In figuring out what makes “American Greatness” great, I’ll work my way back.
This writer has written a radical weekly column for two decades, in which firmly held first principles and a reality based analysis have combined to yield a predictive bit of writing (fun, too) on the most controversial and pressing issues of the day. From race to trade deficits to anarchism to immigration to populism: as a valued reader put it, “We’ve learned to trust you.”
My latest effort, a radical—but dare I say rigorous?—deconstruction of the racism construct, is as good a weapon as you get against the violent proponents of racial subjugation.
Your Anti-Critical Race Theory Analytical Ammunition:
1. ‘Systemic Racism’ Or Systemic Rubbish?
2. Was The Cop’s Knee On George Floyd’s Neck ‘Racism’? No!’?
3. “Ethnocidal ‘Critical Race Theory’ Is Upon Us Like White On Rice”
4. “Racist Theory Robs And Rapes Reality”
These hardcore tracts have found a home with American Greatness, but not with even one of the publications claiming my own ideological affiliation. For these, timidity, intellectual atrophy and excommunication is de rigueur. (To quote from The Editors below: “Regular excommunications have sapped the life and urgency from a movement once known for its intellectual vigor.”)
On the other hand, when the famous development economist Jeff Sachs implied a column I wrote about F. W. de Klerk was racist, American Greatness editor in chief didn’t retreat. Instead, she shot back as cool as a cucumber: “Reading is hard.” Fighting words indeed. Funny, too.
So what kind of thinking has allows “American Greatness” to calmly take on the intellectual enemies of America, and harness the sharpest arrows in our intellectual quiver to fight the rot?
In their own words:
“Our Declaration of Independence from the Conservative Movement”
By The Editors • July 21, 2016:
American Greatness aims to be the leading voice of the next generation of American Conservatism.
Divisions made evident during the 2016 Republican primaries made the need for a new journal of American conservatism undeniable. The soil of the conservative movement is exhausted. It needs fertilization, re-sowing, and diligent cultivation if it is to thrive again. And while we will always owe a debt to the giants of the movement who have gone before us, we cannot slavishly attempt to relive the politics of 40 years ago.
It is not just that other journals have become unmoored from the principles of free government or calcified in their thinking; it is that they were founded on principles that were either insufficient or in conflict with the timeless principles of the American Founding.
As time has passed the errors in their foundings have become more pronounced. They have now culminated in intellectual stagnation and a tiresome policy orthodoxy (passing mindlessly for principles) that does not permit growth within or of the movement. Today, movement conservatism offers the American people not a choice, but an echo of the Left. Because of this, American Greatness is not an alternative to movement conservatism; it is a refounding of a distinctly American conservatism based upon the self-evident principle of human equality and the rights that flow from it. Just government exists to protect and promote these rights and is therefore necessarily limited, constitutional, and republican in its form.
Again: this year’s primary fight is not the cause of conservatism’s divisions or its current crisis. Those causes preceded this political moment and have been clear to the creators of this journal for some time. No candidate or accidental turn of events promises to—or can—bring about the necessary salvation. Any salvation or redemption that comes to American Constitutional government must come by the virtuous action of the sovereign people of the United States, not from a sophisticated band of policy experts who arrive at answers they unilaterally deem “correct.”
What American Greatness Is Not
We are not political partisans. We hold no brief for any particular candidate or policy prescription. On electoral matters, the editors are agnostic. We do not exist to tell anyone else how to vote. We can be neither vindicated nor embarrassed by the personal successes or failures of any candidate or collection of them in this or any other election year.
Similarly, American Greatness does not advocate any particular policy orthodoxy. We insist on clear distinctions between principles (permanent and enduring understandings of justice and right) and policy (objects for the realm of debate and politics to be guided by prudence as well as by principle). It is likely, however, that even in our internal discussions, we will have disagreements about where, precisely, the one ends and the other begins. We do not see that as a cause for alarm.
The best policy to advance a principle at any given time is, by its nature, changeable. These are arguments that will play out according to the politics of the moment. But we know that when people become accustomed to doing something in a certain way, even when that way is failing, it is difficult to convince them that it is possible to accomplish the same goals in some other, better way. We think lively and spirited debate about these questions, therefore, is healthy, necessary, and liberating.
