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Pass the CHIPS, Please

Restrictions on investment in China are a good idea, to be sure. The taller and stronger the guardrails, the better. But holding incentives for domestic investment hostage to tougher restrictions on foreign investment may not be wise or necessary, for two reasons.

The Climate Crisis Is No Excuse for Backsliding on Democracy

For progressives, the US Supreme Court’s EPA ruling should have been a teachable moment, argues American Compass executive director Oren Cass.

Who Has the Expertise to Watch the Experts?

What role should experts play in our politics? Of course, they have their own freedom of speech, and are welcome to hawk their wares in the marketplace of ideas. But when election day arrives, their votes count no more or less than others, and they are far fewer in number.

With All Due Respect to the Experts

We need and value expertise, yet our public square tends to amplify precisely those least worthy of our trust. How should we decide who counts as an expert, what topics their expertise properly addresses, and which claims deserve deference?

Globalization and NASCAR Changes: Two Errors Wrought by Misguided Elites

American Compass’s Wells King joins Robin Johnson on the Heartland Politics show to discuss globalization and NASCAR.

How the Decline of NASCAR Mirrors the Decline of American Communities

American Compass’s Wells King joins Emily Jashinsky to discuss his American Conservative cover story on the decline of NASCAR.

Is Washington the Next Detroit?

Our latest Compass Point is by James M. Roberts, long-time research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-editor of their Index of Economic Freedom, reflecting on his experience in the conservative establishment and the perils of a political movement running on autopilot.

Taking the Right Off Autopilot

Fusionist think tanks established strong brands and large payrolls, and if the donors would keep giving, then the Cold War hawks would find new wars to start, the supply-siders new taxes to cut. They are still doing it today.

Wells King Laments the Decline and Fall of NASCAR

American Compass research director Wells King joins Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson to discuss his essay on the decline of NASCAR.

The Decline and Fall of NASCAR

America’s most Southern sport has betrayed its own fan base, writes American Compass’s Wells King in this cover story.

Reaganism Live with Oren Cass and Kevin Roberts

American Compass’s Oren Cass and the Heritage Foundation’s Kevin Roberts join the Reagan Institute for a conversation about the future of conservatism.

Coming Apart in the Hoosier State

Farah Stockman’s new book, American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, documents the closure and relocation of an Indianapolis Rexnord bearing plant to Mexico and Texas. Stockman, a New York Times reporter, was assigned to cover the Rexnord plant after then-candidate Trump tweeted about its pending closure and the scheduled relocation of a nearby Carrier plant to Mexico in 2016.

A Battle for the GOP’s Future Is Under Way

Oren Cass makes the case that the Republicans must move beyond the dog-eared 1980s playbook of tax cuts and deregulation if they are to succeed.

The Five Deadly Sins of the Left: An Update

Even the financial crisis of 2008–09 did not spur any real realignment of voters toward the left. Nor have—so far—the twin economic and health crises brought on by the COVID pandemic. What has gone wrong?

Senator Marco Rubio Delivers the Inaugural Henry Clay Lecture in Political Economy

Sen. Rubio assesses how the flawed bipartisan economic consensus went so tragically wrong and offers a clear-eyed approach to economic policy that can serve the national interest and the common good.

Washington Is Showing How Much It Really Cares About Blue Collar Families (Not Much)

American Compass policy director Chris Griswold discusses the “blue-collar blueprint” for infrastructure and how DC politicos fail to listen to their actual blue-collar voters.

California Dreamin’

San Francisco’s mainstream media and political elite have tried to downplay such stories. But the trends are impossible to ignore. California is one of just a handful of states to see dramatic increases in its homeless population.

Oren Cass: Here’s What Workers REALLY Want From Unions

American Compass executive director explains what workers want—and are not getting—from organized labor in the U.S. today.

The Snowflakes Aren’t Melting

Most so-called snowflakes accumulate not in society’s quiet valleys where we might expect to find gentler souls genuinely struggling to cope with conflict, but rather atop the peaks of elite institutions to which our most aggressive strivers have clawed their way.

The Work-Ethic Welfare State

Lind’s essay marks the launch of a new series, The Compass Point, that will present in-depth commentary from leading scholars and writers on topics vital to the future of conservatism. Expect them most Fridays over the next couple of months.

