For the last four years or so, national conservatism has played an increasingly large role on the American right. Always a powerful force in Europe, this brand of conservatism is relatively new to the United States. Perhaps because of this, a collection of scholars who embrace national conservativism have compiled a handy declaration of principles signed by a number of prominent right-wing thinkers, journalists, and activists. Tragically the result of their efforts is not heartening. To misquote Edmund Burke: “While I am happy to discover that the far right in America has principles, I cannot offer them many congratulations for this fact having now seen the principles for myself.”
The statement of principles is written in a mild and unassuming language, bracketed into largely unobjectionable categories (after all what reasonable person really takes offense at rejecting imperialism or supporting the rule of law). However, a closer read of the details of the document makes clear that this is not merely a polite statement of truths we sometimes need to be reminded of but instead a full-throated rejection of America’s constitutional arrangement.