- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2007


M. Stanton Evans has been an active force in the conservative movement for more than 50 years, dating back to 1955 when he worked with libertarian writer Frank Chodorov at the Freeman. He later worked at National Review and Human Events, and for many years was editor of the Indianapolis News.

A founder of the Young Americans for Freedom the group that played a key role in helping Sen. Barry Goldwater capture the 1964 Republican presidential nomination Mr. Evans founded the National Journalism Center in 1977 to help train conservative journalists.

Last month, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) sponsored a presentation at the Heritage Foundation by Mr. Evans. His presentation, to a group of Washington interns, was titled “The Role of Conservative Ideas in Practical Politics.” The following are excerpts from that presentation:

You are, most of you, I gather, conservatives, probably also Republicans, and so there’s a little cautionary sign I would raise. That is, try while you’re here to learn as much as you can, and to know as much as you can about the system, but try not to become too immersed in it, too politicized.

The real battle isn’t here. Don’t get too star-struck: “Oh, I got to be in Washington.” Do what you can where you are, back on your campuses, that is the front line now. That’s where the toughest fight is.

The other thing is … don’t get too bogged down in party politics that [are] very superficial and lead you to directions that I think are really not the right direction. Of course, some of our Republican friends are not always the best guides philosophically on certain issues. I won’t get into personalities.

I will recite a little story that I think sums it up. It’s a true story. Back after the fall of the Soviet Empire … [Eastern European leaders] came to Washington to meet with our Congress to find out how we do it. God help them.

They were puzzled by our system. … In Europe … there are a lot of parties, 10 or 11 parties, and they don’t quite understand the two-party system. And so they met with a Republican Senate staffer, and asked him to explain our system. He said, “Yes, we have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party.” He said, “I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party.”

He said, “Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.”

So, don’t get too involved in political parties. Maintain some independence from the party line.

It’s hard to envision, but I was once your age, in college. And I didn’t learn a lot in college. …

I had a philosophy class, [taught] by a man named Paul Watson, a very famous philosophy professor, and he was a socialist, atheist and everything else. But he was a pretty good professor because he was very lively, energetic, and he would let you argue with him. …

My conservatism was already crystallizing pretty obviously. After the class was over, a fellow student I didn’t really know walked over and handed me a card, and said, “You need to get in touch with these people,” and the card was from ISI. And I’d never heard of ISI, and that was one of the most important events of my life, because through ISI, all kinds of things happened and became possible which was not possible before. …

ISI … was a lifeline. You cannot appreciate what it was like then. We say today there is a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Well, it is. And most of the people here today, all of us, I guess, are part of it. But back then it wasn’t even half-vast. …

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