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Conservation, Farming, and the Wisdom of Our Elders

Without careful management, large-scale farming might ignore our responsibility to pass on this earth better than we found it.

The Consultant Class Scores an Own Goal

With every step away towards a pure market logic and away from physical communities and lived-in traditions, the sporting world will find that the magic and allure of what has made them so compelling start to disappear.

Does Anyone in Power Notice When Government Services Fail?

Take a deep breath and hold it for ten seconds. Imagine doing that over and over again, 31,536,000 times, not knowing where your children were. That’s ten years—or as long as my daughter was separated from her two disabled sons after their non-custodial father abducted them.

Putting Down Roots

Olmstead has created a work of lyric subversion, luring you in with glowing prose while slowly unveiling the depth of her critique.

A Dream Achieved—Through Mere Luck

My American Dream feels stolen, like I purchased it with the blood of brothers and enemies.

Couple holding hands, marriage, wedding
Cultural Policy for 2021

American society suffers from de-composition and de-consolidation. This isolation makes us less resilient and more vulnerable. And it also makes us less stable and more susceptible to ideological infections.

COVID’s Toll on the American Dream

The American Dream—people have hung on to those three little words for decades, passed them down for generations. But it’s hard to see how we can believe in the dream right now.

When Farmers Are Not Farmers and Shepherds Are Not Shepherds

For too long we have let memories we cherish—of farms and farmers, of homesteads and pioneers, of cowboys on the range and Native Americans hunting the great herds—disguise how much we have lost and abandoned.

Indianapolis, Indiana
Elite Overproduction or Mid-Tier Underproduction?

One way of reading a story of American discontent is in its newspapers. Not just in their pages, but in how their ongoing decline illustrates broader tendencies fueling popular frustration.

A Letter to My Boomer Parents

I’m writing this as a letter because we’ve often had this conversation aloud, but this lets you return to it at your leisure. Nothing that I say here will be new to you, but I’m writing this so that others can read it, too. Because there’s something to the intergenerational warfare narrative of our moment, it is fitting to frame these issues as a grown child’s reflection on the status of his parents.

Family and Freedom

In his introduction to the “Home Building” forum on American Compass, Oren Cass opens by drawing upon Ronald Reagan’s warning that the American culture of freedom must be renewed in Read more…

GameStop: Intentionally Dying

Our country, we tell ourselves, is a place where anyone can make it if they study enough, and where the smartest rise to the top. Grow up in a sad town with only empty lots where factories used to be? Hit the books, spend your days in the library memorizing dates, equations, and working out that brain.

Unity in Dread

“Unity is the path forward.” That was the leitmotif of Joe Biden inaugural address. It’s easy to be skeptical about such appeals, given how divided our country has become. And easier still to be cynical, given the flurry of executive orders immediately after his inauguration, many of which intensified rather than moderated battles over morality and culture.

The Trump Apocalypse

In popular parlance an “apocalypse” means an epic disaster. As a simple transliteration of Greek (apocalypsis) the literal meaning is more pedestrian: “uncovering,” or to use a fancier word, “revelation.” But one understands the popular sense, for it is often unsettling (or worse) when the true nature of things is revealed. This is the case in last book of the New Testament, which bears the name Apocalypse.

Media After Trump

There can be no doubt that Trump gave the press the back of his hand. His refusal to kowtow to upscale media brands offended the vanity of high-level reporters, editors, Read more…

The Revolution™

On June 1, early in the BLM uproar, I went to Union Square to view a protest march. The empty concrete canyons echoed with chants as two or three thousand people walked past. Clench-jawed Deputy Commissioner Terrance Monahan brought up the rear, flanked by ranks of police officers

Progressive Hypocrisy and Our COVID Lockdown Opportunity

As large swaths of the country prepare to re-enter COVID-19 lockdowns—my current city of Denver, for instance, banned all indoor dining just last week—it is worth pausing to again lament the ham-fisted, blunderbuss nature of most of these virus-fighting measures.

