The Re-Opening of the American Mind

The Beauty of Front Porch Citizenry
It’s been my pleasure to help curate an art and rare books exhibit that will help revive a conversation about a shared American identity. There is a hunger across the country for an intellectually rigorous conversation on this topic—and a dire need for it in our deeply divided moment. Our main event will bring together  Congressman Lee Hamilton, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randy Shepard, and other Hoosier statesmen and women to talk about these issues. Find more information and reserve a place by clicking here.

Quillette interview with Francis Fukuyama
I recently had the honor of interviewing one of the greatest thinkers of our day, Dr. Francis Fukuyama. In an interview for Quillette’spodcast, I question Dr. Fukuyama about themes in his latest book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. I ask him if there are downsides to national unity, we discuss today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement and the post-Civil-War Freedmen’s Bureau, and he explains how trust in institutions—widely known to have been declining for decades and at record lows—can be regained. You can listen here—I welcome your thoughts!

Comments in Forbes on the ethics of tech companies benefiting from bombastic internet personalities
Forbes asked me to comment on YouTube’s recent move to “demonetize”  self-proclaimed right-of-center comedian Steven Crowder. YouTube’s was a controversial decision, and it has opened up an important discussion regarding the obligations these platforms have to censor content. I argued that social networking sites have sowed the seeds of their own destruction: They “benefit from the addictive nature of their platforms, and their algorithms favor sensational and bombastic users who play on people’s baser instincts. Yet once those users, fed by fame and influence, invariably begin to test the limits of our public discourse, social media platforms are criticized for being the arbiters of what is and is not acceptable.” Find the full story here.

Guest Speaker at Better Angels National Convention and comments in Real Clear Politics
I was privileged to be invited to give a few words on the topic of national identity at the Better Angels Conference in St. Louis this past weekend. I argued that we do have an American identity—one defined by our founding ideals of equal human dignity and our shared commitment to self-governance—and that we must learn from our imperfect application of theses ideals in our past and present, and strive ever more for them in our future. I love how another delegate put it: “I know there are some ideals that all Americans can agree on—but we don’t know what they are because we’ve stopped talking about them.” This is frighteningly true, which is why I ceaselessly talk of ideals! See coverage of the Convention here.

Tech start-up fostering civil discourse & Interview on Chicago’s Morning Answer
I wrote an essay for the American Institute for Economic Research on the latest in a series of new start-ups and initiatives fostering civil public discourse. It’s one of my favorite essays I’ve ever written,and you can find it here. In addition to Tyler Cowen sharing the piece on his esteemed blog Marginal Revolution, Chicago’s Morning Answer was kind enough to invite me on to discuss the way technology can improve  civility in our public discourse. Listen to the interview here.

Essay on David Brooks and Aspen Institute’s #WeaveThePeople for the Independent Institute.
As part of my work with the Independent Institute highlighting groups healing our civil discourse, I wrote about my time with David Brooks at the #WeaveThePeople conference, a gathering of people from across the country “reweaving” their community’s social fabric. The piece is entitled, The Revolution You’ve Never Heard Of: The Group of Subversive Citizens Reclaiming the Civic Sphere, and you can read it here.

Trinity Western University alumni profile: Rediscovering the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
It was beyond kind of my alma mater, Trinity Western University, to profile me for their monthly alumni magazine. I shared with them my struggle to merge my love of ideas with my government service, and I discussed my work attempting to foment a moral and intellectual revolution renewal for my generation. To that end, it’s been thrilling to curate a selection of rare books from the Remnant Trust collection for an exhibition at Trinity Western this fall. The exhibition will  foster Trinity Western’s claim to the rich intellectual tradition that is the Christian liberal arts.

An assortment of essays for the American Institute of Economic Research (AIER) on pop culture, books, philosophy, and current affairs:

  • A Case for Civility in Public Debate
    I weighed in on a public debate over whether civility is a barrier to achieving one’s political ends—I argued that yes, it certainly can be, but that means matter: justice at any cost is not justice at all. I recall a famous debate between Erasmus of Rotterdam and Martin Luther over the freedom of the will to illuminate what is at stake when we talk about civility.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the Sisyphean Pursuit of Happiness
    In the midst of my travels the past few months, I took up  a show called “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.” In this essay, I  offer an interpretation of the protagonist’s pursuit of happiness through the lens of Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus
  • The Answer to the Social Media Conundrum Will Not Come From Government
    In this essay, I argue that threatening to regulate social media companies overlooks the central challenge with any new technology. Instead of regulation, we should be focusing on how to encourage people to use internet freedom responsibly—which is a far more difficult, but also far more important, task.
  • Remember the Good Social Media Has Achieved
    I reviewed Human Liberty 2.0, an excellent new book that highlights many instances where social media promoted human rights and democracy—an important and often overlooked side of the story, as we live in a moment where politicians on both the left and the right are quick to condemn tech giants.

My first video essay for AIER
In this video, I explain how The Faux Etiquette of Political Correctness Today Is Reminiscent of Louis XIV’s Etiquette at Versailles. I invoke Doctor Johnson, who reminds us that there is nothing inherently virtuous about using politically correct language in order to appear “unbiased” and “inclusive.” Johnson’s definition of “mouth-honour,” a term originally used by Macbeth, aptly describes the problem: “civility outwardly expressed without sincerity.” The full video is here!

Russ Roberts’ remarks on Adam Smith at Liberty Fund

My husband Kian and I had an extraordinary time at Russ Roberts’ speech on Adam Smith and the harmony of everyday life. We adore listening to EconTalk together, and I also have the privilege of interviewing Russ next month for AIER’s newly launched podcast!