In mid-September, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute quietly hosted what may have been the year’s most important panel discussion, on the subject of the lost meaning of the American Founding. Like the Founding itself, too few have appreciated the event. Even after sitting through it, not many will have captured the evasive potential consensus that may yet unite the Right: the American set piece of localism and subsidiarity, enshrined in the Constitution of 1788 but lost after the Civil War. That is to say: like Odysseus, American conservatism must tie itself back to the mast of morality-legislation by state or local—but never national—government.
While few Americans care about subsidiarity or panel discussions, most conservatives have noticed that we have lost our republic, root and branch. In order to reclaim some version of it, we must reclaim American subsidiarity.
The event probably stood for just such a proposition, but the message remains confined to subtext. Modern Age’s brilliant Daniel McCarthy moderated the panel discussion, which was peopled by four most excellent denizens of the scattered fields of the Right: Stephanie Slade, Michael Knowles, Michael Anton, and Kevin R.C. Gutzman.