David Bahr

2016 Lincoln Fellow

What is your current position?
I am the head of Claremont’s communications’ team. Before that, I was the managing editor for The American Mind.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

I like public relations on account of the fast-paced nature of the work. The terrain is constantly shifting, and that’s exciting, if sometimes stressful. Of course, it’s really who or on behalf of what cause one works that makes the profession rewarding. Put another way, public relations for, say, Google, is less intellectually stimulating (and honest) than working for a think tank whose mission is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life.

What are you currently working on?

It’s a secret.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

I was aware of the Claremont Institute as early as freshman year, when a professor of mine suggested I apply for the Publius Fellowship. My grade, alas, were not strong enough to get in, so I did not bother applying. Later, and thanks to the recommendation of my then-colleague (and former Claremont Fellow) Mark Hemingway, I was able to join the Lincoln class.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

The conviviality of the group. And the enduring friendships. Arthur Milikh was a fellow that year. We hit it off, stayed in touch, and now we work together. Amazing.

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 mixture of serious intellectual work and play that the fellowship offers is unlike anything else out there. Have you ever shot guns while receiving a lecture on the second amendment by John Eastman? That’s a treat!

Who would it be, why, and what would you discuss, if you could have a conversation with an American Founder, or any great thinker?

That’s impossibly difficult to answer. Let’s go with Shakespeare. He is the thinker with whom I spend the most time, from whom I learn the most about human nature. I would discuss the plays he wished he had time to have written and how he understood the dramatic cosmos he created.

Who was more important for their time, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Why?

George Washington. We had to get this thing started right, baby!

What would the artifact be, if you could hold one piece of history from the early founding of our country and why?

Washington’s boots. No reason other than they might recall more vividly the man that walked in them.

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

Maryland. It’s where I grew up and I am a creature of habit.

What qualities do you believe will make outstanding statesmen/women in this century?

The same qualities that make outstanding statesmen throughout history, I think. Courage, intelligence, and the moral virtues.

What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing the United States?

Liberals. I kid, I kid. Sort of. More seriously, I think that technology has outpaced our ability to understand it. That’s an incredible challenge. My colleague James Poulos is one of the deepest thinkers on this subject, so I turn to him to save the Republic.

What do you believe has led to our established culture redefining itself in the 21st Century?

Redefinition, if I understand this question correctly, is something we are prone to as human beings. We are always in search of the new. In modern times, technology is the great driver of our cultural shifts.

Do you believe we are slowly becoming a country of political will or still a nation of law and order?

We are still a nation of law and order. But it is increasingly the “law and order” determined and set by big tech and the progressive prophets of the day. And even the word “set” here is probably incorrect, since the way the woke winds blow seems to dictate so much. I don’t mean to sound histrionic here, but this is how, in a few sentences, I see the current moment in America.

What one word comes to mind when you reflect on the current administration in Washington, DC?


Imagine you are the Communication Director for the presidential candidate in the 2024 election.  What would be your primary strategy?

Oh, la, la. Well, the strategy all depends on who I work for, I suppose. In abstract, I would try and make clear to voters the seriousness of THE STAKES.

What regimen do you follow when writing something that requires a great deal of research, thought, and adherence to truth?

I write a little bit. Then I walk away. I repeat this cycle. If it’s over the course of many days, I try not read anything else. The moments I’m not writing, I spend thinking about various arguments.

Has electronic communication been a help or hindrance to the art of the spoken word?  Why?

A hindrance. Ain’t no Demosthenes in America these days.

Words have consequence.  What do you believe is the key to combating progressive indoctrination?

Key in the approach needs to be the repetition of SIMPLE key phrases and arguments. Get the message in people’s heads in terms that are easy to understand and repeat. Also of importance: get as many conservative voices repeating the same messaging. It has to be reinforced. Liberals are good at this.

What book, speech, or movie has left a lasting impression with you and why?

Franz Kafka’s writing—taken together—has left a lasting impression on me. The modern world, with its technology and bureaucracy, is profoundly disorienting, alienating, and scary. He captures these feelings well.

What books are you currently reading?

I’m reading Augustine’s City of God with my father and a new book by David Lowenthal called “Slave State: Rereading Orwell’s 1984”. I’ve also been studying Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but that is part of a bigger project.

Do you have a favorite quote?  Why does it resonate with you?

I don’t have one. Today I was listening to Bob Dylan’s gospel album “Slow Train Coming”. He has a song on there “Gotta Serve Somebody”. Here are some lyrics:

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You could say I’ve been thinking about that a bit!

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

I grew up close to Washington, DC. (on the Maryland side), and find it difficult to unearth what distinctive attribute/character is admirable. Other parts of Maryland have more pronounced characteristics that are wonderful.

What is your favorite way to relax after a stressful day?


Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Working at a bigger, more powerful Claremont Institute, in precisely the same capacity. Hopefully with one book under my belt…