'Conservativism' is no longer enough; it's time for something new
Glenn Ellmers, a conservative scholar, has looked at the American political scene and concluded that myriad divisions have turned us into two separate nations, half of whom believe in a constitutional America, and the other half of whom subscribe to the values the leftist revolution introduced. Despite this manifest schism, he argues, “Conservatism, Inc.” remains clueless and, therefore, dangerous. For those who are disheartened, though, he has a plan of action for fighting back with a counter-revolution.
Ellmers is an intellectual: He’s a research fellow at the Claremont Institute, which is trying to re-imagine an American civil society true to the Founders’ vision. He’s also a Fellow at the Institute for American Greatness and a visiting research scholar at Hillsdale College. Additionally, Ellmers is a writer (The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America) and was a speechwriter for the Secretary of Energy in the Trump administration. This is a smart man with a proactive plan for helping America recover.
In the essay Conservatism Is No Longer Enough, Mr. Ellmers concludes bluntly that America is no longer one country or people and that “most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term” but are, instead, aliens and native-born fallen away patriots and socialist progressives who don’t ascribe to the national traditions and ideals that are essential to E Pluribus Unum.
Call the non-citizens what you will, but the reality is that there is a majority who are not loyal Americans. Divisions in America are growing, disrupting families and certainly the population at large, as everyone is fired up by the socialist promoters of polarization and societal conflict.
Ellmers dismisses endless conservative scholarly analyses about this obvious schism, which still fail to recognize “a basic fact: Our norms are now hopelessly corrupt and need to be destroyed.”—something that MAGA voters understood. He insists that the important thing is to focus on fixing the problem.
That is an understatement. Conservatives must organize to resist the left’s invasions and disruptions. Otherwise, the leftist totalitarian state will dominate and bring to fruition Orwell’s prediction about a boot on the face of humanity—forever.
Trump, in Ellmers’ view of things, instinctively saw the decay of civil order and culture and took aim at the malevolent actors and institutions. For now, the Constitution no longer works to assure civil society and a good life for citizens. Establishment Conservatives, however, have been hesitant, uncertain, and unable to grasp the problem, instead participating in the “progressive project of narcotizing the American people and turning us into a nation of slaves.”
What is needed, of course, is a statesman or a civic leadership that understands both the disease afflicting the nation and the revolutionary medicine required for the cure. But no such figure has emerged, and it is unreasonable to pin our hopes on such a savior simply turning up.
Faced with this existential problem, Ellmers argues that “Overturning the existing post-American order, and re-establishing America’s ancient principles in practice, is a sort of counter-revolution, and the only road forward.” After all, we live in a world where “Churches, universities, popular culture, and the corporate world are rotten to the core. What exactly are we trying to conserve?”
Authentic Americans still want to have decent lives. They want to work, worship, raise a family, and participate in public affairs without being treated as insolent upstarts in their own country. Therefore, we need a conception of a stable political regime that allows for the good life.
Ellmers claims that the Claremont Group has created a framework of elements that are essential to restoring—the American way of life. Claremont stands for the proposition that political ideology and philosophy make the way for civil life and society—that is, a “more perfect union.” America is the first nation founded on inalienable human rights derivative of the natural law and a concordant government that derives its powers by consent of the governed, the key to the common good and justice under the law.
American constitutionalism established a nonpartisan form of government that was genuinely egalitarian with respect for the minority in a government by all the people so that the constitution prevented the mobocracy problem. Virtuous citizenship includes the proper instincts to protect minority rights as the rights of fellow citizens, but that is why the constitution is in place—to assure that tyranny of the majority cannot occur.
Any effective alliance of Claremont and the various conservative activist groups is important, and such a development depends on the virtue of prudence, which Aristotle regarded as the comprehensive moral virtue and the defining characteristic of the statesman. In the meantime, Mr. Ellmers advises the reader to assume “conservatives” have the wrong approach and look for opportunities for a counter-revolution. All hands on deck.
John Dale Dunn MD JD, is a retired emergency physician and inactive attorney.