The Statist, Ruling Class's New Hero -- Bill Buckley?

It's easy to use the deceased to claim support for one's positions. The dead aren't around to deny, rebut, and refute false or misleading statements.

William F. Buckley, Jr., intellectual giant and "maker" of the conservative movement, has of late become a crutch for statists and ruling-class elites to denigrate the Tea Parties and the surge of the constitutional, small-government conservative movement.

Liberals trying to smear the Tea Party cause and constitutional, small-government conservative candidates by referring to Buckley are, however, attempting to rewrite history to suit their own agendas and ideology.

For example, E.J. Dionne writes in Monday's Washington Post, "[W]hereas responsible conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr. denounced the [John] Birchers and the rest of the lunatic fringe back then, Republicans this time are riding the radical wave."

Steve Benen of the liberal Washington Monthly recently shed crocodile tears in a post entitled, "Where have you gone, William F. Buckley, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you," claiming that "the conservative movement appears to have gone berserk." Benen laid charges of "an unprecedented mainstreaming of once fringe far-right ideas."

In my appearance on CNN's Parker Spitzer show last week, co-host Kathleen Parker tried that gambit with me. Here's a part from the exchange reported by Newsbusters of the Media Research Center:

PARKER: First of all, you started in 1961, here in New York City, with William F. Buckley, and I'm wondering if you think that today's Republican Party is William F. Buckley's party?

VIGUERIE: The Republican Party is not the party that Bill Buckley would want today, but it's moving in that direction.

What was left on CNN's editing room floor was my longer explanation of how Bill Buckley spent the better part of sixty years working against the Kathleen Parkers in the Republican Party.

From his book, God and Man at Yale, through opposing Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller, reluctantly supporting Richard Nixon, and helping co-found the Conservative Party of New York because the NY GOP had been captured by liberal Republicans to running for New York City mayor against big-government Republican John Lindsay, Buckley was tirelessly consistent in his opposition to big-government Republicans.

Buckley was for freedom over statism, and he often found members of the Republican Party offering no real alternative to statism. Buckley even was a sometime critic of Ronald Reagan.

Buckley was many things, but two of his most underappreciated qualities were that he was a populist and a constitutionalist. He once famously said, "I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."

Any large movement has its share of miscreants, and Buckley did spend about one or two percent of his time ostracizing certain people on the right whose outrageous comments distracted from the mission of the conservative movement.

If the liberal intelligentsia were honest brokers, they could spend most of their time berating the extremists, kooks, and flakes on the left, beginning within the Democratic Congressional Caucus or the Obama White House and working outward to many of the left-wing coalitions, organizations, and even media members who are their support network.

Why, for example, are E.J. Dionne and other liberals silent about House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers' October 2010 appearance before a meeting of the Democratic Socialists of America, a Marxist organization, or the Communist Party's participation in and support for the October 2 One Nation rally, including this post at Barack Obama's Organizing for America website by the National Chairman of the Communist Party USA?

And where were the so-called "reasonable" liberals when other liberals protested Bill Buckley's speeches on college campuses, when liberal Gore Vidal called him a "crypto-Nazi," or when, more contemporarily, another liberal wrote, "Bill Buckley, sniveling racist, dies."

The maturing but still nascent, populist-driven Tea Party and the resurgence of the constitutional small-government conservative movement are very much consistent with Buckley's views. Marxists, Dionne, Benen, Parker, and other statist, ruling-class elites would prefer Republicans who offer little resistance to them. However, they cannot, try as they may, credibly paint the free-market, deficit-reduction, constitutional principles of the Tea Party or the everyday Americans rising in protest as radically fringe.

In my last conversation with Buckley twenty months before he died, he told me that George W. Bush was conservative, but not a conservative. Buckley would have assuredly been driven to his chastising and majestically acerbic pen by the revelation after his death that Bush himself denigrated the conservative movement while in the White House.

I wish he were around to see this movement, especially emerging out of the disastrous past decade of big-government Republicanism, and to refute the statists and ruling class members who have misused his name for their own ideological purposes.

And since they are engaging in speculative talk, allow me to do the same: If Bill Buckley were alive today, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Gadsden flag flying on his yacht.

For those who want to learn more about what Bill Buckley really thought and did, read Buckley himself, such as God and Man at Yale and Up from Liberalism. Also, I highly recommend Lee Edwards' new magnificent biography of Buckley, The Maker of the Movement.

This past weekend, Richard A. Viguerie received Young Americans for Freedom's highest honor, the Guardian of Freedom Award. YAF was founded in September 1960 at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of the Buckley family.
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