Thomas Klingenstein, Conservative Scholar and Chairman of the Claremont Institute

2 years ago

Doug talks to Thomas Klingenstein, conservative scholar and board chairman of the Claremont Institute.

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Doug Truax: Welcome to the First Right podcast, a weekly conservative news show brought to you by restoration pack. I'm Doug Truax, founder, and president of Restoration . Today. We're excited to have a first-time guest who is one of America's foremost conservative thinkers. Thomas Klingenstein is chairman of the board of the Claremont Institute. He's a writer, a public speaker and playwright. He's the architect of the idea that America is in the midst of a cold civil war and conservatives better understand the terrain they're standing on. Well, welcome to the show Thomas. So great to have you on.

Tom Klingenstein: Well, it's very nice to be here.

Doug Truax: So I want to dive right into this concept that I mentioned a second ago, about a you're so articulate on this, this cold civil war that you believe we're in, that, you know, a lot of Republicans may or may not realize it, but you do such a great job in your videos and your speech. So just share with our audience, that concept and, and where you think we are with it today.

Tom Klingenstein: I think that there is, we recognize that there's a divide Republicans as well as anybody else. And I think most people would think about it or would assess it as a serious divide. But I think it's more fundamental than just a divide or a greater than normal divide. I think it's actually a war and what makes it a war is different differences in ends. We have two societies which have different understandings of justice and so have different ends. You know, maybe the most simple way I could illustrate this is to say, I'm in New York. If we are New York together, you want to go to Maine. I want to go to Florida. There's no basis of negotiation. Those are two different ends. If we both want to go to Florida. Well, we could agree on means when to leave and how fast and what the route is, et cetera, or to give now in a historical example, before the civil war, the south had decided that slavery was a good thing, that all men were equal, but black men in like all good things.
They wanted slavery to expand in the north, the course wanted to contract. So you can't expand and contract at the same time. Those are differences in ends, which is why in the civil war, we had a choice we could fight, or we could part ways. There were no other choices. So this brings us to the present. What is the end of our enemy? And I might stop a second to point out that our enemy doesn't have a name or an agreed upon name. And it's very, very difficult to fight an enemy that doesn't have a name. Sometimes people speak of identitarian as in identity politics or multiculturalism, or, you know, anti-racism, but we don't have agreement and we need to have agreement my name, which I wish everyone would adopt, but I'm not sure they will is woke communism. Now, what is the goal of woke communism?
It is what I would call outcome parody. That is all the identity groups equally represented in all aspects of American society. For example, blacks represent about 13% of, of America. Therefore, under the woke comm thinking they should have 13% of the prisoners and senators and chief executive officers and high test scores and home loans and everything else you can think of. And of course, this is not blacks, but women and other identity groups. Now, the problem with this, the fundamental problem is that this understanding of justice outcome parody cannot exist with American justice because American injustice allows individuals to pursue their own understanding of happiness. And that will inevitably lead to outcome differences between men and women, between Asians and blacks and whites, because subcultures are different. They may have different talents. They have different cultures and preferences and so forth. So those two things, outcome parody, social justice, we call it and American justice just don't fit because the only way to move from outcome inequality, American justice to outcome a quality is by force.
Just one example of what it means to achieve outcome equality is defunding the police. Now that sort of was a crazy idea that seemed to come out of the blue, but it didn't because it's part of an effort to bring down the percentage of blacks in prison, decriminalizing, certain laws failing to enforce others early release of those, again are not arbitrary. They are efforts which we could have predicted and we've been focused on and they are policies designed in this case to achieve outcome parody, equal representation of blacks in prison. And one could point to examples, including taking down statues, rewriting history and all the rest of it that are all pointed in the direction of outcome quality. So your choice here is tyranny again, because that's the only way you can go from outcome equality or inequality to equality, tyranny, or a free society. And just end where I started, I don't think Republicans understand this. They don't understand the severity of the problem and therefore they can not act accordingly.

