I’m back from California and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which was a great treat for me because he was my boss over 40 years ago.
I was deeply honored and humbled at the National Review gala dinner, where I received the William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Leadership in Political Thought. I want to thank everybody involved in putting that fabulous dinner together and I also want to thank our viewers who showed such a keen interest in my speech.
Bill Buckley was a dear friend, starting when I was on the National Review staff and continuing many years later. He and Pat looked after me during some of the most difficult moments in my life. Bill liked me — a lot, but he loved my saintly wife, Judy.
He was a concert pianist and at numerous dinner parties, he would haul Judy to the piano bench while they played duets together in front of all kinds of folks. It was unforgettable. Imagine learning conservative political thought and action from both Ronald Reagan and Bill Buckley. It has been a great gift in my time.
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At the National Review gala, I spoke about the totalitarian evils of socialism and the urgent importance of stopping America’s socialist drift and restoring freedom, free market capitalism and free enterprise so we can regain the American spirit and the ideal of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As Reagan said, “freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.” That quote has never been more important than during the last two years as under President Biden, America has taken a sharp turn to the left.
Inflationary federal spending, accommodated by huge money-printing, big tax increases and an unbelievable increase in regulations that have become the left’s biggest weapon for central planning and state control of the economy, including the war against fossil fuels.
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Along the way, the progressive agenda has undermined the dignity of work and the incentives to do it. We’ve seen destruction of American sovereignty with open borders, with the accompanying sex and drug trafficking, the breakdown of law and order and the scourge of poisonous fentanyl.
Culturally, the left has invaded our schools with racial and gender nonsense, rewriting American history and trying to keep parents away from their children’s education. In a little more than a year, the economy has gone from a prosperity boom to a stagflationary bust. We must remember Bill Buckley’s admonition that sometimes we need to stand athwart history and yell “stop!”
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Bill Buckley believed in freedom, free markets and capitalism. He was a strong anti-communist and warned repeatedly of the evils of totalitarianism. He was a religious man, a high church Catholic, a strong opponent of abortion and defender of the life of the unborn. Bill Buckley also taught us the importance of civility in arguments with those who disagree. He was a teacher.
In many ways, Bill was the father of modern conservatism. His values may look old-fashioned, even out of date today, but I don’t think so. Those values and principles may be even more important today than when he first wrote “God and Man at Yale.” They are unifying principles.
I worked for Reagan, Buckley and Donald Trump. To me, in my life and career, that was a blessing. I know their styles were different, a few tweets here and there, but I also know their principles on limited government, taxes, spending, regulations, sovereignty, parents, work and the sanctity of life were the same.
The cavalry is coming and it is a conservative cavalry, but now more than ever, we need conservative unity. The battle for freedom never comes easy. Freedom is a fragile thing. We need to work hard together to preserve it.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the October 3, 2022, edition of “Kudlow.’
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