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Discourses

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Bad Science Makes for Bad Government

In 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dismissed its existing Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and established a new panel. Ex-CASAC member John Balmes took to The New York Times to argue that the new CASAC review of the EPA’s Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter is a tool to allow freer emissions of the…

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A Republic, If You Can Found It

The Law & Liberty website features what amounts to an attack on the American Founding by Professor Ted McAllister titled “Self-Rule is the Basis of American Nationalism… Not Natural Rights.” It is putatively a response to Steve Hayward’s Liberty Forum essay on nationalism, but fails to grasp the essence of Hayward’s argument. I will leave…

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Our Constitutional Order Prioritizes Justice, Not Procedure

The intramural dialogue between the New York Post’s Sohrab Ahmari and National Review’s David French continues to unfold. Some may wonder when it will end—but there is no more important intellectual debate in all of contemporary political discourse, and it is crucial that we all grasp the stakes. There is much to be said about…

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Genealogy of Cuckery

The value of the Sohrab Ahmari-David French saga is in what’s unearthed by the reactions it kicks up. Example: National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger’s takeaway is “there’s nothing fancy or philosophical here: It’s just that David won’t bow to Trump and Trumpism, and that is what cannot be borne and must be punished.” We…

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The Limits of Liberty

“Unsatisfying.” Michael Brendan Dougherty’s tweet following the debate between classical-liberal stalwart David French and his post-fusionist conservative opponent Sohrab Ahmari captures how I felt once the melee ended. Here’s hoping the next debate, to be held this week at Notre Dame with Charles Kesler, Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, is better. The last…

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Debates Are No Substitute for Politics

Last week, the first Ahmari-French debate about the relationship between Christianity and American politics in the coming generation took place at the Catholic University of America, moderated by the softest-spoken conservative intellectual, Ross Douthat. This is the most important debate among social conservatives in recent years and yet it is strangely marginal, reflecting the marginalization…

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Christians Must Face the Primal Digital Politics of Identity

The surge of attention around the Catholic University debate between Sohrab Ahmari and David French, and the ebb that followed, mirrored the reaction to a recent and similarly hot ticket: Jordan Peterson versus Slavoj Žižek. That debate, which pitted capitalism against socialism, and/or Jung against Lacan, packed the house full of youngish intellectuals desperate for…

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Moral Relativism is our True Constitutional Enemy

Young Sohrab Ahmari did a spirited thing when he picked a fight earlier this year with David French, a man we both regard as a political friend. At the Catholic University, a large crowd showed up to see the first personal encounter between the two writers. At issue, supposedly, was the seriousness of conservatives in…

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A Deplorable Looks for a Date

I am a widower of nearly two years who recently decided to look for a lady companion. Where to begin? Not online. I had signed up for Facebook in its early days, but upon receiving a deluge of friend requests—some from people I would not remotely call “friends”—I ran for the hills. I suppose I…

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The Nation Is Not a Sin

You know a bad-faith argument is around the corner when a writer warns that two situations aren’t analogous, then immediately goes on to draw a parallel between them. Witness the statement “Against the New Nationalism,” published recently by Commonweal. “Our situation,” the signatories concede, “is surely different” from that of Germany in the 1930s. Yet they…

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Four Things Every American Should Know About the Declaration of Independence

Every American knows that July 4th marks the day, 243 years ago, that the Continental Congress adopted a declaration asserting independence from British rule. Unfortunately, that’s about all we seem to remember. And every month brings new evidence that Americans don’t know their history, and that, unsurprisingly, colleges and universities aren’t teaching it. When the…

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GOP Senators Are Blowing It on Free Speech

Republican Senators are increasingly talking about the suppression of free speech on college campuses, but they refuse to actually do anything about it. We need real free speech protections in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act—protections that lead colleges to change their policies and threaten serious penalties if they don’t. Earlier this year, the National…

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Forgetting the Founders: The 2020 Democratic Field

A long line of suitors in the 2020 presidential election is forming, with each would-be-president fighting to interpret the Constitution to fit their political agenda. Bernie Sanders is at it again, attempting to read a universal right to healthcare into the Constitution, while Kamala Harris seeks to alter campaign finance laws “For the People.” No…

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The German Stamp on Wilson’s Administrative Progressivism

Paul Gottfried questions the connection between the American Progressives and German political thought—Hegel’s in particular. I’m not quite sure what he means by the “cottage industry” he attributes to me, but it is the case that this connection is an important piece of arguments made about the Progressives by me, John Marini, and others in…

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How “German” Were the Progressives?

