This piece was co-authored by Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer.
Some years ago an angry and frustrated taxpayer flew his private plane into the Internal Revenue Service building in Texas. Most liberals commentators wrung their hands over the act but failed to ask, “Why?” What did the IRS do to so infuriate this taxpayer into taking his own life to make a political statement? During the American Revolution, this would have been considered an act of courage and monuments would have been made to the man. After all, the Framers believed man was more important than institutions. But now it seems like Americans, mostly on the left, forgot what America should be.
Mark Levin, who hasn’t forgotten what America is all about, long a political heavyweight intellectual of the conservative movement in America, adds another accomplishment to his long resume with the publication of his new book Rediscovering Americanism. It is already a bestseller, but it won’t be reviewed by the perpetually failing Washington Post.
There is an inverse relationship between authors of and about conservatism and the Book Review section of the Washington Post. A good book by a conservative will never be reviewed, but a bad book written by a liberal about conservatism will always been reviewed. Hence, Levin has written another blockbuster, but like all of his previous books, won’t be reviewed by the shallow and corrupt book review section of the dying and embarrassingly wrong newspaper. Hence, liberal Rick Perlstein wrote a heavily plagiarized and shoddy book about Ronald Reagan, yet the Post Book Review section gave it not one, but two favorable reviews. Presumably one for being an ultra-leftist and the second for poor scholarship, even as everybody with an ounce of knowledge about Reagan denounced Perlstein as wrong.
No matter. Levin is now more consequential to the national debate than the Post. He has far more loyal listeners than the Post has subscribers. It should be noted the uber neo con, big government Republican publication, The Weekly Standard, also refused to review either of our books. (The rumor is TWS is coming out for the invasion of Nova Scotia next week.)
In a humble fashion, Levin notes in the opening that if this tome “can open a few eyes it will have served its purpose.” That purpose? To bring back true American beliefs, true American structures. To “rediscover Americanism,” like the Founding Fathers and Enlightenment philosophers intended, where men and women are born free to discover their own future, as designed by God. Levin quotes from the Declaration of Independence, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, even Aristotle and Cicero, to define that –ism that we should seek.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many of the philosophers, statesmen, and civic leaders – not just of America but around the world, both contemporary and ancient – believed in the individual rights of man as endowed by their Creator. This is no clearer than in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This was the prevailing view of the United States during its Founding, where the rights of man trumped all.
Until the Progressives came along in the very-late nineteenth century.
“It is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution,” Levin writes, “in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society . . . would be drastically altered and even abandoned.” The Progressives believed that the American heritage – already a century old – was an impediment to “the pursuit of Utopian ends.” It is a collectivist (read: communist) belief that the group is superior to the individual, that a centralized authority must exist to run the lives of the everyday man and woman. Levin heavily analyzes Herbert Croly’s works, especially his Progressive Democracy in 1914, and how American heroes such as President Theodore Roosevelt admired the philosopher, even taking phrases he coined and putting it into the American lexicon.
This is the start of the unraveling of the American identity. Roosevelt created the Progressive Party, which had “a laundry list of proposed federal programs and policies covering” many parts of American life. Woodrow Wilson, prior to becoming president, authored several essays and speeches criticizing the Declaration of Independence, calling it “theoretical,” and later, as president, flat out said that “our life has broken away from the past.” Forget about history, progressives believe, because the collectivist future is all that mattered.
So we are introduced to the conflict that has plagued America since, and where our country has come from, what it has become, and where it will go. Levin warns us that if we do not stop the progressivism that is rampant, then we are going to lose the country. “We have no choice,” he says, but to be on the offensive.
Rediscovering Americanism is an short, easy read, designed not for the hefty academics but for the common American, to show that rich or poor, educated or uneducated, rural or urban, we are all Americans, and we all fall under one roof, with the goal to bring back a country that our Founders wanted. Nevertheless, it is packed with analyses and connections only Levin can muster, chock full information. Some of the most important public intellectuals on American conservatism are Dr. Larry Arnn, Victor David Hansen, Newt Gingrich, and Mark Levin.
Levin does a wonderful job of mixing history, politics, philosophy, and conservatism into one book. It cannot be underestimated his importance to the conservative movement, and this book is a worthy piece to be placed in America’s future.
Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and author of four best sellers on Ronald Reagan, most recently "Reagan Rising." He has a political biography on Newt Gingrich, "Citizen Newt," coming out in August. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley's researcher.