The Government Should Keep Its Hands Off Your Medicare

The path to a more secure and generous American welfare state lies not in rejecting the work ethic and the distinction it makes between contributory social insurance and non-contributory social assistance, but rather in embracing it.

When Student Loans Pay for Nothing but Palm Trees

What we gave our children (and paid dearly for) was a mountain of debt and no job opportunities to be had. So much for the American Dream.

The American Dream Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Misunderstood

In order to fulfill your dreams, you must aspire to be what you desire. That is the American Dream, to me. And I think some people don’t understand what fulfilling that American Dream can take.

Adam Smith or Alexander Hamilton?

At ISI’s “The Future of American Political Economy” conference, American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses political economy and the American System’s lessons for today.

Empire State of Crisis

Two new books—Benjamin Holtzman’s The Long Crisis and Thomas Dyja’s New York, New York, New York—ditch the clichés, old and new, and use two starkly different styles of research and writing to arrive at the same conclusion, one that’s no less accurate for being yet another cliché. Ideologically, culturally, economically, whatever-ally, New York City is impossible to categorize.

Working Americans Are Speaking. Are Politicians Listening?

In an adaptation of his conclusion to the Edgerton Essays anthology, Patrick T. Brown discusses what he learned from editing the collection of perspectives from the working class.

The Edgerton Essays

Perspectives from the Working Class

Conclusion to the Edgerton Essays

These essays captured the unfiltered thoughts of working-class Americans in all their complicated diversity.

A Quiet Destruction

The problem is not that government is doing too much or too little, but rather that it is utterly failing in those key tasks that must rightfully be its focus.

Foreword to the Edgerton Essays

People want to be heard, especially people who are rarely heard. And most Americans are rarely heard.

Where Do Parents Go When Public Schools Go ‘Woke’?

Parents who live their lives according to religious principles should be able to find a school in which they are welcomed, not attacked or undermined.

Unemployment and the Labors of Love

As I was reading sociologist Sarah Damaske’s new book, The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America, I was struck by a realization: though I’ve spent a good deal of the past 11 years interviewing working-class young adults in Ohio, I have met relatively few who have received unemployment insurance (UI).

When Work Doesn’t Seem to Pay

If you talk to anyone in poverty, you’ll probably hear a story like mine. We aren’t afraid to work hard, we just want to know there’s a reward at the end of the journey.

Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving

I fear we live in a world where we assume people don’t want better for themselves or are simply taking advantage of resources due to lack of motivation. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our Policies Are Failing Working Mothers

I love being a mother more than anything—I just wish there were better options to make it more achievable for working women who dream of having their own babies someday.

Enabling Families to Support Each Other

We need politicians to put families first and focus on taking care of us when hardship strikes, rather than taking care of those who are already doing just fine. Government should be about strengthening families to support each other.

“Family Policy” Should Include Caring for Maternal Health

Lots of people have been talking about “family policy.” Let’s not forget that family policy starts with mothers.

Making It Easier to Make Ends Meet

6 a.m. is much too early for this tired mama. But nonetheless, I hear that little pitter-patter of onesie-covered feet coming down the hall into our room. With a soft “Mom, can I have a banana?” my day begins, whether I’m ready for it or not.

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.

Social Security Was Supposed to Be Secure

I thought Social Security was supposed to be secure. But we often are warned that the dollars allocated for this purpose are running out. Why are politicians so eager to spend money on everything but maintaining this contract?

It’s Time to Bring Back Place-Based Policymaking

As neoclassical economics steeped with market fundamentalist ideology started to gain ascendency in the 1970s, the federal government gradually abandoned efforts to help lagging regions.

What I Wish Our Politicians Knew

When politicians inflame the passions that divide us, it might lead to a boost in the polls, but it leaves us feeling more and more frustrated with our friends, our neighbors, and even our own family members.

Oren Cass and J.D. Vance on the Future of the Republican Party

Oren Cass joins J.D. Vance and Gerald F. Seib for a conversation about the future of conservatism and the GOP at the WSJ Future of Everything conference.

What Republicans Can Learn from the UK’s Conservative Party

As the big loser in 2020, the GOP should consider what it can learn from Britain’s Conservative Party, which offers a compelling policy matrix.

Don’t Talk to Us Like We’re Idiots

There’s an easy way to tell when politicians think we’re idiots. They have this way of dancing around the answer when they are asked a question, when even a simple “yes” or “no” would do the trick.

