In his 1959 classic “Up From Liberalism” Buckley wrote:
“I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and Liberals at bay. And the nation free.”
This is Buckley’s ideology in its purest form. Five years later, the political collapse of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, as well as the rise of Ronald Reagan two years later, would add a healthy dose of pragmatism to Buckley’s political approach. It is hardly remembered today that soon after Gov. Reagan was sworn in, Buckley would quickly become Reagan’s biggest defender against those on the right who declared the former Hollywood actor a big government sellout to the Republican establishment.