tv Josh Hammer Discusses Future of Conservatism CSPAN April 8, 2021 1:39am-2:41am EDT
constitution society for law and policy. and on c-span2 at 10:00 a.m. easter, day nine of the trial of former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin who is charged in the death of george floyd. >> newsweek opinion editor josh hammer spoke about the future of conservatism after the trump presidency. at a virtual event hosted by the notre dame young republicans. it runs one hour. >> thank you for coming tonight's event. we are honored to host josh hammer, for constitutional attorney and published legal scholar. he is editor of newsweek, a research fellow with the edmund burke foundation, and a syndicated columnist, and outspoken conservative serving on constitutional and legal issues in the intersection of law and politics.
he has been published in many leading outlets including the washington post, and the daily wire. >> mr. hammer is a law school campus speaker to the federalist society. prior to joining the daily wire, he clerked for a judge in the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit. he has also served as a john marshall fellow with the claremont institute. and as law clerk for senator mike lee, republican, of utah. he will be speaking about trend in the current conservative movement, in the future of the american right. >> we would like to acknowledge the young americans foundation for their partnership in organizing, promoting and posting to this discussion. thank you also to c-span for covering this event. mr. hammer will then take questions after the lecture. please use the q&a feature in the toolbar to ask your
question. mr. hammer, we are honored to have you and the floor is yours. mr. hammer: thank you so much, adam. it is great to be with all of you. i went to law school in chicago, not terribly far from south bend , and i actually went to a notre dame-u.s. provoking in law school, five-and-a-half years ago or so. i have seen the tailgates, i had a wonderful experience. it was a notre dame victory, as i recall. he would be great to be there in person but it is nice to talk with you all. i have always had a profound respect for notre dame. so many scholars there who i admired their work over the years. justice barrett was formerly at the law school. curtiss neil, the law school professor. patrick dineen, phil munoz,
there are many great conservative-leaning intellectual thought leaders there at your compass. -- at your campus. i look forward to the q&a more than any. i will try to keep my thoughts to. so we are talking about intellectual trends on the american right more generally. i think it is best to give a very, very quick overview of the so-called modern conservative movement and then talk about what is actually happening now and where are expected to go in the future. the origins of the so-called modern conservative movement start after world war ii. america is victorious in world war ii, harry truman is the president. this is the time of increased globalization.
the united nations comes into being, nato comes into being, and shortly thereafter, you have what become the leaders of the conservative movement start to get active in publishing. philip buckley junior -- william buckley, jr., russell kirk , he starts getting active. he takes it slightly more traditionalist buckleyian view of traditionalism. and they found the magazine in 1955 which, for decades, arguably up until today, is the institutional flag bearer of the american right. buckley establishes the national review. in the inaugural issue he includes the line everyone here has probably heard before, that we are committed to standing for
our history, yelling stop. i think the postmodern, world war ii facility movement had a -- to it, that being the late 18th century british statesman who was perhaps most famous for writing his reflections on the revolution in france in which he expressed a profound commitment to epistemological humility by the limits of knowledge and limits of using pure, unadulterated, utopian conceptions of reason to advocate and implement the ideal society. he looked across the english channel and saw a revolutionary france and said, no. you see an appreciation of historical imperialism, the consensus of what has been passed down, there in the mission statement of the nationalbut there were also comg
strands of thought in the beginning of that modern conservative movement. one of william buckley most prominent co-conspirators, from lack of a better term, frank meyer, just five years later in 1960, he coins the doctrine of -- fusionism. most students of modern american conservatism scholars, pundits, commentators, grew up in the fusionism paradigm. it was profoundly and remarkably successful in accomplishing what it set out to do. fusionism was described as quite literally trying to fuse old traditionalist conceptions of conservatism, the russell crowe wing of moral traditionalism, and essentially fuse it with free market economics. i think from an early age, the modern conservative movement was
kind of infatuated with the laissez-faire, what some people are calling market fundamentalism. it was there at the onset. people like friedrich hayek and milton friedman became icons for the intellectual and funded best use of the american right -- intellectual and funded bastions of the american right. his home state of arizona and three states in the deep south. barry goldwater ran on a fusionist platform, the traditional three-legged stool platform of social traditionalism. barry goldwater himself was not intensely pro-life, but he did hold some very conservative
issues. his views on the civil rights act. he certainly was a proponent of kind of a robust, staunch, stringent view of laissez-faire economics, and his foreign was anti-soviet and anti-communist. those were the three legs of the capital conservative movement. as conservative lore would have it, the unsuccessful nomination of goldwater in 1964 paved the way for reagan's mere ability. he almost knocked off ford in the 1976 presidential primary, and then ultimately was successful for years later in 1980. so the conservative movement takes a while to reach its pinnacle, but the fusionist, buckley-centric movement reaches its design it in the presidency
