- - Sunday, August 9, 2020

It’s time, friends, to have “that” talk. The one about “The Stakes.”

No one really likes talking about The Stakes because serious confrontation is always a bit uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable. Even the media, whose job it is to make us aware of The Stakes, find the whole business unpleasant. Better to trade in platitudes.

But the election is just a few months away, and unless you are clear on The Stakes you might think this is just another contentious political season instead of a turning point — for (decisively) better or worse — in American history.

Recently, Thomas D. Klingenstein, chairman of the influential think tank the Claremont Institute, wrote an interesting call-to-arms (“Preserving the American Way of Life”) in the pages of The American Mind, arguing that The Stakes, at least for conservatives, really come down to one overriding theme: preserving the American way of life.

What’s interesting about Mr. Klingenstein’s argument is that it turns out it can be applied as a wonderful sort of litmus test for each candidate. For how one understands this question of American preservation across a slew of political questions can tell the voter a great deal about the future.



Here is the Klingenstein argument:

“The mission I propose is shorthand for ‘securing the conditions necessary to pursue a worthy life.’ ‘A worthy life’ is what the founders meant by ‘happiness’ in the Declaration of Independence. The most essential ‘conditions’ are the beliefs and values that must be held by society at large in order that each American can pursue a worthy life. These beliefs and values support the American way of life; hence the short form version of the mission: To ‘preserve the American way of life.’”

Now, Americans don’t really disagree on the fact that a “worthy life” is one at which the personal and political should be aimed, nor do they disagree that the contents of a “worthy life” is “happiness.” But where there is major — one might even argue, life and death — disagreement on are the “essential conditions” that must be fulfilled so that we can be free to pursue our end goal.

At this point, voters should ask themselves how well Joe Biden secures “the beliefs and values” (i.e. the conditions) that ultimately support and preserve the American way of life. (It should already be evident President Trump’s stance on these matters. He’s had four years to make his stance known. after all.)

• Does, for instance, Joe Biden and the Democratic apparatus that supports the Marxist-rooted Black Lives Matters movement raging in many of our major cities preserve or destroy the American way of life in its deepest sense?

• Does a Joe Biden and Democratic apparatus that bows to China and Silicon Valley corporate interests preserve or destroy the American way of life in its deepest sense?

• Does a Joe Biden and Democratic apparatus that supports defunding our police preserve or destroy the American way of life in its deepest sense?

• Does a Joe Biden and Democratic apparatus that believes America’s Founding Fathers were evil and that America’s history is shameful and ought to be re-written preserve or destroy the American way of life in its deepest sense?

• Does a Joe Biden and Democratic apparatus that believe America must remain shut down as long as the technocrats feel necessary (rather than exercising prudential judgment when opening)?

• Finally, does a Joe Biden and Democratic apparatus that seeks to reduce everything to race, gender and sexuality preserve or destroy the American way of life in its deepest sense?

This list is not exhaustive, but how you suspect the candidates answer each question should give you a sense of The Stakes and the future to come. As all good Americans can plainly see, they are not insignificant.

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