Coalitional Common-Sense v. Never-Trump Purism, Part II
Essays by Hammer and Melnick on the Conservative Situation
As indicated in the first part, R. Shep Melnick is a scholar of American politics whose research concerns federal programs. Although I do not know if he characterizes himself as a conservative, a critical edge which often has conservative implications is seen in his work: a favorite piece of mine, for example, is one titled “From Tax and Spend to Mandate and Sue: Liberalism after the Great Society.” Melnick has worked with Strauss-influenced scholars over the years, and the meat of his Law & Liberty essay, “Claremont’s Constitutional Crisis,” is a critique of the account of America made by the “Claremont School”,” aka “West Coast Straussianism.”
Melnick’s essay is a review of Charles Kesler’s recent Crisis of the Two Constitutions: The Rise, Decline, and Recovery of American Greatness. He tags Kesler as the leader of the “Claremont school,” and it as the most intellectually-serious school of thought that has supported Trump and Trumpism. He discusses the Claremont position with some references to Harry Jaffa’s work, and to an earlier Kesler book, but centers his discussion on this new one. Here is his summary:
The Constitution of the Founders and Lincoln, firmly rooted in natural rights and natural law, has been replaced by a Progressive constitution based on an understanding of history and progress that eventually collapses into nihilism. After three great waves of Progressivism—spearheaded by Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson—the original Constitution is nearly gone. …As the subtitle suggests, the final chapters present Trump as the unlikely agent of the recovery of the best regime.
…Kesler’s central purpose is to explain the dangers of continuing down the road of historicism and to reinvigorate Nature as the foundation of our republic. These are important undertakings. Unfortunately, in the process, he ignores serious flaws in the American regime, exaggerates the influence of progressive historicism, and constructs a narrative that encourages anti-constitutional extremism.
Melnick’s big objection is that by framing America’s political story since the 1890s as primarily a function of historicism-addled progressives v. natural-rights grounded Lincoln-ites, Kesler conveys a dangerously simplistic “Manichean view.” Such a view, Melnick fears, fits with and encourages Trumpism, including its storming of the Capitol, as illustrated by the Claremont-employed Michael Anton, author of the infamous-in-Melnick’s-eyes essay “The Flight 93 Election”:
Once you create a picture of a world in which unalloyed good (the Constitution based on natural rights and natural law) and an alien evil (the Progressive project that ends in nihilism) are locked in fierce combat with the former hanging on by a thread, you are already boarding Flight 93.
I will defend Anton below, but my first reaction is that this expresses a long-standing reservation that other Straussians have had about the Claremont theory. At grad school at Fordham, some of the more faith-friendly Straussians, such as my friend Paul Seaton, would needle the West Coast view with the phrase German Invasion—the implication was that it idolized founding-era America so much that it could only account for later difficulties by positing an importation of historicist philosophy. We agreed with the Claremont finding that Hegelian thinkers had been the deepest influence upon the Progressives, but also agreed with this kind of objection:
…The “best regime” narrative serves to deflect attention from any inherent contradictions or tensions in the American regime that could drive the political change Kesler decries.
That’s Melnick, and here’s your truly, in my essay “The Five Conceptions of American Liberty,” a half-decade ago:
Americans of all ideological stripes can benefit from… [the Claremont-school] advancement in our understanding of the original Progressives.... The problem is that the framing of these newer findings…has over-emphasized the idea of betrayal. This makes the case for American liberty…as one of staying true to the natural-rights scriptures: Southern leaders directed an abandonment of our original principles that had to be rebuked and repented of, and Progressives, over a longer period of time and in a less overt way, have also fallen away from the founding ideals, and it remains to be seen if conservatism can bring the nation to repent. By such an account, natural-rights philosophy and its understanding of liberty are regarded as fully adequate, and the Progressive reaction against them has nothing to teach us about their limitations.
I then referred back to my essay’s main schema, whereby America has held five fundamental conceptions of liberty, ones always potentially-in-conflict: 1) natural-rights liberty, 2) classical-communitarian liberty, 3) economic-autonomy liberty, 4) progressive liberty, and 5) personal-autonomy liberty.