of reagan. a legacy that continues to be debated today. some of our libertarian-minded friends point one of reagan's statements where he more or less says the very heart and soul of my conservative philosophy is libertarianism. he did say that. it is also true that he imposed tariffs on japanese automobiles to try and help detroit and the american industry. also true that henry olson, the washington post columnist wrote a couple of years ago, that not just on the tariff issue but throughout his presidency, reagan fashioned himself as a working-class man, the working man in general. and he, perhaps most importantly for our purposes, in contrast to more libertarian leaning dogma, reagan never saw it to eviscerate in its entirety, the new deal.
he more or less accepted the framework of a more active government, he just wanted to trim and streamline it around the edges. in any event, the reagan presidency, obviously by many, not virtually all factors, was a liberal presidency. it helped lead to the fall of the berlin wall in 1989, the inclusion of the soviet union into the federation a few years later. after reagan, bush comes into power in gives a very famous speech in 1990 referring to a "new world order." here is where we start to see, from my perspective, the post-world war ii conservative movement start to get a little too full of itself -- start to get a little obsessed with dogma and etiology, to the exclusion of credit and spend pragmatism.
-- exclusion of pragmatism. george h. w. bush talked about the new world order. a year later, nafta was signed. what he was really talking about here was a term that i think only entered our public discourse five or six years ago, but can be explained as kind of a conception by which everyone is truly interconnected and not in an economics phase, but in a cultural, educational, his nurse, economic, whatever, we are global citizens of one global community. to that end, supranational, transnational institutions, like nafta, nato, the u.n., et cetera, ought to be empowered and emboldened even if at the expense of the traditional
conceptions of national sovereignty. so i think already here, went george h. w. bush gives his speech in 1990, you start to see that there was a problem with fusionism, specifically the problem with fusionism already that we see at that point. fusionism was highly successful insofar as it led to the reagan presidency. for the time and place at which it existed, it ended up being a very successful political, strategic, tactical coalition. you got people who hated russia on the one hand because they were atheists, on the other hand because they were commies, and on the other hand because they had a massive nuclear arsenal and threatened to kill us. you had the free-market tears in the policy hawks strategically coalesce around this coalition. the timing of the speech is so perfect. it is 1990, a year after the
berlin wall falls. so already here, the soviet union is crumbling. fusionism has more or less accomplished its purpose, and yet these bromides of liberalism, of liberalism, these notions that enlightenment liberalism, rationalism, is the conservative answer, kind of what george h. w. bush is getting at their in the new world speech. they start to take hold to the exclusion, perhaps, of the russell kirk, burkeian, traditionalist and more nationalist strand of thought. that happened. in response to the follow the soviet union, there were any number of conservative thinkers who said, it is time to readjust and get back to a slightly different conception of conservatism. of course, there was pat
buchanan, ross perot to an extent. pat buchanan had the paleo -conservative movement, noted primarily for its strictness on immigration and trade. really isolationist-leading policy. he was the leader who was saying that it was time to readjust after the fall of the soviet union and get back to a more humbler, super-traditional form of conservatism. as my friend and colleague has frequently written, even irving kristol, one of the great neoconservatives back when the term meant something utterly different than what it means today, in the 1990's, after the fall of the soviet union, he famously said it was time to get back to a more humble conservatism. to a more nation-state-centric, more nationalist conservatism,
and away from these more liberal, internationalist strands, while the primary aim of the movement was to defeat the soviet union. we saw this happening. we saw pieces of it play out in the 2000 presidential primary. george w. bush, contrary to what his presidency ultimately became, actually ran on a humbler nation, kind of retrenching from the global stage, a contrast to some extent, from his father's new world order speech. obviously, 9/11 happened in his presidency was changed, for better or for worse. we saw after the 2000 election every kind of republican presidential platform since then, up until 2016, which we will get to, continue to stick to the traditional three-legged stool. the mccain-palin platform of 2008 was nothing if not a traditional three-legged stool,
again, three tiers for capitalism-style economics, heartfelt commitment to social conservatism, and a very hawkish foreign policy. in mccain's case, generally neoconservative. but even the romney-ryan platform of 2012. it is interesting. we will talk about the republican party and the conservative movement and the realignment happening. but i think back to the 2012 republican national convention, the romney-ryan ticket, and one of the famous lines during that campaign was barack obama -- or was it warren? can't remember. famously saying to small business owners "you did not build that." he was talking about the construction workers, government employees who built the roads, infrastructure, kind of belittling of small business entrepreneurship.
