Feature 05.07.2019 5 minutes

Recovering Americanism


The path back requires new confidence in the face of today's dominant delusions and doctrines.

Many Americans recognize, to borrow a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, that we are engaged in a new sort of cold civil war: one testing whether our nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

On one side, a many-headed movement at the intersection of identity politics, political correctness, and multiculturalist ideology runs increasingly rampant. With increasingly open contempt for our creed, culture, and history, it flexes its will to power though an unholy alliance between America’s technocrats and its social justice clerisy.

On the other, a more uncertain coalition is drawing together. With its center of gravity to the right of center—and incorporating growing numbers of left- and libertarian-leaning Americans increasingly disillusioned by the diminishing returns of appeasing today’s revolutionary vanguard—this coalition seeks, and must forge, a fresh articulation of Americanism, one that can be the wellspring of decisive action leavened by enduring wisdom.

In his influential new essay, Claremont President Ryan P. Williams explains the irrepressible nature of this conflict, and rearticulates the path back to a renewed Americanism. It was dismayingly  unsurprising when the essay triggered Google to prohibit the Claremont Institute’s use of the tech giant’s services to advertise Claremont’s upcoming 40th Anniversary Gala celebration, honoring Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to its own readers. (Williams recounts the ordeal in our pages and at the Wall Street Journal.)

Google—only when closely pressed over a period of days—eventually claimed the ban was simply no more than an error. But over that span, voices on the Right, many all too aware of the censorious conduct that is the new norm among the tech elite, jumped forward in counterattack, defending both Claremont and Williams’ appraisal of the stakes a conflict that the untoward saga has thrown into even sharper relief. (The list includes American GreatnessThe Daily Wire, Human Events, The Federalist, National Review, and Power Line.)

Here, we present several reflections focused specifically on Williams’ essay as part of The American Mind’s ongoing discussion of how best to understand both the threat to America and the components of an Americanism that can prevail.

To defend America from the multiculturalist ideology that has metastasized from ’90s-era campuses to spread throughout elite institutions, Jeff Giesea argues that a new understanding of our identity must be operationalized—one simultaneously creedal and rooted in our national character. Peter Berkowitz, by contrast, suggests that the threat is a deformed and incoherent cluster of claims, not a doctrine capable of establishing a new regime.

With additional reflections to come in the days ahead, the conversation continues.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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