Tag: Conservatism

Within political discussions on the Right, social conservatism is on the rise. Why did the Right have a libertarian phase, and why is it leaving it behind? What does social conservatism look like in the world of practical public policy, and what is its future? How do religious citizens fit within the conservative movement?

Ryan Anderson ’04, is the director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a thinktank at the forefront of just such questions. After graduating from Princeton, Dr. Anderson pursued his PhD in Political Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the co-author of five books, most recently Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing (Regnery, 2022). His research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, in two Supreme Court cases. In addition to leading the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Anderson serves as the John Paul II Teaching Fellow in Social Thought at the University of Dallas, and the Founding Editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute.

How to Know the Future


Recently I was asked, “What do you think the future of America will be?” Since I was talking with a farmer, my response was “seeds.” I continued, “The biblical concept ‘you will reap what you sow’ always comes to mind. What is true for individuals is also true for institutions, organizations, and countries. What America sows, she will also reap.” What anyone desires for their future depends on the kind of planting they are doing in the present.

Any kind of future harvest one desires, depends on the seeds one is sowing now. And everyone is sowing seeds. Personally, my investment in the future comes in the form of influential ideas. My gift is as a preservatist; I am trying to conserve the great ideas and ideals passed down to me, passing those ideas on to others. It is my hope as a writer and teacher that influential ideas such as liberty, justice, courage, wisdom, and charity will influence individuals and institutions.

But the thing about sowing seed is you have to wait for the harvest. I can be pleasantly surprised by immediate results; except my view, is the long view. I believe in what Proverbs 11:18 calls “sowing seeds of righteousness,” which will produce good fruit into the future.

Annika sits down with Robert Doar, president of the American Enterprise Institute, one of Washington D.C.’s most prominent think-tanks, to discuss the state of the American Right: what are the driving political issues of our time? What is the importance of freedom and liberty within the right? Drawing on Robert’s background in poverty studies, they discuss what the Right has done right and wrong in addressing poverty, as well as Robert’s time at our very own Princeton.

More on Robert Doar, https://www.aei.org/profile/robert-doar/

Celebrate Our Victories!


It has been an awful couple of years in the United States—culturally, religiously, politically—and it’s difficult to appreciate that some things are actually moving in a positive direction. In contrast to the disasters we’ve witnessed, the Federalist published a piece that focused on how many things we have accomplished, and I wanted to expand on that list. In some cases, my points are less about major victories, but about steps that we have taken to pull us out of the mire and take constructive steps to take back our country.

Let me summarize the points made in this article, and there were ten of them:

Overturning Roe, which has been long overdue; states, courts and parents pushing back on the trans agenda; even the general population beginning to realize that the media is in collusion with the Left; the Supreme Court upholding our second amendment rights; getting rid of Liz Cheney; a federal judge “smacking down” Biden’s federal mask mandate; Top Gun “Maverick” which bucked the Chinese censors, celebrated America and was hugely successful; the fight against Loudon County schools; Elon Musk’s restricting censorship actions of his own employees; and finally, states fighting for election integrity.

We Are No Longer Conservatives; We Are Restorationists


Conservatives have long struggled to define the term “conservatism.” This makes sense since it’s always been less a political ideology than a life philosophy. Perhaps even an attitude.

When asked to define conservatism, Abraham Lincoln replied, “Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?”

William F. Buckley updated his answer for the mid-20th century, framing it in opposition to liberalism. In other words, an anti-ideology. In his book Up from Liberalism (1959), Buckley declares conservativism is  “freedom, individuality, the sense of community, the sanctity of the family, the supremacy of the conscience, the spiritual view of life.”

There’s No Going Back – Ever


We can never go back to the “good old days.” That was a thought that occurred to me today, and I realized how that fact—and I believe it is a fact—defines not only how we see the world, but how we see our political reality. It colors how we see those who agree with us, and those who vehemently disagree with us. I also realized that all the Trump/Never Trump arguments are not really about Trump at all. The people who get stuck on either side of that conflict are struggling with something else entirely. And realizing that truth, with honesty and sincerity, might actually bridge the seemingly insurmountable polarization that has plagued this country, particularly the Conservatives, for years.

Think about it. There is no denying that life today is vastly different from the life we experienced, say, 20 years ago. And many people have a predisposition to living lives that are relatively predictable, familiar, and consistent. When they have occurrences that disrupt that predictability, they can feel beleaguered—life has turned upside down and has let them down in a way, so that they become confused, stressed, and even angry at the new and unanticipated outcomes. They feel betrayed and disappointed, and once they wrestle down these reactions, they are ready to go to war. They can decide to fight for what they once anticipated for their lives, demand that life return to some kind of normalcy, and rebel against those who think they should be prepared to go in a new direction. Even if that direction has some merit, they will reject it because it is not the life that they expected or desired.