the republican party strategy at the 2012 convention to counter that was, to hold an entire day of their four-day convention, dedicated to bolstering, elevating and heaping praise upon small business owners. in theory a good idea, right? mom-and-pop shops are something that conservatives cherish. the problem is that 1% of americans are small business owners -- 1%, the most, or 2% or 3%? i don't have the numbers in front of me. but you are trying to appeal to the populace, you might went to rethink your branding strategy there. so of course, the romney-ryan ticket goes down in flames. they won 206 electoral college votes. doing all sorts of nonsense in the second term, early in the middle east.
his second term was dedicated to the romney nuclear deal -- iran nuclear deal and so forth. then we get to the 2016 primaries. i will not say that i was a day one trump supporter. i was a ted cruz supporter, i have known ted for a number of years. if i could do a gratuitous self-promotion, i would encourage everyone to check out his most recent book, "one vote away." i worked closely with ted on that book. it is a good read. [laughs] what was interesting about the trump candidacy, ok, is that he really kind of came in full-guns blazing. one, he was deeply outspoken in the way republican nominees had not and in perhaps decades, on some of those more pat
buchananesque issues, immigration and trade, in particular. you look back in donald trump's history, trade is one issues on which he has been remarkably consistent on. going back 34 years, he has always been skeptical skeptic of a truly neoliberal, free-trade policy. even on immigration, what is interesting, and i think the difference trump was talking about on immigration, historically a lot of conservatives would say something along the following lines -- we support the rule of law, law and order, therefore, legal immigration is best. secure the border, et cetera. but we on the other hand -- and i would say limitless -- very large volumes of legal immigration, right? this is the rhetorical notion of build the wall, but also have a gate in the wall to let in legal
immigrants. on that particular issue, i think trump card right to the core and understood the medium american did not necessarily want that. the medium american probably looks at the fact that we are letting in -- if i am not mistaken -- roughly one million immigrants per year, and thinks this number is probably too high. i majored in economics in college. i know what the comparative advantage looks like on the chalkboard. the point of free-trade is to lower prices for consumers, period. that is the purpose of free-trade. from that perspective, america 's cold war era, post richard nixon going to china to meet chairman mao, the strategy was successful from that angle. but what trumpeted, and it is humorous -- what trump did, and
it is humorous that it took a playboy from manhattan to effectively do this -- he looked at the pillaging that has happened in middle america about all the old dying west coast -- rust belt tom's. you live in south bend, so you have probably seen this with your own eyes --toledo, ohio, i certainly saw it when i was in toledo, ohio. we have all seen this. trump, i think, looked at what was then an escalating opioid overdose crisis particularly ravaging the parts of the country that jd vance wrote about in his book "hillbilly elegy." trump said, enough is enough. time for the republican party to actually stand with its voters and effect a platform that is more closely aligned with what these voters want.
