With all the strife going on within the conservative movement, the time may be right for a Washington DC think-tank to organize a panel of right-leaning thought leaders to discuss the future of conservative intellectualism.
The American Enterprise Institute stepped up to the challenge on Monday when it hosted a discussion featuring National Review editor Rich Lowry, Twitter-abstaining Commentary editor John Podhoretz, the editor of religious conservative magazine First Things, R.R. Reno, and National Affairs editor, AEI fellow, and event moderator Yuval Levin. As Mr Reno published Sohrab Ahmari’s now-infamous blindside against National Review writer David French, Cockburn attended in hopes of catching some drama.
During the event, Cockburn spotted a host of right-of-center personalities in attendance: former Speaker of the House and newly appointed AEI fellow Paul Ryan, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Washington Examiner commentary editor and AEI fellow Tim Carney, Washington Free Beacon founder and AEI fellow Matthew Continetti, Brookings Institution fellow James Kirchick, and writer and editor Kelly Jane Torrance.
Where Cockburn expected conflict among the panelists, he found much agreement. Discussing the future of the political right, Reno emphasized that conservatism must look beyond free market capitalism and address wage stagnation among the working class, a lack of ‘cultural solidarity’ and civic-mindedness, and the needs of familial life in America.
In response, John Podhoretz agreed that conservatism should concern itself with more than just capitalism. Discussing the development of conservative thought in America, Podhoretz noted that ‘there was a real sense that there was something more important than the free market or capitalism or global capitalism from the outset.’
In the spirit of agreement, Lowry noted that ‘whatever happens with Trump — whether he’s a two-term president or falls flat in 2020 — what comes next [for the conservative movement] has to learn from him and can’t just reject root and branch Trumpism.’
While Cockburn was disappointed by the lack of fighting, he was chuffed to see a neoconservative, a social conservative, and a conservative conservative walking into a think tank and reaching a consensus in such politically divisive times.