Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley

Although viewed by some within libertarian-circles as a not-to-be-trusted, establishment-Republican, Bill Buckley should be credited for his attempts to fuse the agendas of the libertarian-old right with that of the traditional social conservatives. If anything, he was, to be sure, an intellectual heavyweight, whom placed ideas before party and integrity before all else. Per ex-National Review writer, Jacob Sullum:

Buckley often called himself a libertarian; the subtitle of Happy Days Were Here Again, his 1993 collection of columns and articles, was "Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist." Buckley represented the classical liberal strain of modern American conservatism often enough that his endorsement of statist schemes such as "national service" (or, more recently, tobacco prohibition) caused real dismay. He especially endeared himself to libertarians with his courageous and persistent criticism of the war on drugs, a stance that continues to distinguish National Review from other conservative organs. Although Buckley's support for repealing drug prohibition grew more out of pragmatic concerns than a principled commitment to individual freedom, his prolific writings usually reflected skepticism of government intervention. In recent years this skepticism drove him to question another war popular with conservatives, one that could prove to be as long-lived as the war on drugs, if John McCain has anything to say about it. Buckley, in short, admirably combined an ability to fuse the disparate elements of the conservative coalition with a willingness to break them apart when he thought the stakes were high enough.