immigration, trade, on foreign policy -- trump's foreign policy -- i think mike anton of the claremont institute would describe it as "jacksonian." what that means is his instincts are to be more reserved, to have a more nation-state, national interest, realistic credential foreign policy. but when provoked, you lash out and let them know who is boss. we saw that in the trump presidency, the action of the targeted killings of qassem soleimani, abu bakr al-baghdadi and so forth. similarly, on economic issues in general -- holding trade aside -- trump understood intuitively that the voter was not necessarily a devotee of friedrich hayek or milton
friedman. the difference is -- and it gets back to the george h.w. bush speech, the conception of conservatism viewed the free market as an instrumental means towards the ends of the flourishing of common goods. the libertarian strand saw it as the market -- [inaudible] trump tapped into that as well. here is that issue. the issue is that libertarianism in general is a very small percentage of the american population. a political scientist famously did a study after 2016, after the election, a little xy, four-quadrant plot that maps
american voters based on economic, conservative, economic liberal, social conservative and socially liberal. it turns out social liberals are like 6.3% of the american population. shockingly small. however, a certainly large plurality, can't remember the number but a poorly of voters identify as socially or culturally conservative-leaning. for those of you with a long memory, you will recall that that is the precise opposite of what the 2012 republican national committee's autopsy showed, that autopsy commissioned after the romney-ryan lost, basically argued the republican party should stay away from those nasty cultural issues, don't get into the "culture wars,"
don't worry about any of that. worry about the nice issues that the wall street journal editorial board likes to write about, issues of marginal tax rate cuts, capital gains cuts and so forth. but that is not backed up by the data as to where the voters are. trump very shrewdly picked up on that. this kind of brings into notion but i think we are witnessing is a very slow realignment of sorts in america right now. go back to loudoun county, virginia, a good example. loudoun county, virginia might be the wealthiest in america. if not number one, it is certainly in the top five. it was traditionally an exurb of d.c., historically wealthy, historically conservative, went for romney-ryan by 10 points in 2012. by the 2020 election, it is
20-plus points supporting biden-harris. so we are seeing increasingly, with the woke etiology that has seeped its way into every institution in america, academia, wall street, the media, democrats are increasingly becoming the party of the ruling class. they are the party of the donor class, the party of the elite ruling class. and republicans, obviously it hasn't happened overnight nor has it already happened and we are not going to ever fully get there, but the trend lines show that the median republican voter is the heart had, construction worker -- hardhat construction worker from the town in indiana that has been ravaged by opioid overdoses, right? so trump icked up on trends that were already happening and, to
an extent, he accelerated on that. since the trump presidency, what exactly is happening on the american right? for starters, he had a massive personnel staffing issue, as my good friend wrote about in an essay back in december. there were all source of personnel problems. as far as policy priorities are concerned, i think trump wasted his first two years on trying to repeal endo place -- and replace obamacare. there were many other priorities that should have been addressed. the first step act, i adamantly opposed and continue to oppose, actually. i think it is a bad piece of legislation of quote unquote criminal justice reform. there are many areas i certainly do not think he was exceptional. but what he did -- he's
accurately described as a hurricane. what a hurricane does is it comes offshore and knocks down all the buildings where the foundation is rotting, where the foundation is not sturdy enough to hold up what is currently in place. what a hurricane does not do is build something anew. so i think that trump very accurately was a hurricane and kind of plowed over and bulldozed over a lot of thought that had become -- that had failed to adapt. notions of what oren calls market fundamentalism, private sector fundamentalism. this notion that the private sector and the market can do no wrong whatsoever, and even to contest it is to let the rocket do what it is. i am exaggerating slightly, but i think this is a more or less accurate summation of the mitt romney, paul ryan platform of
2012. so a lagging indicator, is to build up an intellectual and policy infrastructure. do not retroactively justify trump or anything, but to build from here. economics are good example here. my good friend, deputy editor of american affairs, a publication founded in 2017 to try and give a more kind of nationalist, industrial policy-centric, two chairs of capitalism -- cheers for capitalism tinged to economic policy analysis. it's a fabulous publication i would highly recommend to everyone here. american compass group, with which i'm involved on the side. just launched last year. american compass does many kind of intellectual essays but is
