Guy Benson, political editor for Townhall.com, and Jessica Anderson, grassroots director for Heritage Action for America, were recently admitted into the selective Claremont Institute’s Lincoln Fellows program – one of the country’s most prestigious programs studying American politics and political thought. Guy and Jessica will become a part of a distinguished network of alumni that includes Mark Levin, Jonah Goldberg, Laura Ingraham, Stephen Hayes, and Andrew Breitbart.
The Claremont Institute is one of the country’s leading institutions in educating citizens on the importance of statesmanship and the political thought of the Founders. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the flagship Lincoln Fellowship program consists of intense daily seminars and evening symposia discussing the American Founding, the presidency of Abraham Lincoln (where the program gets its name from), the Civil War, the Progressive Era, and the enduring modern disputes between liberalism and conservatism.
As an alum myself, I can truly attest that the intense week-long program was a life-changing experience. I know it may sound a little clichéd but the education I received was almost like a religious awakening in understanding how our fragile republic was formed, sustained, and almost destroyed by a civil war.
I had previously taught a History of the Conservative Movement course at American University as an Adjunct Professor and was the CPAC Director at the American Conservative Union, and believed I had a solid grasp on the Founding and philosophical underpinnings of conservatism before entering the program. But the education I received allowed me to connect the various dots of information I had accumulated throughout my early career and college education and helped fill in the gaps by understanding how our great American tradition was forged together.
The scholars are top notch and some of the finest academics in the country who subscribe to “keeping the tablets.” They include the indomitable Charles Kesler, who is also the editor of The Claremont Review of Books, William Voegeli, John Eastman, John Marini, Edward Erler, Matthew Spalding, R.J. Pestritto, and countless of other decorated scholars. The institute is currently led by the clever and affable COO Ryan Williams, President Michael Pack, and was previously led by Brian Kennedy, and Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn.
But I would be remised if I did not note the influence of the legendary Harry Jaffa - the Lincoln biographer and author of Crisis of the House Divided. He was the moral force behind the institute and educated and inspired generations of students and fellows, including the scholar roster listed above. I had the honor of meeting him and discussing the presidency of Lincoln – a conversation I will never forget.
In these perilous and fractious times for our country and the conservative movement, the Claremont Institute lights the torch of liberty and knowledge and ensures the next generation is prepared to lead. Congratulations to all the incoming fellows and hopefully they’ll continue the nightly ritual of evening cordials and John Marini-narrated Western film screenings!