Three Waves of Liberalism
Charles Kesler (born 1956) is professor of Government/Political Science at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University. He has a Ph.D in Government from Harvard University, from which he received his AB degree in 1978. He is editor of the Claremont Review of Books (a quarterly political magazine) and the author of Keeping the Tablets: Readings in American Conservatism. He is Director of the Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World and Claremont Institute’s Publius Fellows Program.
At Claremont, he is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and the coeditor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought.
Kesler describes the purpose of the Claremont Institute as follows:
“Some conservatives start, as it were, from Edmund Burke; others from Friedrich Hayek. While we respect both thinkers and their schools of thought, we begin instead from America, the American political tradition in all its genius and profundity, and the relation of our tradition to revealed wisdom and to what the elderly Jefferson once called, rather insouciantly, “the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.” We think conservatism should take its bearings from the founders’ statesmanship, our citizens’ loyalty to the Declaration and Constitution, and the scenes, both tender and proud, of our national history. This kind of approach clears the air. It concentrates the mind. It engages and informs the ordinary citizen’s patriotism. And it introduces a new, sharper view of liberalism as descended not from the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, nor (God forbid) Abraham Lincoln, but from that movement which, a century ago, criticized George Washington’s and Lincoln’s Constitution as outmoded and, as we’d say today, racist, sexist, and antidemocratic. The Progressives broke with the old Constitution and its postulates, and set out to make a new, living constitution and a new, unlimited state, and the Obama Administration’s programs are merely the latest, and worst, installment of that purported evolution.”