What will the conservative movement look like post-Trump? Establishment Republicans seem eager to shake former President Donald Trump’s influence on the party and the new right would like him to be a kingmaker for years to come. But while pundits opine and politicians dream, three young conservatives are building.
American Moment, a new nonprofit organization founded by Saurabh Sharma, Nick Solheim and Jake Mercier launched Wednesday. The organization is dedicated to reshaping the political class to reflect populist priorities. Sharma is the former Chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas, Solheim the founder of The Wallace Institute for Arctic Security and Mercier an independent writer and editor.
Cockburn was lucky enough to snag an invitation to the group’s launch party on Tuesday night at the Conservative Partnership Institute in downtown Washington DC.
Here is how the American Moment’s website describes its mission:
‘American Moment’s mission is to identify, educate and credential young Americans who will implement public policy that supports strong families, a sovereign nation and prosperity for all. American Moment hosts events, produces original content and builds networks to create personnel who will implement our priorities in government, business and public policy organizations.’
A welcome video at the launch party pointed out that one of the biggest obstacles for former President Trump was staffing his administration with the right people. Immigration restriction, pro-family economics, law and order and pro-manufacturing trade policy can only go so far when internal forces hamstring every proposed executive order or piece of legislation. Who can forget when Ja’Ron Smith and Brooke Rollins convinced Trump to avoid quickly sending in the National Guard to shut down the summer riots? Or when Jared Kushner watered down Trump’s temporary immigration moratorium during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic? And why on Earth was Reince Priebus ever appointed chief of staff?
‘We need a new pipeline for loyal, institutionally-minded staffers, operators and policymakers,’ Sharma, American Moment’s president, said during the video’s voiceover.
In an op-ed for the American Conservative, the organization’s founders explain the necessity of building a new political elite that reflects the values and priorities of everyday Americans:
‘If we don’t form our own elite, one that is patriotic and acts as a champion for the great middle of our nation, the old regime will continue to win and America will continue to lose… We’re building the cadre of staffers, operators and leaders who will do the nuts-and-bolts work behind the scenes.’
The launch party was appropriately swanky for this goal — the invites noted a dress code of cocktail attire and waiters passed around various canapés featuring smoked salmon and goats’ cheese. The featured drink was a ‘New Right Old Fashioned’, which Cockburn sadly did not get to taste due to a quickly regretted decision to abstain from alcohol for Lent. Other guests, however, raved about the cocktail.
‘They’re easy to slam,’ remarked one attendee. Sharma urged the crowd to eat and drink their fill with the promise of an after party for the especially ambitious. Cockburn’s kind of party, to be sure.
Spotted in the crowd were Reps. Jim Banks and Ken Buck, former congressman and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and three members of American Moment’s advisory board: TAC‘s Ryan Girdusky, CPI and the Internet Accountability Project’s Rachel Bovard and Saagar Enjeti, host of the Hill‘s Rising with Krystal Ball. The other three members of the board are Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, Newsweek‘s Josh Hammer and Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project.
Guests were also treated to a surprise video from former US senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions, who provided a personal endorsement of American Moment. Sessions was cast aside by Trump during his attempt to return to the Senate, but never abandoned the principles that made them natural allies in the first place.
‘We’ve got a new conservative movement, a new Republican movement — it’s an America First movement that Donald Trump led, but this election can’t end it,’ Sessions said during his video message. ‘It’s got to continue and when you’ve got people like these three, with the vision they have, they will make a difference.’
Cockburn is often quite cynical but he must admit that he finds it refreshing to see Sharma, Solheim and Mercier chart a vision and put in the work to make it happen. Perhaps if more politically-minded youngsters took real action instead of just talking on television, he’d have his $2,000 stimulus check by now.