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When they finished reading Croly’s book, they wrote him a mash note and invited him for lunch. A few months later, they had more or less hatched their plans for launching a political weekly that would trumpet the ideas in Croly’s book and channel the enthusiasms stirred by Theodore Roosevelt’s third-party bid.
Unlike the highbrow little magazines to come in the 1930s, The New Republic wasn’t intended to be a clubby conversation among the hyper-literate. Croly had a very specific understanding of elites: They were meant to be a vanguard that would self-consciously shape the political culture of the country and set its artistic standards. Croly wanted his publication to serve as a transmission belt of ideas, carrying the thoughts of intellectuals to a much broader and, therefore, much more meaningful audience. “[Our] primary purpose,” Croly wrote Willard Straight, “will not be to record facts but to give certain ideals and opinions a higher value in American public opinion. If these ideas and opinions were accepted as facts it would be unnecessary to start the paper. The whole point is that we are trying to impose views on blind or reluctant people.”