Do You Have to be Old to be Conservative?


Most readers know the line (attributed to Winston Churchill, I believe), if you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart. And if you are still a liberal at forty, you have no brain. The recent conference at the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale University on Whittaker Chambers reminded me of conservatism’s associations with old age (not to mention how far down I need to scroll to choose the year of my birth when purchasing airline tickets on line). The panels were stocked with figures from a generation even older than I. And the audience seemed to be just as old, according to this report:

I was hoping for a bit of drama, some heckling even, but this was no Tea Party. Merely by appearing at Yale Podhoretz said he was breaking a vow he made years ago never to appear on a university campus, but there was no sign of dissent. The audience filled a smallish lecture hall, maybe 150 people, with only about one in nine or ten of student age. Lots of balding heads and gray hair. Some faces familiar from New Yorker cartoons of plutocrats at the club. Among the students very few WASPS. This did not look like Bill Buckley’s Yale.

On the upside, the Buckley program at Yale appears to be the doing of undergraduate students, whom I assume are young and not part of some Yale effort to recruit the best and brightest from second-career students enrolled at the local community college.

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