Before growing into a moderate publication of mainstream appeal, The Badger Herald was the University of Wisconsin’s conservative tabloid. Borne out of the Vietnam War and rooted in a firm trust of the marketplace of ideas, the newspaper sought to propagate otherwise bastardized views on a historically left-of-center campus. And when the economic feasibility of such a mission proved doubtful, it was an icon of the conservative cause who came to The Badger Herald’s aid.
William F. Buckley Jr. died yesterday morning. An intellectual giant of unmatched eloquence, the founder of the National Review more than left his mark on the American conservative establishment ? he largely defined its modern parameters.
Mr. Buckley scribed commentary and spy novels; he sailed competitively and performed music publicly; he was a CIA operative in Mexico and a mayoral candidate in New York. His Rolodex at one time or another is thought to have contained everyone from Milton Friedman to E. Howard Hunt. His live political debates exemplified the Greek art form. And his publication, National Review, provides a profound legacy unto itself.
The Badger Herald is no longer a conservative publication, yet its roots remain static. What is now the largest independent student newspaper in America, providing daily service to the University of Wisconsin community, was once little more than an opposition rag. And while there may be a tendency to relegate such activism to the historical tense, chaos theory need not be stretched too far to see the void which would today engulf this campus but for Mr. Buckley’s philanthropic vote of confidence decades ago.
The architect of the modern conservative movement passed away yesterday, but even in this famously liberal town, his legacy lives on today.
Former Editor in Chief
The Badger Herald