The fuller account of America’s five conceptions of liberty suggests instead that, as natural-rights thinking about liberty became more divorced over time from classical and Christian inheritances and more subject to rigid judicial articulation and elaboration, it became less moderated by prudence and gradually morphed into the economic-autonomy conception and later on into the personal-autonomy conception. Additionally, as Americans found the local community and its exercise of liberty less meaningful and relevant, they were prepared to embrace a progressive vision of collective liberty practiced mainly at the national level.
Progressivism became attractive because it seemed as if it might fill the gap left by an ebbing tradition of classical-communitarian liberty, a gap more felt than understood. Progressivism’s appeal to those eager for a theory in harmony with the purported 19th-century advances in philosophy and social thought was vital to its success, but easily as important was its appeal to the more typical Americans who did not grasp its departure from the founding or its skepticism toward any non-historicist grounding of political principle. In sum, the turning of so many Americans to progressive politics would seem to be both a story of their being led by innovators into foolishly abandoning their tradition and one of their being provoked into doing so by that tradition’s own deficiencies.
That seems as right to me now as when I wrote it. I went on to advocate greater acceptance of fundamental-level disagreement about the five ideas, and a future conservative movement that would lessen its devotion to economic-autonomy liberty, and, while retaining its commitment to natural-rights liberty, come to greater appreciation of classical-communitarian liberty. In part because such conservatism would less apt to characterize desires for inequality-fighting economic reform as necessarily historicist in philosophy, and thus a betrayal of America’s true creed, it would be better-positioned to exploit the possible divides that might emerge, according the logic of my schema, between economics-focused and personal-autonomy-focused leftists. Rather than a Claremont-like divide of two, I saw more hope in a messy division involving five, however these might be marshalled at any given time into coalitions around two-parties.
That said, however, I essentially accept Kesler and company’s main findings about Progressivism—my disagreement concerns how to best fit them into the larger American story. Melnick by contrast, often questions the findings themselves. He is more willing to join the objections made by typical (i.e., left-leaning) scholars.
Here are several of his objections:
A) America’s development of big government often does not fit what Hegel would call for. Moreover, there are key instances of federal government growth that seem to have nothing to do with Hegelian ideas. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, for example, that growth was a function of the difficulty of enforcing natural-rights equality in the face of state-level resistance.
B) The story of how America’s political class has entertained both natural rights ideas and historicist ones is a complicated one. The Claremont case would lead us to expect more moments of clear contrast. We would expect to see a falling-away from natural-rights commitments and sound constitutionalism somewhere in the early 1800s—as why else would Lincoln’s rescue efforts be necessary?—and a similar one in the 1870s-1910s window. But it often appears that, outside of key “Lincoln v. Douglas moments,” the contrast can only be dimly traced amid multiple confusions. The post-Civil-War GOP proved not as Lincolnian as someone convinced by Kesler and co. would have expected, Lincoln’s earlier political home the Whig Party often highlighted historicist ideas--as did their opponents among Jacksonian Democrats, late-19th century historicist use of Darwinian ideas resulted in both in Progressivism and in Spencer/Sumner-type laissez faire, which obviously opposed one another, etc. Along such lines, Melnick pushes back against Kesler’s use of James Ceaser’s (excellent) History and Nature in American Political Development, by arguing that it doesn’t quite confirm what Kesler wants. I suspect Ceaser would side slightly more with Kesler on this, but there is a real issue here about the overlapping attractions early Americans had to both “Nature” and “History.”
C) Relatedly, if Jaffa-ite Lincolnism was so central to America’s genius, why does it seem to drop under the radar from time to time, especially in the long period of the 1890s-1950s, until, it seems, the 1959 publication of Jaffa’s Crisis of the House Divided? Why did we Americans need another sort of German thinker, Leo Strauss, to get us back in touch—via Jaffa--with our true heritage? And why was the conservatism of that period so intellectually weak, as seen in the solid but woodenly dogmatic speeches of Coolidge, or in the embrace of social-Darwinist ideas by many who opposed FDR? Consider, in this light, the following Jonah Goldberg observations on the importance of the Claremont school (from The Corner, 3/11/2010):
If you back and look through the archives of National Review, there really isn’t all that much anti-Wilson sentiment outside the topic of Versailles…modern conservatism is largely a reaction to the Soviet threat abroad and the New Deal at home. But the Claremont crowd understood that starting with the New Deal amounted to a critic reviewing a play he only attended after intermission. It all goes back to the Progressive Era.
