Conservatives For Trump: A Symposium Featuring Scholars & Writers For Trump

By | 2016-10-03T09:20:07+00:00 September 28th, 2016|
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When 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence they declared their “reliance upon divine Providence” and pledged to each their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Today, 125 scholars and writers have pledged to support Donald Trump for president. While we too rely upon divine Providence today, it is because of those risks taken by those men that we live in a republic where declaring support for a candidate does not imperil life or limb. But fortunes and sacred honor are always at stake, rarely more so than in a contentious election that will decide the future of this republic. We believe the stakes are high and that all Americans must stand up and be counted.

When scholars and academics offer public support to Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton they risk nothing. It is expected and applauded. Not so, for supporters of Donald Trump. Today we host a symposium of leading conservative writers and scholars who have declared their support for Donald J. Trump for president. All of them are part of Scholars & Writers for Trump. Here, they explain why. These men and women are known for their intellectual and political achievements, but we selected them for their experience and, most of all, for their wisdom.

 

Conservatives for Trump: An American Greatness Symposium

—  F.H. Buckley —

I have some sympathy for people who can imagine a better Republican candidate this year, but from the very beginning I always thought that Donald Trump was perfect.

Maybe I should define perfection, however. For me it meant Trump was the only person who could defeat Hillary Clinton. What with her corrupt ways, her alliance with the most destructive policies imaginable, and especially the manner in which through her immigration policies she’d render it impossible for any conservative to win in my lifetime, this was an easy one. It became easier still when I saw the fainéants and milquetoasts on stage with Trump at the first candidates’ debate in Cleveland in 2015.

But on the positive side I also saw in Trump someone who could rescue what is living from what is dead in conservatism. And by dead I mean what passes for the higher thinking of today’s conservatism, the contempt for the poorest Americans, the indifference to mobility, the compromises with corruption, and mostly the sense of failure, the small-souled man’s belief that our best days are behind us. Against that, I take my stand.

F.H. Buckley is a law professor at George Mason University and the author of The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America (Encounter, 2016).

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— James Piereson —

There are many reasons for Americans of varying political persuasions to support Donald Trump for President. Among these reasons, three are especially important:

First, Donald Trump has a plan to re-energize the U.S. economy after more than a decade of slow growth, stagnating incomes, and rising government debt. He will slash corporate taxes to encourage businesses to repatriate more than $3 trillion that they are holding offshore because of the current corporate tax rate that is the highest in the industrial world. Those funds once brought back home can be invested in American enterprises to provide jobs and incomes for American workers. He will cut individual income taxes to encourage work and investment, and economic growth. Just as important, he will cut regulations that have accumulated during the Obama years and that are discouraging investment and the hiring of U.S. workers.

Second, Mr. Trump will focus on national security in all of its dimensions by attacking the interlocking problems of terrorism, illegal immigration, and rising crime in the inner cities. He is committed to restoring America’s borders as an essential feature of national sovereignty and to fulfilling the first duty of government, which is to protect the security of its citizens.

Third, Donald Trump is by far the preferred alternative to Hillary Clinton who promises to entrench further the failed economic and foreign policies of the past eight years. For conservatives and moderates who hope for a stronger and more dynamic America, and a nation of rising incomes, strong communities, and secure borders, the choice could not be clearer. Donald Trump—not Hillary Clinton—is the candidate in this race who promises to restore American greatness.

James Piereson is, most recently, the author of Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Post War Political Order (Encounter, 2015). His essays appear in many newspaper and journals, including The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and The New Criterion.

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— William J. Bennett —

Most of our Commerce Clause law was written by the Supreme Court during the FDR era. Most of our criminal procedure law was written by the Court in the 1960s. Roe has been with us for over 40 years. With the next President, we are not talking about a Supreme Court—and federal courts—that will change our law for the next four years, but for much, much longer. Now consider that we are looking at a possible replacement of up to five Supreme Court Justices. In the hands of Hillary Clinton, we could see a 7-2 Court and it would change America, forever.

Beyond legal interpretations having to do with everything from religious liberty, the Second Amendment, property rights, illegal immigration, constitutional interpretation, and beyond, a Trump presidency would be staffed by Republicans and conservatives. A Clinton presidency would be staffed by Democrats and liberals—all committed to preserving and building on the last eight years. Now think about the regulatory state and the Code of Federal Regulations.

Voting for Donald Trump is not a hard choice for me, not if I want any shot at seriously fighting terrorism while undoing the damage of the past. As a Republican, as a conservative, I simply cannot hesitate between the two choices before me. The stakes are too high.