Finally, although American Greatness owes an intellectual debt and its inspiration to the Journal of American Greatness (henceforth, JAG) and to some of its contributors, we are not the re-emergence of that much-admired effort.
We regret the passing of that manful but anonymous project, which sought to come to terms with the meaning of our current political moment by considering what may be called a “Greatness Agenda” for America. (The fact that the contributors to JAG felt that anonymity was necessary speaks to the enormity of the problem of our times.) We intend to pick up where the other journal left off, recapturing some of its arguments and expanding upon them.
But our real object is more comprehensive and our methods aim to be more expansive in their reach. We believe that American conservatism has lost its way and, as a result, it has lost much of its original appeal. The once-vibrant political movement that nominated Barry Goldwater, elected Ronald Reagan, and defeated global communism has become ossified and unthinking to the point that conservative intellectuals act like priests mediating unknowable truth to the masses and administering the sacraments of conservative orthodoxy. Regular excommunications have sapped the life and urgency from a movement once known for its intellectual vigor. We intend to offer guidance and clarity to a spent movement by reclaiming the ideas and traditions upon which this country and our system of free government is based.
There are clues to what’s gone wrong in our past, but a slavish attachment to the ideas and policies of the past is not a way to advance or conserve our principles. Indeed, it is–precisely–the problem. We do not, in fact, seek to conserve any principles. They exist regardless of our action or inaction. We can only hope to have intelligent debate about how best to explain and defend those principles and the constitutional regime based upon them.
What American Greatness Is
We hold that America—much like movement conservatism—has lost her way. The nation has succumbed to division and faction, infected by the insidious and foreign virus of identity politics which has robbed Americans of our true identity as one people. We’re undermined further by an ever-growing centralized administrative state, which robs us daily of the opportunity to participate in governing our own lives as free and equal citizens under the rule of law.
Government has grown remote, unresponsive, and increasingly unaccountable. While many movement conservatives acknowledge these problems, they have failed to persuade a majority of American voters. What’s more, movement conservatives remain stubbornly unpersuaded by voters’ plain rejection of their solutions. To their credit, the American people have, through common sense and hard experience, rejected the lie that their opinions about their interests and the laws that govern their lives are irrelevant. Likewise, most rank and file conservatives are unimpressed by the half-measures offered by a conservative movement that is more about conserving itself than conserving the people’s sovereignty.
So we do not condescend to tell our readers for or against whom they should cast their ballots nor do we collectively contend that we are in possession of some “special expert knowledge” about their interests or some speculative good that is beyond their own poor powers to understand or to reach. We seek a higher level of conversation than that and a readership capable of coming to its own conclusions about how to use its franchise. We seek a revival of real politics.
Our editors, contributors, and writers agree that the staleness of the movement came about as a result of too much focus on the word “conservative” and not enough focus on the word “American.” Conservatives have suffered from a kind of elite insularity that pulled their focus away from broader, more American, interests and instead zeroed them in on the interests of their movement, its leaders, and its financial backers. In essence, it has become a kind of faction and has lost the ability to make an appeal to those who are not born into its concerns. It became a movement of conservative Americans instead of a movement of American conservatives.
Our object is a rediscovery of the American part of conservatism’s efforts. What, in other words, are we trying to conserve? And what are our prospects in this present political moment for conserving it?
As our name suggests, we understand the current dissatisfaction with our political institutions and the political polarization of our times to be a direct result of the failure of both political parties and the intellectual movements that direct them to advance an agenda for American greatness. Moreover, it is a failure to understand why such an agenda is so sorely needed.
A proper care and attention to the principles of America requires a serious effort to discover effective means of advancing, not just of conserving, those principles. America is a nation born in and of revolution. It is a radical appeal to a universal standard of justice and right, but it is also a limited appeal on behalf of one people who exist in this one place. As such, America’s principles have always taken the form of a proposition that needs constant affirmation and defending in every generation.
Americans are born but they must also be made. This means a diligent attention must be paid to the opinions and interests—expressed or implied—of the American people in its totality and as it actually exists.
In understanding that the American people are the rightful and sovereign rulers of their country, we cannot forget,as Lincoln reminded us, that in America “public sentiment is everything.” …
… READ THE REST… “Our Declaration of Independence from the Conservative Movement”