Again, if Progressivism was so foreign to the American creed, why did seeing this have to await Jaffa, and in its fullest development, Ronald Pestritto, who only published his magisterial (and Hegel-highlighting) Woodrow Wilson and Roots of Modern Liberalism in 2005? Melnick puts it this way:
According to [Kesler and Jaffa], our original foundational principles combined reason and revelation without compromising either. They rooted natural rights in natural law… In any case…this near-perfect synthesis…went unnoticed until rediscovered by Jaffa.
D) Regardless of what we see in thinkers like Dewey, Croly, and Wilson, most of the politicians and administrators involved in setting up the programs of the Progressive, New Deal, and Great Society eras did not understand their work as primarily driven by progressivist historicism. This is a more-detailed aspect of the “disconnect with Hegel” objection, and is the point that flows most directly out of Melnick’s own expertise:
The most convincing counter to Kesler’s argument about the triumph of an alien understanding of The State is a clear-headed look at the actual structure of the peculiar American welfare, regulatory, and civil rights state. Yes, the federal government is large, and growing ever larger. And yes, appointed officials wield substantial authority within it. But has this country really “adopted a thoroughgoing centralization of administration”? Hardly.
Although the U.S. is no longer exceptional in having a small or weak state, it remains unique in building a national government that is fragmented, decentralized, judicialized, and administered primarily through third parties and state and local governments. As John DiIulio has emphasized, we have delegated an enormous amount of discretion to non-state actors in our effort both to avoid excessive centralization and to hide the true extent of government. …one incremental patch is placed on top of another by various actors... As I have found in my work on environmental policy, entitlements, and civil rights, the courts have profoundly shaped our public policies in ways unimaginable in other western democracies.
…Our unusual constitutional arrangements coupled with a political culture that combines “ideological conservatism” (above all, distrust of centralized government) with “operational liberalism” (strong support for established welfare state and regulatory programs) have created a distinctively American governing style that would dismay Hegel…
These observations are very useful, and Melnick ought to develop them further. One could, after all, accept that the Claremont scholars are right about the deepest ideological underpinnings of the new regime, while nonetheless accepting that one must compromise with the ideological self-understandings of many of its agents—which will not necessarily be progressive ones--to reform it, and that such reform work might not immediately cut back federal programs, but begin by working to improve them on their own terms. And this reform/cutting would have to utilize the expertise of scholars like Melnick, who know how the programs tend to actually function.
E) But Melnick goes beyond that kind of realism, in that he largely joins typical scholars in rejecting the Claremont findings, by way of stressing various lines of rhetorical self-presentation offered by Wilson and FDR, and various merely semi-progressive stances that characterize figures like TR.
Kesler does not launch an attack on the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or Social Security Act. The crux of the problem is more abstract: the exalted status Wilson bestows upon The State. Yet…Kesler made this major concession: “Wilson gave his heart to Hegel, but his tongue to the American voter, whom he reassured that the modern State did not rule but ‘only serves.’” In such an Americanized, democratized version, it is hard to see how this State run by expert civil servants differs all that much from Hamilton’s energetic executive.
All that much? Contrast that idea with Hamilton’s defense of the president’s veto power (Fed 73), in which he insists that prudent men will “…consider every institution calculated to restrain the excess of lawmaking…as much more likely to do good than harm…” Or take what Jean Yarborough reports in her book on Theodore Roosevelt, a work Melnick elsewhere tries to deploy against Kesler:
Nothing in Hamilton’s writings suggests that he would have backed the establishment of administrative agencies, staffed by bureaucrats largely insulated from the political process and equipped with broad discretionary powers over the economy. (Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition, 191)
But Melnick goes on: “Wilson’s…influence on American politics lay primarily in what he said and did during his presidential campaigns and time in office. That was not nearly as radical as his academic writing.”
That is a cop-out, and it ignores all the pains that Pestritto took in his work to distinguish Wilson’s core Hegel-like beliefs, from features of his campaign rhetoric that can serve to obscure those. Does not Melnick appreciate that the Claremont scholars revealed that nearly eighty years of the typical scholarship on the Progressives was deeply flawed, in that it had 1) largely taken for granted the necessity of their programs, and 2) refused to notice their stark departures from major aspects of classic American constitutionalism and natural rights doctrine? To take just one example, why in the world did it await a scholar like Pestritto to call attention to the fact that Wilson had called for Americans to not study the second sentence of the Declaration?