William J. Bennett is former Secretary of Education and author of America: The Last, Best Hope.

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— Roger L. Simon —

We live in a time that is a depressing throwback to the 1950s, only in reverse. In those days, members of the academy, the media and the entertainment industry were terrified they would be “outed” as communists and lose their jobs, even be ostracized and forced to leave the country to support their families.

Now, in those same provinces, people fear being exposed as Republicans or, even worse, supporters of Donald Trump, with basically the same results, albeit the foreign ports are less welcoming.

As one who has worked in all three areas, I can attest to this extreme level of discrimination. It is a drastic and perhaps even terminal threat to the democratic republic created by our Founders.

Because the situation is so grave, my reaction is and has been to be convinced that Donald Trump, for all his rough edges, is the “bad medicine” necessary to fix an increasingly acute situation.

The standard form politician would not be enough to derail a “progressive” agenda that is leading our country into economic and cultural oblivion. Sometimes an outsider is needed—and this is one of them. The Founders would have approved.

Roger L. Simon is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, award-winning novelist and blogger, and the co-founder of PJ Media. He is the author most recently of I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already (Encounter, 2016).

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— Hadley Arkes —

In 1964 the Republicans, with Goldwater, were blown away, and yet four years later the Republicans came back strongly with Richard Nixon. But in those intervening four years the regime itself was changed:  The Great Society extended and confirmed the reach of the federal authority until it covered hiring and firing in corporations and even small, private colleges. And it extended federal controls over local education.  We are faced now with a comparable threat to change the regime yet again. Obama has already sought to govern wide sections of the economy with regulations that bear little connection to any statute that can give the standing of law to these executive orders. He has made a nullity of Congress and the separation of powers.

And an administration of the Left will only confirm and entrench these changes.  We face the threat of having medical care brought under national political management, with a federal commission rationing care for the aged.   We can expect a campaign to force religious schools to incorporate abortion in their medical plans and have outreach to LGBT groups. And we can expect new judges in the lower federal courts to support this war on the religious.  Only a Republican Congress can resist these moves, but that can be done only with a Republican president to sign its Acts into law.  And Donald Trump is the only one who can be right now that Republican President.

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College. He is also Founder and director of the Washington-based James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding. His most recent book is Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law.

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— Darren Beattie —

I register my support on this list not as a conservative partisan, but rather as a young academic with a critical perspective on the prevailing left-right political paradigm—a subject I have taught at the university level both in the United States and in Europe.

Like so many others, I recognize that the increasingly narrow ideological differences allowable within the left-right paradigm are now more than ever less important than the emerging disagreements as to the soundness and relevance of the left-right paradigm as such. I recognize that the movement conservatism that emerged during and helped to win the Cold War is a far cry from its false and failed post-Cold War simulacrum of crony capitalism and reckless interventionism; on the other side, we see that the Left that once admirably defended free-speech and civil rights is now animated chiefly by an uncanny post-Cold War merger between a weaponized identity politics and multinational corporate power.

In short, the Bush-Clinton politics of the past 30 years is the rotten carcass of a politics that perhaps made sense in the past but has proven woefully inadequate to address the contemporary challenges we face. Donald J. Trump is the first major politician to reflect an understanding of this post- Cold War reality and to point boldly toward an alternative—for this he has my admiration and my support.

Darren Beattie is Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Political Science, Duke University.

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— Ronald D. Rotunda —

Shortly before the first Presidential debate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that half of those who opposed her candidacy and supported Donald Trump were “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it”—they were a “basket of deplorables.” The other half suffered from “economic anxiety,” what one might call losers. They are, in fact, neither. They are people who see the need for change, appreciate the importance of economic growth, and who cannot trust Clinton, who (the FBI Director told us) repeatedly lied to the American people about the emails she destroyed and the computer server she created. They realize that we cannot tax the country into prosperity, and they include people like professors from Duke, Amherst, the University of Texas, the Claremont Institute, Tel-Aviv University, University of Colorado, Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt, University of Illinois, and too many others to list here. Then there are the writers and creative artists not affiliated with any university, and stars in their own right, like Conrad Black, a former newspaper publisher and author (among other books), of a “brilliant and provocative biography of Franklin Roosevelt.” And Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education and author of America: The Last, Best Hope. These are the people that Hillary Clinton tars as deplorables and losers.

