Among the Claremont crowd

We recently posted a link in our Picks to the article the Chronicle of Higher Education article by Jon Baskin on “The academic home of Trumpism,” but I would like to pause over it here. I take it that the “home” referred to in the headline refers to the Claremont Colleges. The article nevertheless focuses on the the place of our friends at the Claremont Institute and its flagship publication in the world of Trumpism.

Charles Kesler, on whom the article rightly dwells, straddles the worlds of the Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Institute. For some reason, in one of the photographs accompanying the article, Professor Kesler poses with a dour visage. Yet Charles is one of the wittiest men I have ever met. He laughs easily and smiles frequently. Indeed, he seems to be a happy man of the “gladly would he learn and gladly teach” variety.

Baskin’s is an excellent, illuminating and entertaining article that shows familiarity with the subject and a willingness to deal with it on its own terms. Readers interested in exploring the subject further and in greater depth will want to turn to a certain new book by our own Steve Hayward.

Quotable quote: “Not only [Michael] Anton’s [‘Flight 93 election’] article but the CRB as a whole represents, in this sense, an expression of the belief that conservative intellectuals can cut a path between the East Coast Straussians’ political reticence and the ineffectual tinkering of the think tankers. This goes some way toward accounting for the Claremont crowd’s willingness to engage so directly during the past election cycle. Yet it still leaves unexplained how a group so attached to the principles of the Constitution could place its faith in the author of The Art of the Deal.”

One more: “In other words, one of the things that is most disturbing about Trump for liberal and conservative elites (including some East Coast Straussians) — his utter disdain for expertise and convention — is what is most promising about him from the point of view of the Claremonsters. ‘There’s a fundamental clash between the self-evident truths of the Declaration and the worldview of the progressives,’ said [Bill] Voegeli. ‘Our view is that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, whereas progressives are inclined to think that government derives just powers from the expertise of the experts.'”

And finally: “‘In a strange way Trump has overleaped the post-Cold War conservative and Republican establishment to go back to a much more successful political version of Republicanism,’ Kesler told me. ‘I don’t assert that he’s consciously trying to do this. His own reading of the situation has led him to reconnect to a tradition that’s been obsolete for a long time.’ He added, genially: ‘There are some legitimate reasons to wonder about his abilities as a president.'”


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