And Melnick at times pushes his argument close to outright acceptance of a standard Democrat line:
To the extent that TR and his cousin Franklin favored a stronger national government, it was because they embraced a conventional American view of progress that saw government as a force for good in the lives of average citizens.
Well, TR is a complicated case from top to bottom, and perhaps as much to be understood in terms of his mercurial personality, and his need to reject certain shopworn GOP policy-positions, as in terms of progressivism. But FDR? Jus’ a plain ol’ advocate of guvmint good deeds? Here’s Melnick:
…when FDR—and later Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama—adopted and modified the language of the Declaration and individual rights, they were not simply placing a thin Jeffersonian or Lincolnian veneer on a unified, omnipotent Hegelian State. Rather, they were trying, often quite successfully, to blend old forms and old commitments with new realities—a nationalized, industrial economy; the misery of the Great Depression; the demanding role of the U.S. as leader of the free world; the long-delayed coming-to-terms with the subjugation of African-Americans—and new demands, which they certainly encouraged but did not simply create. Although we should acknowledge the innovations of these heirs of Progressivism, we should also recognize the ways they remained faithful to some basic constitutional principles. Dividing the world into good guys and bad guys may stir up the troops, but it seldom produces adequate political analysis.
First of all, that “some” is a very damning admission! Much of the Claremont case is contained within it.
Second, while I will grant much with respect to the new realities they were dealing with, and am not sure about LBJ’s self-understanding, the truth about FDR and Obama is that they did seek to deceive Americans about their political heritage. However grateful we must be to FDR for reaching the right conclusions about the Nazis in time, and even if we are among those who think the New Deal was on balance good, what we cannot deny is that he engaged in deliberate acts of miseducating the public about their constitutional order. His speech pushing the idea of a Second Bill of Rights, a set of positive welfarist rights that he tried to tell the American public they had “so to speak” already adopted, is only the most egregious example. Melnick is right that “omnipotent Hegelian State” would be a hyperbolic way of speaking about the federal government these presidents gave us, but he is wrong to suggest they were serious enough about their “Jeffersonianism” or love of Lincoln to give them much pause about progressivist imperatives. That talk was almost entirely veneer. And that kind “so to speak” rhetoric about what the Constitution really stands for, in the spirit of the Living Constitution, remains an abiding bad habit of the Democrat Party, and one that continues to do great harm.
I put Melnick’s scholarly points that I most object to last in line, so lest that leave too strong an impression, let me repeat that his overall critique of “Claremont-ism” is valuable, and that I agree with his most upfront criticism.
But while we’ve now gone through the scholarly meat of his piece, as I indicated in part one, this is overshadowed by an opening and closing attack on Kesler’s and the Claremont Institute’s tendency to support Trump. We need to look at this attack.
It begins by his noting that when Kesler blamed the 2020 riots on Nikole Hannah-Jones, and called them the “1619 riots,” Hannah-Jones said she would consider such blame an honor. Melnick springs off of that opposition to suggest that January 6th ought to be called the “Flight 93 Riot,” and then opens up a wholesale attack on Anton:
Anton has given us a glimpse of the conspiracy theory that inspired a mob of “patriots” to storm the sacred citadel of constitutional democracy. …Like Nikole Hannah-Jones, Michael Anton is above all a publicist and provocateur. To understand the 1619 Project, one must go first to the “critical theory” so popular in the academy today, and ultimately back to Foucault, Marcuse, and Nietzsche. Similarly, tracing the intellectual foundations of Antonism inevitably leads us to the weltanschauung of the Claremont Institute, where Anton is a Senior Fellow. As other conservative intellectuals deserted Trump, the Claremont Institute became the center of his most devoted intellectual advocates.
This rhetorical framing has an impressive architecture to it, but the weakness of the wider analogy between the two sets of influence-relations becomes apparent once we stop to consider what it consists of:
January 6th capitol storming > Michael Anton > Kesler/Claremont
2020 riots > Nikole Hannah-Jones > critical theory/Foucault and co.