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law

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— Esther Goldberg —

Despite the fact that Donald Trump expresses himself, not in the Queen’s English, but in Queens’ English, his ideas have clarity and logic rarely found in politics, and this is what draws me to him:

Islamic terrorists are not misguided youth seeking social acceptance and a bourgeoisie lifestyle. They are fanatics who want to hurt us, and the role of Government is to stop them.

Groups like Black Lives Matter are not rioting and looting to protest racism and police brutality. While they undoubtedly had legitimate grievances, their unlawful behavior cannot be tolerated by a society that values the rule of law.

Nationalism—the love of country—does not threaten our democracy. Corporate fascism—the control of our election process by monied interests—constitutes such a threat.

Our desire to maintain social cohesion by limiting immigration to those whom we can integrate into our way of life is not “nativism,” for we welcome any newcomer who promises to abide by our Constitution.

A trade policy that privileges capital at the cost of lowering wages creates a class system that is antithetical to our democracy.

Our Constitution guarantees free speech and free exercise of religion; it is not intended to protect against all hurt feelings, howsoever unreasonable these might be.

Esther Goldberg is a lawyer and writer for The American Spectator.

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— Bradley C.S. Watson —

Donald Trump shows an intuitive grasp of what most politicians must have explained to them: here in America, the people rule. Popular sovereignty requires borders, and it requires security. The people cannot govern by reflection and choice if they must forever respond to accident and force. Popular sovereignty also requires that the people not be slaves to an unelected and unrepresentative administrative state. The laws as well as the agencies of government must be trimmed and tamed so that they once again serve the people. Donald Trump grasps this too: the Supreme Court is the least republican branch of the federal government, and the people cannot rule if they are subjected to capricious judicial edicts masquerading as constitutional interpretation. Trump has put forth a serious list of judicial nominees who would only go where the text, tradition, logic, and structure of the Constitution—rather than currently fashionable political preferences—point. Beyond this, Trump has wisely called for the resignation of a transparently political Supreme Court justice, thereby reminding us of constitutionally legitimate political checks against an overweening judiciary. Finally, Donald Trump shows spiritedness in abundance: there’s reason to be believe he’d actually tackle all this.

Bradley C. S. Watson is Professor of Politics and Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where is co-director of the college’s Center for Political and Economic Thought. He has authored or edited many books, including Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence. His next book is an anthology entitled Progressive Challenges to the American Constitution: A New Republic, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

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— Michael Ledeen —

If I’d had my druthers, Donald Trump would not have been my nominee, but so what? I now have to choose between him and Hillary, and it isn’t a tough choice. That’s because Hillary has shown such contempt for American security, while Trump clearly likes America. Hillary, through the auspices of the family foundation, has quite clearly auctioned off key government decisions. I don’t know of any other secretary of state who has done such a thing. So I don’t want her in any position of power in my government. Never mind president.

You don’t have to tell me about Trump’s shortcomings. I can probably add to your list. But then, I’m not being asked to pass judgment on him, I’m asked if he’s the better of the two, and I think he is.

I like his sense of humor most of the time. I like his feisty desire to win, not just for himself but for all of us. I like many of the strong and smart people that are working with him. Again, the contrast is luminously clear: he likes Lt. Gen Mike Flynn, with whom I recently wrote a book, while Hillary likes Sidney Blumenthal, a very bad man. I’d rather see General Flynn in the White House than Mr. Blumenthal. By a long shot.

And yes, I dread the thought of Hillary choosing multiple justices for the Supreme Court. Trump’s list is excellent.

I haven’t been excited about a presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan, about whom I had myriad doubts. But I thought it was urgent to defeat Jimmy Carter, so I voted for Reagan. He turned out to be a terrific president. I certainly don’t expect Trump to be remotely comparable to Reagan, but I think Hillary is more dangerous to America than Carter was.

And I’m not a Republican. I’d love to vote for Scoop Jackson, but he’s not on the ballot. Trump’s next best.

Michael Ledeen holds a Ph.D. From the University of Wisconsin, is a world class bridge player and is author of 37 books, most recently The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies with Lt. Gen Michael T. Flynn, and Virgil’s Golden Egg and Other Neapolitan Miracles: An Investigation into the Sources of Creativity.

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— John R. Lott, Jr. —

No other presidential election in my lifetime has had so much at stake. The differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could not be starker. If Clinton wins, she has promised that the Supreme Court Justices that she will appoint will overturn Citizens United. Few people seem to understand that would mean that the federal government would be able to ban movies and books deemed too political during election years. It is hard to believe that we could soon be living in a country where movies and books could be banned because of their political positions. The judges that Trump has listed as the ones he would appoint would protect the 1st Amendment and would not allow the government to ban movies or books based on politics.

