Confessions of an “Elitist”

I believe that a sense of honor is essential in a political leader and includes commitments to telling the truth (no matter how discomforting) and to doing one’s duty (irrespective of political risk). I believe that a knowledge of history and an openness to learn from it are essential qualities in any public official who proposes to bend the curve of history in a more humane and just direction. I believe that politicians who ignore the danger of unintended consequences inevitably make matters worse rather than better. Continue Reading »

Kempism is Dead

The results of the New York Republican primary should be the final proof that conservatives should move beyond the Jack Kemp model of politics. But you shouldn't listen to me. You should listen to Jack Kemp's former constituents.Jack Kemp brought a great deal of optimism to the often dreary and . . . . Continue Reading »

Redeeming Lincoln

In recent decades, Abraham Lincoln’s reputation has not fared particularly well in the black community. Ebony magazine editor Lerone Bennett, Jr., famously argued that Lincoln was a proslavery white supremacist, while Julius Lester wrote that African Americans “have no reason to feel grateful to Abraham Lincoln. Rather, they should be angry at him.”

An Ancient Clash of Civilizations

Whether or not we find these contemporary parallels apt, Rahe’s focus may help us understand Sparta’s important role in early modern Europe, on which he has written significant scholarship. Rousseau modeled his ideal communities on Sparta. American patriot Samuel Adams dreamed of his native Boston as “a Christian Sparta” that valued virtue over wealth, though New England ended up pursuing the more Athenian path of a democratic commercial republic. With the deindustrialization of America and the growth of a large standing army, we may come to appreciate the virtues of Sparta once again.

What Trump Teaches Us

We’re in a clarifying moment. Since Super Tuesday and Trump’s successes in a number of states, the Republican Party establishment is mounting an all-out effort to discredit him and to prevent him from becoming the GOP nominee. If these efforts succeed, something like the standard politics of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Refugees in Germany

As I am writing these lines at the end of November, the county and city of Passau (where I am from) is putting up more refugees than whole countries in Eastern Europe have agreed to accept. Winter is coming, so things must be done safely and well. I am proud of the charity and hospitality I see . . . . Continue Reading »

The Perils of Religious Liberty

On January 24, 1774, the young James Madison, twenty-two years old and two years out of Princeton, wrote an exasperated letter to his college friend William Bradford, who lived in Pennsylvania. In Virginia, Madison wrote, a season of intolerance had dawned. “That diabolical, hell-conceived . . . . Continue Reading »

Culture By Subtraction

Could I get some mayonnaise with these fries?” I asked the garçon in my broken French, imagining I was being a bit chic in eschewing ketchup. “Impossible!” he replied. I tried to rephrase the question in the certain knowledge that I am among the world’s best speakers of broken French. . . . . Continue Reading »