Progressives, Conservatives Hone Messaging on Class Divide, Opportunity

American Compass’s Oren Cass and author J. D. Vance discuss the future of American conservatism at the WSJ Future of Everything conference.

Why Conservative Populists Should Care About Health Care

The reasons for conservative populism’s seeming neglect of health care likely has more to do with the newness of the movement than any prejudice against health policy itself.

Grand Old Party and the Working Class with Leader McCarthy

Leader McCarthy joins American Compass to discuss his efforts to reach out and grow the Republican coalition, what it takes to build a GOP that is better attuned to the concerns of working class Americans, and where he sees the party going in the coming years.

Not Every Family Wants a Big Yard

Striving for “self-sufficiency” through a typical single-family house can mean ignoring the blessings that life in a community can bring and can lead to feeling alone or isolated.

A Guide to Economic Inequality

American inequality is higher now than at any time since WWII. The gap is wide and getting wider. Read what the data show and why it matters.

Economic Justice in Post-Pandemic America?

A conversation about the post-pandemic U.S. economy, hosted by City College of New York’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Statistical Gnosticism on the Right

Some right-of-center analysts have absolute conviction that basic statistics describing some of America’s challenges are obviously wrong

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.

The Fed’s Most Harmful Statistics Error

The United States is not producing 24,881% more computers than it was in 1980, and is likely producing significantly fewer because of offshoring.

How Essential Are the ‘Email Job’ Caste?

Those HR and other middle management types make “busy work” for themselves, though it is darkly ironic that the “busyness” in which they are engaged often results in making my work more difficult and time-consuming.

A Weighty Matter: The Cost of Fat America

America is very fat. Being very fat is bad for you. Being very fat is expensive.

Post-Liberal America

Today’s upsurge in Catholic integralism is a one of the many signs of growing dissatisfaction with liberalism’s efforts to keep metaphysics out of public life.

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.

We See the Left. We See the Right. Can Anyone See the ‘Exhausted Majority’?

Thomas Edsall cites American Compass’s Oren Cass in a column on the future of partisanship and centrism in American politics.

The Relationships That Don’t Fit on a Spreadsheet

There is no price tag that could be placed on those cherished times. Do our nation’s think tanks consider those moments when devising policy?

Family Financial Security: Sen. Romney on the Right’s Fight to Support Our Most Important Institution

Senator Mitt Romney joins us for a conversation about what draws him to family benefits, why he thinks conservatives should embrace the Family Security Act’s approach, how he sees this debate fitting into the broader one about the right-of-center’s future.

A Dream Achieved—Through Mere Luck

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

How To Build Family Policy For The Working-Class Majority

Michael Lind’s Home Building essay on family policy for the working class majority is adapted by the Daily Caller.

On Family Policy, Proceed with Great Caution

The new American Compass “Home Building” blueprint on policies for buttressing the American family was thrilling to read, and it reminded me of the earnestness and passion of me and my friends 35 years ago.

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.

Do They Even Know Who They Represent?

It would be nice if politicians did their job and represented us. Half the time I don’t even know if they know the first thing about the places they claim to represent, much less the people who live here. What is the point of having a democracy if nobody will listen to you?

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.

Introducing the Edgerton Essays

The goal of these essays is to help inform policymakers and pundits about what matters most and why to the vast majority of Americans who have no day-to-day connection to our political debates.

1980 All Over Again? In Search of the Right Analogy for the 2020 Election

The 2020 election bears the most resemblance to 1980, which ushered a transformed Republican Party into the White House and Senate for the first time since 1954.

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 Populism

In our populist moment, the categories of left and right are losing their currency. Underlying recent events—the Capitol riot of Jan 6 (a populist political uprising) and the GameStop saga (“the first populist uprising in finance”)—is the belief that the system is rotten. It’s a belief shared by populists on both sides, even as party labels are becoming less meaningful for many working people who see reality as primarily shaped by the interests of a powerful, wealthy, global elite vs. the needs of ordinary people.

The Future Really is Faction

Democrats and Republicans alike should feel free to contradict their putative leaders, for they contain multitudes.

L’Affaire GameStop

The stampede into GameStop and other stocks was a political event. Like antifa assaults on government building and the mob assault on the White House, the investment strategy hatched on Read more…

Trade After Trump: A Post-Mortem with Former USTR Robert Lighthizer

Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer joins American Compass executive director Oren Cass for a conversation about his work as the U.S. Trade Representative, the overhaul of America’s economic relationship with China, successes achieved and lessons learned, and key challenges facing the Biden administration.

