Thursday, February 28, 2008
I was going to write a long post on Bill Buckley, but Ilya Somin has said most of what I would have said. In so many ways, Buckley made the Reagan coalition possible. By helping to marginalize antisemites and other fringe groups from conservative right, while at the same time pursuing an alliance of sorts with libertarians, Buckley broadened and strengthened the Right, and helped make the Reagan revolution possible. Buckely continued these actions into the 90s, including strictly scrutinizing Pat Buchanan's behavior.
I do not see myself as a follower of Buckley's world view. While he was a conservative, who was open to some libertarian ideas, I am much more of a libertarian, who appreciates the limits that conservatism places on the utopian aspects of libertarianism. Rather, Buckley's importance for me was that his fusionist perspective allowed me to be more receptive to conservative ideas at a time when I was a pure libertarian, who had no sympathy for conservatism at all. Buckley's positions permitted me to feel more comfortable with conservativism. Current day conservatives, like Fred Barnes or David Brooks, have had the opposite effect on me.
His passing makes it all the harder, yet all the more important, for fusionists to succeed in strengthening the ties between libertarians and conservatives.