Contrary to James Poulos and Glenn Ellmers writing in The American Mind, I did not produce a “mixed review” of John Marini’s excellent study of the American administrative state. I extolled Marini’s examination of our increasingly unaccountable centralized state and was especially drawn to his focus on Congress’s role in this misfortune. But I part…

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Joseph Ellis’ Founding Figments

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis spent years trying to make the Founders relevant. Now, he’s trying to make them woke. In a new essay, Ellis defends the Green New Deal (GND), the omnibus environmental legislation championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But Ellis doesn’t just offer his own support of the bill; he claims it’s…

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Algorithms of Suppression

Update: Google’s Acting Director of Political and Stakeholder Outreach got in touch with the Claremont Institute to notify us that the labeling of The American Mind as a “racially oriented publication” was a mistake. Our re-marketing ad campaign to americanmind.org readers for our annual dinner is now active once again. See below for our initial summary…

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From Pink Police State to Techno-Gnostic Empire

“Our emerging post-privacy order isn’t quite totalitarian, but it’s getting there,” writes Ross Douthat in his latest Sunday column. For years, the Left has been shifting from a theory of justice rooted in the public/private divide to a theory of justice rooted in the divide between what’s in the realm of officialdom and what’s outside…

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The Democrats and the Media, or “The Committee to Re-elect President Trump”

I meant what I said a year ago: “…almost every opportunity the mainstream media has had to moderate or qualify themselves in relation to the Russian collusion narrative has been rejected in favor of all-out attacks. They had better be right. Like most American cultural and civic institutions, the old media is already distrusted by…

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The Administrative State’s German Roots

James Poulos is very fair-minded in his treatment of Paul Gottfried’s “mixed” review of John Marini’s new book. Gottfried wrote: According to Marini, “contemporary ideology and politics become intelligible only with reference to a philosophy of history, which originated in the political thought of Kant and Hegel.” As someone who has written on both German…

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Up From Administration

Must we reconcile ourselves to the federal bureaucracy? Paul Gottfried’s mixed review of Claremont senior fellow John Marini’s summa on unconstitutional government, Unmasking the Administrative State, leaves the reader with the more than sneaking suspicion that the answer is yes. “It represents a dramatic departure from what our federal union was intended to be, and…

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David Brooks’s “Case” for Reparations

David Brooks’s New York Times piece, “The Case for Reparations,” is so dumb, irresponsibly emotive, and wrong in both its premises and conclusions, that it deserves a section-by-section commentary. Brooks: …So let’s look at a sentence that was uttered at a time when the concept of sin was more prominent in the culture. The sentence…

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Social Media: the New Climate Change?

Kids across America know that ads are for skipping and blocking. Their elders are more anxiety-ridden. Having grown up in an America economically and culturally dependent on its fantasy-mongering industries, they look upon ads as key to unlocking the appetites, desires, and dreams that get people moving, and spending. But they also see the purity…

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Collision Course: Postliberals v. Libertarians

In the pages of Politico in May 2016, I wrote that the partisan realignment of voters among the two major parties was nearly complete, while the policy realignment had only just begun:  “What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when those new partisan coalitions decide which ideas and beliefs they…

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Which Way—Of Life?

Daniel McCarthy’s recent First Things essay eloquently articulates two points that have become central to the discourse of our more thoughtful nationalists. First, economic growth isn’t everything. Second, it’s necessary at this juncture to re-negotiate our social contract, making it more responsive to the needs of struggling middle-class Americans. In very broad form, it’s hard…

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Toward a Citizen Economics

Travel in certain circles and you will hear people lament the dearth of fiscally conservative, socially liberal political options. That’s the logic driving former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to explore an independent presidential bid, for example. Anecdotally, on careful examination the social liberalism of these voters is normally more pronounced than their fiscal conservatism. Empirically,…

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No War, No Nationalism?