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.

In Whom We Trust

We watched the Inauguration on a laptop at our kitchen table while two toddlers nibbled chicken quesadillas and the baby fussed intermittently.

Where Trump Came From—and Where Trumpism Is Going

WSJ executive Washington editor Gerald Seib discusses the future of the conservative movement post-Trump, highlighting American Compass’s work on evaluating the Trump term.

Corporate-Sponsored Censorship

Parler, the alternative to Twitter, is being strangled by the tech giants. Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores. Amazon removed the company from its web-hosting service. These companies claim these actions serve the public interest.

Where Do We Go From Here?

January 6 was a catastrophe for America. An angry mob, spurred on by the president, some carrying confederate flags, ransacked the Capitol during a joint session of Congress.

The Ramifications of a Regime-Level Politics

The quite clearly collusive actions of the Big Tech giants, in recent days, accelerate even further the national reckoning that has been overdue at least since Big Tech’s coordinated “Pearl Harbor attack” against the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper on the precipice of the monumental recent presidential election.

Is There a Case for Principled Populism From the GOP?

Marshall Auerback discusses how a principled populism that addresses working-class interests could emerge in the GOP.

What Now? A Conversation On Where Conservatives Go After the Trump Presidency

American Compass’s Oren Cass, WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib, and author George F. Will discuss the future of the conservative movement, co-hosted with the Wall Street Journal.

Industrial Policy Must Account for Worker Attitudes

n a recent post about the relationship between family trends and the skills gap I noted that for some of the young adults my husband David and I interviewed in southwestern Ohio, trauma and addiction make it difficult to take advantage of the employment opportunities that do exist.

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…

What Next: A Multi-Ethnic, Working-Class Conservatism

Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez join American Compass executive director Oren Cass for a conversation about how to build a conservative agenda that appeals to a multi-ethnic, working-class base.

What Happened: The Trump Presidency in Review

Ross Douthat of the New York Times, Rachel Bovard of the Conservative Partnership Institute, and Oren Cass of American Compass speak with Arthur Bloom of The American Conservative about what they see as the key lessons of the Trump administration.

Oren Cass: What Went WRONG And RIGHT Under Donald Trump

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti to discuss the Trump Presidency’s successes and failures.

Wells King Joins Dan Proft to Discuss “The Potpourri Presidency”

American Compass’s Wells King joined Dan Proft to discuss his contribution to What Happened: The Trump Presidency in Review, “The Potpourri Presidency.”

What Next: A Multi-Ethnic, Working-Class Conservatism

Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez join American Compass executive director Oren Cass for a conversation about how to build a conservative agenda that appeals to a multi-ethnic, working-class base.

Conservative Analysts Release First Comprehensive Review of Trump Administration, Drawing Lessons for Post-Trump Agenda

PRESS RELEASE—American Compass’s December collection, in partnership with The American Conservative, provides a retrospective analysis of the Trump administration.

A Populism Deferred

Trump’s transitional presidency lacked the vision and agenda necessary to let go of GOP orthodoxy.

Too Few of the President’s Men

An iconoclast’s administration will struggle to find personnel both experienced and aligned.

Foreword: The Work Remains

President Trump told many truths, but one also has to act.

Some Like It Hot

Unsustainable economic stimulus at an expansion’s peak, not tax cuts or tariffs, fueled the Trump boom.

What Happened

The Trump Presidency in Review

What Happened: The Trump Presidency in Review

Ross Douthat, Rachel Bovard, Oren Cass, and Arthur Bloom discuss what happened: the degree to which personnel is policy, how the economy performed during the Trump presidency, and what a forward-looking, post-Trump agenda should encompass.

The Potpourri Presidency

A decentralized and conflicted administration was uniquely inconsistent in its policy actions.

The Pandemic’s Postliberal Pull

Within 48 hours of Thanksgiving, two documents were released that addressed this year’s seasonal theme: how to balance private liberty and salus populi. 

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

Roger Scruton: Philosopher of the “Small World”

In a discussion with the journalist Toby Young on the Quillette podcast earlier this year, the Conservative politician Daniel Hannan suggested that the influence of the late philosopher Sir Roger Scruton (1944–2020) “is only going to grow with each passing year.”

