Español“Given our choices in the presidential election, we believe that Donald Trump is the candidate most likely to restore the promise of America, and we urge you to support him as we do.” With this opening statement, a group of writers and scholars within the classical liberal US scene are becoming more active in the presidential race.
Over one hundred and twenty of them signed the statement. It includes university presidents and professors, think-tank leaders, independent writers and public intellectuals. The most recognized names are those of former speaker Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow, and Bill Bennett. But it also includes Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and author of the superb book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.” He is perhaps the most libertarian.
Larry Arnn, on the other hand, is perhaps the most conservative. The statement comes with the usual disclaimer that “the views expressed do not represent the opinions of the colleges, universities and institutions of those who have signed.” Nevertheless, one shouldn’t overlook the affiliations.
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Arnn is President of Hillsdale College, which through its active outreach and educational programs to conservatives has surpassed Heritage Foundation in budget and became the fastest growing conservative college in the US. Arnn is also president of the Philadelphia Society, founded in 1964, and at least sixteen other members of the society also joined the list. I assume that many of the other four hundred members have their doubts, but those who signed, like Al Regnery, George Gilder, Charles Kesler, Nick Capaldi, and Neal Freeman, carry considerable weight in the movement. They represent the traditions which have always been present in that society: conservatives, libertarians from Austrian School to Chicago economists, and “fusionists” who borrow from both traditions.
The list includes noted experts with superb free-market credentials such as John Lott, an expert on gun rights, Peter Ferrara, a pioneer and an expert on social security reform, and Herb London, an expert on national security and strategy. Syndicated writers like Deroy Murdock and Bill Murchison joined the list. It also includes some of the most thoughtful intellectuals and deep thinkers, like Hadley Arkes, the emeritus great scholar from Amherst College, and Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the publisher of Encounter Books.
Like paying taxes? Vote for Hillary. Hillary Clinton Proposes 65% Top Rate for Estate Tax https://t.co/4b7rNSK2QP
— Roger Kimball (@rogerkimball) September 22, 2016
The driving force of this effort, however, is Professor Frank H. Buckley, from George Mason University. A prolific writer, he has been describing how rule of law is declining in America and how the economic and legal framework is creating unjust inequalities by reducing upward mobility. When he was director of GMU’s Law and Economics Center, Buckley traveled to several Latin American countries and was able to see how the future of the US would look unless a big shake up took place in Washington.
I know approximately one third of those who signed the list very well, including Buckley. I sense that he is actually happy that the shock is real. Others who signed are just being realistic “given the choice” at hand. After putting all policies, teams, and trends in the balance, they will vote, and urge others, to support Trump.
It is also important to note several scholars and writers who are not in the list and for whom I have great respect. I suspect they will never call others to vote for Trump and I do not know if they will do so themselves.
I have special admiration for Arthur Brooks (AEI), Robert P. George (James Madison Program at Princeton University), Robert Sirico (Acton Institute), Paul Kengor (Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College), Michael Krauss (GMU) and many others. They have spent a life respecting others and trying to elevate the discourse in academic, civil and political circles. Donald Trump is not a very good fit for them. I think they are all independent and conscious Trump objectors.
Those who have signed, however, share a common element. They are not part of the powerful money networks. I have nothing against money and networks. But in the same fashion that I do not like many of Trump’s verbal aggressions, I also dislike those who are waging a war, sometimes an open social media war while hiding behind the scenes, against all those who want to make the best from a difficult situation. A situation brought to us by the same elites who are now rending their garments.