More than 18 months after the Tea Party burst onto the U.S. political scene, liberals in the media still don’t seem to understand what animates the movement.
Take Lesley Stahl of CBS News. She gave voice to media bafflement about the Tea Party on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program shortly before the election. “I wanted to ask all the gurus here why so many of the Tea Partiers are women,” she said in an exasperated voice. “I find that just intriguing and don’t quite understand why that has happened.” All that her fellow panelists could come up with at first was something about the charisma of Sarah Palin. But what’s the real story?
Last autumn, The Conservative Agenda Project asked a number of young conservatives, primarily students working on the conservative newspapers in the Collegiate Network sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, to submit an essay on how they talk to their fellow students about conservatism. A cash prize and publication were offered for the best essay. The project was inspired by a remark William F. Buckley Jr. made in an address to the Conservative Party of New York State in 1964:
Modern formulations are necessary even in defense of very ancient truths. Not because of any alleged anachronism in the old ideas--the Beatitudes remain the essential statement of the Western code--but because the idiom of life is always changing, and we need to say things in such a way as to get inside the vibrations of modern life.
Abigail Olin of the Tiger Town Observer at Clemson University submitted the winning essay, which The American Spectator is pleased to publish in this issue. In her piece, Olin emphasizes the necessity of grounding arguments in philosophy rather than pragmatism.