The Future of the Biden and Trump Coalitions

While Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States and Donald Trump will join the small club of incumbents who could not get re-elected, it’s fair to say that Biden’s triumph was not so overwhelming that it even begins to settle the question of which party will dominate the 2020s.

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.

The Limits of the Realignment

Not many talking points survived November’s narratological cull. The assumption that high turnout would crush Republicans down ballot turned out to be false, with both parties seeing a groundswell of Read more…

Obama’s America Is Trump’s America Is Biden’s America

American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses the 2020 election, arguing that the outcome simply tells us who will govern us, not who we are.

Big Business Is Not Our Friend

My friend Ryan Williams, Claremont Institute president, had an important tweet thread shortly before the election.

The Birth of a Multi-Ethnic, Working-Class Conservatism

American Compass’s Oren Cass argues that the future of conservatism lies in a multi-ethnic, working-class coalition.

Worker’s Party—or Pro-Worker Power Shift?

In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump’s share of the white vote shrank while his share of the nonwhite vote increased.

A New Coalition, if You Can Keep It

As the pundits, campaigns, and lawyers continue to unpack this election, there are a few things we know for certain.

Don’t Kid Yourself About What Elections Reveal About America

American Compass’s Oren Cass argues that elections tell us simply who will govern us, not who we are, and it is critical to understand our fellow Americans who voted differently.

Trump Lost the Race. But Republicans Know It’s Still His Party.

Jeremy Peters highlights American Compass as a leader in building a post-Trump conservative movement by bringing together Capitol Hill staff and policy experts to debate the successes and failures of the past four years.

US Election: The Working Class is Up for Grabs

It’s now clear that Joe Biden will be America’s next president. While Democrats will undoubtedly celebrate this fact, the overall election results should give little comfort to them, given their failure to re-establish the party’s historically successful New Deal coalition, especially the working-class component. 

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.

A Multi-Ethnic, Working-Class Conservatism

The wags are having their fun with an election result that hinges upon whether Joe Biden garners sufficient support from white voters to negate an apparent surge toward Donald Trump among minority groups.

A Contested Election Would Be Bad. So Would a Landslide.

A contested election—especially one in which an unelected body casts the final vote—is the worst possible outcome next week. Trump winning in a landslide would be preferable. So would a Biden blowout.

Notes Toward a Supreme Oligarchy

Most of us are fixed on November 3. This is understandable. Elections are important, and this one seems more important than most. But I live in New York City. As Read more…

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?”

The Platform the Democrats Are Too Scared to Publish

In late August, one day after the Republican National Convention had officially begun, David Frum penned an essay in The Atlantic that purported to outline “[w]hat the Republican Party actually stands for, in 13 points.” Frum was responding to the GOP’s decision not to publish an official 2020 platform, which had “led some to conclude that … it stands for not

New York Times Magazine logo
Win or Lose, It’s Donald Trump’s Republican Party

Elaina Plott discusses the future of the Republican Party and conservative movement, highlighting American Compass’s leadership in forging a path forward.

The Once and Future Republican Orthodoxy

The American Enterprise Institute has just released a new white paper that defends the CARES Act against arguments from the right. Contra deficit hawks and libertarians in Congress, Jay Cost argues that recent deficit-financed economic stimulus falls squarely within the “parameters of Republican orthodoxy on economic conservatism.”

The New Yorker logo
The Republican Identity Crisis After Trump

 Nicholas Lemann discusses the ideological future of both parties, highlighting American Compass as a leader in the movement to bring back a genuinely conservative approach to economics.

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.

The Three Failed Utopias of the Establishment Right

In March 2016, as Donald Trump was headed toward securing the nomination of the Republican party for president at the Republican national convention in July, I published a piece in The National Interest about the collapse of the establishment Republican agenda.  Today, on the verge of the 2020 election, my essay is as relevant as ever:

The Deadly Sins of the American Right

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti to discuss the deadly sins of the right, warning the GOP to learn from the 2016 election and update conservative orthodoxy.

Conservatism Must Be Chastened by Humility

If a realigned Republican Party is to emerge as a viable national political force, the ever-incisive Henry Olsen will be one of its leading architects. His American Compass essay, “The Three Deadly Sins of the Right,” once again shows us why. I would merely like to expand upon Olsen’s groundwork.

