What Conservatives Can Learn from the Fall of Constantinople

COMMENTARY Conservatism

What Conservatives Can Learn from the Fall of Constantinople

May 15, 2019 3 min read

Former Vice President, Development

Andrew was Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation.
Alfred Gescheidt / Getty Images

Five hundred and sixty-six years ago this month, a unique military battle took place at the magnificent city of Constantinople – now Istanbul, Turkey – that destroyed its seemingly impenetrable strongholds.

Militarily, the city was in prime position. Surrounded by ocean on two sides, only the third side remained in need of man-made fortification.

When the cannon maker Orban arrived in Constantinople in 1452, the emperor was fascinated by his innovative weaponry and authorized a retainer for his services.

But funding soon grew inconsistent and the emperor could no longer afford Orban’s salary. The shortfall forced Orban to market his resources elsewhere and unfortunately that ended up being to the Ottoman Empire dead-set on destroying Constantinople.

The Ottomans paid him well to amass a stockpile of arms. With a litany of Orban’s weapons, including a colossal 27-foot long cannon, 80,000 soldiers marched to the gates of Constantinople.

For over 1,100 years the city’s walls had repelled dozens of all-out assaults. But Orban’s new-age armaments would prove too much. The technology that once served Constantinople now resulted in its permanent collapse.

In May of 1453, Constantinople was defeated.

This historic account of the fall of Constantinople serves as a fitting allegory for the current state of conservatism.

Like the ancient city, the conservative movement has three sides: one always protected by strong ideas, one always protected by virtuous people, and one that must be regularly fortified with new resources and technology.

This third side is the one the Left seeks to exploit to destroy our movement.

Make no mistake, the Left is mobilizing its ranks, raising billions, and preparing for battle going into 2020.

Fundraising and marketing expert Richard Viguerie recently circulated to conservative leaders a compilation of the Left’s fundraising totals in 2017-18.

In 2017:

  • The ACLU raised $93 million online (up from only $5.5 million in 2016)
  • The SPLC raised over $129 million in support (up from only $49 million in 2016)
  • ActBlue used donations to make $1.23 billion in contributions to various liberal candidates
  • Planned Parenthood acquired 700,000 new supporters (and is now at over 11 million)

In all of 2017-2018, Viguerie estimates that 8 million left-leaning donors raised $8 billion for their causes while 2 million right-leaning donors raised $2 billion for theirs.

Unfortunately, progressive zeal is only intensifying. They’re incorporating new technology. They’re raising massive sums of money. They’re gaining millions of supporters.

Like never before, the Left is increasing its efforts. So like never before, we must stand our ground and improve our weaponry.

This is why The Heritage Foundation is enthusiastically engaging new audiences, increasing our fundraising efforts, and boldly advocating conservative solutions to pressing problems.

Heritage has a compelling vision for the future of America and the policy steps to get there. So, we never want a lack of resources to be the reason we can’t take ground for our values.

With your support, our movement is going to successfully keep growing.

Last week, Heritage trustees and supporters at our Annual Leadership Conference donated an extraordinary $14.2 million to advance conservative principles.

Generosity like this is giving Heritage the modern armaments it needs to change the tide.

Your Heritage membership trains thousands of bright young conservatives, retain dozens of world-class policy experts, and advance your values on Capitol Hill and in the public square.

You have truly armed Heritage with the best resources possible. Which is why for two years, your investments have made Heritage the most impactful organization on public policy in the world.

With your continued support, conservatism won’t share the same fate as Constantinople. In fact, we’ll be able to preserve our nation and its freedoms to posterity for future generations.

Especially so with Heritage leading the way and continuing to serve as a shining city on a hill – on Capitol Hill – as we defend this nation’s core principles.

Adapted from Andrew McIndoe’s remarks at The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Annual Leadership Conference.

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