Electile Dysfunction: The 50th Anniversary Of WFB’s Failed Mayoral Race


Twenty-fifteen marked the 50th anniversary of William F. Buckley’s failed run for mayor of New York. In the photo above, it looks like WFB is pulling one out of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s playbook, looking artistocratically bored while his opponent speaks. It’s not hard to imagine him closing his eyes and feigning to snore.

His opponent, John Lindsay, was the subject of a post in Ivy Style’s first year.

Buckley never expected to win, and didn’t. Here’s a terse synopsis via Wikipedia:

In 1965, Buckley ran for mayor of New York City as the candidate for the new Conservative Party. He ran to restore momentum to the conservative cause in the wake of Goldwater’s defeat. He tried to take votes away from the relatively liberal Republican candidate and fellow Yale alumnus John Lindsay, who later became a Democrat. Buckley did not expect to win; indeed, when asked what he would do if he won the race, Buckley responded, “Demand a recount.” And used an unusual campaign style; during one televised debate with Lindsay, Buckley declined to use his allotted rebuttal time and instead replied, “I am satisfied to sit back and contemplate my own former eloquence.”

To relieve traffic congestion, Buckley proposed charging cars a fee to enter the central city, and a network of bike lanes. He opposed a civilian review board for the New York Police Department, which Lindsay had recently introduced to control police corruption and install community policing. Buckley finished third with 13.4% of the vote, possibly having inadvertently aided Lindsay’s election by instead taking votes from Democratic candidate Abe Beame.

And here’s the link to a lengthy National Review piece on the anniversary.

Finally, below is a short clip from “Meet The Press” in which Buckley casually explains why he should get your vote. — CC

8 Comments on "Electile Dysfunction: The 50th Anniversary Of WFB’s Failed Mayoral Race"

  1. What a great way to begin the week. Buckley’s book of the race, The Unmaking of a Mayor is even more relevant and instructive today while anything Lindsay said is of interest only to one conducting an autopsy as to what happened to our cities. Lindsay did become a Democrat and ran for president without consequence.

  2. I wonder if I would be allowed to post a link to a higher definition footage of the same video: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/23376657#23376657

    Buckley always fascinated me. He was never really a libertarian (after watching Ron Paul’s appearance on Firing Line, you’ll come to this conclusion too) and by today’s standards he would be considered “moderate.”

  3. What always struck me about WFB was his attention and thoughtfulness. He would consider carefully what was asked or said and respond directly to that and it’s ramifications, clearly, cogently and courteously.

    Quite different from today’s auto-lefty/righty scolding responses, or vague candidate-speak that hopes desperately to avoid a real stand.

  4. As discussed elsewhere ad nauseam, the narrower ties of the period allowed for a better collar roll. WFBs tie stripes run the American way. It appears JL’s shoulders are softer.

  5. Vern Trotter | January 9, 2019 at 10:52 am |

    WFB. Always one of the best subjects.

  6. AEV, for me it’s his iconic style and the fact that he galvanized the American conservative movement.

  7. The American electoral system is rigged against the third parties and their candidates. Even when the Libertarian Party fielded a very credible Presidential ticket (Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld) it could not break through the duopoly of the two main parties. The big question is whether Tucker Carlson will enter electoral politics as he would upset the GOP establishment as much as Donald Trump.

Comments are closed.