“If the John Birch Society, in its present incarnation, was to repudiate Robert Welch and his fantasies about Dwight David Eisenhower, and was to repudiate the many issues of [the organization’s magazine] American Opinion, then maybe, maybe you could begin discussing whether or not they have any place in the current political discussion,” Edwards told The Daily Caller. “But, until, and if, that day comes, show them door politely, but firmly.”
The John Birch Society’s president, John McManus, however, said the group maintains the same beliefs it has had since its founding in 1958, and told TheDC that Buckley drove the organization out of the mainstream due to a publicly stated vendetta.
Edwards said that’s not true.
“This is not just a personal duel between Bill Buckley and Robert Welch. The responsible leaders of the conservative movement all shared that particular opinion, and I’m sure would still do so,” Edwards told TheDC. “After Bill Buckley properly read the John Birch Society out the conservative movement, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Russell Kirk, three very prominent conservatives, all endorsed the National Review’s position.”