Elitism, Right and Wrong

I will happily agree that those are three of the sins of the American Right. But while Olsen ties snobbery and hubris primarily to Republican religiosity, separating them out from market fundamentalism, I consider the three of a piece with each other, and Olsen’s concern about GOP Christianity a bit of a red herring. 

Deadly Sins of Left & Right

Rod Dreher reflects on the political sins identified by Ruy Teixeira and Henry Olsen in their American Compass essays.

US Presidential Candidates Are Ignoring Ordinary Voters’ Needs

American Compass’s Oren Cass describes the process by which leaders of both the Republican and Democratic Parties have become unmoored from the voters they aspire to represent.

Political Analysts from Left & Right Explain How Their Own Side Fails the American People

PRESS RELEASE—American Compass’s October collection explores how Democratic and Republican establishments have been co-opted by a ruling class with little connection to most Americans’ needs.

J.D. Vance and Chris Arnade on Government Of, By, and For the Elite

The authors of “Dignity” and “Hillbilly Elegy” reflect on Ruy Teixeira and Henry Olsen’s essays, describe the dynamics that lead to a politics disconnected from the economic and cultural mainstream, and identify possible glimmers of hope.

Party Foul

How the Left and Right Fail American Voters

Presidential Candidates Are Ignoring Ordinary Voters’ Needs

In this commentary for the Financial Times, Cass considers what the presidential candidates would be talking about if workers and their interests were of primary concern

The Three Deadly Sins of the Right

Market Fundamentalism. Snobbery. Hubris.

The Five Deadly Sins of the Left

Identity Politics. Retro-Socialism. Catastrophism. Growthphobia. Technopessimism.

Republicans, Democrats, and Definitions

Anyone who cannot stand the phrase, “Actually, America is a republic,” had best stop reading now. This post is not for you. Except ye be converted, and become as little Read more…

Biden and Trump Are Failing the American Worker

American Compass’s Oren Cass argues that neither Biden nor Trump has given the necessary attention to issues like industrial, education, and labor policy that could help American workers.

Lone Star Stand

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2) underscores the importance of discussing labor, middle-class issues, and industrial policy on the right-of-center.

The Rules of the Game

In the unlikely event Trump ekes out a victory in November, it will be because the electoral college let him win without the popular vote, and the democratic imprimatur it Read more…

What Will The GOP Look Like After Trump?

Donald Trump’s presence in 2016 was heralded as a fundamental shock to the system, as a new way for the Republican Party, as a final nail in the coffin of zombie Reagan-era public policy pushed by the billionaire and think tank class in Washington. 

From Freedom to Solidarity on the American Right

Campaign books are not written for the ages. But they can be telltales. A New Catholic Moment: Donald Trump and the Politics of the Common Good is a good example. It indicates a shift away from freedom as the leading motif on the American right and toward solidarity.

Is A College Degree the Only Way to Succeed?

During his growing up years, Mark, an underemployed contract laborer in his 30s, often heard his mother describe their town as “the devil’s thumbprint.” The name alluded to both its literal location in a valley and its social stigma as the watering hole of riffraff. “You gotta go up the hill and get out,” Mark said of the place and his aspirations.

How The Elites Rigged Supreme Court Politics

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than 50 days before the 2020 election has dramatically increased the stakes of the election, and is exactly the type of September surprise that could scramble Americans’ voting patterns this late in the game. 

The Limits of Principle

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s death roiled an already unsettled the political scene. A pitched battle is underway over who will succeed her and when. David French urges Republicans to stand Read more…

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.

In Defense of Picket Fences

In a recent Commons post, Wells King argues against the Trump administration’s recent gutting of the Obama-era rule U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, more widely known as AFFH. He characterizes the action of largely scrapping the rule, as opposed to merely revising it, as a case of the administration bowing to “upper class NIMBYism.” I respectfully disagree.

Republican Party Battles Over its Post-Trumpian Soul

American Compass’s Oren Cass spotlights the ideological contest between libertarian Republicans and post-Trump conservatives for the future identity of the American political right.

Yoram Hazony’s Liberal Nationalism

In a previous post, I used the term “synthetic nationalism” to describe what is increasingly the default premise of many conservative nationalists—or, in their words, of many national conservatives.

Tracing the Path of the Modern GOP, From Reagan to Trump

The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib and American Compass’s Oren Cass discuss future paths for the GOP.

