Most of our national food fights are driven in part by fear of some sort; fear that the other side wants to take away something dear to us, fear that people we disagree with will get an edge over us in power, fear that the next election will bring change that harms our families, our communities or our nation.

Political consultants and pundits understand the dynamics of fear and seek to exploit them, like the Flight 93 election argument or Biden’s idea that “they’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Cable news and talk radio hosts understand fear (along…


He tries to claim their moral authority while aspiring to undermine the system they designed

Sohrab Ahmari (left), Ross Douthat (center), David French (right) | Credit: Institute for Human Ecology

An essential strain of the post-liberal argument, as presented by New York Post’s Sohrab Ahmari at the Catholic University debate with National Review’s David French, is that the powers of the state should be exerted to discourage behavior that traditionalists like Ahmari find objectionable. This argument is informed by Catholic integralism — the idea that the state should actively defend the standards of the Catholic Church in moral matters.

While integralism is a product of 19th and 20th-century dissatisfaction with various secularisms and liberalisms, its aim is one of the oldest political impulses of humanity.

Centuries before integralism or even…


There’s a subtle shift in dynamics on the conservative side of the gun debate that should give gun rights advocates pause.

Conventional wisdom says that the gun debate is essentially frozen. Each side dug is in and no movement is possible. This has been true for the past decade. However, an emergent confluence of factors on the right may yield defeat for conservatives.

First, Donald Trump is essentially a New York Democrat in his thinking on gun control. He fears the NRA’s influence on his base, but his instincts on the issue are not consistent with most conservatives. …


Kevin Williamson takes on the mob

If you bought Kevin D. Williamson’s latest book hoping for a blow-by-blow, score-settling tell-all of his tempest with The Atlantic, you’ll be disappointed. You’ll also miss the point entirely.

Williamson began writing the manuscript for The Smallest Minority in 2015 while still at National Review but shelved it when he couldn’t find a publisher. As he tells it, the day he got the ax from Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, his phone rang with offers of book deals before he even made it to the airport. …


On a recent podcast, Charles C.W. Cooke assessed the current political moment as “quite dull,” echoing Kevin D. Williamson’s assertion that history may very well look back on this period as unremarkable. Although this may seem counterintuitive to many, these are widely shared sentiments among those who work in and around Washington, and they strike me as accurate. Unfortunately, even the politics of boredom have consequences.

The predicament, as implied, is that if you don’t believe the fate of the republic hangs on Mueller’s investigation or the president’s Twitter account, the two years since 2016 have been largely devoid of…

Steve Stampley

I write about politics and culture. I’m also interested in screenwriting and fiction.

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