Doug Truax: Yeah. And I think that's a huge point is just, if you, if you don't even know you've got a problem, then that's a problem. And we're going to get back to that in a second. I just wanted to ask you too, you talk a lot about systemic racism and this is the way this is being, I mean, you're talking about the inequality and our, this is the way this is being foisted upon us. So how do you, how do you tell, what do you tell Republicans, conservatives? How do, how do they deal with the systemic racism accusations? They get thrown around everywhere. Now in order to push this woke communist agenda forward,

Tom Klingenstein: Or let me just back up and explain the importance of systemic racism. If the woke comms can convince us that we are systemically racist, then we will agree to change the system. That's why convincing us that we're systemically racist is so important as is by the way, convincing us that we're about to be run over by white supremacist. Now, what should the Republicans do? What the most important thing they can do is just speak out and rebut without qualifications, that we're not systemically racist, that the police are not racist. Then America was not built on racism and the desire to perpetuate slavery as the 1619 account. Hasn't. So a lot of it is speaking up because it is speaking up our national leader, speaking up, allows other people to speak up. One of the important jobs of an elected official, particularly high level officials is to voice the concerns of their constituents to give their constituent voice, to say what they believe, but are intimidated from saying.
And of course the problem here is most Republicans except Trump and a big exception are reluctant to rebut the charges of racism because of course they will be called racist. And that's obviously debilitating the one, there are many good things about Trump. One of them was he didn't care whether you called him a racist, it wasn't by the way, I don't think, but he didn't care. And he didn't care what the media said. And there's almost no one else in the political landscape who doesn't care. They may recognize that the media is corrupt still. They care. And that was one of the great virtues of Trump. He didn't care in the least, he didn't negotiate with the media. He didn't, you know, change what he said because of the media. He was just unequivocal and he was unequivocal in many things. And that's a great virtue in war. He didn't apologize for past racism. He didn't apologize for America generally. And in this moment when America is being attacked, when you're in a war, you don't apologize.

Doug Truax: That's right. And I think that amongst the many virtues of his, I think the top one that got him to the place where he is today with conservatives, is this concept of in this war, the person at the top better, know, it's a war and better not care about any other outcome other than victory, because if you don't, you're going to lose. And I think people saw that in him. And I think that that's a, that's a really great thing for us to always remember, especially as conservatives as we go forward. And I want to talk more about the, the Republican base and where they are, where they aren't. I did, you did mention one thing though, real quick, and that was this tearing down of statues and critical race theory and all of these things. It really, I can remember a decade ago, this stuff didn't exist.
And you know, here we are, it just kind of, you know, in the, in the grand sweep of history, this came on really fast. And so I I'm in no way giving anybody an out, we got to realize this is a battle of war that we're in and we got to fight it. And we got to speak up like what you just said, there's an element though. It's just, everybody's still taking it in. So how did this happen so quickly in your opinion, where did this all come from? These woke communists and their tactics, and how did it get to where we are today?

Tom Klingenstein: Well, it, it, it originated as most noxious ideas do in the academy and it's been growing for a long time. What allowed it, I think to escape ivory, color cupboard walls was George Floyd and the riots, right as, as is frequently said, you know, you can't let a crisis go to waste. And so this was a tremendous opportunity to promote the woke com agenda, but by the way, it also, and this is very important. It revealed the WokeCom agenda in a way that at least the public has not seen. So BLM, for example, had in its mission before it was airbrushed away that it wanted to destruct to destroy the American family. Well, most Americans hadn't heard of that. And that by the way, is an element of achieving outcome equality defunding the police taking down statues, taking down statues is part of an effort to reformulate, basically destroy our history and make it conform with where the woke comms want to go. So I would say the answer to your question is it was grounded in the academy, but allowed to escape in a big way by George Floyd and the subsequent riots.

