The Claremont Institute has had many Lincoln and Publius fellows over the years. I can remember Andrew Breitbart being part of these one- or two-week educational programs, along with Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and Sen. Tom Cotton, to name just a few.
These were men and women who got into the arena and defended their country. They came into the program as men and women of superior intellect. We hoped we shared with them the genius of the American founders in such a way as might make their arguments better.
I don’t know Jack Posobiec or Mytheos Holt, the subjects of some derision by Mona Charen in National Review Online earlier this month, but I look forward to meeting both young men. They seem spirited, patriotic, and sensible about our current political predicament.
As far as I can tell from Charen’s article, their unforgivable crime is supporting President Trump, both as candidate and as president. For Charen, this apparently disqualifies both for membership in what passes for the conservative movement and the Claremont Institute’s fellowship programs.
The Claremont Institute, led now brilliantly by Ryan Williams, has been teaching young men and women for more than 40 years about the principles of the American Founding and the statesmanship necessary to recover those principles in today’s politics.
At the Claremont Institute we believe that the American idea still matters—that human beings can govern themselves with their God-given reason and that the genius of the American founders and the government they created has made more human beings freer and prosperous than at any other time in human history. We believe that absent these principles of the Founding and the common sense of the American people, the ideology of multiculturalism, identity politics, and political correctness will continue to erode America’s sense of exceptionalism and, yes, greatness.
The Claremont Institute began these fellowships—Publius, Lincoln, and John Marshall—because these arguments were nearly nowhere to be found on America’s college campuses. Scholars like Harry Jaffa, Larry Arnn, Christopher Flannery, Peter Schramm, Thomas Silver, Charles Kesler, Edward Erler, Thomas West, Douglas Jeffrey, and John Marini had developed a body of work that let the American founders speak for themselves about why this was a great country, and worthy of our defense and love.
With the exception of a handful of places like Hillsdale College and Claremont McKenna College, students will hear that America was founded by racists who merely wished to perpetuate slavery and exploit the indigenous peoples. They will hear that, far from being worthy of our devotion, America was never great, was objectively evil, and only through the election of Progressive heroes like Barack Obama has it been made better.
Americans sense that this argument is nonsense and deceptively incomplete. But where can they turn for the defense of America, for the words and thoughts of George Washington or Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln? At the Claremont Institute, they may learn these things.
It was our hope, and is our hope, that armed with how these Iron Men saw the world, that Claremont fellows too could go out and help make their country worthy of sacrifice and devotion. For Charen, and the rest of the Never Trump crowd, young Americans like Posobiec and Holt do not deserve such an education because they have actively supported President Trump.
Charen may not share their political views, but are they really the kind of people at which she should direct scorn and ridicule? It would seem to me that an education in the principles of the American Founding would be exactly what she would want for them.
It is unfortunate that Conservatism Inc. has lost its public spiritedness and can’t see that America as we know it can be lost. Anyone caring to look closely at our nation sees a Cold Civil War going on, and that our future is by no means clear. Only the best arguments and the most thoughtful people will be able to help bring this country back. That young men and women who support Trump and his make America great agenda, supported so strongly by so many at the Claremont Institute, including this author, wish to deepen their understanding of founding principles should be the source of hope rather than ridicule.
Let us also be of good cheer. Where we see in our countrymen the need for improvement, let us encourage one another down a higher and nobler path. Let us reserve our animus for the forces who would replace our freedom with bureaucratic tyranny, who today wait in the wings for the end of a Trump presidency. Let us remember why we have fought so long and so hard to defend this country of ours.