Mytheos Holt

In the ongoing dust-up over tactics currently dominating conservative sites – turning former comrades against each other and causing many consternation about the fate of the GOP – it was probably inevitable that the name of William F. Buckley Jr would be brought up at some point.

Given that Buckley, in contemporary terms, was to many generations of conservatives what Jon Stewart is to the current generation of liberals (a witty, biting, contrarian commentator with a flair for style as great as his flair for beating his opponents in debate), this is unsurprising. Given that Buckley was also arguably the organizational as well as intellectual founder of the modern right, it is appropriate. Given that Buckley is also the author of the famous “Buckley rule,” (i.e., that Republicans should nominate “the rightmost viable candidate”) it is to be expected. And finally, given that Buckley was the founder of National Review, which recently dipped its toes in the tactical water with an editorial titled “Against Despair,” it is practically mandatory.

The invocation of Buckley comes, in this case, from Erick Erickson at Redstate, who taken the occasion to reply to National Review’s editorial in no uncertain terms thusly:

In 1955, William F. Buckley wrote,

Conservatives in this country — at least those who have not made their peace with the New Deal, and there is serious question whether there are others — are non-licensed nonconformists; and this is dangerous business in a liberal world, as every editor of this magazine can readily show by pointing to his scars. Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by the liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.

Mytheos Holt

Mytheos Holt is an Associate Policy Analyst with the R Street Institute