Every analogical pairing suggested by the wider analogy is obscenely off, but none more so than saying that Anton deserves to be regarded as the Hannah-Jones of the right. Among conservatives, and especially among conservatives seeking to bridge scholarly reflection with punditry, could there be an insult lower than that? Here’s a woman who stokes ideocratic/racialist purges at the NYT, and who uses the platform given her by the NYT to reach its usual audience and potentially every other school district in America to tell big lies about our nation’s history. She’s not far from being the moral equivalent of a Nazi theorist in Weimar Germany, or a Bolshevik one in early-1900s Russia.
Melnick’s aspersion seems to stem from the fact that Anton dared here and there, particularly in his 2016 writing as Publius Decius Mus, to begin thinking about what would follow if the Democrats of HRC’s ilk won control over all three branches, and if their various successful forays into cancelling moderates and conservatives continued. And yes, that thinking does lead one, at some point to consider the kinds of contingency plans for responding to the republic’s actual fall that conservatives would entertain as the plausibility of that fall increased.
In the Anton piece that disturbed me the most—next to a later one where he praised Machiavelli for supposedly being a reputational martyr to the cause of republican government—he suggested that if America’s future was to be some kind of Caesarism, then at some point it would be necessary for conservatives to fight for the victory of their own Caesar, for a strongman who would protect their interests. In the context of thinking about Trump, I found, and still find, this to have been an irresponsible rhetorical move. That’s not to hold that if things ever got really bad, this kind of thinking could be avoided or squelched—see my series of essays written prior to Decius’s splash, on the lessons we might need to learn from the late Roman Republic. (BTW, if you find Anton’s earliest pieces for American Greatness, you can often find yours truly in the comments making various kinds of reservations--although I never liked the word “never,” I was basically a Never Trumper in 2016.)
Let us return to the analogies Melnick pushes. It makes perfect sense to regard the 1619 Project, and the leadership of #BLM, as stemming from critical theory. But even if we were to grant that we have good Never-Trump reasons to abhor mainstream Trumpism, and to predict a violence-prone variant that would seriously merit a term like insurrectionist, would it make remotely comparable sense to root these movements in Claremont theory? Doesn’t Kesler’s partial-recommendation of Trump, as well as Anton’s less-restrained (but still quite careful) one, derive far more from certain prudential calculations about the present political scene?
Melnick could have talked about Claremont’s long-standing patterns of a) rhetorical thumos (Barry Goldwater’s “Extremism is the defense of liberty is no vice!” line was penned by Jaffa) and b) emphasis on strategy. But he didn’t. So besides the point about a tendency toward Manichaean thought, there is little in Melnick’s scholarly analysis of Claremont theory that would explain Claremont’s Trumpism. One can explain it if one accepts the argument typical of Claremonters, that the present events show us that consequences of progressivist erosion of the old constitutional order have added up in way that justifies backing a figure like Trump, out of desperate need for defense. And if those strategy calculations are basically sound, then Anton and Kesler emerge as the real Constitution-defenders, and Melnick as the more Manichean thinker, as he is falling into a Never Trump pattern of demanding ritual abomination of all things Trump-touched.
Or put it this way: can anyone remotely deserving of the tag “constitutionalist” actually think a professor should be as dismayed to notice a promising young student eagerly taking up Anton and Kesler, as she would be to notice this student taking up Kendi and Gramsci? For that is what Melnick’s framing logically must hold.
What did Melnick hope to accomplish with such an attack? It can’t have been driven by a need to couch his more scholarly analysis in “contemporary relevance,” as Law & Liberty didn’t need to be convinced of the importance of Kesler’s book. Or what does Greg Weiner, for that matter, in a just-published National Affairs essay about, of all things, “Honorable Partisanship,” hope to accomplish by opening it by cavalierly describing January 6th as a “Trump-incited insurrection?” Do these gentlemen not understand, regardless of whether Trump runs in 2024, that the conservative coalition in America, and in just about every other liberal democracy, will necessarily find the grouping “populist-conservative” to be its biggest member? In America, what possible conservative-led coalition do Melnick, Weiner, most of the writers for the new website the Constitutionalist, etc., have in mind, that would somehow be formed without the Trumpists? Recent work by Robert Saldin and Steven Teles gives us some grounds for thinking that at the state-level in blue or purple areas, the grouping they call the GOP “faction” of liberal-constitutionalists might win some power, or even strategically align with a posited “pro-business” Democrat faction. But we know, as well as we know anything in politics, that the GOP presidential candidate of 2024 will align with Trumpism, as likely will the second-placer and maybe even the third placer in the nomination fight. I suppose that some degree of strategic distance from the person of Trump will remain necessary for conservative-inclined politicians and intellectuals working in blue areas and institutions, but overall, Melnick’s stance here (Weiner’s too) seems anything but strategic.