Daniel McCarthy’s First Things essay on “A New Conservative Agenda” is a crucial reminder that the America we know is no longer the founders’ republic, the Cold War superpower, or even the liberal hegemon of the 1990s. The first step toward a governing conservatism is to come to terms with “the century in which we actually…

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Where Else Are You Going To Go?

Last Tuesday night President Trump told Congress and the country, “As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.” He’s dead right. Even the winners do not come out of long wars well. Ask our British cousins what winning both world wars – much longer wars for…

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Our President Seizes the Moral High Ground

In his State of the Union President Trump seized the moral high ground in the on-going argument over the crisis, indeed, the national emergency, on our southern border.  The key moment in his powerful speech came when the President directly addressed the border crisis by declaring: “This is a moral issue. The lawless state of…

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A Speech Divided?

In some ways, President Trump’s State of the Union was a speech divided against itself. On the one hand, the President extolled the virtues of “groundbreaking criminal justice reform;” ad-libbed a commitment to welcoming legal immigrants “in the largest numbers ever;” pushed once more for a new entitlement, “nationwide paid family leave;” and played, alternatively,…

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Short Term Gains

5   points that cancel each other out, with the final score to be determined. 1) A positive. What’s clear is that amidst the extreme and bordering-on-insane media narratives—which show no signs of abating—every time Trump gets a chance to speak directly to the people with a normal political speech in hand, he does rather well….

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Trump Should Take The SOTU On The Road

Let’s face it.  State of the Union speeches are neither generally noteworthy nor much remembered.  Nothing of value would be lost if presidents reverted to the pre-Woodrow Wilson practice of submitting SOTU messages in writing only.  But that  isn’t going to happen.  Thanks to television and presidential vanity, the SOTU message has become an over-hyped…

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The Statue of Liberty or the Wall: Do I Have to Choose?

The reality and one of the beauties of America is that your ancestors didn’t have to be born here for you to be as much a part of the country as those whose families came over on the Mayflower or fought the Battle of Bunker Hill. America was the first nation founded solely on an…

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What Trump Didn’t Say

This State of the Union address was notable for its subtle or quiet articulation of the American Dream, running parallel to the overt one. Beyond Trump’s affirmative messaging was an important theme sketched out through things unsaid. Today and on into at least the near future, the president suggested, Americans still have the needed resources…

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The Televisual Era is Over

But only political victory can stop elite mobbery of our political discourse. Between the “bombshell” Buzzfeed story that, “if true,” was finally going to sink Donald Trump, and the savaging of the MAGA hat wearing Covington High School teens, the tired old media has had another banner week. This promises to be yet another year…

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In Honor of Bre Payton

As family, friends, and colleagues gathered to remember her beautiful life and legacy this past weekend in Washington D.C., we at the Claremont Institute join in remembering Bre Payton for her intelligence, her courageous enthusiasm for discovering truth, her memorable wit, her winsome charm, and her kindness—not to mention the unforgettable way she rocked a…

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Smirking While White

Suppose the second video had never come out and the Covington Catholic High School boys had not been exonerated. Suppose the media had not been compelled to issue pathetic, half-hearted apologies for stoking the flames of hatred after the incident. Suppose the pundits had not sheepishly deleted their rush-to-judgment tweets condemning the boys. What exactly would…

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Cosmic & Biological Teleology

We appreciate Professor Arnhart’s notice of, and comments on, our essay at his blog. As we note, we are in broad agreement with those Straussians—including Roger Masters, the early Leon Kass, and Arnhart himself—who argue that modern science does not refute the possibility of natural right.  We differ with Arnhart, however, in a few particulars. …

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Thanksgiving Grace: An Old Scottish Blessing

