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April Alumni Spotlight
Cheryl Miller, 2002 Publius Fellow
Cheryl organizes and recruits for advanced seminars in war, grand strategy, economics, and political thought. Her programs are geared toward everyone from high school students to rising young professionals.
What is your current position?
I direct educational programming for the Hertog Foundation. We provide summer fellowships and seminars for college students and young professionals in areas such as politics, war, and economics.
What are you currently working on?
This weekend, I’ll be wrapping up a series of seminars on great leaders of the 20th century. We brought together a small group of young professionals to hear from historians like Andrew Roberts on Churchill and Steve Hayward on Reagan. Our last seminar is on David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, and will be led by Hudson Institute scholar Mike Doran. It’s been great—not least because many of our students are Claremont alumni!
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?
I’m a 2002 graduate of the University of Dallas, and as a Politics major, I studied with Dr. Tom West, a Senior Fellow at Claremont. He encouraged me to apply for the Publius Fellowship.
What’s your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?
Meeting with Harry Jaffa. He was housebound, having just undergone heart surgery. But he really wanted to meet the class, so he invited us all over. This was around the time of the early debates over the Iraq War, so we had a very spirited discussion about the Middle East, neoconservatism, and American foreign policy over fresh lemonade that Mrs. Jaffa made us. That one’s hard to beat. Close seconds include going to the shooting range and watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with John Marini.
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?
Having run programs like this myself, I know how much work goes into them—and the Claremont Fellowship team pulls them off seamlessly. What makes Claremont distinctive—to my mind—is its focus on the principles of the American Founding and its appreciation for American statesmen like Lincoln. Also, its outstanding faculty, many of whom are pulled from the roster of Claremont Fellows: Charles Kesler, Tom West, Diana Schaub, Steve Hayward, and many more. And finally, its beautiful setting in Southern California is hard to beat!
If you could have a drink with an American Founder, or any great thinker, who would it be, why, and what would you order?
Ben Franklin would probably be the most entertaining conversationalist, but I have to pick James Madison. Not only did he play a key role in formulating the Constitution and drafting the Bill of Rights, he was a close student of the history of republics, their vices, and remedies. It would be great to have his take on the 2016 primary season and how to get out of the mess we’re in. We’d toast the Constitution with a glass of champagne—in his words “the most delightful wine when drank in moderation, but that more than a few glasses always produced a headache the next day.”
Who was more important for their time, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Why?
Lincoln! More than anything, Claremont showed me that Abraham Lincoln was America’s indispensable teacher of the moral truth of natural right, as embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
What do you think the current presidential candidates can learn from Lincoln?
Courage. Our presidential candidates would do well to heed Lincoln’s closing line from the Cooper Union Speech: “Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”â€¨
What books are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m trudging through Freedom by Jonathan Franzen to write a review for the Claremont Review of Books. I can’t say too much for fear of spoiling my piece. For fun, I’ve been re-reading Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Netflix’s House of Cards has nothing on the Tudor Court for political machinations!