Trumpism: A Politics Desperately Seeking a Theory

If Hillary Clinton were President, conservative scholars and journalists would know what to say about the current state of American politics, the Republican Party, and conservatism. With Trump, all is in flux. It might explain why awkwardness and a talking-past-each-other quality would be the impressions left by a panel discussion in Washington that the Claremont Institute sponsored last week.

The institute, located in California, not Washington, is nonetheless being spoken of as “the academic home of Trumpism.” (See this piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education and another in the New York Times.) Anyone expecting to get the inside scoop on “Conservatism in the Trump Era,” as the event was entitled, would have gone away unfulfilled. Trumpism is at this point as hard to pin down as its unpredictable namesake.

Read More

America, What’s Left of It: A Conversation with Patrick Deneen

conserving americaPatrick Deneen joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss his latest book, Conserving America? Essays on Present Discontents.

Looking at Trump from Outside the Bubble

Donald Trump Hotel Letter T Luggage Cart Wagon Closeup Detail No

Everyone seems to be sharing their reflections on the election of Donald Trump as President (for example, here, here, and here), prompting me to weigh in with some of my own.

Read More

The Crisis of American Conservatism: A Conversation with George Nash

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08:   (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)The great historian of American conservatism, George Nash, returns to Liberty Law Talk to discuss the current state of conservatism after the improbable victory of Donald Trump.

Coming Out of the Bubble

bubble dreams

Those who live in a bubble had best admit it, and apparently I do.

Read More

Brokering the Battle of Ideas

Meeting Of The Minds

A political movement’s success must be judged ultimately by how much change it causes, or prevents, in society. The Right has been greatly frustrated in this respect by the fact that the presidency seems unattainable by any serious conservative not named Ronald Reagan.

Read More

The End of Conservative Ideology?

11/18/1986-Washington, D.C.-: President Reagan talks with William F. Buckley, Jr. prior to a dinner honoring the latter.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s conquest of the Republican presidential nomination, many wise critics have concluded that the old Buckley-Reagan conservative ideology is dead. The paradoxical reply: It is not dead because the original was not an ideology.

That declaration had always annoyed me in my younger days, when William F. Buckley, Jr. would ceaselessly insist that conservatism was not ideological.

Sure it was. What did Buckley himself write in his Up from Liberalism (1959) about the essence of conservatism? Its principles were set forth therein as “freedom, individuality, the sense of community, the sanctity of the family, the supremacy of conscience, the spiritual view of life,” a strong defense—and all were meaningful “in proportion as political power is decentralized.”

Read More

The Secret Lives of Right-Wing Professors: A Conversation with Joshua Dunn

passing

This next edition of Liberty Law Talk is a conversation with Joshua Dunn on a new book that he has co-authored with Jon Shields entitled Passing on the Right. Dunn and Shields interviewed 153 professors across a range of disciplines who consider themselves conservatives and libertarians. Their findings paint a more moderate position on the types of challenges conservative academics face compared to much conventional thinking on this subject. Evidence that they are the victims of a systematic campaign of exclusion and persecution doesn't seem to exist. What does seem to exist is a host of other problems that must be carefully…

Read More

Dismantling the Leftist Academic Complex: A Conversation with Roger Scruton

foolsRoger Scruton is certainly no stranger to Liberty Law Talk. His return is occasioned by Bloomsbury's republication of his 1985 title, Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands, a book that caused tremendous academic controversy, threats against the publisher, and the book's eventual scuttling by Longman, its original publisher. Scruton's crime was to have attempted to take the New Left seriously, finding it severely wanting, if not absurd. We revisit the book's fallout, discuss its ideas, and consider the state of contemporary Leftist thinking.

Buckley’s Prize

WFB

On Friday, National Review published a scathing editorial in opposition to Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President, followed by the statements of 22 prominent conservatives ranging from neocons like Bill Kristol, to social conservatives like Cal Thomas and Michael Medved, to radio/television personalities like Glenn Beck. The editorial slammed Trump as “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” True to pugnacious form, Trump fired back, asserting that “the late, great William F. Buckley would have been ashamed of what happened to his prize.”…

Read More