A classic article from Jerome Tuccille.
Nor is it any longer a question of libertarians criticizing conservatives for their “over-indulgence of state welfarism.” The issue of state warfarism took precedence over that one long ago. The responsibility for the national disgrace brought about by our military presence in Southeast Asia now rests just as squarely on the shoulders of Nixon and Laird as it ever did on Johnson and Rusk.
The mass destruction of the lives and property of innocent civilians – especially by a gargantuan power like the United States – is a thousand times more serious, morally speaking, than the domestic liberal sins of deficit spending and inflation. And as far as that issue is concerned, there has been far more talk of decentralization and local control of institutions and public money on the Left than in the pages of National Review in recent years. Even left-liberals have begun to recognize the follies of corporate-liberalism and to call for reforms, so Buckley is whipping a dead horse when he attempts to raise the specter of laissez-faire “lunacies” on the libertarian Right.
The real issue is the erosion of Buckley’s power base in right-wing circles – an erosion that came into the open with the defection of Karl Hess to the Left in 1968, and gained further momentum at the Young Americans for Freedom convention in St. Louis in the summer of 1969. Suddenly Buckley has woken up and realized that there are elements on the Right that don’t take him seriously – that there are economic conservatives in the United States of America who are not at all interested in joining this Unholy Crusade to rid the world of Communists. This is a difficult fact for William F. Buckley to swallow whole, and this is why he has taken to losing his temper in public.
The purpose of this article is to urge others on the Right, others who care about such things as peace and justice and racial harmony, to reevaluate their status vis-à-vis Buckley-style conservatism. To reevaluate and then support political candidates who really mean peace when they say peace; who understand and intend to promote the politics of decentralization, of pollution control, of economic and judicial reform, and so on all the way down the line. To reevaluate and vote those people into office whether they are Left or Right, or of the Center.