Carson Holloway, who for some inexplicable reason I don’t know and have never met, has a very nice long review of my book Patriotism Is Not Enough over at Public Discourse. I’m stunned that someone I have not bribed captures the action and intent of the book so fully:
Hayward, however, writes here for a more popular audience of thoughtful citizens, offering them an accessible account of the questions that Jaffa and Berns pondered and that played an important role in conservative intellectual debate during their careers: Can modern political science be morally serious without being moralistic, avoiding the extremes of scientistic value neutrality, on the one hand, and ideological fanaticism, on the other? What is statesmanship, and how can it be guided by high principle while also accommodating the intractable imperfections inseparable from political life? To what extent can conservatives look upon Abraham Lincoln as a model of American statesmanship? What role, if any, should natural law and natural rights play in the exercise of the judicial power? Can equality be understood as an intelligible and limited political principle, or must it degenerate into an unreasoning and unquenchable passion?
It bears mentioning that I finished writing the manuscript for book several months before Donald Trump nailed down the Republican nomination, let alone winning the presidency, and although I added a couple of quick references to him during the last stages of editing before publication, it doesn’t engage the extraordinary challenge and meaning of Trump. So all the more impressive is Holloway’s application of the book to the present moment:
Accordingly, we can say not only that Hayward’s principled patriotism provides a useful corrective to Trump’s emotive and interest-based nationalism, but also that Trump’s nationalism provides a useful corrective to a patriotism based only on philosophic principle. They are mutually correcting and mutually supportive. On the one hand, a patriotism that is based only on the principles of the founding cannot succeed in winning elections, because voters rightly demand that any political movement that seeks their support have some plausible plan to address their ordinary interests. On the other hand, a patriotism that is based only on the untutored loves and interests of ordinary voters cannot preserve our precious inheritance of a regime based on natural rights, the rule of law, and self-government. A movement that acknowledges each of these concerns amounts to the kind of patriotism, and the kind of conservatism, that can both win elections and deserve to win them.
So I owe Holloway a very expensive bottle of wine.
And if by chance you haven’t fled either the humidity of Washington or the terror of the Trump regime (kidding), next Thursday, July 13, I’ll be doing an event on the book hosted by the Hoover Institution in their DC office. It’s part of Hoover’s new series, “Opening Arguments: Conversations on American Constitutionalism.” The event will run from 12 – 2 pm (I think there will be a light lunch available). The format will be a conversation between me and Hoover’s Adam White, who is doing some excellent work these days on the problems of the administrative state, and I am sure there will be plenty of time for audience questions and comments.
The full details are here, including an email where you can RSVP. Come if you can.