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A Compass for Navigating the Right’s New Debates

May 05, 2020

In recent years, the American Right has engaged in some very important internal debates. These have involved arguments over the various ways that our principles might apply to contemporary problems, and also disputes over how to prioritize those principles and how to understand those problems.

At times, these debates have suffered from Twitteritus—a cruel disease of diminishment, which leaves serious people ridiculous and renders complex ideas crude. No one is immune. And because such a great portion of these intra-conservative debates have taken place on Twitter, it has been easy to walk away with the impression that the debates themselves are unserious, the underlying issues are trifling, and the people involved may all be right to call one another names. This isn’t true, but seeing that requires people to step up and make their arguments more fully, take the people with whom they’re arguing more seriously, and make it clear that what’s at stake isn’t about scoring points but about strengthening our country and improving the lives of its people.

To be fair, there have been examples of that on all sides of these arguments, even if there haven’t been enough. But today brings an important and impressive new one that can help all of us think about how to elevate the debates we’re engaged in. It takes the form of a newly launched project called American Compass, headed by Oren Cass. And it has launched with a series of essays on the question of the proper role of government in setting economic priorities and acting on them.

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