Donald Trump’s presidency has provoked an outpouring of anguished commentary about the norms — that is, customary behavior and moral standards — that underlie liberal democracy in America. The president has certainly disrupted settled patterns of campaigning, politics, and governance. The reasons for his success, the limitations of his style, and the consequences for the nation deserve careful examination.
Like an individual mixed up about his convictions, a nation perplexed about its principles is prone to self-inflicted wounds. Both are likely to wander aimlessly and choose friends poorly while falling for the blandishments of adversaries. They are prone to misjudge their interests and misconstrue justice. A nation perplexed about its principles exacerbates citizens’ muddle about their convictions.
There’s no doubt that the current aim of higher education – “reproduction of ideology and the formation of like-minded political activists” – is harming America and the students and taxpayers who pay vast sums to these indoctrination factories.
Of all the strange and remarkable features of politics in the Trump era, among the least strange and remarkable is the alliance that has emerged between conservatism and populism. That it seems so striking to many conservatives reflects a certain disconnection from their tradition. The uncertainty and agitation that the alliance introduced into conservative ranks underscore the importance of recovering a lively appreciation of conservatism’s origins, major ideas, and perennial task.
Many in the United States worry about the erosion of democratic norms. Too few, however, exhibit concern for the steady deterioration over the last half century of the essential democratic norm of free speech.
Today, according to Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams, “multiculturalism and its politics of identity pose an existential threat to the American political order comparable to slavery in the 1850s or communism during the Cold War.”
The divisions among American conservatives have generally been more evident -- certainly to conservatives -- than the principles that might unite them. President Reagan’s two terms are the exception. The pronounced divisions of today are the rule.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday launched a commission on “unalienable rights” that will help the State Department determine what it considers a universal human right when deciding to commit American support.
The Constitution blends political ideas into a harmonious whole. Modern partisan warfare, on the other hand, sharpens differences and dulls the harmony, and democracy suffers.
The love of liberty has nourished our nation since before its founding. Yet classical liberalism, which ought to provide common ground for left and right in the United States, is under attack today by prominent elements of both.
Speaking in praise of freedom has fallen out of fashion in American politics. That throws public discourse out of step with the country’s constitutional system, which puts a premium on protecting individual liberty.
In 1955, in the first issue of National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. exuberantly proclaimed that the task for conservatives was "to stand athwart history, yelling stop."
Highly educated people say the darndest things, these days particularly about the tea party movement. Vast numbers of other highly educated people read and hear these dubious pronouncements, smile knowingly, and nod their heads in agreement.
Conservative media stars have gotten good mileage out of elite bashing.
After the inglorious defeat of his cross country campaign to win passage of his second stimulus bill in the Democratic Party controlled Senate, only diehard supporters still share President Obama’s apparently unshaken confidence in his speech-making prowess.
This week came news that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant burned alive a Jordanian pilot in a metal cage. Thursday morning's National Prayer Breakfast speech represented the first sign that President Obama is prepared to acknowledge a connection between Islam and the violence -- beheadings, mass murders, rape, human slavery, state sponsorship of terrorism, and military conquest -- jihadists are perpetrating in Muhammad’s name.
Liberalism, most people would agree, stands for the state's responsibility to actively improve the social, economic, and political quality of citizens’ lives. In a more fundamental sense liberalism also denotes certain qualities of mind and character, among them tolerance, generosity, the capacity to engage civilly competing opinions, and a determination to base politics on reason rather than physical force or arbitrary authority.