Elisha Krauss, Lincoln Fellow 2016
What is your current position?
Host and Contributor at The Daily Wire/wife/mom/aunt/friend.
What inspired you to choose this career path?
I always envisioned myself as a behind-the-scenes person and never imagined I’d end up being the “on camera/on air” person. I went to college thinking that I’d end up at the State Department or on Capitol Hill as a staffer. When I moved to NYC at 18, I instantly looked for internship opportunities and liked the idea of being behind the scenes. After interning for two semesters at WABC radio Sean (Hannity) gave me the awesome opportunity to produce/call screen for his syndicated radio show. After seven great years there my husband and I left New York, which I thought meant I’d leave radio for good, too. But then an opportunity to be on air in talk radio came out of nowhere. All of my political geekiness and my production background kind of opened the radio door for me. In retrospect, it makes sense, but at the time I was pleasantly blindsided. In fact, when I was contemplating moving across the country, six months pregnant, to take an on-air radio gig, Sean gave me some great advice. He said that if there was any time in my life to try something like this, it was now, before my husband and I had a bigger family and a mortgage and all the things that make change harder. He also said that since I wasn’t power-hungry like so many people in the industry, if I didn’t like being on air, or if I didn’t do well, it was fine. It was a good idea to try it out and see how things went. At the very least it’s an unexpected and unplanned opportunity to be grateful for.
What are you currently working on?
Always working on a project or two, I host the monthly Conversations with our podcasting talent, field listener questions for our Backstage program, weekly Friday Lives and more. It’s fun being a part of the West Coast conservative counterculture here at the Daily Wire offices.
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?
I’ve been a fan of the Claremont Institute and their work for years. Confession: I would often steal Sean Hannity’s copy of your mailings to read. Who am I kidding? He let me. After he’d read and review a lot of his magazines and books publishers/agents/bookers/etc would send he’d let us producers take whatever we wanted. It was great reading and it was a real educational experience for me.
What’s your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?
Staging a Presidential/VP candidate pic with Guy Benson complete with “security” provided by Murray Bessette and Paul Miller. But on a more serious note, the late-night conversations in the Fellows Suite about whether or not term limits are necessary or even constitutional was a highlight. Anything that lets me unleash my inner civics dork.
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?
Your alumni! Seriously, the clout and high standard the Institute holds up in their application and acceptance process helps make sure Fellows reach the Institute’s high standards. I still feel unworthy to be in the ranks of so many smart and talented people. The topics and reading materials (IMHO) far outweigh other organizations who do not brave going back so far in American history and tend to ignore the foundings and dangers of progressivism.
If you could have a drink with an American Founder, or any great thinker, who would it be, why, and what would you order?
John Locke. His writing style (compared to other great thinkers) is actually easy for the average person to read and understand. Indeed, the theory of Natural Law is easy to comprehend so I think a real-life conversation with him would be intriguing and interesting and genuine. I’d order wine because it seems the alcohol most aligned with Biblical text and I feel like he’d respect that. Who knows… maybe he is a whiskey on the rocks guy. If Locke is asking, I could do that, too.
Looking back on history, in which one of the original 13 colonies would you have wanted to live? Why?
I would prefer to avoid another winter. LA has spoiled me. But if I had to choose I would say New York, specifically Manhattan. It holds a fond place in my heart (I lived there for seven years) and I love how rich it is with history. Today, New York may be a hub of progressivism, but during the founding it played a key role in the Revolution, and it was a hubbub of political and financial debates and decisions. Plus so many OG American heroes come from that general area.
What is the greatest challenge facing the United States today?
The hollowing out of the conservative movement by people who claim to be conservatives but have little knowledge about conservatism’s core principles. I’m also concerned that there’s a younger generation of uninformed and unprincipled conservatives who yap on TV/radio/podcasts and represent the movement to Americans who aren’t conservative. I want these public figures who represent conservatives to realize how important and influential their voices are because of the platform they have. Some of them will eventually be in public office—or will inform the views of people who will be in office—and it’s important that they’re principled and knowledgeable so that they use their platforms to advance conservative principles. I want strong, smart, tough and honest people leading our movement and the nation, not walking talking points being cheered solely by their own choir.
What books are you reading right now?
Whatever I’m reading to my girls—Bible stories, ballet stories, Little House on the Prairie... before it gets banned by social justice warriors. I am also slowly working my way through Leaving Cloud 9, a book by my friend Ericka Andersen on childhood trauma and redemption.
What is your favorite cultural/recreational pastime (or hobby)? Why?
A family hike and then lunch out at a place we’ve never been to. It’s exercise, it’s being in the gorgeous sunny outdoors and it’s great people watching. I also love perusing the flower market even though it’s next to Skid Row, an entire section of downtown LA that hopefully makes it impossible for Mayor Eric Garcetti to ever make it to the White House. Every time I’m there I’m struck by the irony of a beautiful, flourishing private market situated right next to an area plagued by homeless encampments, drugs, disease, and suffering -- almost all of which is the result of this city’s broken and apathetic government.
What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire?
Loyalty. I grew up in southeastern Oklahoma, and the simple act of doing a kind deed for someone or even saying a kind word would often gain their lifelong loyalty. I have family friends who three generations past would do something for me because my late Pa once helped their dad with something. This type of loyalty and decency is especially appealing to me because it is so rare in the world of media and politics and of course all of Los Angeles.