On November 24th 1925, in New York City, William F. Buckley, Jr. was born. His legacy in the political sphere is the equivalence of Issac Newton to science. His beliefs live on as a role model for conservative activists and ethical statesmen alike.
Buckley lived through some of America’s most tumultuous times, yet he had the ability to dedicate himself to finding intellectual success. In the years leading up to WWII, Buckley’s family took in a little known British refugee by the name of Alistair Horne. Horne and Buckley grew together, and their friendship is a testament to the legacy we see today. Horne became a world renowned British historian. Buckley’s father, William F Buckley, Sr., was a friend of Albert Jay Nock, a well respected libertarian author. He encouraged his son to learn from Nock’s works and most definitely had an impact on Buckley’s economic perspectives.
To many liberals’ disbelief, Buckley attended the National Autonomus University Of Mexico in 1943. He went on to join the US Army and achieved the prestigious rank of Second Lieutenant and became one of FDR’s funeral honor guardsmen. Following his military involvement in the world war, Buckley joined the ranks of legends at Yale. His studies included History, Economics, and Political Science. Graduating in 1950, he felt his time on campus left him with a biased worldview that was unacceptable. Only one year later, he wrote the first book titled God and Man at Yale. In the novel, he explains his distaste for the dwindling of traditional values on campus, and most importantly, the Christian roots that he felt were vital to academia.
In 1951, Buckley was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency and served in Mexico for a total 9 months. During his service, Buckley learned many things about US foreign policy, and this helped influence his later written works.
While Buckley’s life was unique, his greatest impact came from the world renowned show “Firing Line” which happened thanks to a failed attempt to run for New York mayor in 1965. The show was one that many conservatives look to today, as he hosted stars from Reagan to Noam Chomsky. His choice vocabulary would leave guests awkwardly squirming in their seats. He utilized aggressive interviewing techniques that many times forced the opposing side to think critically.
So, Buckley obviously had an interesting life, and he impacted the political sphere of the 60’s. But what about today?
In the 21st century, students depend on the values that Buckley laid out in his writings and speeches. He believed that Americas best strength came through unity. A unity of dedicated individuals, rallying behind shared values and ethics which were rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. He fought for free-market and the Chicago school of economic thought. These very same principles of freedom were engraved in a document known as the Sharon Statement. Written in 1960, inside Buckley’s own home in Sharon Connecticut, the piece outlined the responsibility of young conservatives on campus.
This work became the cornerstone for Young Americans For Freedom (YAF), an organization that has worked relentlessly to fight bias on campus, and is arguably the greatest living testament to Buckley.