Friday, October 21, 2022

National Conservatism Is Coming for Us: A Conversation with Professor William Galston

We are finding out that politics and the law are sometimes about separate ways of looking at the world. The law is often about the past. It’s about adjudicating events that have happened, laws that have been broken, and punishments that should be meted out in the public sphere, particularly with respect to Donald Trump. We see it playing out with January 6th, past tax violations, stolen documents, and the results of past elections.

Politics on the other hand is about what’s ahead. It’s about how imagining, defining, and enacting policy and laws will shape our individual and collective future. While we’ve all been focused on the law of late, many have missed the political discussions taking place on the far right under the moniker of national conservatism, a set of ideas and potential policies that pull together all the forces that Trump has unleashed. This is more than just traditional populism. It’s a set of ideas that bear little resemblance to traditional conservatism. It’s an intellectual framework that does nothing short of turn back every idea from the enlightenment to the evolution of America since the 1950s.

Not to take anything away from the legal proceedings that are currently underway with respect to Trump, the forces that he has unleashed as voiced at the gathering of national conservatives a couple of weeks ago, which included over 100 speakers, 23 panels, and three US senators, governors, and billionaires, are where our eyes should be focused. This is the world that professor William Galston of Brookings Institution has studied. 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with William Galston: