Modern social and political discussions all seem to revolve around the concept of identity. Dr. Carl Trueman, theologian and former William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Public Life here at the Madison Program, discusses how thinkers like Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche created a world in which sexuality is politicized, and in which we all instinctively know what it means to “identify as.”

Dr. Trueman is the author two recent books, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, and a shorter, study-version on the same topic, Strange New World.

Who is the new host of Madison’s Notes? Season 1 host Nino Scalia interviews the host of Season 2, Annika Nordquist. They chat about her interests, background, and the thinkers who have influenced her most.

During the episode, Annika notes the following books as particularly influential on her thought:

What are American conservatives trying to conserve? What is Natural Law, and how can we know it? Is there a single “good life”? Robert P. George, Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, joins the show to answer these questions and others in the Season One finale.

Robert P. George’s personal website:

What does it mean to be a great leader? Have we entered an “Age of Artificial Intelligence”? Why is Joe Lonsdale so optimistic? Joe Lonsdale is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is a co-founder of Palantir, managing partner at 8VC, and host of the “American Optimist” podcast. He joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and others.

Joe Lonsdale’s website:

What does Xi Jinping want, and what is he afraid of? What is the future of China’s relationship with Russia? What should the United States be doing to counter China? Matt Pottinger, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and former Deputy National Security Advisor, joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and others.

Matt Pottinger’s Hoover page:

What’s wrong with vaccine mandates? What is the “biosecurity surveillance regime”? Is trust in our public health institutions damaged beyond repair? Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who was fired by the UC Irvine School of Medicine for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and more.

Dr. Kheriaty’s website:

Why should we study Robert E. Lee? Why did he make the fateful decision to betray his country? How should we judge Robert E. Lee? Allen C. Guelzo, Director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and others.

Robert E. Lee: A Life:

Will Russia invade Ukraine? Has America lost its military edge to Russia and China? Is nuclear war a possibility in the 21st century? Marshall Billingslea, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, has held many important positions in the U.S. government, including those of Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control at the U.S. Department of State and Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and others.

On September 23, 2021, the James Madison Program and the Ethics and Public Policy Center hosted a discussion of Robert P. George and Ryan T. Anderson’s 2019 National Affairs essay, “The Baby and the Bathwater.” George and Anderson delivered remarks and then spoke with Alexandra DeSanctis and Antonin Scalia about the central themes of the essay, and how the philosophical framework they set out applies to America.

Watch “The Baby and the Bathwater: Toward a Recovery of the American Idea”:

The James Madison Program’s new Initiative on Freedom of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression (the “Free Speech Initiative”) will “promote, explain, and defend free speech and academic freedom.” Keith Whittington and Bernard Haykel, co-directors of the Initiative, join Madison’s Notes to discuss the need for and work of the Initiative.

Initiative Homepage:

What did Aristotle and Shakespeare mean to Harry Jaffa, and what might they mean to America? Can extremism be prudent? What is the nature of the crisis facing the West today? Glenn Ellmers, senior fellow with the Claremont Institute, joins the show to discuss his new book, “The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America.”

The Soul of Politics:

Can we learn how to rule? How do military innovations change civil society? What did Machiavelli learn from Xenophon? Shilo Brooks, Faculty Director and Teaching Associate Professor in the Engineering Leadership Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, joins the show to discuss “The Education of Cyrus,” by Xenophon.

The Education of Cyrus:

Did the sexual revolution create identity politics? Why are young men and women so unhappy? Mary Eberstadt, Panula Chair in Christian Culture at the Catholic Information Center and Senior Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, joins the show to answer these questions and others and discuss her new book, “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics.”

Primal Screams:

How are hiring and admissions decisions made in the hard sciences if not by merit? What are the risks of allowing science to be politicized? Professors Dorian Abbot (University of Chicago), Anna Krylov (University of Southern California), David Romps (University of California, Berkeley), and Bernhardt Trout (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), join the show to answer these questions and others.


Why doesn’t Socrates get drunk? Is love finding your “other half”? What’s the relationship between comedy and tragedy, love and immortality? Marcus Gibson, Director of the Princeton Initiative in Catholic Thought, returns to Madison’s Notes to continue our journey through the Platonic dialogues with a discussion of Plato’s Symposium.

Dorian Abbot is an Associate Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had invited Abbot to deliver their prestigious Carlson Lecture, but rescinded the invitation after receiving complaints about an article Abbot had written for Newsweek, titled “The Diversity Problem on Campus.” In response, Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions invited Abbot to speak at the James Madison Program. He’ll do so live on Zoom on October 21st, at 4:30 PM ET. Abbot joins the podcast to discuss MIT’s capitulation, academic freedom in the hard sciences, and more.

Register for Abbot’s Lecture at the James Madison Program:

Jack Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. In 2012, Jack Phillips declined to create a custom wedding cake celebrating a so-called same-sex marriage. The men who requested the cake filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, beginning a legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Jack Phillips joins the show to discuss his new book, “The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court.” Joining Jack is Jake Warner, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom’s Appellate Team.

The Cost of My Faith:

What went wrong in Afghanistan, and who is to blame? Is America safer today than on September 10, 2001? What lessons should the leaders of America’s foreign policy draw from the war in Afghanistan? Ambassador Nathan Sales is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the former U.S. State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and former acting Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. He joins the show to answer these questions and others.

The James Madison Program:

Why is Jordan Peterson so popular? In what ways is Jordan Peterson’s approach to Scripture unique? What can Christians learn from Peterson about the Bible? Christopher Kaczor, Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and discuss his new book, “Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life.”

Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life:

What does the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs do? How can a liberal arts education help you personally and professionally? Roger Carstens, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, joins Madison’s Notes to answer these questions and more.