1. Sorry to have been out of touch. But glad to see Pete and Carl posting on how conservatives are getting whipped on the narrative or “branding” front.
2. On FDR’s Second Bill of Rights: I agree it was an effort at “refounding.” I also think it failed. Our Court flirted with the idea of “welfare rights” in the mid-60s, but not since then. Today the idea that “freedom from want” is a legal right—an individual right—has no legs. Lots of liberal academics teach “social justice,” but the idea hasn’t captured the popular imagination or infused our real constitutional interpretation. We can’t even justify affirmative action as an egalitarian right flowing from remediation or just identity politics. Our Court increasingly hasn’t regarded it as a “right” for those who receive it, but hide it under the educational imperative of “diversity” for those who don’t receive it. And even the diversity justification is now under siege. So FDR’s Second Bill is the darling of SOME liberal academics and the target of OUTRAGE of some libertarian/conservative commentators, but it doesn’t drive our mainstream political life.
3. I do agree that conservatives continue to be excluded from defining our academic narratives in the social science and the humanities. The newest and most pernicious form of narrative is the turn to the idea that universities have the “civic mission” to transform political dialogue by activist illumination of community deliberation. Civic education really is becoming community organizing.
4. But it would be as easy to ignore the libertarian threat to higher education, which may be just as pernicious. The libertarian threat to higher education in the name of productivity is seen in the “public policy” think tanks influencing Republican governors to “disrupt” higher education by holding it to the standard of measurable competencies, sometimes beginning and ending with salaries offered to graduates. Their target is both the humanities understood by the ideological left and the humanities as understood by traditional conservatives. Remember here our Mr. Ceaser’s alliance with the sociological left against UVA’s Board of Visitors’ efforts at disruption against the unproductive liberal arts and toward online education, MOOCS, and such. Bauerlein often seems to be allying with the disrupting libertarians against the ideologues, but it’s hard to tell whether his efforts actually help conservatives. We can see that both forms of conservative alliance are tricky and questionable, because “our allies” our hostile to “our narrative.”
5. I agree with Pete every time he reminds us that the Republicans—especially since the election—have become the stupid party. They have lost the capacity to develop a middle-class narrative against the Democrats’ cultural libertarianism as part of an agenda of pro-family public policy. They’ve lost the capacity to develop a narrative of American leadership of the world through prudent confidence and military strength. They, as Pete says, talk as if the minimum wage, the tax rate for the rich, unions, and the road to serfdom are our key issues. The Randians really are doing the best job of mobilizing what can be loosely called the conservative young. The result is conservatism becomes just another form of Tocquevillian individualism, of apathetic indifference to the souls of one’s fellow citizens and one’s fellow human beings.