My late husband’s favorite grace, recited with a Scottish burr and good whiskey in hand: A Selkirk Grace  Some hae meat and cannae eat. Some nae meat but want it. We hae meat and we can eat and sae the Lord be thankit. Translated: Some have meat and cannot eat. Some no meat but want…

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Our Shared Debt of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is one of two quintessentially American holidays. The other, of course, is the Fourth of July. Thanksgiving is first in order of time. July Fourth is first in order of principle. July Fourth marks the time of our common cause and dedication to the idea that all men are created equal. It marks what…

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Ethics and Metaphysics at Princeton in 1750s-60s

Here’s a taste of what you had to be able to argue (in Latin) in order to graduate from Princeton in order to graduate back in the day. Robby George would (no doubt gladly!) find himself the leebearal on campus… ETHICS, 1762 1. The highest perfection of men depends on their liberation from all sin….

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Ethics at Harvard, 1810

In the founding era, one graduated by means of a scholastic practice in which seniors argued various propositions (in Latin) in a public forum. These lists of theses give one a sense of what the institution thought, as an institution, ought to be taught to all of its students. Here’s the “Ethics” section for Harvard…

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Post-Midterms: The Democratic Party’s Radicalized Foreign Policy

Thanks to the methodical takeover of its party institutions and non-profits by an energized philanthropic project beginning after John Kerry’s loss in the 2004 presidential election, the Democratic Party has undergone what can only be described as a radicalization process. After the donor class moved leftward, a new, woke generation—concerned with microaggressions, social justice, and…

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The Long-term Implications of the Midterms

Much of the post-election analysis will likely focus on the immediate policy implications of the Democratic takeover of the House and the increase of Republican strength in the Senate, as is appropriate. On this point, both Democrats and Republicans can claim minor victories. Democrats had a good night overall, and can take solace in the…

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The Question of the Day

The Democrats and the entire, united ruling class threw the kitchen sink at Trump to try overturning the verdict of 2016, and failed spectacularly. The Republicans can thank the Democrats for the horror show they put on at the Kavanaugh hearings because that, with the rest of their threatening behavior, neutralized the enormous human and…

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Moving Forward

What is most significant for our country’s future is how we understand the liberty and equality that forms us and how much we can preserve the natural sources of happiness in family and friendship. On these depend our individual virtues and our appreciation of the worth of free speech and a free economy. A single…

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It Will Get Ugly

It seems that voters did not, in fact, repudiate Republicans at the ballot box this week—at least to the extent that electoral projections based on off-year history and media hopes for a “blue wave” failed to materialize. Even so, Nancy Pelosi and #resist-fueled Democrats will control the House of Representatives at least for the next…

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Both Sides Failed

The results of the 2018 midterm elections can be considered a draw. For the Democratic Party, their hopes of a Big Blue Wave representing a repudiation of President Trump failed to materialize. Instead, they performed well within the norm for the opposing party in the midterm elections of a new president. For the Republicans, facing a favorable…

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Time For a Governing Strategy

There was no blue wave. The election was at most a swell, with nary a whitecap to be seen. It was certainly not a shellacking. This means that President Trump continues to be a plus for Republicans. However, it’s no secret that Trump plays differently in different parts of the country, and with different groups…

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The Midterms Steepen the Learning Curve

From a region of my mind known as the top of my head: If Trumpistas think they can govern without RINOs or suburban women, they are mistaken. The president will learn more about the complexities of governing in the next two years than he has in the his preceding 70. Whether this will help or…

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Make News Great Again?

Ben Collins, NBC News reporter on the dystopia beat, has a gloomy prediction to make about the coming years. The online rule of the algorithms, he writes, “is going to dramatically shape politics in ways that were previously unheard of, and it will not be a party-line phenomenon. It will divide the electorate into groups…

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Roundup: Why Liberalism Failed

Claremont Senior Fellow and Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, Charles R. Kesler, Jonah Goldberg, and Patrick Deneen discussed “Is Liberalism Failing?” at an event moderated by Vincent Philip Muñoz and hosted by the Constitutional Studies Department at the University of Notre Dame on October 11, 2018. Video is available here. Last updated October 12,…