more focused on call seat -- on concrete policy initiatives, to build out more nationalist, family-centric brands of conserved -- of traditional conservatism. there are a number of other organizations. one thing that trump did do, and this is a very important point to make. he did not run as a traditional kind of pat robertson, jerry falwell-esque social conservative. i think trump supports same-sex marriage policy. he doesn't talk about it. but he does not emphasize these kind of traditional judeo-christian values. but rather what trump did was he fought the woke ideology. all the time he condemned black lives matter, his remarkable speech at mount rushmore on july 4, i thought his courageous decision to gut critical race
theory from the government. he showed he was willing to fight back against the excesses of intersectionality of woke culture. and i think he laid the foundation for a possible new fusionist consensus actually. a new fusionist consensus that would wed traditionalist conservatives with anti-woke liberals. people like my friend barry weiss, perhaps even my deputy opinion editor that newsweek. these are woke skeptical, anti-woke liberals. a new consensus that trump laid the foundation for his allying more traditional berkian, more nationalist inspired conservatives, i guess like me, with a woke skeptical liberal in an alliance to take on the neo-marxism of the woke ideology. so that is kind of one way i see
our politics going forward from here. in general here, i think the work for a lot of us on whatever we are kong this, whether it is quote unquote the new right, national conservatism in contrast to globalism, or neoconservatism, what we are talking about here is an economics that is more realist, an economics that is more two cheers than three cheers, foreign policy is not isolationist but is credential, nationalist, nationstate centric, national interest oriented, and an approach to the culture war that is unwilling to yield on issues where we just know in our bones, in our dna, that the left is overstepping. whether it is the 1619 project, whether it is title ix or transgender is him, biological men and women's sports. that is where i see this going from here. i am not confident that the kind of new fusion will emerge, but i
think it is good a sense as any. and within that kind of new fusionism, i'm focus my current efforts on the anti-woke liberals. i hope they join us but it is not my fight, per se. the final point i will make before we open it up to q&a, within that new right national conservatism strand of what i am calling the new fusionism, i think it has to be kind of based around what i called the quote, deliver allies and imperative. -- deliberalizing imperative. what i mean by that is the post-world war ii quote unquote conservative movement has simply become too liberalized. it has become too close to globalism and libertarianism.
they have outsourced their economic thinking to libertarians and neoconservatives. what do they have in common? this belief in liberal enlightenment abstractions and rationalism. this notion that universal truth should guide all foreign policy. what i am calling the new right national conservatism has to be more about prudence, pragmatism, historical empiricism, looking back pragmatically and what works, what is working, what will work. and recovering the lost virtue of prudence, which i think is something conservatives have not talked about in years. and trying to talk about how we can be prudential insecure in the ultimate substantive goods of justice, human flourishing, and the common good. on that note, i am happy to cut off this rambling and open it up to q&a. and thank you for listening, everyone. >> thank you mr. hammer.
we will now take questions from the floor. if you are interested in submitting a question, please click a button in the zoom toolbar. our first question is from a professor. he's asking if you could talk a little about the political roof occasions of eliminating the filibuster. josh: sure. well, yeah. look, we don't know how this is going to play out right now. i wrote in my column last week, i said don't kill the filibuster. republicans did not fill the -- kill the filibuster when they could have during the trump presidency. it is not in the constitution, it is not even law. it is simply a rule of senate procedure. but i think the key point to make here is the ethos of the filibuster, what it symbolically represents, actually is kind of
directly intellectually downstream of our constitutional structure. because it is rooted in a counter majoritarianism. it is out of james madison's federalist tenant. so i think it is destructive to the senate, and would diminish their role as a quote unquote cooling -- in contrast to the hot tea of the house, the senate was supposed to be the cooling saucer. and the immediate policy ramifications, well hr1 will probably pass. that is there electoral overhaul. it would really subvert everything a rule of law has always held about who governs elections. it is a travesty of legislation. you would have to assume the equality act would pass, probably. unless a joe manchin holds out, which is possible. but it would not be good. i am not convinced that they
would pass the supreme court immediately if they gut filibuster. i certainly think they would pass the lower ports -- courts. they would certainly add judgeships to the lower federal court of appeal, which would be bad. if they do do it, and i am overall inclined to think they will, i unfortunately think they probably will, yeah, it will get ugly there for a little while, no doubt about that. >> our next question comes from derek. he is talking about the recent article. the most recent iteration of straitjacket regionalism -- [indiscernible] his question is, some of my colleagues are skeptical of this