A Self-Isolating Elite

As counting continues and lawyers gear up for courtroom battles, Election Day now looks to become Election Week, and maybe even Election Month.

Conservative Feminism and Market Fundamentalism

In the weeks leading up to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation as Supreme Court Justice, much was written about the new conservative feminism that Barrett arguably embodies. But as Ross Douthat asked in his column at The New York Times, “can there be a conservative feminism that’s distinctive, coherent and influential, at least beyond quirky religious subcultures like the faculty at the University of Notre Dame?”

tacoma bridge
Social Media Is an Engineering Disaster Waiting to Happen

Fake news pales in its power to real news presented with misleading frequency.

Respect the People

Like every banker, I remember my first bail-out fondly. Mine was January 1995 and I was working for Salomon Brothers bond trading business, and we, like all of Wall Street, had gotten ourselves out over our skis.

Seven Deadly Political Sins

Self-examination is a useful exercise. I’m grateful to Henry Olsen, Micah Meadowcroft, Josh Hammer, and Michael Lind (in a cognate posting) for their reflection on the sins of the American right. I’d like to add my voice to this collective mea culpa. As a sometime theology professor, I’ll key my observations to the classical list of seven deadly sins.

When Market Logic Comes for the Family

I want to offer an addendum to Aaron Sibarium’s recent post “Three Theses About Cuties.” The idea of “sexual liberalism”—that a market-like logic has come to govern sex—is vastly underexplored in conservative circles. It would be valuable to view the concept in light of the insight that the logic governing markets has undergone major changes over the last several generations, as today’s “economic nationalists” are well aware.

Dignity to Endure

After spending eight years driving four hundred thousand miles to take 60,000 pictures of working class Americans, I could easily write a Labor Day essay on the dignity of work, topped by a photo of a man dirty from work, leaning on his well cared for F150 with a back-rack, silver tool box, two bright yellow cylindrical Igloo coolers, and pissing Calvin mud-flaps.

Corporate Responsibility and 1619

Just as American Compass was releasing the Corporate Actual Responsibility project, the New York Times’s DealBook announced its own corporate-responsibility event.

Law and Order in 2020

In the 1972 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon’s leading theme was “law and order.” Traumatized by urban riots, student protests, and the first wave of what would be a historic increase in crime, voters handed him a historic victory. Nixon won 49 states and 60 percent of the popular vote.

A Culture Canceled

The current debates over cancel culture are odd because few involved in them have been canceled, or risk being canceled, while entire institutions are indeed being canceled. Institutions that serve and amplify the interests of the working class, such as local newspapers, unions, and churches.

On the Astonishing Success of Tucker Carlson

Last week, I joined Steve Deace’s BlazeTV podcast to discuss the astonishing success of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and the forward-looking implications of that success for both conservative media and American conservatism itself.

Does Aggressive Policing Create its Own Cycle of Dependence?

I was jolted by the familiar echo, reading Chris Arnade’s “Cops and Teachers,” of an argument I’ve made a thousand times. It was an obviously conservative point, turned suddenly into a refutation of a popular conservative stance.

Chaos in the Time of Covid

In physics, to reveal deeper truths, you slam particles together to expose their inner structure. The pandemic has been like that, slamming different parts of the country together, revealing it to be deeply divided by geography, race, education, and wealth. It is hard to imagine it once fit together or will ever fit together again.

Trickle-down Distrust

In his recent post Matt Stoller observes that a common theme at The Commons thus far is “the reemergence of the state as the key locus of legitimacy for the exercise of power” and urges conservatives to think about corruption and statecraft. What’s needed, he says, “is a vision of how to structure such a state without succumbing to corruption.”

On National Growth and Community Well-Being

For my inaugural post here on The Commons, I want to offer a few thoughts on how one of the pillars of the American Compass mission, community, has too often been a blind spot in the prevailing view of the economy.

Thinking Big to Act Small

American Compass proposes that conservatives revisit the question of whether a nation can afford an economic order without a “compass,” a guide that can provide a sense of direction national policy and shared intention. The question is essential, and the answers on offer on this site portend a new course for the American political order.

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