Doug Truax: Yeah. And there's an argument too about the Wolf corporations getting on board with corporations, getting on board with the woke concept after the financial crash. And then they just been growing that attitude going forward because it lets them distract from any failures or lets the big tech guys keep censoring and things like that. And so it's, it's yeah, it's spreading, it's going everywhere. People are taking advantage of it as best they can. And I think it does go back to what you're saying too. If conservatives or Republicans are not speaking out against it, then it just keeps advancing. You know, and again, we're back to the war. You know, if the other side has declared war on you and you're not even, you know, acknowledging that, then they will just keep advancing into your position until you do finally say that's as far as you could come and no further.

Tom Klingenstein: And I think you implied earlier, the greatest virtue of Trump was the, he let us know we're in a war. And as I heard you say quite correctly, you can't win a war. If you don't know you're in one. Now Trump may not have been able to explain it as, as he might, but he was, he recognized that we're in a war, he understands in a war, you gotta win that compromise reaching across the aisle is usually a fool's game. You can reach across the aisle when you win. But Trump understood the moral imperative to win so that, you know, people say about Trump, that he was very divisive. That's not true. What Trump was. He re he exposed the divide. We said it was divisive. Or our press said he was defensive, but I think that's not the way to look at it.

Doug Truax: That's right. That's right. Yeah. He exposed a lot. And that is the most important thing I think he exposed. And if, yeah, if you don't know you're in a war you're going to lose. There's no doubt about that. So, so back to Republicans fighting, you know, I, I get the sense at times, conservatives will, you know, kind of flare up and fight this battle over here, you know, do a good job at this. Or, but there I there's this growing sense that there's a lot of them missing the bigger picture of this. So, you know, speak to that for a minute. I mean, what's the timeframe on this. If, if we are to get to a place where enough of the people on our side realize, wow, this is more serious than we thought, how long is this gonna take? And where are we currently? You know, I even think about the Congress, we've got 211 Republicans in the house and 50 senators, you know, what percentage of them actually get this concept? You know, that's kind of a scary thought. I mean, those are the types of things I'm looking for you to talk to in your opinion on that.

Tom Klingenstein: Yeah. And you may be looking, but I'm not sure how an answer on it, but it's the number one thing I'm trying to do. Everything I'm trying to do is trying to explain to the Republican party that we are in a war. And here's how you ought to think about it. If you, if you can't think about it, right, as you say, if you don't recognize you're in a war, that's, that's the end of the game. But even beyond that, you have to understand your enemy, what it's trying to do and how it is going about what it's trying to do. I think Congress, the titillate people who were running for Congress, many of them are serious. Trumpsters I talked to a lot of congressmen. In fact, I get so many calls that I've stopped talking to them, but I talked to them enough to know that there are a lot or many who really understand the severity of the problem.
They may not be able to articulate it in quite the way I do the way I think they ought to, but like Trump, they appreciate the danger we're in. I don't see many senators who do, and I would also add, and, and in fact, you know, within the conservative movement, perhaps the most fundamental divide is between those who think it's a war and those who don't, as you know, on the chair of the board of the Claremont Institute, a conservative, California think tank, and we are strongly on the side. In fact, we're leading the effort to convince people that this is a war, right? And they ought to think about it in a particular way, but there is a large portion of the conservative movement who don't agree. And by and large, those were the people that became never Trumpers. And I understand that because Trump is a wartime president, he might not have, he might not have been.
I think it's quite likely he wouldn't have been an effective president in peacetime. You know, the analogy I draw sometimes is general grant, you know, a drunk or loose morals, but in war time, he was the only one that was willing to fight fighting was absolutely essential. So he was a great wartime general, what you, whether he would have been a great peace time. General is another question. And Trump too one has direct ignites that despite the limitations of Trump, his personality and his character, he's a war time president and he's got the grit and he's got the courage that's required in a war.

