James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Conservative Victory

The LRC blog is, in many ways justifiably, critical of William F. Buckley, the main reason being Buckley's hawkish foreign policy.

But if Buckley's National Review never existed, would the USA's insane anti-Castro foreign policy still come into place? Yes. The Vietnam War? Yes. The downfall of the Soviet bloc? Yes, because Communism doesn't work.

Is National Review responsible for the War on Drugs? Buckley was against it.

What, then, did Buckley's "Conservative Movement" accomplish?

It did inspire a generation of politicians and activists, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, which in turn inspired the 1994 Republican Revolution.

And what was the result of that?

Federal spending as a share of GDP fell from 20.7% in 1995 to 18.4% in 2000 - the lowest in 35 years, before Great Society programs were passed and Vietnam heated up.

Looking back, that's remarkable, and the anti-government climate that made it possible was created to a significant degree by William F. Buckley and those he inspired.

Milton Friedman once said that if the combined work of every economist who ever lived was able to persuade the world's governments to reduce tariffs by an average of one-tenth of one percent, they would have done their job well.

Perhaps something similar could be said of the Conservative Movement, which I think died long before Buckley did. Before George W. Bush wrecked it, the Movement had in many ways taken the country in a positive direction.

I have other thoughts on Buckley two posts down.

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