Friday, March 13, 2015



A successful movement needs three things: a cogent core of beliefs; the capability to affect tangible and sustainable change; and a mechanism for recruiting, motivating, preparing, and promoting its adherents.

M. Stanton Evans, who helped create all these conditions for America’s conservative movement, died on March 3, 2015 at age 80, after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer. America has lost one of its greatest citizens and a true original.

Stan was at the epicenter of the Post World War II conservative movement. He graduated with honors from Yale in 1955 and became close friends with another conservative alumnus – William F. Buckley.

Buckley established National Review and a hub of conservative thinkers in New York City. Stan moved to Washington, DC and became Managing Editor for Human Events.

The modern conservative movement was blessed with the greatest thinkers of the post-war era, including Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, Harry Jaffa, Russell Kirk, Frank S. Meyer, Ludwig von Mises, and Richard Weaver.  Evans and Buckley compellingly applied their works to current issues, and added epiphanies of their own.

In 1960, at age 26, Evans crafted the Sharon Statement; the most enduring manifesto of the conservative movement. It became the credo of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), countering the emerging radical leftists on college campuses.

In Washington, Stan connected with other conservative political leaders, such as Barry Goldwater, H.R. Gross, and Walter Judd, and journalists like Rowland Evans, Robert Novak, Henry Regnery, Allan Ryskind, and Tom Winter.  He was one of the driving forces behind the presidential campaigns of Goldwater 1964 and Reagan 1968 & 1976.

From these experiences, Evans established the organizational foundations that would propel the modern conservative movement to its zenith during Reagan’s 1980 campaign, and his first term. 

In 1977, Evans founded the National Journalism Center (NJC), dedicated to preparing young people to be journalists.  He created the Monday Club, a free-wheeling networking luncheon for conservatives on Capitol Hill at the Hawk & Dove.  He founded the Joseph Story Society, the forerunner to the Federalist Society for conservative lawyers. From his NJC offices above the Hawk & Dove, Stan, accompanied by his loyal three-legged dog, Zip, crafted his most audacious and successful enterprise.

On September 24, 1979, Stan hosted a dinner for top conservative House staffers.  Josh Bill, Tom Boney, Pete Braithwaite, Rick Centner, Louis Gasper, Laura Genero, Carol Glunt, Karen Hoppe, Bob Moffit, Don Thorson, his chief aide Fred Mann, and I enjoyed an Italian feast at Toscanini’s and heard Stan’s vision of fomenting full scale guerilla warfare against President Jimmy Carter and the liberals in Congress.  This was the charter meeting of the “Chesapeake Society”.  Part study circle, part war room, it became the most successful opposition network in Republican Congressional history.  Eventually, Chesapeake comprised seventy-five Member offices plus committee and leadership staffs. It was a parliamentary wrecking crew, disemboweling liberal legislation, stopping some bills, and delaying many others.  The goal was to make sure as little of the Carter Administration was intact when Ronald Reagan arrived.  The plan was – the less liberal programs in place, the less effort would be needed to reverse or eliminate them.

On December 8, 1980, after Reagan’s landslide victory, Stan convened conservatives, involved in the Presidential Transition.  “Inchon” became the primary forum for sharing operational intelligence and maximizing the success of the Reagan Revolution. Its credo was “people equal policy” and focused on preventing “Evans Law” from manifesting itself in the Reagan era.  His famous law was, “When ‘our people’ get to the point where they can do us some good, they stop being ‘our people.’”  Co-chaired by Stan, members of Reagan’s Kitchen Cabinet, and myself, Inchon launched a generation of solid conservatives “behind enemy lines” in the executive branch (thus the Inchon reference).   Many of Inchon’s leaders went onto populate the Gingrich Revolution in Congress.

One other part of assailing the liberal pillars of Washington was to make sure conservatives had fun.  That is why Stan helped form the Coolidge Society, Conservative Club, and Conservative Cabaret.  These became models for today’s diverse array of conservative networking, social, and charitable enterprises, which help newcomers to the Nation’s Capital learn, and thrive, among the like-minded.  

One of Stan’s historic accomplishment towers above all the rest. Those who knew him are recalling his ceaseless devotion to mentoring young people.  His door was always open.  There was always an extra chair at any table where he ate and drank.  He always answered his phone.  He always had time to listen & reflect, provide advice & support, and take action to help.  He was a mentor to us all.

The formal obituaries declared that Stan Evans had no immediate survivors.  They are wrong.  Thousands of conservative activists owe their lives and livelihoods to Stan Evans.  We are all Stan’s descendants.

[Scot Faulkner was Stan’s friend since 1978.  He served as Reagan’s Director of Personnel, on the Reagan White House Staff, and as Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives.]

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