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Why Trump succeeded where WFB did not

Donald John Trump is doing what William F. Buckley Jr. always wanted done.

The 2 were born into great wealth, the sons of hardworking men of accomplishment.

Buckley Sr. drilled for oil in Mexico, succeeded, and was kicked out. He moved on to Venezuela and made even more money. That's the way you do it.

Fred Trump built houses and collected rents.

Upon birth both WFB and The Donald were rich. One built the foundation of the conservative movement. The latter built an empire, which would serve as the foundation for a presidency that would achieve those conservative goals.

One was a patrician conservative. The latter was a populist conservative.

WFB knew he needed a populist movement to succeed but he helped kill the most likely vehicle in the 1950s and 1960s to creating one: the John Birch Society.  He embraced Barry Goldwater believing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional in ordering private hotels to serve black people. In 1883, the Supreme Court said so in striking down the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

But his miscalculation was that the most white people are not racist, and opposition to the 1964 act was seen as racist.

Ronald Reagan provided the true populist conservative that WFB needed. Reagan led to victory the Greatest Generation (a historic inaccuracy but a name worthy of people who survived the depression, won the war, and suburbanized America).

WFB delighted in President Reagan and enjoyed the triumph of God over communism in Russia. The Polish pope, the Polish shipyard worker, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan gave hope and encouragement to those who tore down that wall, Mister President. Make no mistake, The Lord enabled this by quickly taking home Pope John Paul I to make way for Pope John Paul II.

But 36 years after we elected Reagan president, we had a different America that in many ways had turned to communism. A different leader was needed to provide the populism.

The accomplishments of President Trump in returning the judiciary to conservatism, rolling back taxes and regulation, and walloping the many tentacled bureaucracy were WFB's goals.

I cannot speak for him.

In 2000, Buckley wrote, "What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? In some cases, the vision isn’t merely a program to be adopted. It is a program that includes the visionary’s serving as President. Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.

"So what else can Trump offer us? Well to begin with, a self-financed campaign. Does it follow that all who finance their own campaigns are narcissists? At this writing Steve Forbes has spent $63 million in pursuit of the Republican nomination. Forbes is an evangelist, not an exhibitionist. In his long and sober private career, Steve Forbes never bought a casino, and if he had done so, he would not have called it Forbes’s Funhouse. His motivations are discernibly selfless."

Calling Forbes discernibly selfless does not mean Donald Trump is not selfless, it only means WFB could not see it. Certainly there is some sacrifice by a man whose net worth fell by $1 billion because he cannot attend his business as president.

Buckley called him narcissist because he named his skyscrapers Trump Tower? Oh please. WFB's father named his company Buckley Oil and it is Forbes magazine. Founders do that.

But I argue with a dead man, which puts him at a great disadvantage, which I would need to argue with WFB.

The closest we have to Buckley 11 years after his death is newspaper magnate Conrad Black. He supports Trump without apology. In National Review.

There are architects and there are builders. Both are needed. Buckley's vision of the world lives on in this century thanks to a man his periodical opposed.

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