I propose to you that this mindset evolves from that sense of life’s betrayal, and Donald Trump has become the scapegoat for those who reject Trump and life’s demands.

Small Towns Do Big Things (aka, America Is OK)


A text from my sister prompted this post.  She lives in a small, rural mountain town in Maryland.  It read as follows: “We had a luncheon after church for our lead singer/guitarist.  He is moving to Williamsburg, VA.  We are also taking a collection for a church in the Kentucky floods.  A couple is going down to take the supplies and funds.”

I asked my sister, is that the chubby guy that sings? I remembered him, as I watched those church services online during Covid.  Her pastor’s very encouraging and passionate sermons were an inspiration during that time, and I remembered this talented musician.

Here’s a sample about six minutes into the video:

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When President Biden took office with a slim majority in the House and a tied Senate, the first order of Democratic business was to make sure nothing like a free and fair election ever happened again. To that end, they created HR1, a blatant attempt to lock in through federal legislation the integrity-undermining aspects of […]

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The United States has a long and storied history of creating protected classes, going back to 1866 following the Civil War. The goal was to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their color, would enjoy the same rights as white citizens. A second bill was passed in 1870 and was intended to back up the […]

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Respecting the Institutions


I went to a high school basketball game this evening to watch my cousin Grace play. As we always do before the first varsity game each night, we stood for the national anthem. I’ve written in years past about the impression this makes on me, the thought of crowds of parents and players in thousands of high school gyms across the country doing exactly the same thing. It’s one of the things that makes me stubbornly optimistic about America, the knowledge that this is a solemn moment for so many, many of whom are largely unconcerned about politics but nonetheless feel pride and reverence toward our flag and the nation it represents.

On the drive home I thought about those who burn flags, or kneel in disrespect to the flag, or otherwise feel and express contempt for our country. I understand criticism, and I respect the right to express criticism. But I think I also understand the desire to tear down, burn down, gut, and destroy whole institutions out of anger and frustration, often in hopes that something better might rise in its place.

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With a name like mine, there’s nowhere to hide. I may well be the only Tal Fortgang in the world. I’m almost definitely the only one in the English-speaking world. (Fortgang family lore holds that there may be a distant cousin, a woman living in Israel, whose name was Tal Fortgang before she married and […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they offer the second installment of their highly coveted year-end awards. Today they remark on the people connected to politics that they’re most sorry to see pass away in 2021. They also share their choices for rising political stars and the political figures who appear to be fading into oblivion – rarely to be heard from again. Or, in Greg’s case, maybe they just really, really want them to go away forever.


David Brooks ‘Terrified’ by NatCon; Most Conservatives Are Not


New York Times columnist David Brooks is terrified. This time, it’s not due to a shabby Bordeaux or a deli owner using “who” instead of “whom,” but from the National Conservatism Conference held in Orlando two weeks ago.

Called NatCon for short, the conference “brings together public figures, journalists, scholars, and students who understand that the past and future of conservatism are inextricably tied to the idea of the nation, to the principle of national independence, and to the revival of the unique national traditions that alone have the power to bind a people together and bring about their flourishing.” Speakers included Sens. Cruz, Hawley, and Rubio; radical bomb-throwers like Glenn Loury, Rich Lowry, and Batya Ungar-Sargon; and others committed to the cause, such as Peter Thiel, Christopher Rufo, and Rod Dreher.

I’m terrified just typing those names! (If I didn’t have my inhaler near, I couldn’t keep writing.) Anyway, when Brooks attended NatCon, he “had a sinking sensation” about the “apocalyptic,” “disconcerting,” “alarming” event and what it presaged for conservative youth. (You should have heard what he said about the Bordeaux.)

If We Can Keep It


About 235 years ago a deal was struck in Philadelphia. It was a compromise, an attempt to balance the sometimes conflicting interests of a sprawling new world.

Upon the conclusion of negotiations, Benjamin Franklin said of America’s not-yet-ratified Constitution:

The Day Conservatism Died


On January 12, 2020, Roger Scruton died after a half-year struggle with cancer. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The lockdowns began the next week. Then came the masks. Zinnism became the official ideology of the American state in June. Thus the old world perished, and a new one was born.

