In 1955, when Buckley published the first issue of his magazine National Review, he wrote the following:
We conservatives know how he felt. We have all felt discouraged from time to time. Liberalism is hard to defeat because it sounds good to the uninformed. In spite of that, Buckley gave so much impetus to conservatism that we elected our greatest president, Ronald Reagan, as a result of Buckley's legacy.
If National Review is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
I remember the 1960's and how futile it felt to be a conservative at that time. I remember reading National Review and, though I appreciated its views, I felt that it was a small, unique voice clamoring for attention, and that building a conservative majority would be a nearly impossible task.
I remember standing in a drug store and looking at the magazine rack. There, among the plethora of liberal magazines, was the sole conservative voice, National Review. It was one small voice. Today we have the internet and many conservative voices, blogs, magazines, television programs and books. We have the company of comrades and friends of similar political persuasion. Buckley did not have that when he started out. He had tremendous courage to begin this small voice that has now grown into a mighty chorus.
Today conservatism is equal to liberalism in number of adherents and has a chance to once again lead the nation, perhaps not within the next four years, but certainly within the next decade.
So thanks to you, William F. Buckley Jr. You were indeed a great man.
Update: See Ann Coulter's column today on W.F. Buckley. She shows that he wasn't always the model of civility; he could dish it out as well as take it. Great for some laughs!