The Battle of Ideas Is Raging and NR Needs Ammunition

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May 06 2019



Sen. Bernie Sanders at a news conference introducing the "Medicare for All Act of 2019," April 10, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)


Dear NR Friend,

We live in incredibly consequential times. Everything is up for grabs.

The late, great Charles Krauthammer used to say that American politics is fought between the 40-yard lines, meaning the band of differences between the two parties was relatively narrow. Now it is being fought on the entire playing field, between outright, self-declared socialists and defenders of the traditional American order.

The fight over what political and economic system we will live under is now well and truly joined, and at NR we are thoroughly committed to winning it. Which brings me to our 2019 Spring Webathon.

At National Review, we live for the battle of ideas. A profound understanding of how and why the American project is special is written into our DNA. Our writers and editors care deeply about this debate, not just professionally but personally. This moment in time is literally why William F. Buckley Jr. created NR.

He would surely be dismayed, though, that the fight against socialism is now as urgent and necessary as it's been at any time since the magazine's early years.

We have spent years, nay decades, warning America where Democrats want to take us, always to their fervent yet unconvincing denials. But now they are openly embracing our longstanding indictment of them. It is the Democratic party's Perry Mason moment, when it suddenly breaks down on the witness stand and admits, "Guilty as charged."

We've always said that Democrats want to impose socialized medicine, and here come Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris with their "Medicare for All" plan that, as Harris helpfully explained on national TV, entails eliminating private insurance.

We've always said that left-wing environmentalism is a cloak for an agenda of government coercion, and here comes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the "it girl" of millennial socialism, to propose eliminating the fossil-fuel industry by government fiat, as well as far-reaching changes in our buildings, transportation, industry, and farming (it'd be better if we all grew our produce in our backyards, and, yes, if cows didn't pass gas).

We've always said that, at bottom, Democrats want open borders, and here comes Beto O'Rourke, the "it boy" of unsuccessful Texas Senate candidates, saying he wants to tear down the border wall around El Paso, Texas, because, of course, walls are immoral.

We've always said that Democrats are pro-abortion and favor any abortion in any circumstance, and here come Ralph Northam and legislators in Virginia, New York, and Vermont to remove any doubt that the Democrats are the party of infanticide.

We've pushed back against all of this, and more, as strenuously and often as we can.

I'm not sure any publication has written as frequently and as cogently against the left-wing vision of health care, and in favor of free-market reform, as we have.

We have inveighed against and picked apart the Green New Deal at every opportunity, and recently featured AOC on the cover, alarmed by her least favorite bovine activity.


We have consistently advocated not just for tougher border security, but for reforms to our legal immigration system to make it more truly accord with our national interest, and for a renewed culture of assimilation.

It is a major cause of ours to protect the constitutional order from the left-wing assault against it as allegedly antiquated, unworkable, and unfair.

Finally, we will never let anyone forget the horrors of Communism.


Our next two issues are a twin special issue entirely devoted to the fight against socialism, the first (just out) making the case for markets, the second reminding people of the economic, political, and spiritual failures of socialism.

It is our honor and pleasure—and duty—to do all this, and more.

I'm asking you to pitch in and support this work, which is shaping up as a defining, generational struggle.

As you've heard me say before if you've ever read one of these pitches, journals of political opinion don't make money. They never have and they never will. They are too controversial and too small. Enterprises such as ours depend on the generosity of our readers to survive.

We don't do the lowest-common-denominator clickbait stories necessary to driving mass traffic online. We aren't The Atlantic, a center-left publication that influential New York advertising shops feel an ideological kinship with. We are an unabashedly conservative publication that never has trimmed our sails (and never will) on abortion or guns or marriage or immigration, or any of the other issues that the liberal elite considers out of bounds and disrespectable.

People have the misperception that Bill Buckley was our sugar daddy when he owned the magazine, but he never was. Instead, he made these sort of pitches to our readers (although on paper, via snail mail).

And year after year they responded.

I'm hoping you will, too.

The fact is that if National Review didn't exist, no one would invent it today. Not when everything is geared to instant gratification on Twitter and other social-media platforms, not when the old-fashioned art of persuasion—based on facts and reasoning—is increasingly out of style.

There is no replacing the wit, erudition, passion, and intelligence our writers bring to contemporary controversies in every issue of the print magazine and every hour online.

In the fight against socialism, we need every piece of artillery available to us on the battlefield, and NR is an indispensable howitzer—read by young people just figuring out what they believe, relied on by conservative radio and TV hosts, and impossible for the other side to dismiss.

Please consider making a generous donation today of $50, $75, $100, or $250. And, if your means allow, perhaps a gift of $500 or even $1,000.

Your donation will make it possible for us to continue our work, and continue to grow. Over the last few years we've made the transition from primarily a print publication to primarily a digital one. But the essential mission is the same.

It doesn't matter if the socialist leaders are named Norman Thomas and Beatrice Webb, or Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez...if they get their message out via pamphlets, or Instagram posts from their kitchens...if they favor socialized medicine, or socialized medicine (some things never change)...we will point out the impracticality and immorality of their plans, never let them forget the woeful record of failure of their model, and insist on markets and the rule of law as the greatest inventions of the last 400 years and the keys to human flourishing.

Here we stand, we can do no other. And we hope you will stand with us as we try to raise $175,000. Thanks so much for reading.


Rich Lowry

Anyone interested in a tax-deductible contribution to support the work of National Review Institute, our charitable, 501(c)(3) non-profit sister organization that advances the conservative principles championed by our mutual founder, William F. Buckley Jr., should visit for more information.


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