The Elite Needs to Give Up Its G.D.P. Fetish

American Compass’s Oren Cass suggests that the professional class might learn from the pandemic that “material living standards” do not always translate into “quality of life.”

Populism and Picket Fences

Since at least the inauguration, a central question of this presidency has been whether Trump could cease campaigning and learn to govern.

From the Primordial Supply-Side Soup

This morning’s commentary from the Wall Street Journal editorial board is of great scientific import, a fragile creature crushed into a perfectly preserved fossil by the forces of reality. Future researchers tracing the evolution of the American right-of-center from market fundamentalism to a viable economic conservatism will regard it as a vital transitional form—like a fish with legs but no lungs: laughably incoherent, woefully unsuited to its environment, and yet also an unmistakable sign of progress and a harbinger of better things to come.

Trumpism Gives Grand Old Party an Identity Crisis

American Compass’s Oren Cass talks with the Times of London about the vein of pro-worker conservatism that is emerging out of Trumpism.

The Non-Voter

Like the largest political group in America, the non-voter, I completely ignored this year’s Democratic convention. Like an overwhelming majority of Americans I didn’t watch any speeches, didn’t go online Read more…

The Republican Party Has A Tough Choice To Make

American Compass’s Oren Cass describes the “vital opportunity for the American right-of-center to develop a genuinely conservative economic platform that focuses on working families.”

A Major Question Still Remains for Biden’s Campaign

American Compass’s Oren Cass reviews Joe Biden’s acceptance speech for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Integralism, Rightly Understood

Since at least Woodrow Wilson and arguably since the Mayflower, Americans have struggled to conceive of their interests as distinct from their ideals. Blurring that distinction is sometimes said to be the original sin of neoliberalism (or “globalism”; take your pick), but the truth is it’s been blurry for almost four centuries, from John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” to George Bush’s “Freedom Agenda,” from the rise of Puritanism to its official fall. What’s good for us must be good for the world, we think, and vice versa—an assumption the rest of the world does not necessarily share.

More Than Materialists: Class and Religion

When does something become a cliché? I’m not sure. Truisms lose a certain power after much repetition, but it doesn’t make them less true. That fundamental political conflicts are always theological is an old observation by theorists that still bears repeating, always suggesting something new.

American Nihilism

Over the last two months protests and Twitter mobs have called for the cancellation of a great deal of America’s heritage, and in many instances civic leaders have cooperated. Daniel Mahoney describes it as a reckless and nihilistic “assault on the nation’s cultural and political patrimony.”

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.

The Shy Trump Voter

A new poll of Michigan voters by Robert Calahy’s Trafalgar Group indicates a tight race. What explains the other polls that show Biden ahead by a wide margin? Calahy points to “social desirability bias.” Put simply, people don’t want to admit to socially stigmatized views, and thus won’t admit they are willing to vote for Trump. Calahy thinks this effect is greater today than it was in 2016.

A Trailer in the Country: Working-Class Attitudes About Redistribution

At the beginning of a lane of public housing units pink balloons mark the mailbox and a disposable tablecloth flutters in the wind, held down on a plastic table by a box of sprinkled cupcakes with high-topped icing and another box of assorted party favors.

Pod Life or Pod School?

“I will not live in the pod.” This commonplace rallying cry among younger Right-aligned people on social media is approaching the status of a credal opening statement.

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.

Immigrants and the American Dream

From my ten years documenting the poverty, pain, and frustration of lower-income communities it is easy to conclude that the American Dream is dead for the working class. There is one big exception though: Newer immigrants, who despite poverty, are still optimistic.

John Ruskin and the Purpose of Political Economy

As we seek a realignment in American political economy we would do well to rediscover the thought of a 19th-century critic who did not like us very much. John Ruskin (1819–1900) found Americans obsessed with a liberty he considered license and naively committed to an ideal of equality he believed impossible: “also, as a nation, they are wholly undesirous of Rest, and incapable of it.” In her utilitarian preoccupation with commercial ventures, America had inherited Montaigne’s English vice of inquietude and seemed unlikely to recover.

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.

Is Hamilton a “Bootstraps” Story?

As we tend to do with momentous occasions, I clearly remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the first lines of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. It Read more…

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.

