When Conservative Youth Looked Ahead
Byline: Donald Lambro, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Nearly 100 bright, young conservative students from universities and colleges across the country gathered at the elegant Great Elm family estate of William F. Buckley Jr. in Sharon, Conn. on Sept. 10 and 11, 1960, to challenge America's leftist lurch and turn its political compass to the right.
The seeds for this student gathering, and the larger conservative movement to follow, were planted by Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater at the 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago where a gang of precocious young conservatives (Youth for Goldwater) and other politicos were promoting him for the vice-presidential nomination.
Goldwater knew he wasn't going to be on the ticket, but he went to the podium to ask he not be considered, with a scolding admonition to the convention's conservatives that would eventually put them in charge of a national party apparatus and change the policy course of the country on a broad range of issues.
Let's grow up, conservatives, Goldwater growled. If we want to take this party back - and I think we can someday - let's get to work.
And get to work, they did. Goldwater met with the student leaders at the convention's end and urged them to turn their group into a permanent organization. And that led to the Great Elm conference where a ringing declaration of conservative political principles was written, known as the Sharon Statement, and Young Americans for Freedom was born.
These were a remarkable body of talented students, virtually all of whom went on to stellar careers of their own in politics, journalism, government, education and business.
They included William Schulz of Antioch College, who rose to become the influential Washington bureau chief and executive editor of Reader's Digest; David Franke who went on to become a noted book and magazine editor who authored numerous books of his own on politics, public policy and travel; Lee Edwards, a public relations executive who played key roles in numerous campaigns and on Capitol Hill and has authored numerous books.
Those who came to work for YAF, first in its New York office, then in Washington, honed their skills in a broad range of fields that were the tools of the movement's future success.
Richard Viguerie, YAF's executive secretary who became its in-house fundraiser, went on to parlay what he learned in those early years to lift political direct-mail fundraising into the stratosphere that bankrolled the movement and led to its increasing financial success, spawning dozens of conservative organizations. Money was now no longer an obstacle.
In all, YAF produced 26 members of Congress, eight U.S. Circuit Court judges, and battalions of college presidents, professors, journalists, campaign strategists, fundraisers and political warriors at every level of the nation's election process.
The Sharon Statement was written by M. Stanton Evans, who at the age of 26 became the editor of the Indianapolis News, who wrote it on the train to Connecticut. It touted …
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Publication information: Article title: When Conservative Youth Looked Ahead. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: September 16, 2010. Page number: B04. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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