• • •

Book Review: Roger Scruton’s ‘Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition’


Published in 2017, a little over two years before his death, this I think was Roger Scruton’s last published work devoted to conservatism proper.  He has written other books on music and art, albeit as seen through a conservative lens, but their primary focus was aesthetic and not civic. Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition summarizes a great career of a man who has lived his life in the public square with a particular philosophy that runs against the current of contemporary ethos.  Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a conservative in the paleo-conservative sense, not some neoconservative rebranding of once Liberal thought. He is British, though has had a voice in European and American conservative circles, a professor of philosophy, has published over 50 books on a wide range of subjects, and for almost twenty years was chief editor at the conservative quarterly, The Salisbury Review.  Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scruton helped establish underground academic networks in communist-controlled countries.

This is an excellent and concise book on the history of modern conservatism by an author who lived through most of the debates of the last fifty years.  When Scruton identifies modern conservatism, he says it is “a product of the Enlightenment,” although acknowledging that conservatism dates back in every era of history.  Conservatism for Scruton is a set of customs, values, and institutions built by a community over time that have proven to sustain, preserve and “ensure [the] community’s long-term survival” and that give it a sense of identity and unity.  Conservatism in the modern sense is a counter to the Liberal emphasis of reshaping society as radical individualism that rose out of the Enlightenment.  “Tradition,” as Scruton observes from Edmund Burke, “is a form of knowledge.”

Scruton walks us through the philosophical ideas that have shaped conservatism going back to Edmund Burke, who argued against a notion of society as a “social contract” (from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) but as a “shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil but ours to safeguard for our dependents” (p. 45).  Indeed I never signed a social contract but I was certainly born into a shared inheritance.

US Conservatives Could Take a Play or Two from the People’s Party of Canada


Maxime Bernier says he will not be taking the Covid-19 vaccine. He is the only political party leader in Canada to do so. 

An initial Google search of Maxime Bernier directed me to an article about his arrest in 2021 for attending a protest against the nation’s Covid-19 policies and a shiesty story about his not taking the vaccine. I was also directed to the website for the People’s Party of Canada–which Mr. Bernier founded.

On the website is a page with the heading “Aren’t You Tired of Lockdowns?” The article cites the increased joblessness and declining mental health of Canadians, specifically Canadian youth, while asking the question we have all been asking, “Do lockdowns even work?” Bernier wishes to institute a more  “compassionate and effective approach” by protecting the elderly and allowing everyone else to return to a level of normalcy. 

A False Dichotomy: Be Patsies, or Be Like Them


I’m pretty much a broken record on the theme of speaking out, arguing that conservatives have to express conservative ideas boldly, and as clearly and with as much grace as we can muster. One common response to this is the claim that we’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked, and that now we have to adopt the techniques of our opponents.

I ran into this just today, when I suggested on another thread that the woke practice of “doxxing” (publishing personal information about private citizens) and getting people fired for the things they say or do on their own time was something we conservatives should not embrace. I’ve tried to make the same point on other occasions about such things as violating people’s first amendment rights, electoral cheating, and lying to further the conservative agenda. These are all things our opponents do. I don’t think that we should do them.

Stop Feeding the Beast


There is a well-known principle among those who live near wildlife: Don’t feed the beasts, nothing good will come from it.

But feeding the beast is what a lot of conservatives are doing lately. The beast in this case is the widespread deception of the progressive movement which dominates the media and somehow gained a foothold within the Christian church of all places. What has manifested is a kind of conversational dance between conservatives and the progressive left that follows a predictable pattern, and we see it all the time now.

First, something bubbles to the surface of the liberal consciousness. Liberals, being a passionate lot driven by emotion and controlling all major forms of media, begin saturating the internet with their latest proclamations about what we should all fight against today. Mostly this consists of denigrating anyone who holds an opposite position as racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever.

Don’t Even Try to Replace the Irreplaceable. Retire the Golden Mic.


A lot of keyboards are busy today either celebrating the life and career of the estimable Rush Limbaugh or are celebrating his death. You know, the usual blue-checkmark accounts on Twitter engaging in the exercise. I will spend little time on the latter. I do not wish to show any respect to the secular cretins among us who celebrate anyone’s death.

We all remember “firsts” in our lives. Certain political memories, among others (this is a family blog) stick with us forever, such as the JFK assassination. The days that Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan were shot. And for those living in Washington, DC back in 1982, the Air Florida Flight 90 crash on the 14th Street Bridge. Hours later, on the same day, DC’s once-vaunted Metro system experienced their first-even subway crash at the beginning of the afternoon rush hour. Lenny Skutnick’s life-saving heroics in the Potomac River that cold winter morning still lives on in my memory. Trump’s surprise election night victory four years ago is clearly another.

I also remember the first time I tuned into Rush Limbaugh on the radio. It was in late April 1989, and I’d just started a new job. I had long been fascinated with news/talk radio, which had no personalities in those days. Just lots of open line time for average folks to opine on certain issues. I would listen for hours to WRC AM980 radio in DC during the early ’80s.