I am day late in posting on this, but one of the giants in the American conservative movement, Paul Weyrich, passed away yesterday. The interesting thing about getting the news yesterday, which I heard on my local talk station’s Associated Pravda…err, Press…news break was that he was only identified as one of the founders of the Moral Majority (unsurprisingly, this is wrong…what Weyrich is given credit for is coining the term “moral majority”). They left off what is probably his most enduring public accomplishment: the founding of the Heritage Foundation in 1973. He also started what has become the Free Congress Foundation, which helps support conservatives in Congress.
Weyrich, while one of the influential people that helped define modern American conservatism, was seemingly more at home in the strategy and the “doing” of conservatism, more so than many of the others that philosophically underpin conservatism as we know it. To that end, I offer up a reprint of an article he wrote for the National Review back in September 1990. The amazing thing to me is that, outside of the references to events in the 1980’s, Weyrich could very well have written that piece this past September. It gives a sense for how far conservatism had (and has) to go, even after the decade of Ronald Reagan. Ever the strategist. he gives concrete, pragmatic examples of how to shape then-current government programs to make them more in line with conservative ideals such as self-reliance and freedom. He also pulls no punches – such as my favorite line from the piece:
Most of all, by affirming traditional values and the common sense of mainstream Americans, our agenda will effectively polarize the political debate and expose the left-wing agenda as the product of a fringe element hostile to our culture and our civilization.
Awesome! Rest in peace, Mr. Weyrich.