By: Sophie Dillon

The following essay was the third-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Last November, America experienced one of its most surprising elections to date, when Donald Trump edged out a win in a presidential race so close they couldn’t call a winner until three in the morning. Clinton supporters watched in astonished agony as the votes were tallied—what about the polls that had been promising a Hillary presidency for months? What about the reputable news sources who had denounced Trump’s comments as racist and sexist? The morning after the election, many Americans found themselves wondering—How could this have happened?

By: Bernard Stanford

The following essay was the second-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Yale today has a delicate relationship with the concept of “namesakes.” On a university filled nearly to bursting with names (such that poor Messrs. Sterling, Sheffield, and Strathcona have all been forced to share), the regular students hardly engage with them at all, and when they do, it’s generally to point out that one or other is racist and offensive and must be blotted out. Not one of the hundred-and-twenty-odd freshman residents of Durfee Hall, for example, likely thinks at all about what he or she can learn from the example of Bradford M.C. Durfee, a man who, upon realizing the fortune he inherited as a young man, set about giving it away to worthy causes as fast as he could. Not once in four years have I ever seen a Yale student draw a positive lesson from a namesake about the university.

By: Zach Young

The following essay was the winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”

– William F. Buckley, Jr.

Upon exiting the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin purportedly encountered an excited group of citizens, who asked him which form of government the delegates had chosen. “A republic,” Franklin replied curtly, “if you can keep it.” Franklin’s answer inverted an age-old power structure. Rule by elites, he suggested, was to be supplanted with government of, by, and for the people. 230 years later, this experiment has proven successful in the United States and influential abroad. Yet there remains no guarantee that American citizens will continue to “keep” their republic. Today, with the advent of social media and proliferation of online news, America faces a crisis of public discourse. To resolve it, the public would be well served by consulting the legacy of William F. Buckley, Jr. His 57-year career provides a compelling illustration of the potential of vibrant, productive debate.

By: Rob Henderson

This interview with Dr. Sally Satel was conducted before her discussion at the Buckley Program’s dinner seminar on Wednesday, April 5th. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited from a longer interview.

Dr. Sally Satel is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the staff psychiatrist at a methadone clinic in Washington D.C. She is a practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale School of Medicine, and the author of numerous publications, in both scholarly journals and such popular outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and National Review. Her books include Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience (2013) and PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine (2001).

By: Blake Dixon

Last week, Dr. Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute and Ms. Rachel West of the Center for American Progress engaged in a spirited debate before members of the Yale community. The debate centered on the proper role for minimum wages in the labor market. As a Buckley Fellow, I was given the chance to sit down and speak with Dr. Stan Veuger before the debate commenced. For anyone interested in wage policy, his comments deserve thoughtful consideration.

By: Declan Kunkel

This interview with Princeton Professor Stephen Kotkin was conducted before his talk at the Buckley Program on Friday, March 3rd. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited from a longer interview.

Stephen Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1989. He is also a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Widely acknowledged as an expert on Russian and Eurasian affairs, Professor Kotkin is the author of multiple books and has been featured in various publications, including The New Yorker, The Financial Times, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.


Declan: Putin. Trump. Steve Bannon. Turn on any television set, listen to the radio, or pick up a newspaper anywhere in the world, and you will see something Russia. Articles announce that U.S.-Russian relations are at an all-time low. What strikes me is that there seems to be a general fear of Russia. Americans think that Russia is strategically opposed with anything the U.S. does. Is Russia truly a match for the U.S.? Do they really deserve the “superpower” status that the media gives them? Is Russia just a small-time nation with a big-time military?

By: Bernard Stanford

This interview with Dr. Michael Auslin was conducted before his lecture for the Buckley Program on his recent book, The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region on Monday, March 6th. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Dr. Auslin is a resident scholar and the Director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that studies American public policy and defends the principles of individual liberty, private enterprise, and limited government. He has taught as a professor at Yale University, Kobe University, and Tokyo University. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street JournalNational Review, The New York Post, and other publications.


Bernard: Thank you for being here, Dr. Auslin. Your book is, The End of the Asian Century, and my first question is, why is the notion of the “Asian century” important in the first place?

By: Pedro Enamorado

This interview with Dr. Paul Howard was conducted before the Buckley Program’s Firing Line Debate on health care policy with Dr. Howard and Dr. Alice Rivlin on Wednesday, March 1st. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Dr. Howard is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and director of health policy. Dr. Howard was a leading healthcare policy advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. His work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Bloomberg View, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Affairs, USA Today, RealClearPolitics, New York Post, Investor’s Business Daily, Health Affairs, and

The Manhattan Institute is a leading free-market think tank focusing on economic growth, education, energy and environment, health care, legal reform, public sector, race, & urban policy.

Pedro: Good to meet you, Dr. Paul Howard. The Manhattan Institute is a policy think tank that promotes individual responsibility and economic choice. What are the key provisions of a GOP health care plan that would have these ideals and help Americans get better access to healthcare?

Charles Spies, campaign finance lawyer and co-founder of the Pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC, came to speak at an event jointly hosted by the Buckley Program and The Politic magazine on November 28th, 2016. 

By: Zach Young

I enjoyed getting the chance to hear Charlie Spies, former counsel to the Romney Campaign, discuss issues about the influence of political donations on the electoral process. Notably, this recent election cycle showed backlash on both sides of the aisle against super PACs donations, with Senator Bernie Sanders and businessman Donald Trump turning their lack of financial backing into talking points during primaries against Secretary Hillary Clinton and Governor Jeb Bush, respectively. Mr. Spies, himself co-founder of the largest super PAC in history, took an oppositional stance to Mr. Trump during the primary. Although Mr. Trump’s campaign eventually spent around a half-billion dollars on the general election, less than half of what Secretary Clinton spent, he still managed to achieve victory with a considerable lead in the Electoral College. Does this mean, in some ways, we have departed from a “Cash is King” era of politics?

By: Madeline Fortier

This interview with Carol Liebau was conducted before the Buckley Program’s dinner seminar on Connecticut state politics with her at Mory’s Temple Bar on Tuesday, February 21st. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited from a longer interview.

Carol Liebau is the President of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy in Hartford, Connecticut. She is an attorney, author, political and policy advisor, and media commentator who has contributed to the editorial pages of The Los Angeles TimesThe Washington TimesThe Orange County RegisterThe Sacramento Bee, and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Liebau attended Princeton University, where she was editorial chairman of The Daily Princetonian, and she is a 1992 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as the first female managing editor of The Harvard Law Review.

The Yankee Institute is an economic think-tank that looks for free market solutions to solve fiscal problems in the state of Connecticut, dealing with issues like pensions, the state budget, and the minimum wage.


Madeline: Hi Carol, thank you for being here today. The Yankee Institute is focused on solving fiscal problems, specifically in the state of Connecticut. Are there any solutions to Connecticut’s massive debt problem that either you or the Yankee Institute sanction? If you had to pick one, what would you say is the best way to address the debt?