bush administration has handled the war. We both agreed President Bush is not a conservative. The only thing I think I ever fully disagreed with Buckley on was the giving up control of the Panama Canal.
Buckley was definitely one of the greatest intellectual writers of my time. If I can be half of the writer he was I will consider it a success.
Ronald Reagan is usually given credit to being the leader of the modern day conservative movement, but before Reagan, there was William F. Buckley Jr.
Buckley was the true founder of the modern day conservative movement and by far the greatest conservative mind of our time.
Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show host of “Firing Line,” trans-oceanic sailor, and elegant master of the English language, the 1950 Yale honor graduate was able to legitimize conservatism as an intellectual and political movement with intelligent, educated, witty charm never seen before.
In 1955 Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review and declared his proposal to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop’ at a time when no one was inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it.” Through his efforts he revived conservative ideology.
Buckley helped found the Young Americans for Freedom in 1960.
Buckley had a falling out with liberal Republicans in New York City in 1961 and was among the founders of the Conservative Party. He was the party’s candidate for mayor in 1965, running with a deep distaste against liberal republican Mayor John V. Lindsay. Buckley had no intentions of winning and when asked what he would do if he won, he said, “I’d demand a recount.”
Buckley also found himself at odds with the archconservative group John Birch Society, who were a growing force in the 1950s and 1960s. His articles cost the group their respectability with conservatives and Richard Nixon once said. “I couldn’t have accomplished that. Liberals couldn’t have, either.”