For the sake of that inevitable GOP populist-conservativism not being merely a matter of aping the negatively-defined style of Donald Trump, and of declamatory patriotism, why wouldn’t conservatives of all stripes be happy to see it become guided by the deeper theory Claremont brings? Claremont’s influence could do much to keep “populist” the adjective, and “conservative” the noun.
Now I think that populist-conservatives would do well to also be guided by the thinking of people like McWilliams, Deneen, and the Front Porch “Republicans,” and even more so by the post-modern conservatism of Lawler and this little substack. Not a few of my pieces for this site will sketch a more-democracy-positive and less-capital-L Liberal kind of conservatism that would tie populist identity to the cause of rejuvenating our understanding of popular government itself. But I’m not in a position to provide the kind leadership Anton and Kesler are trying to offer, and as it seems, neither is Melnick. I think Claremonters could learn a few things from the likes of me, and from the likes of him, but I would find it ungracious and irresponsible to treat them as enemies.
Melnick is of course right that talk about our republic passing a point of no return, unless such-and-such is done, can pose a real danger. Greg Weiner once wrote some fine passages in that vein also. Both of them should seek to draw thinkers like Anton, and the many right-wing pundits who are more clearly irresponsible about political prophesying, into critical dialogue about the dangers of such rhetoric-employment. I’m not claiming Anton wouldn’t have some good points in turn. But that discussion would not turn on how Anton is influenced by core Claremont theory.
(Conservatives are going to need engage in debate about how to best theorize what we loosely call the “managerial oligarchic” dynamic and class, but that’s not the topic of the day, nor the ground upon which Melnick chooses to battle.)
Compare Melnick’s piece and framing, then, with the little editorial by Josh Hammer discussed in part one. Hammer senses the urgency of the hour. He sees that however contemptible and insane the leading ideas of the Woke radicals are, 2020 showed us that the triumph of those radicals, whereby they would seize control of America, can no longer be regarded as impossible, even if the basic unlikelihood of it remains. He knows and takes warning from the fact that sophisticated Germans surely felt the same way about the absurdity of National Socialists in the 1920s. He sees that the momentum is with the Woke, and that a coalition dedicating to fighting them, to be built especially by getting those who think of themselves as “liberals” to wake up to the situation, must be the first priority of our politics. The insanity of regarding Anton and Hannah-Jones as equivalent threats, or of heeding calls to avoid alliance with the former, would be immediately evident to him.
Specialized objections to Claremont theory, wedded to wounding rhetorical conceits, hardly then seem healthy fare for conservative intellectuals at this time. The republic is in fundamental danger. Melnick hints at one point that he worries about the possibility that an embrace of Trump the man, and Trumpism as a style, will push away more liberals who might otherwise be open to temporary coalition, than it will draw in working-class types. It is a reasonable worry, which is one reason why Trump-supporting conservatives should, with politeness and gratitude, encourage him to step aside from the very center of the stage in 2024, by not seeking the nomination. But my overall sense is that the damage there has been already done. The old-school liberals tempted to remain in, or return to, the Democrat coalition see that Trump’s persona set off a toxic reaction among the Wokesters and the oligarchs, and thus revealed what they had become. That is, I think more of these types see that the darkness revealed in the heart of Democrat America, a godless, elite-corrupted, Marxisant, persecutorial, racialism-embracing, and violence-welcoming darkness, cannot be dismissed as a temporary aberration, as a feature that emerged due to opposing Trump. I don’t think men and women of Brandon Straka’s or Bari Weiss’s stamp, scarred by the realization of what progressivist ideology curdled into under very their noses, are going to be satisfied with a Never Trump middling coalition, one that hardly fights the main enemy, and on regular occasions, engages in denunciations of all things Trump-linked. Like Hammer, they will see that too much is on the line for that. And hopefully, they will begin to see what they might learn from the Claremont school, and from those conservative intellectuals like myself who are in sympathetic dialogue with it.
It is a shame that Melnick could not keep his reservations about that school from adding up to a general discouragement of learning from it, and a scandal that he could not keep his rhetoric within decent bounds.