Commentary: How Progressives Rewrote American History

America’s Founders understood that political change is inevitable. They thought it must come about through constitutional mechanisms, with the consent of the governed, and must never infringe on the natural rights of citizens. Progressives – rejecting the idea that any rights, including the right of consent to government, are natural – accept no such limits. Progressivism insists that the principled American constitutionalism of fixed natural rights and limited and dispersed powers must be overturned and replaced by an organic, evolutionary model of the Constitution. Historical progress should be facilitated by experts dedicated to the expansion of the public sphere and political control – especially at the national level. As progressivism has grown into modern liberalism, the commitment to extra-constitutional “progress” is broadly shared across elite political, academic, legal, and religious circles. Politics is thus increasingly identified with a mix of activism, expertise, and the desire for “change.”

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Commentary: Understanding America’s History and Becoming United

Close-up of one of a marine's face at the Marine Corps War Memorial.

Teachers, friends, and colleagues of mine from the Claremont-Hillsdale school (or “CHS,” after where most of us were trained, and many now teach) have spent years making a concerted effort to find common ground with fellow travelers on the Right who may be broadly understood as paleoconservatives. 

I’m happy to say that, to a large extent, the effort has borne fruit. Many paleoconservatives have been published in the Claremont Review of Books and American Greatness, while many Claremont and Hillsdale scholars (myself included) have written for Modern Age and The American Conservative. There is more cross-pollination and friendly dealing today between the two groups than ever, with each side attending and speaking at the others’ conferences and so on. I think we’ve even learned from each other. I know I have. Exposure to paleo ideas has influenced my thinking on trade, immigration, and foreign policy, among other subjects. 

My commitment, however, to the core tenets of the Claremont-Hillsdale school—which I consider to be nothing more (or less) than an attempt to understand Americanism, without any alterations or admixtures—has never shaken. That’s not to deny that I’ve become increasingly dismayed at the way this understanding of Americanism is often deployed, especially by what Charles Haywood of the excellent book review blog The Worthy House calls “the catamite right.” My own preferred term is “Cracker Jack Claremontism,” after the tiny comics that used to come inside the boxes of caramel corn. Too small for anything but a few pictures and words, and meant for little children, they had to convey a simplistic story very briefly. 

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Commentary: A Critical Tool for Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom

American flag in front of large crowd of people

The United States recognizes religious freedom as an unalienable right and is committed to its advancement and protection for all.

As the world’s leading defender of the right to worship freely, the United States strongly condemns and holds accountable those nations and non-state actors who reject and violate this fundamental freedom.

In support of this mission, on May 12, 2021, the United States Department of State released the 23rd annual Report on International Religious Freedom as required by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).  This report describes the status of religious freedom in every country, government policies violating religious beliefs and practices, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.  Each year, the report is presented to the U.S. Congress. 

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Commentary: Championing America’s First Freedom

Person waving flag outside of window

The right to worship freely is often called America’s first freedom.  Our founding fathers understood religious freedom not as the state’s creation but as an unalienable right from God.

This universal right is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”

Today, however, religious freedom is threatened or restricted entirely for millions of people around the world.  Over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with high or severe restrictions on religious freedom.  In far too many places across the globe, governments and others prevent individuals from living in accordance with their beliefs.

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Commentary: Put the Woke Corporations to Sleep

Georgia finally enacted some laws to protect ethical voting. My American Spectator colleague, David Catron, refers to these laws as “election integrity laws” — and that is what they are.

“Jim Crow”? What on G-d’s Earth are the leftist Crazies talking about? What are the Leftists saying?

… that Blacks and Hispanics do not want election integrity?

… that Blacks and Hispanics, 158 years after slavery ended, do not have access to a photo ID?

… that Blacks and Hispanics, 158 years after slavery ended, cannot figure out how to vote honestly and need vote harvesters?

… that Blacks and Hispanics, 158 years after slavery ended, do not want integrity at the voting booth? 

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Commentary: Taking Federalism Seriously

The Framers left us a Constitution that gives powers and authority both to the national government and to the states. But the Constitution does not systematically expound on the nature and extent of those powers, nor does it offer a clear-cut rationale for what the states are supposed to do beyond checking national power – a theoretical deficiency rooted in political reality.

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Commentary: Civic Virtues as Moral Facts Trying to Recover the Other Half of Our Founding

Until a half century ago or so, there was a moral consensus, however fraying, that informed and shaped the exercise of freedom in the Western world. The self-determination of human beings, of citizens in self-governing political orders, presupposed a civilized inheritance that allowed free men and women to distinguish, without angst or arduous effort, between liberty and license, good and evil, honorable lives and dissolute and disgraceful ones. Few would have suggested that liberty and human dignity could long flourish without a sense of moral obligation and civic spirit on the part of proud, rights-bearing individuals.

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Commentary: The Federalist Papers and ‘The Violence of Faction’

Founding Fathers

It has been said that the oldest word in American politics is “new.” Even the United States Constitution, by far the oldest written constitution in the world, was once new, and had to be defended against charges that it was an unnecessary and unrepublican innovation. The Federalist was keenly aware of the novelty of the Constitution’s enterprise—the attempt to establish “good government from reflection and choice”—but boldly turned it to account. 

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