- Costco status quo: Wholesaler lists Bible as fiction, Ron Burgundy memoir as gospel
- Sarah Palin responds to Martin Bashir’s resignation, praises media
- Obama to send 2 Gitmo terror suspects back to Algeria
- Paul Walker secretly bought $9K wedding ring for Iraq vet
- Mystery sign poster hits Washington state town: ‘It’s OK to say Merry Christmas’
- Pope Francis forms commission to advise on sex abuse
- Anthony Weiner on radio? Cumulus says, ‘Never, ever’
- Executive order: Obama ups green-energy mandate on feds to 20 percent
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- N.Y.’s Rockefeller Center lights up, as Bloomberg flicks on 76-foot Christmas tree
An insider recalls how conservatism took root
UPSTREAM: THE ASCENDANCE OF AMERICAN CONSERVATISM
Threshold Editions, $36, 448 pages
REVIEWED BY JOSEPH C. GOULDEN
As publisher, activist and theorist, Alfred S. Regnery played an important insider’s role in the emergence of conservatism as the dominant political force in the last decades of the 20th century. Permit a minor confession. I spent far too many of my formative years sloshing around the mucky bogs of liberalism. Hence, I can appreciate the enormity of the uphill fight that Mr. Regnery and other early conservatives faced; any true liberal wrote them off as noisy cranks.
But now that I have scraped the leftist mud off my boots, it is fascinating to read the inside story of how conservatism ultimately succeeded. It is told in Mr. Regnery’s “Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism.”
“Upstream,” in essence, is a Baedeker guide to the men and ideas behind conservatism. The underlying theme for the movement was a strong belief in individual freedom and personal responsibility. The task was tough. As Mr. Regnery astutely notes in his opening pages, in the early 1950s “few people would admit to being conservatives at all, and those who did were thought to have lost their minds.”
The conventional wisdom, as preached by the media, academia and leftist foundations, was that liberalism, exemplified by central planning and big government, had conquered the Depression and won a war. Why, then, should not liberal social policies continue to be pursued?
Mr. Regnery painstakingly documents how conservatism achieved its goals of less government and more personal freedom. Its latent strength was intellectual firepower, through thinkers such as Friedrich A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, James Burnham and Russell Kirk, to name only a few.
Their ideas percolated out through journals such as the Freeman, Human Events and, most importantly, National Review, the creation of William F. Buckley, Jr. (Leftist critic Dwight Macdonald dismissed the latter as one of the “scrambled eggheads” for the “intellectually underprivileged.” Buckley, RIP, enjoyed the cackling last laugh).
Mr. Regnery’s father, Henry, became the de facto house publisher for the movement. After his death, the author ran Regnery Publishing, Inc., producing 22 New York Times bestsellers during his tenure. He now publishes the American Spectator.
Anti-communism was a driving force, and Whittaker Chambers’ “Witness” gave eloquent voice to the notion — disdained by much of the left — that the Soviets were bent on destroying the United States and achieving world domination. Indeed, anti-communism gave jump starts to the careers of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
In terms of nuts-and-bolts politics, once conservatism passed through the “idea stage” to seeking elective office, the most fascinating part of “Upstream” deals with fund-raising. Mr. Regnery credits Marvin Liebman, a New York public relations man (and, oddly, a one-time communist) with hitting on the notion of running “cause ads” in major papers (on subjects as admission of Communist China to the UN) and urging readers to send checks to finance future ads.
Over time, he accumulated hundreds of thousands of names on 3-by-5 index cards. A young Liebman acolyte, Richard Viguerie — he first did fund-raising for a Liebman client,Young Americans for Freedom, and eventually ran the group — in due course created his own massive direct-mail operation. What happened thereafter is significant:
Until the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, Mr. Regnery writes, “most money for Republican presidential candidates had come from wealthy contributors and large corporations, usually in large checks.” Realizing early-on that “the big Republican money would not be available to him,” Goldwater resorted to direct mail. More than 500,000 persons sent him checks, and “campaign financing had changed forever.”
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- HARPER: 'Knockout game' not a myth to liberal Sharpton
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Film Reviews and Articles by Kevin Williams
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
White House pets gone wild!