'American Greatness' Publishes the Most Important Conservative Essay in Years

Mark Bauerlein just published a must-read essay at American Greatness entitled “When Will Conservatives Understand That It’s Not a Contest of Ideas?


In this short but incisive essay, Bauerlein diagrams conservatives’ mistake of focusing on the battle of ideas to the exclusion of keeping positions of power in government, the academy, the media, and corporate gatekeeping. He writes:

This is how the game works. It’s *not* a contest of ideas, it’s a competition for jobs. As leftists take over human resources offices, reduce the number of conservatives on the faculty to less than 3 percent, make appointments to political office contingent upon compliance with political correctness, and exile troublemakers and nonconformists such as James Woods and Charles Murray, the game as conservatives used to understand it is *over*. Conservatives lost the war of positions long ago …

For the Left, outcomes trump procedure just as politics eclipses intelligence, conscientiousness, and competence.

A lot of conservatives get caught up in setting the record straight, arguing with the left about “the facts” and “right principles.” Conservatives fail to grasp that arguing with the left about ideas right now resembles arguing with a cagey seven-year-old about bedtime.

Whether or not the parents “win” the debate of IDEAS about going to bed, the child has gotten his wish: the OUTCOME of staying up an extra hour.


Seven-year-olds rarely possess mature and objective principles–only subjective and narrow child principles. That’s not to say the left in America have no principles–they DO. But the left’s principles are more narrow and subjective than those of the right, mostly focusing on harm to victims and empathetic fairness, to the exclusion of other concerns–as suggested by the social psychology research of NYU professor Jonathan Haidt:

The comparative narrowness of the left’s principles means that they do not overlap much with those of conservatives–particularly these days, when the left’s definitions of “harm to victims” and “fairness” are growing increasingly untethered from objective criteria (e.g., “America is just one big racist mess, because some African Americans feel that way”).

The lessons of the seven-year-old “resisting” bedtime applies to dealing with the left: falling into debate with ANYONE in the absence of objective, shared, and mature principles wastes time and erodes rightful authority.

President Trump has demonstrated a profound awareness of the left’s tactics of defiance, obstruction, and manipulation in powerful institutions they populate. Bauerlein writes:


Donald Trump understands this. That’s one reason the Left despises him. He typically doesn’t bother to debate ideas and ideals, but this is not anti-intellectualism, as the liberal says. It is, instead, his awareness that politics is now, first and foremost, a battle of persons, not ideologies or tax rates or trade.

Despite his sometimes “unpresidential” theatrics, President Trump really is the grown-up in the room. He’s not the indulgent grandpa who tries to make all the kids like him and never raises his voice; he’s the head of the household who holds back anarchy by enforcing the rules, tantrums or not.

President Trump is telling the congressional Democrats, James Comey, John Brennan, the administrative state, universities, activist judges, et al: “Bedtime is happening, right now. Whether we do it the easy way or the hard way is up to you.”

Read Bauerlein’s essay for yourself here and absorb what he says. He has cut to the core of American politics today.


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