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Beginning with his essay “The Flight 93 Election,” published by the Claremont Review of Books in September 2016, Michael Anton has become famous—and infamous—as the foremost intellectual defender of the current president. One can read his new book, The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return, as a longer version of the same defense, and no doubt most will. But Anton has more ambitious aims. Yes, he is a pundit addressing the American electorate in autumn 2020. But he is also what Harry Jaffa would call “the eternal political science professor addressing the eternal class.”

The Stakes exhorts Americans to take eternal principles of historical causation seriously. According to these principles, all regimes, including the one created by the founders of the United States, eventually decline and fall. The Stakes gives an appealing account of the sort of republic that America is supposed to be. The bulk of the book details the way in which that regime has already—­perhaps ­irreversibly—declined.

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