Martin: Subscriptions for young conservatives

Martin: Subscriptions for young conservatives

September 29th, 2017 by David Martin in Opinion Columns

A man reads the Wall Street Journal while standing near the New York Stock Exchange.


A few months ago an emailer asked what reading recommendations I might offer for her college-aged grandchild. I took "reading recommendations" to be a fairly open-ended category, so in my response I included the titles of some books, the names of some of my favorite columnists and a quick list of suggested periodicals.

I ended my email by heartily advocating she subscribe her dear undergraduate to one or two of the periodicals. To this day, I prefer reading content in hard-copy form. Yes, online access is convenient, but there is just something special (to me, anyway) about holding a physical copy.

If there is a young conservative in your life, consider these titles for their subscription starter set.

» The National Review: For the cost of an annual subscription, there might not be a magazine that delivers more bang for the buck. The National Review, founded by conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr., has been the writing home for some of conservative thought's biggest names over the past seven decades. Today, its author roster is composed of some of my favorite thinkers, including Jonah Goldberg (often seen on this page), Charles C. Cooke, and Kevin D. Williamson.

David Martin

David Martin

» The Weekly Standard: I'm pretty sure The Weekly Standard was one of the first magazine subscriptions I ordered outside of the GQ and Esquire mold, and I consider myself fortunate to have landed a handful of articles in its print and online editions. Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol started the magazine during Bill Clinton's first presidential term, and in those pages they've been battling the political left ever since. Kristol's continued Never Trump stance draws mountains of attention but shouldn't distract from the works of some heavyweight writers like Stephen F. Hayes (current editor in chief) and Jay Cost.

» Reason: Reason is a monthly libertarian magazine that has celebrated "free minds and free markets" since 1968. It's a feisty publication, now edited by Nick Gillespie, whose past contributor list includes some marquee names, such as Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell (if you read this column regularly, you're aware of my affinity for Sowell). If you want to know what you're getting into with a Reason subscription, the article title "How Capitalism Saved the Bees" is pretty telling.

» The Wall Street Journal: Looking back, my passage into adulthood has been marked by a distinct collection of experiences, one of which was subscribing to The Wall Street Journal. It's definitely not the most inexpensive of subscriptions, but it's also well worth the price. No matter how busy my work week gets, I always carve out time for the weekend edition — especially for Peggy Noonan's weekly opinion piece. The editorial page of the WSJ is an absolute must for any young (or not-so-young) conservative.

» Harper's Magazine: It's paramount to expand one's ideological horizons to the other side of the political spectrum. If not, echo chambers will be the end of us. It's not like the outlets above march lockstep on matters of note. Far from it. However, crossing the ideas divide separating the right from the left is a healthy exercise. Many left-leaning titles hit my mailbox regularly, and though Harper's (launched in 1850) isn't a political magazine strictly, its articles present important topics framed by a progressive worldview. My favorite thing about Harper's is high-quality writing — a caliber that makes me feel like a total hack.

So there you have it. Five subscriptions that would benefit any young conservative. Pick and choose among them, and do a young mind a favor by making these suggestions.

Or, better yet, we're less than three months from holiday season. Wink wink.

Contact David Allen Martin at and follow him on Twitter @DMart423.

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