Remembering the Conservatives We Lost in 2015
Alex Adrianson /
The conservative movement lost a number of its leaders, heroes, and colleagues last year. Before we get farther into 2016, we’d like to take a moment to note some of the people we will miss.
August 5, 1936 – January 3, 2015
Anderson wrote a paper that helped end the draft in 1973, advised Ronald Reagan on his domestic agenda of tax cuts and deregulation, and wrote the history of the Reagan presidency in a series of highly acclaimed books.
Memorable line: “Reagan is more powerful today than when he was president.”
October 7, 1918 – January 10, 2015
Jaffa’s histories—particularly “Crisis of a House Divided”—shifted the conservative perception of Abraham Lincoln from a president who expanded federal power to one who vindicated the principles of the Declaration of Independence. He penned candidate Barry Goldwater’s line: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
Memorable line: “If self-government was a right, and not a mere fact characterizing the American scene (more or less), then it must be derived from some primary source of obligation. There must be something, Lincoln insisted, inhering in each man, as a man, which created an obligation in every other man. And if any majority anywhere, however constituted, might rightfully enslave any man or men, it could only be because there was nothing in any man which, simply because he was a man, other men were bound to respect.”
May 3, 1919 – January 10, 2015
Over nearly six decades of teaching and writing—at Louisiana State University, Yale, Cornell, the University of Toronto, Georgetown, and the American Enterprise Institute—Berns helped revive an appreciation for the Constitution and citizenship. He also presaged today’s threats to religious liberty when he wrote in 1963 that the Supreme Court was wrong to have invalidated school prayer.
Memorable line: “[D]emocracy, more than any other form of government, requires self-restraint, which it would inculcate through moral education and impose on itself through laws, including laws governing the manner of public amusements. It was the tyrant who could usually allow the people to indulge themselves. Indulgence of the sort we are now witnessing did not threaten his rule, because his rule did not depend on a citizenry of good character. Anyone can be ruled by a tyrant, and the more debased his subjects, the safer his rule.”
May 10, 1928 – January 17, 2015
A pioneer in using economics to study the law, Manne wrote the first scholarly work challenging the idea that insider trading is a real public policy problem, then advanced a similar heterodox argument regarding corporate raiding. He founded the Law & Economics Center at the University of Miami (later moved to Emory University and then to George Mason Law School), which at one point could boast that one-third of the federal bench and four members of the Supreme Court had attended its programs.
Memorable line: “Why should antitrust laws be used to block mergers that the market, by the existence of willing buyers and sellers, shows to be desirable?”
Arnaud de Borchgrave
October 26, 1926 – February 15, 2015
The globe-trotting correspondent wrote novels warning that the Soviets were actively duping the Western press, became editor of the Washington Times and turned the paper into the conservative alternative to the Washington Post, and interviewed Taliban leader Mullah Omar in the hills of Afghanistan just three months before 9/11.
Memorable line: “I have covered 17 wars as a journalist and I fought in World War II for four years in the British Royal Navy. My first trip to the Soviet Union was while on convoy duty when I was 16 years old. Since then, I have been a peace activist, but not in the conventional sense, for I happen to be what used to be called a ‘hawk.’ Why? Because the lesson of the past is that world peace was never more secure than when the United States was most powerful.”
M. Stanton Evans
July 20, 1934 – March 3, 2015
Evans wrote the Sharon Statement that became the founding manifesto of the modern American conservative movement, gave Ronald Reagan a boost in the 1976 campaign that helped him run again in 1980, and trained thousands of journalists to get the facts. He was also a keen debunker of liberal myth in books such as “The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition” and “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.”
Memorable line: “The idea that there is some sort of huge conflict between religious values and liberty is a misstatement of the whole problem. The two are inseparable. … [I]f there are no moral axioms, why should there be any freedom?”
John H. Makin
May 29, 1943 – March 30, 2015
Makin was often the first to spot economic trends, which he reported in his signature Economic Outlook reports for the American Enterprise Institute. He warned of financial meltdowns ahead in his 1986 book, “The Global Debt Crisis: America’s Growing Involvement.”
Memorable line: “The fact that global savers accommodate U.S. consumers by keeping U.S. interest rates lower than they otherwise would be and the dollar stronger than it otherwise would be is simply a manifestation of America’s comparative advantage at supplying wealth storage facilities.”
John (Jack) Templeton, Jr.
February 19, 1940 – May 16, 2015
Originally a physician, Templeton made the Templeton Foundation a major distributor of grants for research on the big questions of life, including the role of free enterprise.
Memorable line: “Most scientists believe they are understanding the truth of the universe when they’re looking in their telescope, or the truth of cellular life when they’re looking in their microscope. I think most people on the theological side feel they’re reaching for a truer understanding of divinity, of meaning and purpose. This does not mean the truth the theologian acquires is going to be acknowledged by the scientist, but they shouldn’t be thought of as enemies of one another. Instead, they should be thought of as complementary.”
