The greatest force for good in a politically divided landscape is the voice of reason. William F. Buckley Jr., one of the greatest icons of conservatism in the 1960’s, was just such a force for good. His legacy isn’t one of division or hatred, but rather intellectual honesty and truth.
Buckley didn’t leave room for political ignorance or outlandish rhetoric on “The Firing-Line,” his infamous TV series. He had a certain way with words that left his political opponents in shock, but showed poise and restraint. Moments of mutual respect and camaraderie were frequent on the series, even after a heated debate.
Buckley brought sanity to speech, something which is vitally important to an America divided by misinformation and polarized politics. And, even more rare nowadays, many Democrats who were alive during Buckley’s fame would say they respected him.
A revival of this honesty is slowly showing gains, as people find the partisan world even more appalling than ever before. However, this revival won’t take place in the halls of Washington. The future of conservatism lies in university classrooms, through grassroots activism and a new political identity.
Conservatives often see college as hell on earth; however, this very same polarization can let reason shine through. The Pew Research Center reports that half of all millennials don’t identify with any specific political party. Further, only 31% believe there are major differences between the 2 parties.
With this information in mind, one can better see the opportunity for logic-based politics to find traction on campus. In most cases, it’s the faculty of a university that allows bias to dominate the classroom. This has almost caused an inverse reaction by students, who feel politically isolated and marginalized.
While Pew reports that this same group tends to lean liberal, that tilt could likely be traced to a lack of exposure to alternative perspectives. Millennials are one of the most socially cognizant and emotionally motivated groups in recent history. These emotions, however, are many times based on false precepts which use victimhood to propel an untrue narrative. Even still, it should be noted that these liberals base their beliefs on what they believe to be true–even if we know it’s not.
If Buckley had a chance to share his take on the greatest issues facing our country, I’d bet that most millennials would agree with his approach. While Buckley has passed on, his legacy should not fall on deaf ears. Students are our country’s future, they will be the innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs of the future.
It’s time for conservatives to create a new, logic-based political movement, redefine politics, and save the future.