While Trump would protect the 2nd Amendment, Clinton has also promised to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will vote to overturn the recent Supreme Court decisions in Heller and MacDonald. Those decisions did only one thing: say that governments could not completely ban all guns or an entire category of guns. That will mean that some places such as Washington, DC will again ban guns. California, which has banned over 1,200 models of handguns since 2001, will soon be able to completely ban the few remaining handguns that can be sold in the state.

On taxes, we already have the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and Clinton has promised to raise corporate as well as individual taxes. Trump has promised to cut them. Trump understands why companies and investment are fleeing the US. Clinton thinks that the solution is more taxes and more regulation.

John R. Lott, Jr. is President of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author, most recently, of The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies (Regnery, 2016).

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— David P. Goldman (Spengler) —

Of all the contenders for the office of president in the primaries and general, Donald Trump was alone in recognizing the seriousness of our national condition, and declaring that his goal was to make America great again. He understands that our national standing is on the line. A third of our adults do not “participate” in the labor force. Entrepreneurship and innovation are frozen. The stifling tax and regulatory policies of the last eight years have left us with the lowest productivity and family income growth in three generations. These are big problems, and Mr. Trump is willing to apply big solutions. Small-ball economics won’t save us. In national security matters, he has had the courage to break with past Republican mistakes and focus on America’s national security interests. We still have an opportunity to reverse course; after another four years of Democratic governance, it may be too late. Donald Trump is our last, best hope.

David P. Goldman (Spengler) is a columnist for Asia Times and PJ Media, and the author of How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too) (Regnery, 2016).  He directed debt research at Bank of America and credit strategy at Credit Suisse, and advises institutional investors on macro investment strategy.

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— Chris Buskirk —

America has become unmoored from the constitution that has maintained and encouraged her freedom, justice, and prosperity and has entered a period of post-constitutionalism that imperils the natural rights of her people  Coincident with the decline of American constitutionalism has been the rise of a ruling class that exercises authority through control of the state and elite cultural institutions without regard to the interests or consent of the sovereign people.  The ruling class is insensible of, when they are not openly hostile to, the legitimate interests of the American nation and her people.  They long for a post-national millennial utopia and will use whatever means necessary to achieve it.    

Donald Trump cannot fix this – not in one term or even in two.  But he can start.  And that alone is enough at this point in our nation’s history to require a vote for him.  And he is far better than what the Democrats offer.  A Clinton presidency would only accelerate our progress down this dangerous, post-constitutional path.  Trump’s candidacy has already done the nation a great service by giving voice to the nagging, sometimes urgent, concerns of ordinary people imperiled by ruling class hegemony.  They said only Nixon could go to China so perhaps only a billionaire could name the peril posed by the globalist ruling class.  Only Trump, of the two candidates running this year – or of any candidate running since 1984 – has shown an innate understanding of the challenges the country faces and a willingness to name them publicly and face them head-on.  A Trump presidency would not mark the beginning of the end of what promises to be a long struggle to regain constitutional government, but it might mark the end of the beginning.

Chris Buskirk is the publisher and a senior editor of American Greatness.

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— Stephen B. Presser —

There are three basic principles of government in America, and only Donald Trump is likely to maintain them. These are that government exists to protect our rights, and not to redistribute our property, that the only legitimate source of authority is the American people themselves, and that the sovereignty of the people cannot survive without adherence to the rule of law. These principles can only be secured if we have a judiciary committed to implementing the original understanding of our Constitution and laws, and not one committed to altering the meaning of the Constitution and laws to shift resources to groups or causes particularly favored by elite opinion. These were the views of the late Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice whose recent passing has left the United States Supreme Court precariously divided and unable to fulfill its responsibilities. Donald Trump has made clear that his potential Supreme Court nominees would be in the mold of Justice Scalia, and any of them would begin the necessary process of restoring the Supreme Court and our nation to a point where the federal leviathan can be restrained, and where the American people can once again enjoy our ultimate Constitutional right, self-government.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, and the author of the forthcoming Law Professors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law.

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— Thomas K. Lindsay —

America enjoys a special place among nations. Our exceptionalism consists in the fact that, unlike other countries, past and present, America lives by two core principles: equality and inalienable rights. This combination has created the most powerful, prosperous country in history. And the most generous.

But the conditions of American dignity are under siege.