Cops and Teachers

In the early 90s, as the Soviet Union crumbled, a trickle of Eastern European students came to the US. One of my roles at Johns Hopkins was to greet them at the airport and try to help their transition.

Liberalism is Bringing About the State of Nature it Sought to Escape

Liberal theory starts by imagining a state of nature: a world that never existed, could never have existed, and leads liberals to a wholly unreal view of human nature.

Dignity Inequality

A great deal of ink has been spilt over the issue of income inequality. This is not an undue concern. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed nearly two hundred years ago, the democratic spirit aspires to an equality of condition. But income should not be our only concern. A healthy society should also encourage an equality of dignity that transcends the merely financial.

U.S. Supreme Court Building
Taking Back America From the Libertarians

Washington Post columnist George Will has added his voice to that of Brad Thompson in decrying the rise of an un-American conservative authoritarianism, represented, among others, by such thinkers as Adrian Vermeule, Sohrab Ahmari, and yours truly. Will and Thompson invoke the American Constitutional tradition as the cure for this “anti-American” threat from the Right. The tradition they seek to defend, according to Thompson, is the “classical liberalism of the founding era [that] assumed individual rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness” and that “government must be impartial in adjudicating rival conceptions of the good life.” Similarly, Will argues that the Constitution reflects a belief in “limited government respectful of society’s cumulative intelligence and preferences collaboratively revealed through market transactions.” The Constitution, according to Will (echoing Thompson) establishes “a regime respectful of individuals’ diverse notions of the life worth living.” In other words, America was founded as a libertarian nation.

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.

Libertarianism for Me, Authoritarianism for Thee

If you spend significant time in poor communities, especially poor black communities, you wonder why they don’t explode in protest more often. The inequality that is a concerning statistic to academics and politicians is their daily commute from cleaning the office of a Wall Street bank to a home surrounded by boarded-up buildings. The oppressive state that Libertarians warn about, is the cops who hassle or arrest them about whatever they do. The declining life expectancy that has generated worried op-eds, is their friends, family, and neighbors dying from a batch of heroin gone bad.

Good Policy is Good Politics

Try as we might, those of us who dare to challenge economic orthodoxy within the GOP are unlikely to prevail on policy and moral grounds alone. But the politics of today offer us another course that is just as powerful: offering a prescription to protect from impending electoral doom of the party if the course isn’t corrected. Rejecting economic orthodoxy within the GOP and embracing the largest jobs program in American history may be the only antidote to saving the Senate majority and the Trump presidency.

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.”

Musings on Neoliberalism

Some time after I first met Oren, we had a good back and forth about neoliberalism, a term that has already appeared several times on this website and is at the forefront of American Compass’s mind. While Oren thought the word useful to describe the reigning economic orthodoxy we both found dissatisfying, I was more reticent to use it.

“One Nation” America

This paragraph was penned by G.K. Chesterton in 1925 about William Cobbett, 1763-1835.

Why America Needs a Great Civil Service

Henry Adams described the hopelessness in Washington in 1860 and early 1861 as the country careened towards break-up and war this way: “No one could help. Looking back on this moment of crisis, nearly 50 years afterwards, one could only shake one’s white beard in silent horror.”

Addressing 21st Century Problems, Not 20th Century Problems

Before we were engulfed by coronavirus panic, Bill McGurn penned a column warning against the perils of American Compass and social engineering (“And Now a Word for Laissez-Faire,” Wall Street Journal, March 7).

Toward a New Anti-Corruption Statecraft

Matt poses some important questions below about how conservatives must defend anti-corruption statecraft against (tellingly) American libertarians and Chinese communists. I think it is right to suggest that the founders and their generation generally shared a robust sensibility that opposing, combating, and defeating corruption was properly political activity at the regime level.

The Free-Market-Fundamentalist Menace

The Senate is finally back in Washington and negotiations over the next coronavirus recovery package are underway. The White House’s initial salvo was reported Monday and includes a capital gains tax cut, a measure to increase entertainment tax deductions, and a payroll tax cut. 

The New Fusionism We Need

Almost 60 years ago, Frank Meyer formulated “fusionism.” He explained why 1950s anti-communists, free-market proponents, and social conservatives could unite in a coherent coalition.

A Note of Introduction

Welcome to American Compass. Our mission is to restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.

American Scream

American Compass’s Wells King reviews Michael Strain’s new book The American Dream Is Not Dead (But Populism Could Kill It).

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