Doug Truax: Right? Absolutely. And the virtue of exposing that is, is highest. I think you've said that a you're, you're looking to support him until you can find somebody with his virtues and less of his vices, but to your point in a wartime situation, a lot of times those vices come along with the right people. And it's just the way it's going to be. If you're going to win, you know, I think a patent and all that, you know, I went to west point, so I had all that military history stuff and yeah, that is often the case. And those guys, when the war is over, they don't, they're not appreciated as much, you know, it's the, it's the Winston Churchill thing as well. So yeah, we'll see what happens. And I think it just, we got gotta, you know, the work you're doing to call attention to this is wonderful.
And, and, you know, you get the feeling when you watch your videos and hear your speech, you remain hopeful, you talk about Lincoln's quote, you know, the, the, the, the defiance and, and fighting it out. But you know, the erosion of a culture or a country or a civilization is, is a painful thing, a painful thing to watch, you know, for our country as we're going through this. So talk a little bit about why you're still so hopeful about our future as am I. And so I think our audience always wants to hear, you know, we all know the bad stuff a lot at times, but how, how, how do we stay hopeful in the face of this? And, and what's the best approach going forward here?

Tom Klingenstein: First I would say if I were betting on this, I don't think I would bet on the side of we can defeat this, but that doesn't mean I don't have hope. I have a significant amount of hope part of it is, and this may not be so reassuring to your audience, but it's still, I think we're saying is there is always hope who would have guessed that we would have got a Donald Trump, a man who was I've said is particularly suited to the moment. And that was an example again, of, you know, what can happen. I think that, you know, the American people are beginning to push back against CRT, against changing our history and names and all the other things. And you'll notice that even the Democrats understand that the coms got ahead of themselves, and there are certain things that they were promoting destruction of family, for example, or a revisionist history.
That was a step too far for Americans and Americans at some point are willing to step up and push back. So it's, Trump's base, I think, and Trump's base enthusiasm, which is partly what gives me hope. I mean, if you watch some of Trump's rallies, you know, he's not a, not a professor. Sometimes they make you cringe, but yet they give you hope and you know, the people there are profoundly pro American. And that's another thing about Trump. There was never any doubt. He never apologized for America's past no guilt, right? America was unequivocally good. And in fact, I hope this doesn't aggress too much, but if you want to think about in the most simple terms, the debate in this country at the moment, it is between those who think America is good and want to preserve it. And those who think it's bad and want to destroy it.
And Trump unequivocally thought it was good. If you listen to his press conference is, is COVID press conferences. He basically made two points over and over and over because Trump is a good marketer. He said, the news was fake and America is incredible. It's scientists, it's military it's people. And of course Trump himself, but he expressed this unreserved unmitigated support for America at a time when America's basic goodness with being attacked. So again, it's, I think the American people that's my hope, but they need leaders. What they don't have now with the exception of Trump is a leader who can help explain what's going on and giving them guidance. So that's it's leadership that we need.

Doug Truax: Right. Right. And I think that, that, there's lots of reasons to be hopeful. It's still a great country. I think it's still centered. Right? The media has got ahold of a lot of people right now. I like what you've done with the woke communist piece. It feels like to me, it's patriotic Americans versus woke communists kind of at the top of the, at the apex of this, on each side. And then there's a lot that falls down below that. And to your point, you got to stay hopeful and you know, you don't know exactly how it's going to turn out obviously, but you do know the right thing to do is to fight for it. And, and that's what you're doing. That's what we're doing. And I think it's what a lot of patriotic Americans are continuing to do because it's worth the fight. And, and Thomas, I appreciate everything you're doing. I think you're dead on and, and we're gonna do everything we can to make sure people see it more like you and your group sees it because that's the way forward. And, and thanks for all you're doing. And thanks for coming on today.

Tom Klingenstein: Well, thank you for all you're doing and having me on. I appreciate it.

Doug Truax: All right. Well, we'll talk to you soon.

Tom Klingenstein: Good. Thanks again.

Doug Truax: All right. That's our show for today. Thanks so much for tuning in and for supporting and serve the media. Don't ever forget that by working together and staying diligent, we conservatives can bring our country back to true greatness until next week. Let's all keep praying that God will continue to bless America

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