FIRST PRINCIPLES

First Principles

A Constitution for Ambitious Men

The Constitution’s genius lies chiefly in its reliance upon a trait rarely in short supply: Ambition.

Long revered by their grateful countrymen, the Founders recently have become more ambiguous figures in American life. A central premise of the Left is that American history is a story of oppression and that the Founders are tainted, being memorable chiefly because some of them owned slaves. In opposition, the NeverTrump GOP imagines itself to […]

First Principles

How the Times’ 1619 Project Misses the Point

As Englishmen had become Americans, liberty and equality shifted from customs to rights, and slavery became a very peculiar institution indeed, a repellent anomaly in a world of freedom.

It was an ordinary event when the first black slaves arrived in the Virginia colony in 1619. Subjection and force were the way of the world. It wasn’t just that nigh all mankind practiced slavery—that the African enslaved and sold his brothers to the European, that the Arab, the Comanche, and the Melanesian all slaved, […]

First Principles

Is Our Democracy Worth It Anymore?

As our politics have become increasingly fractious, our politicians and political pundits have appealed more to the aesthetics of our country than to its ambitious and ennobling goals.

The more civilized and cultured we humans get, the more we tend to conflate means with ends. For instance—the First Amendment was meant to as a means to ensure the ability for citizens to openly criticize other citizens and the government so that we could identify and address potential problems impairing the security and happiness […]

First Principles

Why Libertarians Are Unwitting Enablers of Socialism

Libertarians have become pawns of the progressive Left in America, and in an ironic twist, both of them have been co-opted by globalist corporate interests. When everything is privatized, rationed and metered, corporate rent seekers gain new revenue streams.

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves […]

First Principles

Living in a Post-Truth World

Post-truth people in the media were taught that the concept of truth is obsolete. Postmodernism rules on American campuses today, and a core idea of the postmodernists is that claims to truth are meaningless.

Have you heard the news? You and I are now living in a “post-truth” world. The Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed the official beginning of the new era in 2016 by selecting “post-truth” as the Word of the Year. According to our betters in academia, in the ruling elite, and in the punditocracy, the very concept of […]

First Principles

Forgetting Our Story

The decades-long leftist project to undermine the story we Americans tell about ourselves literally destroys and replaces our culture with something vastly more dangerous.

Each week on the Sabbath, Jews read a section of the Five Books of Moses, completing the entire cycle each year. Recently, the portion included the “Bringing of the First Fruits.” When the Temple was standing, Jews from all over Israel brought the first produce of the year as an offering to God. Jonathan Sacks, […]

First Principles

Big Conservatism and the Moment of Decision

Will we have politics-as-conversation or politics-as-war? Those are the only choices.

The arena of contemporary American politics is a confused place. And so-called conservatives—Republican politicians, yes, but, particularly, those in the mainstream “conservative media” or Big Conservatism—are especially confused. Historically, within the West, there can be discerned two rival ideal political types between which discourse and practice have oscillated.  On the one hand, politics has been […]

First Principles

Overhauling Libel Laws Will Only Hurt Conservatives

Love it or hate it, New York Times v. Sullivan benefits the Right.

The mainstream media besmirches conservative public figures on a regular basis. Look no further than Donald Trump and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Some conservatives believe the best way to answer media smears is to change the libel laws. That’s a well-intentioned idea, but it would end hurting conservatives the most. Say goodbye to conservative media if […]

First Principles

Defining ‘Keep and Bear Arms’ in the 21st Century

Robert Francis O’Rourke did us a favor; he made it very clear what the Left has in mind.

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and longshot candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, said the one thing at the September 12 primary debate that Democrats insist they do not believe when it comes to gun control. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Coming from a native son of Texas, […]

First Principles

If Not the Hand of Providence, Then Timeless Political Principles

In defense of the U.S. Constitution.

Should our 232-year-old United States Constitution still be binding? For the last few years, progressives increasingly have begun to answer with an emphatic “No!” The most visible such criticism of our fundamental law is the attack on the Electoral College, which provides for indirect election of the president by electors who, if the truth be […]

First Principles

Rhetoric and Aesthetic in American Politics

If we can reorient our abstract and denuded politics toward the deep human desire for the sublime, we might actually create something worth conserving. Only then will we make our words meaningful again.

