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The Conservative Legacy of William F. Buckley Jr.

Evening Program with Book Signing

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0326

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William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan after an episode of Buckley’s public affairs TV program Firing Line, 1967

A decade after World War II, William F. Buckley Jr. set out to fuse disparate and squabbling elements on the American political right into an effective and influential political movement. Binding them together were an intense opposition to communism (whether foreign or domestic); faith in free markets; a desire for less federal intrusion into the American economy; dedication to constitutional norms and effective checks on authority; and adherence to Judeo-Christian teachings as the best guarantors of liberty.

In the half-century that followed, Buckley’s ideas, once considered fringe, became integrated into the American political mainstream. The apex of their influence and wide acceptance culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan as the nation’s 40th president.

In subsequent years, grassroots conservatives began to question the value of tried-and-true conservative policies such as tax cuts, trade agreements, and an assertive American presence abroad. By the 2016 election, disagreements within the movement burst into the open. Presidential historian Alvin Felzenberg considers what Buckley’s movement achieved and what may befall it in the age of Trump.

Felzenberg’s book A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. (Yale University Press) is available for sale and signing after the program.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)