interpretation. i was wondering if there is specific case law that supports this view. [indiscernible] josh: josh is a good friend of mine. i have known him for a handful of years now. we text at this point almost every day. look, i think from a strictly positivist perspective of holding out all norms, holding out the declaration, holding out the preamble, natural law, any of that. it's debatable whether his argument is right. i see arguments genuinely on both sides. the best argument i think for what we are now calling the antonin scalia approach, the traditionalist approach, the best argument on that side on this particular issue is the fact that, for josh's argument
to be right, it seems likely that the word "person" in the equal protection clause of section one of the 14th amendment would have to have a different meaning than in section two of the 14th amendment. not necessarily, but that is probably the way it would have to play out. i'll be totally honest with the, i have not done -- with you, i have not done a scholarly deep dive like josh has done. so i will have to come back to the question as far as the specifics of the rule here. what i will say, and i think this is more directly within my wheelhouse, i'm flying to d.c. tomorrow actually. i'm debating it we'll on original is him this thursday night -- i'm debating ed wheelan this thursday night. the theory i put out basically says whether there's a clause
that's reasonably ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations within what some originalist scholars call the construction zone, the zone within which you can construct. i argue that at that point, what aristotle would call the purpose of the american regime as best encapsulated by the preamble ought to impue the art of legal interpretation at that juncture, by which i mean justice, human flourishing, should come in at that stage of the process. decline common good regionalism and not positivist regionalism is enough to get to the josh position. this will probably come up with my debate with ed on this thursday, so i appreciate the warm up here. >> the next question comes from
olivia rogers. she asks, will the republican party have to fracture to come to a new consensus after trump, or is there a strong political faction you see? what are the needs that trump made the party should continue making? josh: i will take the second question first, just because it is easier. i think that basically realism on those three key issues of immigration, trade, foreign policy, are indispensable. he's taken a much more realist view on those issues. he has recognized that a free-trade regime that empowered our foremost arch geopolitical foe, communist china, is not in america's interest. he recognized that things like a year ago, at the very early stages of the pandemic, he saw that china was hoarding personal protective equipment. we have become so possessed with
lowering prices for consumers at all costs that we have forgotten the entirely common sense, logical notion that it is important sometimes to make stuff for the sake of making stuff. so that any situation like a pandemic, we don't run out. so that in a situation like semiconductors and chips, we are not risking heaweui -- common sense instinct on that have to be continued. immigration in particular, look. america is the most generous country in the world as far as immigration is concerned. our sheer numbers that we let in every year, citizens, visas, all of it, is literally more generous than anywhere in the world. at the same time, we have this crazy system that has been in place since the 1950's, or at
least since the 1960's, ted kennedy's people, that prioritizes chain migration, family-centric migration to the exclusion of a marriage or skills-based regime, the likes of which all of our competitors and even our closest allies like canada, australia, etc., have. so that has to change. trump's things on that were sound. again on foreign policy, we don't need to be spreading democracy. we do not need to be in the game of forcibly exporting our values to every third world sharia hellhole halfway around the world. when our interests are attacked, when our staunchest ally's interests are attacks in a way that attacks our interest, then yes, consider america getting involved. even then, unless it is a truly an extreme example, should not involved applying -- deploying boots on the ground. we have a fantastic air force,
air america has the two biggest air forces in the world. we have all sorts of missiles and ways to strike and maneuver precision style attacks that do not actually involve us getting entangled in 20 years in afghanistan now we have been there. it is all these issues are totally right. and again, on the economic issues, there is a lot of intellectual energy on the right right now on family policy in particular, on how we can directly support families. whether it is a monthly cash allowance, whether it is an extended child tax credit, or a new proposal called the family income supplemental credit. these are all good ideas. that is where the conversation should be. the conversation should not be kind of the most doctrinaire,
richard -- rigid form of supply-side economics, which would basically say don't do any of this quote unquote social engineering. the government is going to be involved in things like this whether we wanted to be involved. there is no such thing as a tax code that is truly quote unquote neutral and does not engage in any kind of social engineering. real quick on the first part of the question about the coalition, i do not think it has changed at all. trump improved his success among black and hispanic voters relative to 2016. and the black church is historically a very conservative institution. if i'm not mistaken, a high percentage of black voters -- i hope i am not wrong. i think a higher percentage of black americans oppose same-sex marriage than white americans.
