- - Monday, November 19, 2018



By F.H. Buckley

Encounter Books, $23.99, 187 pages

F.H. Buckley, a foundation professor at George Mason University’s Scalia School of Law, a contributor to a variety of journals and author of three previous books, came to the United States in 1989 as an immigrant from Canada, believing that “Americans are the most generous and admirable of people,” with an absolute faith in the truth and efficacy of the American Dream.

The great strength of our society has always been that we can rise as high as our talents and abilities can take us, with no artificial class or caste barriers to our progress. However, as Mr. Buckley now believes, although we remain admirable and generous — “a country of people hard on the outside and soft on the inside” (a view developed in part from watching old John Ford Westerns; and absolutely nothing wrong with that) — we are also “among the worst governed in the First World.”

Part of the problem is that our instruments of government and much of the policy setting apparatus of both political parties have gradually fallen under control of “a privileged group that Christopher Lasch, and before him Milovan Djilas, called the New Class.”

This New Class are the professionals who control policy creation and direction for the administrative state, operate the approved media outlets, set much of the policy for both non-profit and increasingly for-profit enterprises, shape much of the curricula for our colleges and universities, and in general oversee our national system of public education.

Their professed allegiance is generally to the ideals of the old New Deal, which they claim to revere. But in fact, writes Mr. Buckley, they represent “something that we’ve never seen before: a liberalism that has given up on the American Dream of a mobile and classless society. And that brought us to the paradox of the 2016 election, when the liberal candidate of a counterrevolutionary and aristocratic New Class was defeated by a revolutionary capitalist offering a path to social mobility.”

The old New Deal revolutionaries have become counterrevolutionaries, fierce in defense of their gains and the status quo. “They have bought into a radical leftism, while resisting the call to unseat a patrician class that leftists in the past would have opposed. They tell us that aristocracy is natural, and that they deserve their place at the top of the totem pole.”

During his campaign, Donald Trump told Americans that this could be changed. As he put it to a reporter, “‘You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry.’” He promised a return to an America in which the American Dream was available to all children. “He said that his opponent was corrupt and had given up on the promise of America. That is how to understand the Trump revolution. That is why he won.”

Mr. Buckley, in addition to this learned, spirited, and highly readable defense of Donald Trump and explication of his defining philosophy, has also made other concrete contributions to the victory and the early White House days, working on the campaign, advising on transition matters, helping with communication and speechwriting.

He also gives credit in this area to his wife, Esther Goldberg, and to the American Spectator’s editor and founder, Bob Tyrrell, “a longtime hero of the conservative movement whose magazine (of which Mr. Buckley is a senior editor) was the only pro-Trump journal in town.”

For the most part, with the notable exceptions of Bob Tyrrell and Daniel McCarthy, formerly editor of The American Conservative and now editor of Russell Kirk’s Modern Age, his opinions of the editors and writers of the conservative journals who have collaborated in the Never-Trump movement are less than positive. In general, be believes that conservative leadership is tired, out of ideas, willing to feed on the crumbs they’re allowed by the functionaries of the New Class.

And what of the future? Will the idea of Republican Workers Party naturally gain adherents and expand? Or will it ultimately go the way of the Nixon/Agnew New American Majority or the phenomenon of the Reagan Democrats? And how much does it depend on leadership?

Many hope, writes Mr. Buckley, that once Donald Trump has left office, “things might revert to the status quo ante, with two complacent parties ignoring the issues that got Trump elected.” But this won’t happen, Mr. Buckley believes, because “the causes he identified will continue to dominate American politics.”

• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide