What NRI has to offer our country
There are many causes in the world, and many good ones. May I suggest a donation to the National Review Institute? (Contribute here.) It’s tax-deductible. And you will get a good bang for your buck: the dissemination of the kind of conservatism espoused and personified by William F. Buckley Jr.
What is involved in such conservatism, such thinking, such an outlook? The rule of law. American constitutionalism. Good citizenship. Personal responsibility. Righteous little platoons. Free markets. And so on. Rarely has our country needed the basics so much as it does now. The basics are either misunderstood or outright opposed, from various quarters. Where are the defenders of free markets? The voice of statism is loud. The lure of government power is strong. You will find defenders of free markets at NRI. And of freedom across the board.
There is not only the what and the why but the how. What are the philosophical underpinnings of a free society? Why do we need them, again? Also: How do we communicate right ideas? Argue for them, defend them, promote them?
Last summer, I participated in an NRI conference — a William F. Buckley Jr. Communicators Conference. I spoke to college students about how WFB went about his business. How he thought, how he talked, how he wrote. How he debated. Right reasoning and persuasion were the name of his game (helped along by abundant wit and charm).
For the last 25 years or so, people all over the country have told me, “Bill Buckley made me the conservative I am today.” Alternatively, people tell me, “I’m not a conservative, but I respected Bill Buckley — even loved him — and I learned a lot from him.”
It is important, obviously, to reach the young — to offer them what Buckley-style conservatives have to offer. To put our ideas on the menu for them. (Are their teachers or professors going to do it for them?) But we don’t leave grown-ups out of the picture — people of any and all ages.
Last spring, I had the pleasure of leading an NRI book club, focused on George Orwell. Talk about back to basics! Orwell may not have been a conservative, as we understand it, but, boy, did he have Communism’s number. He had a lot of numbers. Through NRI, we read Animal Farm, 1984, and “The Politics of the English Language.” Those works never go out of style. They are ever applicable (for better or worse). In our Zoom boxes, we had interesting and wide-ranging conversations. There is such a thing as “continuing ed” — continuing education, or lifelong learning — and NRI does not neglect it.
Such learning is enriching, yes. But it’s also fun. WFB wasn’t opposed to a little fun — or a lot of fun — and neither are we.
So, thank you for considering a donation (again, here). These are tumultuous times. Times are always tumultuous. But in some periods, you may agree, there are extra doses of tumult, which we are experiencing now. The National Review Institute provides a ballast.