Claremont Institute president Ryan Williams says that American civic education faces an acute crisis. In his estimation, essentially every institution – the vast complex of media, Big Tech, Hollywood, Fortune 500 companies, and education and government bureaucracies – teaches “vicious lies about America’s Founders” and our nation’s “heritage, heroes, accomplishments, and people.”
Williams argues that what passes for civic education today advances “the goal of wholesale revolution and the institution of a monstrous and unnatural tyranny.”
In light of these daunting circumstances, however, he counsels hope: “We at Claremont are happy warriors, and there’s no work we’d rather be doing with friends and fellow citizens.”
Williams describes The Claremont Institute, founded in 1979, as a think tank fomenting a “counterrevolution” to recover civic education through teaching, writing, and litigation. Its mission, he continues, is to restore the natural law and natural rights principles of the Declaration of Independence, the “ingenious political science of the Constitution,” and the “popular constitutionalism and reverence necessary for the maintenance of free government” to “their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life.”
Williams notes that Claremont’s fellowship programs offer “those who will go on to positions of leadership in media, politics, policy, law, speechwriting, and academia” the chance to learn the “true principles of government and their application to today’s policies.” Guided by distinguished scholars, fellows study American political thought, examine Abraham Lincoln’s statesmanship, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of present-day liberalism and conservatism.
The Publius Fellowship gives undergraduates and recent graduates the opportunity to explore the “moral and political principles of the American constitutional order” over the course of three weeks; for mid-career professionals, the Lincoln Fellowship focuses on how Lincoln’s statesmanship can help preserve free government; the John Marshall Fellowship gives legal scholars and prospective clerks an in-depth overview of American constitutionalism; and the Speechwriters Fellowship provides a forum for discussing Founding principles, as well as offering workshops for fellows to refine their craft.
The cornerstone of Claremont’s writing efforts is the “Claremont Review of Books,” a quarterly magazine edited by Charles Kesler. Each issue contains penetrating essays on politics and statesmanship and book reviews on subjects ranging from why Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and the historical revisionism of the New York Times's 1619 Project to Platonic lessons in the detective novels of Raymond Chandler and the music of The Beach Boys. Over the years, contributors have included William F. Buckley, Harry V. Jaffa, Mark Helprin, Victor Davis Hanson, Diana Schaub, David P. Goldman, Allen C. Guelzo, and Hadley Arkes.
Claremont’s Center for the American Way of Life, a D.C.-based think-tank led by Arthur Milikh, works to preserve a nation “characterized by republican self-government and the habits of mind and character necessary to sustain it.” Through a creative, bold, and tough-minded approach, the Center and its affiliated scholars such as Joshua Mitchell and Scott Yenor confront woke “institutional centers of power” by publishing articles and essays and holding public discussions.
Founded by vice president of education Matthew Peterson, “The American Mind” is an online journal that engages in the “battle of ideas in a lively and intelligent way,” as Williams puts it. TAM features shorter pieces (memos), longer reflections (salvos), and symposia (features) that look to forge a political realignment based on restoring the sovereignty and self-respect of the American people. American Mindset, TAM’s Substack, (it will soon be subscriber-only) offers exclusive pieces and the daily “Tell Me What You Really Think” podcast, which features conversations between associate editor Spencer Klavan and TAM staff on a wide range of political and cultural topics.
John Eastman directs the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, which works to “restore the constitutional design envisioned by our nation’s Founders” by filing briefs and educating young lawyers on subjects (such as the natural law basis of the Constitution) often neglected or rejected in establishment legal circles.
Claremont offers several additional podcasts that can help spur thought and action. Hosted by Williams, “The Roundtable” delivers incisive political commentary from a regular panel of contributors; “The Close Read” podcast features Klavan discussing essays from latest issue of the CRB with their authors; and on “The American Story” podcast, senior fellow Chris Flannery highlights American heroes in short, compelling segments.
By reasserting Americans’ control over their political institutions, Claremont seeks to help recover republican government.
Mike Sabo is the editor of RealClear’s American Civics portal.