It’s no secret that the classroom, our nation’s academic journals and university research initiatives are notorious for leaning left. To have liberal stances in the worlds of academia and research is one thing, but to be bordering a liberal monopoly is another. The problem, however, lies not with ivory tower academic elites alone. Rather, conservatives and liberals share equal blame for our biased intellectual institutions. Though the fringes of the conservative movement have recently jeopardized the credibility of conservative voices, it is time for the true intellectual conservative movement to bring the message back into our academic environments. This movement must make a resurgence in academia, not only to guarantee that the Republican Party does not disappear down the rabbit hole, but also for the good of the entire country.
Yes, the Republican Party has become quite a spectacle, and not in a positive way — but there is still credibility in the core of conservative ideology. Economics departments, business schools and a myriad of other select fields have proven to be the last bastions of conservative intellectual thought in academia. The tenets of individuality and reason have lost ground in an increasingly postmodern world, but the theories and practicalities of conservatism remain clear.
The conservative movement has a strong past of credibility and influence in academic environments. A principled, albeit controversial, champion of the conservative movement, Bill Buckley was perhaps the foremost intellectual conservative. It was Buckley who was able to transform the conservative message into a testable, quantifiable and, most of all, an intellectual movement. Buckley founded a conservative editorial publication, the National Review, and helped create Young Americans for Freedom, a student group which champions conservative causes on college campuses from the turbulent 1960s to the present day. In addition, conservative professors have made great contributions to society. Milton Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, was a Nobel Prize winner. George Mason University professor Walter Williams and economist Thomas Sowell continue to be active and prominent names in academia. Writer Ayn Rand, another contentious figure who was resolute in her beliefs, brought a sense of legitimacy to the conservative movement through her novels and essays.
It is easy to say that former President Ronald Reagan would not recognize his party anymore if he were alive today. The same could be said for Buckley, who jokingly reflected on President-elect Donald Trump’s self-promotion by stating that “if Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America.” The conservative movement, which has been hijacked by neo-conservatives — hawkish Republicans with socially conservative tendencies — is too busy pushing an unsustainable and altogether wacky social agenda which cannot be taken seriously amongst the American people, let alone our academic institutions. Buckley’s original editorial content has given way to inflammatory talk radio and the Rush Limbaughs of the world. Rand’s novels, consistently filled with solid tact, have given way to Ann Coulter’s grandiose publications which pander to the emotions of socially conservative Republicans.
The Republican Party has done a good job of turning its back on the value of intellectual thought. As it stands, this isolated relationship between conservatives and academia will send the movement on a quick path towards irrelevance. The helm of the Republican Party needs to return to its lifeblood. Conservatives must embrace the movement’s most useful role: teaching practical ideals to students and academics — our future leaders and policymakers. It will be up to what is left of the true conservative movement to ensure that the conservative voice continues to be an influence on the nation’s intellectual pursuits.
The intellectual conservative movement has no room for the alt-right or neo-conservatives. The intellectual conservative movement similarly has no room to fall behind in our current academic environment. What we teach in our universities, cover in our academic journals and identify as our topics of research have a large potential to become accepted elements of our society. In this way, what we teach in our academic environments does not stay academic for long. For every Marxist sympathizer, college students should hear from a free market champion, and for every collectivist call for safe spaces, there should be equal support of individualism and Rand’s Objectivism on campus. The political views of our student body and our country are incredibly varied, and the views of our faculty and academic institutions should be just as diverse.