a lot of hispanics in this country come from fairly traditional, oftentimes catholic backgrounds. and we saw that happen in texas, in the rio grande. trump was winning counties like 95% hispanic. that is the real action, the anti-woke politics coalition fused with a more realist approach to economics, putting families first, etc. that is a winning political platform. it is also the morally, and i think politically right and proper thing to do as well. >> our next question comes from a first year law student. are libertarian forces -- [indiscernible] how can we fuse ideas that are common good regionalism or common good constitutionalism with more mainstream ideas of
conservative intellectualism? josh: these are good questions. i am reading it myself right now to make sure i grasp it. look, i think the predominance of intellectual libertarianism in the conservative movement in general is something that we see across many areas. we see it across economics, we see it across law. there are any number of reasons for this. one reason i think is, frankly, it is quote unquote nicer to be a libertarian. it is nicer to have your go to issue to liberate at all costs. it will get you booted out of the country club. he will get you booted out of the social club. it will get you booted out of your cocktail party way less quickly than coming out as a gay, dreaded retrograde social conservative who holds biblical views on abortion or marriage or anything like that.
and we see that of course in the conservative legal movement as well. i think back, ruth marcus, who is a liberal washington post columnist, she wrote a very, very revealing book about the brett kavanaugh supreme court nomination. she actually interviewed me on background for that. i don't think any of my quotes made it in there. but one thing that came out in that book she was talking to don mcgahn, former white house counsel. maybe she misquoted him. again, i have no say in that. but the quote in the book was, if you believe ruth -- if you believe what don says -- i don't have it verbatim. he says someone like antonin scalia who put cultural issues at the forefront of his traditional stature would not be nominated today, because today
the issues are about the administrative state, about regulation. and someone like scalia would just not make it today. that is how you get the nominations of people like neil gorsuch. he was known for his expertise in administrative law. brett kavanaugh certainly was more focused on ministrant of law than -- on administrative law than any other area of law. so the priorities of the conservative movement have changed. as far as the second part of your question, will, i guess harmonizing is maybe what you're asking, what i'm calling congregated originals and with traditionalist originals him. so, look, i will try to make this quick. there are three strands of broadly speaking originalist thoughts in the modern conservative legal movement. there is quote unquote conservative original is him -- originalism. kind of a positivist approach.
that there is one right answer. you have to get it. that has been conservative originalism. there is more libertarian originalism. randy calls it the quote resumption of liberty. randy gets also as of libertarian conclusions aced on his assumptions that i find preposterous to be honest with you. then there is quote unquote progressive originalism affiliated with a professor that argues that the constitution itself is purposefully written in a way intended to affect the delegates to future generations the ability to implement, or morally update their views. so the eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment is a great example of this. here's the problem. if we are a conservative looking at those three options, why did the latter two options have a moralistic component? whether it is individual liberty
centered liberalism or progressivism -- so all i am trying to do with common good originalism, which as i explained, really kind of only kicks in when there's a cl ause subject to multiple interpretations within a reasonable line of interpretation. only then and there, the substantive aims of traditional conservatism, which by the way, the purpose of the american regime. let me do this real quick. i am going to read the preamble real quick. quote, we the people of the united states in order to form a more perfect union, and emetic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the lessons of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the free united states of america. does that sound like a free --
like radical libertarian document? the question answers itself. when we were in this range of interpretive reasonableness, what i am encouraging lawyers, practitioners, and ideally judges and justices to do, is to kind of impue within that construction -- kinf of imbue the substantive values i just read which are historically conservative values which also happened to the be the values of the american regime. >> thank you. our next question comes from emily major. continuing on the threat of finding woke neo-marxism, what are you hearing on all this federal funding? she says the stimulus checks are arbitrary in their timing and value, and from a socially conservative standpoint, she could see them taking away from the dignity of work. she asks, do you have any thoughts on how conservatives, especially young ones, can win
