My generation turned away from liberalism because of the collapse of liberal governance during the crisis of the 1970’s. We were drawn to conservatism because of the force and allure of conservative ideas. Milton Friedman offered better answers on inflation than James Tobin. George Stigler decribed the modern economy better than John Kenneth Galbraith. James Q. Wilson’s ideas controlled crime better than those of the Kerner Commission. Richard Pipes explained Soviet behavior better than Jerry Hough. Thomas Sowell offered a better route to racial reconciliation than Jesse Jackson. William Buckley outwitted and out-argued Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Where are the Fiedman’s now? Where are the Buckleys?
We conservatives have neglected the ideas business for too long. A new generation hungers for answers and solutions, and too often they hear only polemics, wisecracks, accusations, and talking points. The smashmouth conservativism often heard on radio and television can sometimes be good fun, but it does not change minds. Smart and funny voices can be heard on the conservative airwaves and in the blogsphere. They daily prove that evidence, patience, and humor can win converts, not just arguments. But tabloid media beget tabloid politics. When you argue stupid, you campaign stupid. When you campaign stupid, you win stupid. And when you win stupid, you govern stupid.
—David Frum rightly lamenting the lack of modern conservative intellectuals and the consequences from such dire lack in his latest book, Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again