Recently in the American Conservative, Rod Dreher shared a bit of compelling candor from an anonymous reader, a middle-aged man whose suburban lifestyle has rendered him unable to find intimacy and meaning in just about every area of his life. Four friends sent it to me separately, with the tagline “try not to cry when […]

First Principles

The Case Against Universal Background Checks

Spoiler alert: They don’t work and they’re an invitation to abuse.

On Capitol Hill this week, lawmakers got a visit from Attorney General Bill Barr and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland, looking to sell them on a gun control proposal. The proposal, an outline of which was released by the Daily Caller’s Amber Athey, parallels legislation proposed by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Joe […]

First Principles

Slandering the American Founding

Well, it’s settled. Everything we thought we knew about the American Founding is wrong. The real Founding is not the Declaration of Independence in 1776 or even the drafting of the Constitution in 1787. Instead, it is 1619 when the first slaves arrived in the settlement of Jamestown. Thus sayeth the 1619 Project of the […]

First Principles

The Political Community of the U.S. Constitution

Our Constitution does not guarantee unanimity. That would risk tyranny. But it affords an opportunity for justice and the general good to prevail.

There will be no fireworks to celebrate the 232nd anniversary of Constitution Day, nor public readings of the document. Most will pass the day without even a moment’s reflection on the event that redefined the political community of the United States. September 17, 1787, was the day that the newly drafted Constitution was signed by […]

First Principles

Red Flags About ‘Red Flag Laws’

While there is an understandable need among lawmakers to “do something” about mass shootings, the rush to regulate should be tempered by faith in a federalism that best balances state culture with the enumerated rights that are the birthright of all Americans.

After a handful of mass shootings over the summer, Congress is returning to session flush with the need to act on gun violence. Unfortunately, consensus appears to be forming around proposals that are both ineffective and constitutionally suspect. I’m talking about federal “red flag” legislation, which would allow family members and friends to report on […]

First Principles

Pink Political Scientists vs. White Men

Left-modernism is a political assault on the white majority, but Eric Kaufmann defines “white majority” in cultural, not biological terms. His work is a data-driven counterstrike on political correctness.

You know President Trump’s politics of disruption is succeeding when political scientists begin paying attention. Aroused from their slumbers, startled profs are even revising the old syllabus and lecture notes. Many political science departments are seeing booming enrollments. What Trump means for the practice of politics has the opportunity of improving the scholarship about politics. […]

First Principles

The Intelligence Community Works for the President

Losing democratic control over the intelligence community would be the end of self-government.

It’s simply hard to know where to begin to respond to the staggering chutzpah of Jennifer Rubin’s recent Washington Post opinion column accusing the president of undermining our intelligence community. Rubin used the recent leak regarding the exfiltration (a fancy word for “removal”) of an undercover “asset” in Russia as a hook to make the […]

First Principles

The Etiquette of the Late Dauphin or the Morality of Americans?

A federal republic, as the Founders saw it, takes a certain kind of citizen, one that particularly values a certain etiquette above all others: the respect for the results of elections.

“I am the late Dauphin,” or so goes the line from Huckleberry Finn. American fraudsters long have sought to clothe themselves in the trappings of European aristocracy. A permanent elite is alien to American culture. Being alien, it is altogether fascinating. The distraction opens the door to swindle. Last week in City Journal, Harvard political […]

First Principles

Natural Disasters and the AR-15

Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc, leaving some communities in a temporary “state of nature.” Under the circumstances, the right to self-defense is indispensable.

As I was traveling from Jacksonville, Florida back home up the I-95, hundreds of electric power service vehicles from several companies were making their way south. Among those service vehicles were the ubiquitous Asplundh tree clearing trucks meshed in between the convoys. For people living on the East Coast, these were anxious days because as […]

First Principles

Lies the Left Tells About Guns

For starters, the “assault weapons” ban of 1994 had no meaningful effect on the homicide rate.

Congress reconvenes this week after a summer fraught with multiple mass shootings. Reportedly, legislation implementing tighter gun control is on the table, with rumored support by some in the White House. The rhetoric surrounding guns continues to escalate. Here’s the thing about guns. The Constitution—that handy little document—guarantees our rights to them, and that guarantee […]