Out-of-control spending by Washington elites has left us with a Greece-style national debt. Under Obama, debt has doubled, to $20 trillion, robbing our children and grandchildren of the opportunities essential to the American Dream. Clinton’s promised policies will only increase this debt, locking us into stagnation for the foreseeable future.

America has the third highest corporate tax rate worldwide. Businesses have thus been fleeing our borders. This government-forced exodus stifles economic growth and stagnates middle-class wages.

Abroad, America’s influence is in tatters, thanks to Obama and Clinton’s feckless foreign policies. Our friends no longer trust us. Our enemies are emboldened.

This leadership vacuum has made America—and the world—far worse off than we were eight years ago. Terrorist attacks occur near-daily due to incompetent border-enforcement. ISIS is growing, thanks to Obama and Clinton’s suicidal policies.

Trump has pledged to reverse these dysfunctions—through protecting our borders, fighting Islamic terrorism, and returning national-security-critical industries to America.

At home, Trump would expand the economic pie for lower- and middle-income Americans through lowering taxes and reducing regulations.

America’s dignity can be restored. But not if we continue the liberty-threatening, economy-killing policies championed by Obama and Clinton. Americans crave a change. Donald Trump alone can bring it.

Thomas K. Lindsay, has served as a university dean, provost, and college president. He was Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2006-2008. He is co-author and editor of the college textbook, Investigating American Democracy (Oxford University Press).

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— Seth Leibsohn —

We face tremendous challenges ranging from illegal immigration to foreign policy to national security and terrorism to our debt.  All of these challenges have been exacerbated by the Obama administration.  There is not one of these problems President Obama’s former Secretary of State will make better. She will double down on them.  And we haven’t even begun to address the growth of the administrative state or Supreme Court, both of which have taken power rightly belonging to the people acting in their constitutional majority.

Compound all of this with the practical history of presidential administrations whereby Democratic presidents usually staff themselves to the left while Republican presidents usually staff themselves to the right. Simply put, a Democratic presidency will increase and worsen our current and looming crises while a Trump presidency can put us on the ultimate course of correction.

Donald Trump is the only choice for those that look around the world—and at home—and see something very much wrong going on.  What is that wrong?  The inversion of common sense.  We conservatives have long-lamented the increasing state of political correctness and multiculturalism, the “kick me” sign on our country’s back, and the increasing hostility to our allies and appeasement of our enemies.  Donald Trump stands athwart the latter and has staked his campaign on reversing all of the former—in a way no other Republican has, in a very long time.  I will vote and urge others to vote for Donald Trump.

Seth Leibsohn is a Contributing Editor at American Greatness, a Senior Fellow of The Claremont Institute, and the host The Seth Leibsohn Show on KKNT in Phoenix. He is the co-author with William J. Bennett of “The Fight of Our Lives.”

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— Tiffany Miller —

Conservatives should have no illusions about the gravity of the threats facing us today. American progressives, as a matter of principle, abandoned the Founders’ vision of limited republican government over a century ago. Crucial constitutional elements of that vision—particular liberties as well as key institutional safeguards—have been seriously compromised since. Today’s progressives have trained their sights on other core protections including the First Amendment. Churches are rapidly seeing themselves re-designated as mere “public accommodations,” which designation will require them to conform to the state-mandated LGBT agenda. Meanwhile the specter of “hate speech” threatens to muzzle criticism of this or any other politically correct orthodoxy—to our increasing peril. The sense that the United States is becoming Germany grows almost daily. I am for Trump not only because of what he is not but because of what he is. He is not a progressive ideologue like Hillary and so there is greater reason to believe his nominations for the federal courts and executive branch will help extend the lives of these key freedoms. But I am also for Trump because he has shown great fortitude in insisting on the need to discuss topics of truly existential import like the growing influence of radical Islam in the United States.

Tiffany Miller is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Dallas

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As a Catholic conservative, I consider protecting innocent life first, and, on that score, there is no doubt that Trump/Pence is a pro-life ticket, while Clinton/Kaine might as well be called the “Herod” ticket. But like other Catholics, I am far from being “single-issue” voter. Why? To care about life is to care about everything, because human life can flourish only within a society directed towards the common good of all. I consider the policies of Trump/Pence as doing greater service to the common good than the alternative. For example, securing the border with Mexico does not appear to them as rash or unreasonable, it’s a matter of common sense and respecting the rule of law. Immigration itself has become a matter of national security, and the present is no time for our border guards to be pressured to ignore the law. I believe Trump’s promises: his list of Scalia-like Supreme Court nominees; his promise to defund Planned Parenthood and to protect the Hyde Amendment; to lift the restriction on political speech off the people of faith by removing the Johnson Amendment. These choices and promises represent the kind of America I want for our children and grandchildren, one that respects human dignity and the unalienable rights, given by God, and enshrined in our American founding.

