Politics and Moral Neutrality

Just recently I came across this essay connecting Max Weber’s essays “Science as a Vocation” and “Politics as a Vocation” to Trump’s impeachment. According to Zaretsky, civil servants both in Weber’s time and in our own have worked with the “imperative of vocation,” even or especially when, in the words of Weber, “an absolutely immeasurable factor” like the Kaiser in Weber’s time or Trump in our own act unpredictably and without thought. They must be, Zaretsky argues, “devoted to their calling” or their vocation even in the midst of the “absolutely immeasurable factor”of a leader like Trump or the Kaiser. … Continue reading Politics and Moral Neutrality

A Definition of the New Conservatism and Claremont’s Role In It

Laura Field recently posted a summary of and links to the discussions of Trump by those affiliated with the Claremont Institute. Their unabashed and even enthusiastic support of Trump has perplexed many who were sympathetic to and even supportive of Claremont’s mission prior to their Trumpian term. Why were they supporting a man who seemed so contrary to their prior celebration of and veneration for the American tradition of prudence as represented by someone like Abraham Lincoln? I suppose Lincoln and Trump both believe in America…but what else do they have in common? Why were they defending a man who … Continue reading A Definition of the New Conservatism and Claremont’s Role In It

Varieties of Trumpism and the Class Divide

Dan McLaughlin at the National Review has this piece breaking down the varieties of Trumpism and what they mean for the future of the Republican party. It’s a helpful typology, indicating both where Trumpism has a future, even one that is politically salutary, and where it does not. I found his discussion of “common-man Trumpism” especially illuminating. He writes: ‘The divide in class attitudes is much starker than in the social-egalitarian world described by Alexis de Tocqueville in his travels across 1830s America, and many educated, professional Americans don’t even see it.” This is the aspect of Trumpism that isn’t … Continue reading Varieties of Trumpism and the Class Divide

Constitutions as Self-Restraint

I’m a bit late to the party on this, but Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, recently offered one of the more strained arguments against an impeachment trial for former President Trump. It would be, he said the weekend before last, “arrogant” to disqualify Trump from running for office again. “Who are we to tell voters who they can vote for in the future?” Rubio mistakes not just the impeachment power but also the nature of constitutional government itself. Written constitutions place all manner of restraints on the people. Try Rubio’s argument from the opposite side. Consider, hypothetically, an … Continue reading Constitutions as Self-Restraint

Jeffrey Abramson’s follow-up to his prior essay on political resignations

On January 13, I published an essay in these pages (Political Resignations: Comparing the Watergate and Trump Eras), contrasting resignations from the Trump administration to the role political resignations played in toppling Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. Recent revelations show that the comparison to Watergate was even closer than suspected. Richard Nixon triggered the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973, when he ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the Watergate break-in into the offices of the Democratic National Committee.  Richardson resigned instead, backed up by the resignation of the Deputy Attorney General, … Continue reading Jeffrey Abramson’s follow-up to his prior essay on political resignations