the argument and just say no to government handouts? josh: i take a slightly less skeptical view of covid-era stimulus, to be honest with you. from my perspective, this is not a legal argument, but from the perspective of political morality, i think the lockdowns and the loss of our basic liberties, the loss of our ability to breathe without a face diaper on, the loss of our ability to go to church or synagogue, the loss of our ability to eat in restaurants, all that stuff. not to mention the shutdown of businesses and all that. i viewed it essentially is being a taking. a taking under the fifth amendment. where no property can be taken without just compensation. the way i kind of conceptualize the stimulus checks is a defacto -- of course it's not just compensation because we have
lost a year of our lives, and children have lost a year of their lives they'll never get back. the long-term results of what has happened this past year are unknowable and genuinely terrifying. but i guess i view the stimulus checks as being slightly more of a timely compensation for a taking. now, emily's question is interesting because it gets to the content of dignity of work, which is crucially important. it's the crux of oren's 2018, 2019, i think 2018, book, the once and future worker, where he talked about the importance of the dignity of work. all sorts of implications for trade policy and -- our economy has become too consumerist, too obsessed with the consumer. it is time to get back into a better balance between consumers and producers. it's more about maximizing
employment. to that extent i strongly agree with the premise of the question. i think it is the best argument against universal basic income. it's exactly this. i guess i just have less of a problem with pandemic-era stimulus checks, where our livelihood has been upended and destroyed. >> an interesting question here. [indiscernible] what do you think among the trend such as social conservatives towards a more monach government. is that something conservatives should embrace, or is it something to be skeptical of? josh: he's a very good friend of mine, so i don't want to besmirch or say anything i
should not say here. look, obviously the brand of conservative that i am faintly outlining here, this new right, this national conservatism that we want to call it, obviously this brand of conservative is more comfortable utilizing, wielding government power in the service of restoring good political order. in the service of doing what my friend david as read -- david might provocatively phrase it, he said we ought to be more comfortable using government power to reward our friends and punish our enemies within the confines of the rule of law. a good example of that would be big tech. big tech at this point is an enemy of conservatism, an enemy of our values, an enemy of our people. it's arguably an enemy of the regime itself. that is a strong turn of phrase that i'm not yet ready to fully
endorse. from that perspective, this will 100% be more come to vote wielding and using political power. to that and actually -- that end , actually, that is kind of the flip side my working thesis. not only do i think common originalism is intrinsically right, it is our interns -- it is our inheritance, is the abraham lincoln tradition, i think it is a natural complement to a common good conservatism that is more come to wielding political power. that -- more comfortable wielding political power. i am not advocating for socialism, for god's sake. i think irving kristol got it right. two cheers capitalism. free markets are an indispensable tool. but to go back to what i was saying earlier on quote unquote realizing imperative, i do see the pendulum has swung too far towards individual liberty.
when you have people like david french writing in 2019 that drag queen story hour is a quote on quote blessing of liberty, your jaw has to drop here. if that is what we are calling individual liberty, then the term doesn't mean anything on the one hand. on the other hand, strong countervailing measures are needed to recalibrate and rebalance this, and those measures would be other concerns that are at least as important, arguably more important than liberty, such as the classical notion of justice, a term that conservatives have effectively seeded to the left. that is how you get there terminology of social justice. so, look, to the specific question here, i am not a monarchist, i believe in special -- i believe in separation of powers. i literally carry the constitution around my backpack at all time. i am not advocating anything other than a formal interpretation. i just think it is a slender
different form than the brand that has gained traction over the past 34 years. >> thank you, everyone. we have hit one hour mark. we really appreciate jerk coming here. thank you to all of our attendees. if you're interested in joining the notre dame college republicans, email us. thank you again. we really appreciate you coming. you have an innovative approach to thinking about principles, and we are really glad you shared your time with us. thanks again to everyone. this was a great event. we hope moving forward you can apply some of these principles on your campus and push effective