Donald Trump is now a former, though also a potential future, president. The upheaval in conservatism caused, or perhaps merely signified, by his political ascendance in 2016 certainly proceeds apace—perhaps now at a little bit of a faster rate.
Many of those already-established, familiar, philanthropically supported institutions and publications that were caught somewhat flat-footed by that which gave rise to the Trump phenomenon have steadied themselves. They all have much to and will contribute, of course, to the refinement or redefinition—or what some might consider the restoration—of conservatism moving forward.
Other new organizations and projects have themselves arisen since ’16, too, and these “new kids on the block” are contributing in their own ways to this effort. We have been trying to track them. Moving forward, step by step, they likely will have much more to offer, perhaps along with even more that will be joining them.
These new think tanks and magazines and journals, many online, provide ideas-driven, policy-oriented conservative grantmakers with many good additional giving options to consider. The again-updated, one-page Giving Review document, “Organizations and Projects Created Since 2016 Seeking to Help Refine or Redefine Conservatism,” briefly overviews some of them.
Since its last iteration, it adds another three “new kids”—The Center for American Restoration, the American Cornerstone Institute, and The Claremont Institute Center for the American Way of Life.
The Center for American Restoration was founded by former U.S. Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought last December. It plans to further develop and detail proposals in line with the policies of the Trump administration—including in the contexts of immigration, trade, international affairs, and the culture, among others.
“Conservative populism has long needed institutions such as this to flesh out the ideas that a serious governing movement needs,” the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Henry Olsen writes in his Washington Post column about the Center for American Restoration last month.
“Parties do not have the incentives or infrastructure to engage in serious policy development; think tanks and universities play that role in both parties, and the paucity of conservatives within academia makes think tanks a crucial source of policy depth for Republicans,” Olsen continues in “Conservative populism might finally be getting the intellectual heft it needs.”
Most conservative policy experts, however, are part of the establishment that conservative populism opposes. They have developed the neo-libertarian economic policies that need correcting. They helped create the overextended American empire that fights too many foes with too few resources. And they have neglected the questions of culture and religion that are so important to a modern center-right. Accordingly, the center-right’s institutions are largely silent when it comes to supplying serious ideas to politicians who voice populist conservative ideals.
The American Cornerstone Institute (ACI) was announced by former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Sec. Ben Carson earlier this month. “I am launching a nonprofit conservative think tank with the goal of providing common-sense solutions to some of our nation’s biggest problems. The first step in healing is to start talking to one another again,” according to a Carson article in RealClearPolitics.
“ACI will focus on promoting and preserving individual and religious liberty, helping our country’s most vulnerable find new hope, and developing methods to maximize government’s efficiency and effectiveness to best serve all our nation’s citizens,” he writes.
The Center for the American Way of Life, a new presence for Claremont in D.C., was officially announced last week. It will lead what it calls “a new Right” and be directed by Arthur Milikh, formerly of The Heritage Foundation.
“America is currently engaged in a regime-level struggle that will preserve or destroy the purpose that has defined it,” according to Milikh in RealClearPolicy last week. “On one side stands the American way of life, characterized by republican self-government and the habits of mind and character necessary to sustain it,” he goes on in “A New Conservatism Must Emerge.”
On the other side stands identity politics, which demands the perpetual punishment and humiliation of so-called oppressor groups combined with the unquestioned rule of the so-called marginalized. These two regimes are in conflict and cannot coexist.
In the struggle between these two regimes, institutional power and political momentum currently favor the Left. The Right, at present, is not up to the fight. A new Right is needed, one that understands itself as rooted in the noble cause of the American Revolution—unabashed and zealous in its determination to restore political liberty and politics itself.