We typically don't bother to keep pace with the 24-hour news cycle or the daily political horserace here at First Things. Like our founder, Richard John Neuhaus, we believe that public life is ultimately shaped by culture and religion—our ideas about the first and highest things—rather than clever soundbites or wonky white papers.
On occasion, however, heeding first principles uncovers something of pressing public concern—something newsworthy, right under everyone's noses. Such was the case with Christopher Caldwell's essay on the opioid crisis, “American Carnage,” in the April 2017 issue of First Things. Heroin, oxycontin, and similar drugs are killing Americans at an unprecedented rate, now so high that opioids have surpassed gun homicides and car accidents among the leading causes of death. But the true scandal, as Caldwell shows, is that political elites' ideology of deregulation—moral and economic, liberal and conservative—is responsible for creating, disguising, and prolonging the carnage. As Caldwell puts it, “The politics of the 1980s wound up enlisting the American middle class in the project of its own dispossession.”
Ending the devastation wrought by opioids in American communities requires us to acknowledge that the crisis exists. That's why we're pleased to report that Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently interviewed Christopher Caldwell on his show, calling “American Carnage” the “single best overview of the opioid crisis” yet printed. You can watch the full interview in the video embedded below.
Connor Grubaugh is a junior fellow at First Things.