Deal W. Hudson is Publisher and editor of The Christian Review.

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— Ken Masugi —

It being essential to defeat Hillary Clinton, I had thought Marco Rubio might be the one to lead us beyond an encroaching administrative state, foreign policy disasters, the destruction of religious liberty, and political correctness.

But as the campaign got underway Trump developed from bombastic entertainer to a serious possibility. I saw how he addressed each of my concerns. His rallies revitalized democratic politics in both parties and formed a new “America First” center, which had hitherto groaned under the yoke of globalist multiculturalism, the new majority faction governing America since Reagan.

The political amateur Trump was the only one in 2016 who could assemble a majority for the elementary principles of American democracy—the sovereignty of the people, the consent of the governed, and standing on one’s rights as Americans. Political correctness had prevented conventional partisans from making obvious objections to nonsensical policies ranging from restrooms to terrorism; objectors were derided as bigots or dog whistlers.

But “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” is absurd if government continues to ignore real people. That is the open secret of Trump’s victorious message.

Ken Masugi has been a speechwriter for two Cabinet members and for Clarence Thomas, when he was Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He has taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy,  James Madison College of Michigan State University, the Ashbrook Center of Ashland University, and Princeton University.

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 — Julie Ponzi—

Like many people, I was not drawn immediately to the prospect of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president. Okay. That’s an understatement. My initial reaction to him was somewhere between bemused and annoyed. But two things happened to cause a reevaluation in my thinking about his candidacy. 

The first was that I began to listen to the “non-expert” people in my life; people I love and know to be hard-working, intelligent, and patriotic citizens. They were not blind to his faults, but they saw something in his campaign that was lacking in the others. The second thing was that I began to notice something in the commentary I was reading from pundits and experts I thought I respected. It was contempt. And not just contempt for Trump, but contempt for the people who found something valuable in what he had to say about their lives and their interests.

It’s generally my policy to be skeptical of those who think they understand the interests of others better than those people understand them themselves. I see what is happening now within conservatism and the GOP as a well-deserved rebuke (and one that might have been avoided) for telling the people they were not thinking “correctly” about ordinary political questions. Progressives want to farm out these matters to “experts” and conservatives seem to believe that most policy questions rise to the level of fundamental principle (as understood by them, of course). They cannot countenance compromise among friends, but capitulation to the Democrats is often a different story.

This demonstrates a poor understanding of our foundational principle that “all men are created equal.” That is the bedrock of self-government–the reason why no man may rule another man without his consent. Self-styled constitutional experts who believe that we can “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” without first understanding and acting like the people are sovereign, do more violence to our principles than they imagine we poor unsophisticated citizens can do when we get something wrong.

Julie Ponzi is Senior Editor at American Greatness.

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— Douglas A. Jeffrey —

One contributor to the “Against Trump” forum in the Feb. 15 issue of National Review wrote, “Should [Trump’s] election results match his polls, he would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime.” If Wikipedia is to be trusted, the author of this sentence was born not yesterday but in 1961, since which America’s common culture—something that requires, to name just two things we used to be good at, historical literacy and assimilation—has been nearly obliterated. The same issue of NR contained a review of two books on Bush 41, whose break with the politics of Reagan hurried America down the road of globalist post-constitutionalism and initiated three decades of bipartisan political ineptitude—in both domestic and foreign policy—that has driven America from a high point in its history to its knees. It read in part: “If ever there was an indispensable man at an essential time, it was George H. W. Bush.”

The publication of such rubbish in National Review indicates that not only has conservatism failed to conserve a way of life consistent with our founding principles—a failure long observable, and not in itself ignoble—but that too many conservatives have been co-opted by the administrative state or have grown so accustomed to it that they have forgotten what that way of life looked like and are incapable of imagining its recovery. Hence the realignment we see occurring, long overdue, for which we have Trump to thank. The movement that will eventually take conservatism’s place (Les Deplorables!) may fail as well, but at least, one hopes, without coming to confuse itself for what it seeks to recover and serve: the disappearing nation (a thing with borders!) that Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth.”

Douglas A. Jeffrey is vice president for external affairs and editor of Imprimis at Hillsdale College.

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If you are a scholar or writer and want to add your name, please contact Frank Buckley at [email protected]

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