August 26, 1933 – June 28, 2015
Wattenberg challenged the fashionable doom-and-gloomism of the left in an attempt to pull the Democratic Party back to the center. He ultimately failed in that task but in the process created a one-of-a-kind show—Think Tank—that emphasized facts instead of shouting.
Memorable line: “In American history, the evidence suggests that it is the optimist who has been the realist.”
July 15, 1917 – August 3, 2015
Conquest’s histories, especially “The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties,”revealed the extent of the crimes perpetrated by the Soviet Union and exposed the mendacity of its apologists.
Memorable line: “They say that we were Cold Warriors. Yes, and a bloody good show, too. A lot of people weren’t Cold Warriors—and so much the worse for them.”
August 10, 1921 – August 6, 2015
Howard, president of Rockford College for 17 years, led a coalition of university presidents who warned of the dangers of federal funding for higher education. Then he founded the Rockford Institute, which for the past 39 years has worked to defend the cultural institutions that the left tried to tear down in the 1960s—the family, the church, and the rule of law.
Memorable line: “[T]he family with its daily affirmative influence on the child is the most reliable nursery of responsible, emotionally mature and socially compatible individuals. The family is also far more effective than any other agency in training new generations in the virtuous conduct required to sustain a republic. The family is the breeding ground for both the good life and the good society.”
Peter W. Schramm
December 23, 1946 – August 16, 2015
Schramm—Hungarian by birth and American by choice, as he described himself—helped thousands of college students understand America’s Founding principles and appreciate what it means to be an American. Along the way, he built Ashland University’s Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs into a leading center for the study of American constitutional government and political thought.
Memorable line: “In America, each generation has to be educated in our principles of right, the natural rights that stem from those principles, and about our constitutional soul, which gives these rights their functional order. As Madison put it, ‘liberty and learning always have to be attached.’ In this unique country—this novus ordo seclorum—citizens have to be made because it is not enough that they be born.”
September 26, 1962 – August 17, 2015
Ball founded Donors Trust in 1999 as the solution to the problem of foundations straying from the conservative and libertarian intentions of their benefactors. Under her leadership, Donors Trust distributed over $740 million to pro-liberty causes.
Memorable line: “If you involve your children early in philanthropic decisions, they’ll learn from it. Above all, I think what’s most important is being involved with the kids. Often people who lament the next generation’s decisions were never involved with that generation until it was too late.”
Amy A. Kass
September 17, 1940 – August 19, 2015
Kass used stories—teaching the great books of literature for 34 years at the University of Chicago and compiling notable anthologies—to encourage reflection on what makes a life well-lived. Since 2005, she was a fellow at the Hudson Institute, where her work focused on philanthropy and citizenship.
Memorable line: “Developing robust and committed American citizens is a matter of both the heart and the head. Like all building of character, it requires educating our moral imaginations, sentiments, and habits of heart—matters displayed in but also nurtured by great works of imaginative literature.”
John Von Kannon
March 9, 1949 – September 5, 2015
Von Kannon helped found The American Spectator in the late 1960s, then spearheaded The Heritage Foundation’s development efforts for 32 years. In addition to raising over $1 billion for conservative causes during a 43-year career, he mentored countless fundraisers throughout the conservative movement.
Memorable line: “When fundraisers talk with donors about their plan and how they will execute it, they don’t inspire. When they talk about their dreams, why they exist, they can connect with people who share that dream.”
November 1, 1936 – September 14, 2015
Against the liberal prescription of welfare and race-conscious programs, Parker made the case that what African-Americans really needed was more free enterprise and a truly color-blind society. Parker founded the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, which became the home of the black conservative movement, and led the Reagan administration transition team that charged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with using hiring quotas to create a “new racism in America.”
Memorable line: “Liberals have handed blacks a ticket to get on the train, but it’s not moving out of the station”
Richard A. Ware
November 7, 1919 – October 29, 2015
Through his work at the Relm and Earhart Foundations, Ware helped create a variety of fellowship programs supporting conservative and free-market scholarship at a time when academia was overwhelmingly liberal. Among those supported because of Ware’s efforts: Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Gary Becker, and Ronald Coase.
Memorable line: “I always walked through the door whenever it was opened to me, is how I look at it.”
August 19, 1942 – November 1, 2015
Thompson asked Alexander Butterfield if he knew of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office, and a year later President Nixon resigned. Then he brought down the governor of Tennessee with a lawsuit that revealed a cash-for-clemency scheme and parlayed a role as himself into an acting career. Representing Tennessee in the Senate from 1995 to 2002, Thompson was a strong voice for keeping the federal government out of matters better left to state and local governments. He also ran for the GOP nomination for president in 2008.
Memorable line: “After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.”