Bre Payton

2018 Publius Fellow

What is your current position?

I’m a staff writer for The Federalist, where I write about politics and culture.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

I’ve always loved to write and tell stories. When I was a little girl that meant writing books, and forcing my siblings to play roles in the musical adaptation of them in our backyard, or jotting down notes in my diary of the day’s events while watching the evening news with my parents. Today that means writing about people and events at the forefront of the cultural fight we find ourselves in today.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

I heard about it through my colleagues and friends who had been through the program and loved it.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

I loved going to the gun range with Dr. Ed Erler, as well as getting to talk to Dr. Angelo Codevilla about homemade pasta and North Korea over dinner. The in-depth conversations we had about philosophy and history were also a great deal of fun.

There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals. What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowships unique?

The Claremont Institute’s reputation precedes itself, especially here in Washington, D.C. The all-star faculty set the experience apart, making it truly unique and an invaluable experience that I’ll always remember. To be challenged intellectually by individuals who are at the top of their field is an incredible experience I’d highly recommend to anyone who takes America’s founding and the ideas that gave us our freedoms seriously.

In which one of the original 13 colonies, looking back on history, would you have wanted to live and why?

I enjoy the trappings of modern life too much to want to go back to a time without running water, air conditioning, and Sephora. But I guess if I had to choose, it’d be Philadelphia, Pennsylvania because that’s where all the fun was at the time.

What is the greatest challenge facing the United States today?

There’s a growing sense of purposelessness that’s taken root in our society with deeper political fragmentations taking root, technology disrupting the way neighborhoods and institution work, a loss of community. The growing opioid epidemic and pessimistic attitudes in poll after poll speak to how deep this problem is. As a country, we’ve forgotten what it means to be an American, and we’ve lost the habits that are necessary to be free.

What books are you currently reading?

Since it’s Advent, I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Matthew. I finally got around to ordering Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life which I plan to start within the next few days. I’m also reading Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin.

What book has left a lasting impression with you and why?

I recently finished Man’s Search for Meaning, and it’s been challenging me to rethink what my priorities and goals are in life. Have I viewed suffering and hardship as a test of character? Have I been thankful for the obstacles in my life and looked upon them as a blessing? Have I viewed adversity as a test or have I been letting it dictate the terms by which I live my life? These are questions I’ve been wrestling with after reading that book.

What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire?

I like that Californians understand what it means to enjoy life. Growing up, most of the people around me worked to live and enjoy their families, their friends, and spend time in the great outdoors. Serving God and fulfilling one’s purpose takes on many forms.

What is your favorite cultural/recreational pastime (or hobby) and why?

I love makeup. I love buying it, applying it, and wearing it. I follow too many makeup accounts on Instagram and spend countless hours watching tutorial videos and reading reviews of new products late at night in bed when I should be sleeping.

In a city like Washington, D.C., where most women wear minimal makeup, having a bold lip or winged eyeliner can set a gal apart from the crowd. It’s also incredibly empowering—anyone can be beautiful with makeup! I follow a teenage girl on Instagram who is a quadriplegic and is one of the best makeup artists and influencers on Instagram.