The Michigan Daily: What kind of conservative are you?
James David Dickson: I like to think of myself as a Hamiltonian conservative. See, Hamilton was what you could call the first big-government conservative, in that he departed from Jefferson because he believed that you could use the power of the government to do great things. I have no problem with using the government to achieve certain ends, which is why I depart from a lot of conservatives.
I think part of the reason the libertarian element of our paper seems to be fading a little bit is because government action is now a fait accompli. It’s going to happen. So the way I see it is, if everyone wants to use the government to achieve their ends, we should at least do the same to advance conservative causes. So you’ve got things like faith-based initiatives and even the war in Iraq.
TMD: With the campus political climate on campus having calmed down since the Review was formed in the ’80s, and with the campus left being quite a bit less radical now, do you think the Review’s role on campus has shifted?
JDD: I do feel that way, and I think this has been a major source of tension between my generation and the editors of the Review then. Because even though Reagan was in office, Congress was very Democratic at the time. And now we’ve had Bush two terms, Congress has been Republican since I’ve been here, so I feel like the people of my generation kind of approach things with a winner’s mentality. There are a lot less battles to fight now. The extreme left has kind of receded on this campus also, so we don’t need to be the other extreme.
You know, it’s interesting that, if you look at our writing about the war in Iraq, most of what we wrote about was not per se in support of the war, but it was shooting down radical, liberal, false arguments against the war. So now, especially in the last two years, since the war is a fact of the matter and certain things are accepted now, we are trying to advance more of a visionary idea of conservatism and less just a reactionary one. And I think that’s moderated everyone.
TMD: Do you have a vision for the Review?
JDD: I definitely have a vision for the Review. I think that in the past, our paper has been led by people who maybe are upset with BAMN, or simply didn’t like affirmative action