On August 18, the conservative movement lost one of its most important and impactful leaders in its history. Former Conservative New York Senator James L. Buckley passed away at age 100. He was a patriot, a conservative and a leader.
There have been many tributes paid to the late Senator, written by individuals far more qualified to do so than I. However, Senator Buckley holds a very special place in my life as I was lucky enough to write to him amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2020 elections. I have never forgotten the words that he wrote to me and cherish those letters dearly.
It is extremely important for young conservatives, such as myself, to remember the legacies of individuals who paved the way before us. When I discovered the late Senator I was shocked that New York was once represented by a conservative, let alone a Buckley. I read everything I could about his life and career and was truly amazed by the sheer dedication he had for his country and the conservative movement as a whole.
While the world seemed to spin out of control in 2020, I decided to reach out to Senator Buckley, then in his late nineties, asking for advice.
“Hold onto your conservative values,” he wrote in his letter to me, “for they have been the source of our most extraordinary past successes.”
Buckley told me to embrace the Constitution, federalism and of course capitalism, for it was these three pillars of our society that made us free. From that moment on I understood what conservatives needed to protect.
The late Senator understood that what made America the greatest nation on earth, was our inherent freedoms that we often take for granted. However, he did warn that we were no longer the “freest” country due to the ever growing presence of the government in our daily lives.
For many Americans, the mismanagement of the pandemic, coupled with the political turmoil that has gripped the nation ever since, has only shed light on just how powerful the federal government is. Not only how powerful it is, but how fragile freedom is. For Senator Buckley, this was the result of decades of government expansion growing quietly in the dark, behind the backs of the American people. It only took a pandemic for us to realize it, but it was something he knew all along.
Senator Buckley’s career is an inspiration to me, as well as countless other young conservatives. In his letter, he told me how happy he was to hear that there were “young Americans” concerned “about the nature of the country you will be living in.”
Young conservatives must now pick up where Buckley and his generation left off, and see to it that their dream of a freer America is realized.
James L. Buckley, thank you for your dedication to this country and to the conservative principles you fought so hard to achieve. Most importantly, however, thank you for being an inspiration to me and countless other young conservatives.
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